Rising world oil prices threaten to raise cost of consumer electronics
February 22, 2011 12:41 AMT
(PanARMENIAN.Net) – Rising world oil prices threaten to raise the cost of consumer electronics and slow development by forcing Asian manufacturers to spend more on transportation and raw materials, regional economists say.
Oil prices have been pushed up by unrest in the Middle East and the cost of crude for April delivery moved close to US$100 a barrel on Feb 21. This threatens to jack up transportation expenses, which account for roughly 20 percent of the cost of products made in East Asia, according to analysts.
The cost of raw materials such as plastics for computer casing or chemicals for mobile phone printed circuit boards will also go up if petrochemical factories end up paying more for crude supplies.
Oil refiners or naptha crackers would pass on about 80 percent of their higher costs to electronics firms who buy from them, said Wai Ho Leong, regional economist with Barclays Capital in Singapore.
“I assume the oil price hikes would be passed through to end users,” Tim Condon, chief economist with ING in Singapore. “Activity would slow because consumers wouldn’t be parting with their money. Demand would go down, you’d see unwanted inventory accumulating, and you’d see product cutbacks and employment effects.”
So far oil prices that have tested their highest since mid-2008 haven’t cramped Asia’s momentum in PCs seen during the Western year-end holidays and China’s Lunar New Year, analysts say.
But if the prices stay above $100 per barrel – and fresh violence in Libya could push them into that groove – for six to 12 months, manufacturers will be pinched.
“There is already some moderation kicking in,” said Joanna Tan, economist with Forecast Ltd in Singapore. “With the oil prices up, we could see more moderation. It really depends on how long it drags on.”
A dent in general world consumer confidence driven by higher oil prices could reduce demand for electronics, prompting manufacturers to pull back on capital expenditures for development of new technology, said Tony Phoo, economist with Standard Chartered in Taipei.
Oil prices that topped $140 per barrel in 2008 contributed to a slowdown in the growth of India’s PC market and compounded the woes of manufacturers elsewhere as the world economy struggled against fallout from the U.S. sub-prime mortgage crisis.
Electronics firms are not assuming business as usual this year but keeping a wary eye on the second quarter of 2011 for any signs that oil prices will stay high, IDG New Service reports.
KIO, preparing for war, urges people to join militia
Lt-Gen. Gam Shawng Gunhtang, the chief of staff of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the armed wing of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), told a gathering in Laiza ‘the KIO will launch offensives against the junta and all Kachin people need to participate in the revolution’, according to a KIA officer.
Burma’s report to U.N.’‘is fictional’
Hong Kong-based legal group says Universal Periodic Review is a collection of fabrications aimed at garnering respect from U.N.
Army seizes 30,000 acres of farmland
Farmers in central Burma have filed a complaint to the U.N.’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) after troops there confiscated more than 30,000 acres of arable land. The reasoning behind the seizure in May last year was that the land was needed to expand on an ordinance production factory, said Than Soe, one of the affected farmers. Now, however, those behind the confiscation are preparing the land to grow wet-season crops.
China Tops Thailand as Biggest Investor in Burma (No link)
The Irrawaddy, 22.Feb.2011
[Full text:] – China, already Burma’s closest diplomatic ally, is now also the country’s largest foreign investor, a report said on Monday. The Burmese-language Weekly Eleven said that China poured more than US$3 billion into the country from November last year through January this year, bringing its cumulative investment since 1988 to $9.6 billion, compared to Thailand’s $9.56 billion. Thailand had been the largest investor for the past seven years, mostly in the energy sector. Hong Kong is the third biggest investor, with $5.9 billion.
Could Burma’s Next Uprising Begin on the Internet?
The Irrawaddy, 22.Feb.2011
“Since last year, we have trained over 120 laborers from the countryside on how to use the Internet,” said Ko Win, a middle-aged political activist in Rangoon. “I taught them how to use Gmail and Gtalk, though I myself have yet to learn how to use Facebook and Twitter.” Ko Win said that he hopes some of these students will become politically active and revolt against Burma’s military rulers.
Wa, Shan disclaim responsibility for shelling junta border base
Plan for the inauguration of the new sub-township in Mongton township, opposite Chiangmai’s Wiang Haeng district, today has been postponed following shelling by an unknown armed group on Friday night (18 February), according to sources from the border. The shelling between 21:00-22:00 local time had killed and injured an unspecified number of Burma Army soldiers. The United Wa State Army’s 171st Military Region, whose transport line between 772nd Brigade in Mongjawd in the east and 778th Brigade in Khailong in the west, has been threatened by the Burma Army base in the middle, has denied any responsibility outright. The other [regional force] the Shan State Army (SSA) ‘South’, whose main base Loi Taileng lies further west was also vehement in its denial. “It’s not our communication links that have been severed,” responded Lt-Gen Yawdserk, the SSA South leader, to SHAN’s query.
IntelTrends’ Burma Report is published Tuesdays and Fridays.
Taliban statement regarding Afghan civilian deaths caused by U.S. bombardment in Ghazi Abad District, Kunar Province
Statement of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Regarding the Martyrdom of Innocent Afghan Civilians as a Result of American Merciless Bombardment in Ghazi Abad District, Kunar Province
Source: Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
February 22, 2011 05:11
Five days ago, the invading forces in Afghanistan led by America launched brutal aerial attacks against civilian houses in Adargol, Chowki and Wigal areas of Ghazi Abad district, Kunar province, resulting in martyrdom of 70 common people. The victims were comprised of old men, women and innocent children who embraced martyrdom. Similarly, numerous civilians have been wounded.
