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October 26, 2009

Asian Countries Uniting To Form EU Type Power Structure

ASEAN Leaders

As some Americans sit around huffing and puffing and thinking small;  as they continuously work on dividing and conquering the United States of America, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met last week and made moves toward uniting socially and economically in an EU-style community which would encompass half the world’s population.

So as we continue to fight amongst ourselves in America and dither on the brink of insanity and weaken our social and economic infrastructure instead of working together to make America better and stronger leaders at a summit of 16 Asian nations met in Thailand and listened as the prime ministers of Australia and Japan set out competing visions for a regional bloc that would boost Asia’s global clout.

A central question at their summit was what role that the United States and China would play in any future grouping.

Not wanting to miss out on the potential power that the Asian bloc of countries have, Russia has applied to join the East Asia Summit – a group that includes China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand that works in conjunction with ASEAN.

In November U.S .President Barack Obama will hold the first ever summit with ASEAN leaders as well as attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Singapore to keep America relevant in Asia.

Some countries want the United States to be part of a future Asia regional framework as a counterbalance to China’s influence said one diplomat.

Japanese premier Yukio Hatoyama pushed his plan at the summit for an East Asian community that could “lead the world”.  He said that he would not want to see an extensive US involvement with ASEAN or the East Asia Summit despite Tokyo’s close ties to Washington.

Australian leader Kevin Rudd’s vision for an Asia-Pacific Community by 2020 explicitly includes Washington.

“Whether we like it or not, I think we could not avoid a US role because the US is a big country which has powers both in economic and security matters,” said Chaiwat Khamchoo, an analyst at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University.

“Some countries in the region are suspicious of each other so they want the U.S. to play a role.”

After the distractions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has only recently re-engaged with the region, particularly in Southeast Asia where Washington’s hard line on military-ruled Myanmar kept it at a distance.

With Japan kept busy by its economic woes, China has boosted its influence across the region in recent years, signing a free trade agreement with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

India has tried to play catch-up, belatedly signing its own trade pact with the bloc.

Earlier this year US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the “US is back in Southeast Asia”.

Asian leaders agreed at this weekend’s summit that they need some new framework to hold together their diverse and sometimes fractious region. A closer community would help Asia capitalize on its relatively quick recovery from the global economic crisis and to cut its dependence on the West to drive growth.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said in his closing remarks to the summit on Sunday that the old growth model in which Asia relies on consumption in the West will no longer serve us as we move into the future.”

Americans — united we stand, divided we fall.  Let’s stand together and build a better and stronger U.S. of A!

NY Yankees

Go Yankees!!!

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September 30, 2009

Iran — What Should The World Do?

Middle East 9 09

World powers put pressure on Iran ahead of crucial nuclear talks scheduled for Thursday, amid growing concern about the covert build up of Tehran’s nuclear program.  Iran has insisted for years that it has a right to civilian nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and to make enriched fuel for power plants — although its first Russian built and long delayed nuclear plant is still not online. Iranian officials underscored that their nuclear “rights” (uranium enrichment which the UN Security Council wants suspended) were not negotiable.

But its announcement last week of the ongoing construction of another uranium enrichment plant, underground near the Shi’ite holy city of Qom, prompted stern warnings from western capitals led by Washington and concern from some Arab states.

Arab states from the Gulf have joined talks with the six Western nations preparing to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Envoys from the Arab states are said to have met at the United Nations headquarters in New York over the weekend with the five permanent powers (P5) in the UN Security Council plus Germany who want guarantees from Tehran on the civilian nature of its nuclear ambitions.  The ‘P5-plus-one’ group is set to meet with Iran on Thursday, October 1 in Geneva.

“It will be in the best interests of everybody that this situation stays under control,” said Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the United Arab Emirates’ Minister of Foreign Affairs, following the disclosure of a secret Iranian nuclear site under development near the holy city of Qom. “The new facility is being looked at by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and it seems there will be positive co-operation with Iran for inspecting this site.”

Jeffrey Feltman, the US assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, spoke of “ongoing consultation with our Gulf friends about what is our policy toward Iran and how we are going to address the October 1 dialogue with Iran.  There’s a profound concern on their part that we do not try anything that could be construed as trading their interests for our interests.”

Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stated he has no objection to Gulf countries directly joining the talks.

Gulf States, fearing the encroachment of Iranian power throughout the region, have urged the country’s leadership to comply with international demands regarding the development of its nuclear program.

“Nuclear weapons is a tough issue, but it’s hard to know whether all this is just talk,” Dr. Ghanim A-Najjar, a political scientist at Kuwait University, told The Media Line. “Nuclear weapons are not a joke and I don’t think Iran will go that far. They don’t have the ability; the technology is not available to them.”

Dr. A-Najjar argued that recent efforts by Gulf States to explore nuclear power were in direct response to Iran’s nuclear development. “The Gulf States want to put pressure on Iran with threats of their own nuclear energy plans.”

“But I don’t see how Gulf States can be serious about nuclear development,” he added. “There’s a big step between saying we want nuclear power to actually having it and I don’t think the Gulf States are capable of this kind of development.”

Dr. Stephen Steinbeiser, Resident Director of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies, argued that there was more concern over Iran’s overall influence in the region than the potential of a nuclear armed Iran.

“People are definitely interested in Iran, if one day it’s proven that Iran has nuclear weapons the balance of power in the Middle East really squeezes Arabs out of the middle between Iran and Israel. That’s something that makes people pause and people are starting to question just how powerful Arab states really are.”

“The Israelis have a very palpable fear of Iran,” he said. “Yemenis don’t have that but there’s a concern about the influence that Iran is presumed to yield.”

“People here are less interested in these negotiations than in what is perceived to be Iranian interference in the northern rebellion,” he said, referring to an ongoing military conflict between Yemen’s central government and a Houthi-led rebellion in the country’s North. “You never hear it in the mainstream media but locally people feel that the northern rebels are receiving Iranian support and that this is not so much a war against rebels but a war against Iranian intrusion.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said this week that Moscow would like to see “substantial progress” on the nuclear program in Geneva, days after President Dmitry Medvedev signaled he might endorse sanctions against Iran.

This is a strong indication of a change in Russia’s position and that probably has something to do with the US attempts to reset the relationship with Russia. 

China has an important import/export relationship with Iran — will they put pressure on Iran now that Russia seems willing to do so? 

August 22, 2008

Olympics: GOLD for Jamaica Men 400m Relay Team. Yet Another World Record!

 In yet another mind-boggling display of speed, Usain Bolt set another world record and won another Olympic gold medal, and this time got to share the glory with his Jamaican teammates.

 Both Bolt and Asafa Powell blew away the field over the last two legs of the 400-meter relay leading Jamaica around the track in 37.10 seconds to break the 16-year-old world record by 0.3 seconds.

Bolt is now 3-for-3 in these Olympic sprints — as in three gold medals and three world records.

The bonus is that he got to bring Powell along for the ride. Powell held the world record in the 100-meter dash for about three years before Bolt broke it in May, but he is also well known for his history of poor performances in the biggest meets.

 In this one, Powell got to do the honors, running the anchor leg, taking a clean handoff from Bolt and crossing the line almost a full second ahead of Trinidad and Tobago‘s Richard Thompson to secure his first Olympic medal.

The Jamaican quartet, which also included Nesta Carter and Michael Frater, eclipsed the old 400 relay mark of 37.40 set by the United States at the Barcelona Olympics in the 1992 and tied by the U.S. at the world championships a year later.

Bolt added that to the records he set in winning the 100 meters (9.69) and 200 meters (19.30) in Beijing.

The Jamaicans were nearly a full second faster than relay silver medalists Trinidad and Tobago, which finished in 38.06. Japan took the bronze in 38.15.

The Jamaica women’s relay team failed to hand off the baton in the third leg of the relay and did not complete the race. We are VERY PROUD of the women team!!!

Jamaica is 4 out of 5 in their sprint events.

  Team Jamaica now has a total of 10 medals: 6 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze.

   

Congratulations Team Jamaica!!!

August 20, 2008

Olympics: Usain Bolt of Jamaica Sets NEW 200 Meter World Record. Clocks 19.30 Seconds – Makes History!

 On the eve of his birthday, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt made history.  He won the GOLD for the 200 meter by four body lengths on the world’s biggest stage at the Olympics in Beijing, China. He smashed Michael Johnson’s 12 year record of 19.32 seconds – Bolt won in 19.30 setting another world record!!!

21 year old Bolt became the first man ever to break the world record in both the 100 and 200 at the same Olympics and the first since Carl Lewis in 1984 to win the sprint double.

 Bolt had already won the race halfway through, but unlike his record-setting performance in the 100 four nights before, there was no animated celebrating until he crossed the line. He went hard all the way, looking at the clock down the stretch, leaning at the line, knowing that Michael Johnson’s revered mark was within reach.

Bolt had been accused of jogging through the line in his heats but the Jamaican said he would run flat out in the final and he delivered on that promise with fascination!

He blasted out of the blocks and was already well clear of the field going into the bend at the Bird’s Nest stadium.

The Olympic 100m champion accelerated away down the straight, gritting his teeth as he chased down gold and the record that Johnson set 12 years ago in Atlanta.

 When he saw the number come up — a number that never has before been displayed in a human race — he raised his arms, then fell flat to his back, arms and legs outstretched, and basked in the roar of the Bird’s Nest crowd.  Bolt now has three world records – this one, the 100 meter from Saturday and the one from Randall Island, New York in May when he broke the 100 record the first time.

A version of “Happy Birthday” played over the public-address system as he took off his gold shoes and wrapped the Jamaican flag around his shoulders like a scarf.

The race for the other medals was a little dramatic. Churandy MARTINA of Netherlands Antilles finished second behind Bolt and American Wallace Spearmon came in third.

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