According to substantiated reports, the bestial American soldiers have totally looted people’s houses, taking all valuable items. About 50 houses have been destroyed (in the raid), which belonged to people who had no link of militancy whatsoever with any faction. They were common miserable people. The Americans made bombardment during the night when people were sleeping. Officials of the Kabul Administration in Kunar have also confirmed reports of the civilian casualties.
The civilian casualties perpetrated in a brutal manner at the hands of the Americans have been committed at the time that, the United Nations in its report had claimed a few days ago that civilian casualties had greatly decreased during operations by Americans and their Allies. One week has not elapsed since the issuance of the report by UNO that the callous Americans once again resorted to committing genocide. They made many innocent Afghans to mourn and grieve over (their kith and kin).
The so-called advocates of human rights have not raised their voice about this horrendous event as yet. But usually, these so-called protectors of human rights and the apparently free media which have share in the colonialist goals, usually put the blame of civilian casualties on the Islamic Emirate when they arrange figures of civilian casualties. They try to launch negative propaganda against the Islamic Emirate through every possible means with full strength and fanfare. Meanwhile, they cover up the crimes of foreign invaders. Thus they endeavor to manipulate the views of the common man.
We strongly condemn the merciless bombardment by the Americans in Ghazi Abad district, Kunar province. We believe it is an unforgivable crime. In the meantime, we assure our miserable people and families of the martyrs that your Mujahid brothers will avenge the blood of the martyrs on the enemy in the battle fields. Also, we tell the invading America and her murderous Allies, if you think that you are going to weaken the determination of the Afghans by martyring innocent Afghans or that you will put terror into their hearts, it only displays flaws of your guesswork. You have not realized this nation as yet. Your brutal actions will further speed up the pace of the Jihadic momentum.
Soon. you will be wiped out in the imminent cyclone brought about by your atrocity, arrogance, brutality and other merciless actions. The tempest, if God willing, is approaching destination, with its ever outspreading waves.
It is not a hard task for Allah to accomplish.
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
IntelTrends republishes selected resistance statements so that readers can access different perspectives on current affairs, political and military issues.
Demonizing the demon in Egypt and elsewhere
© Eric Sommer
February 21, 2011
I was personally involved in the movement against the U.S. intervention and bombing of Yugoslavia in the late 1990’s under Clinton. At that time I coined the phrase ‘Demonizing the demons’. I did so because I noted that progressive and well-meaning people in North America were often befuddled and divided as to whether to support the demonizing of Melosovik by the U.S. government or not.
The real problem was not that Melosovik was, in fact, a demon whose government had engaged in serious human rights violations in Croatia but that he was a demon whose actions had been, in a way, supported or condoned by the U.S. state and media to some extent previously before they decided to demonize and attack him.
At that time, I pieced together the following formula used by the U.S. government and media ever since World War II as a lynchpin of U.S. foreign policy:
Step 1: Actively support, or even instigate, the installation of a demonic dictator or semi-dictator. Especially do so in any case where there is danger of a socialist or even truly independent national government coming to power in a country.
Step 2: Support the U.S.-supported demonic dictator by continually supplying massive amounts of military equipment or funds each for such equipment each year, to prevent any internal opposition from gaining the upper hand. Mubarak in Egypt, for example, received around 1 Billion dollars in military aid each year. Also, impose IMF or other measures designed to advantage international capital, allowing for the looting of the local resources and cheap labour at ridiculously low rates when possible, and conceal or downplay any and all resulting extreme human rights violations and impoverishment of the dictators people;
Step 3: When it is no longer expedient to support the demonic dictator – either because internal opposition has grown too strong, or for geo-strategic or other reasons – then proclaim that he is a ‘Demonic Dictator’, ignoring the reality that he was installed and maintained in power by yourself.
This scenario of ‘Demonizing the Demon’ is the formula pursued ever since World War II by the U.S. state throughout the world.
Suharto in Indonesia, Marcos the dictator of the Philippines, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Mubarak in Egypt, Pinochet in Chile, and many other ‘demons’ were installed with the support of the U.S. state and its CIA spy service and military aid; maintained in power by tremendous military and other non-socially-beneficial ‘aid’; and then ‘demonized’ and deposed with the help of the U.S. state when they were no longer needed.
The losers in all cases have been the ordinary people who suffered – first from the Demonic dictators, then from their removal, and then from their replacements (the new demons chosen for them by the U.S. state).
Sound exaggerated? Consider this:
The Egyptian Example
A few weeks ago the media reported on a possible successor to Mubarak in Egypt as follows: “Mohamed ElBaradei, the former United Nations nuclear chief who has become an opposition figurehead, said he would ‘serve if called on’. He earlier held his first negotiations with the American and British ambassadors, proposing potential scenarios for a transfer of power”.
Note that Mohamed ElBaradei held “negotiations” with “American and British ambassadors” for a ‘transfer of power’. Since when does a future ‘leader’ have to ‘negotiate’ with the representatives of the U.S. and British governments! Moreover, since when does a future leader need to “propose” to the representatives of two foreign powers the “scenarios for a transfer of power” in his own country!
It could not be any clearer that Mohamed ElBaradei – and the U.S. and British governments – do not really regard Egypt as a sovereign state; rather, they regard these two foreign powers as the real masters – or at least believe they should be the masters – of Egypt’s destiny.
In Egypt as elsewhere, the process of installing, propping up, and then deposing ‘demons’ is the game of U.S. foreign policy. It’s high time for the people of the world to put a stop to it.
[Blogmaster note: Inteltrends is a Wisconsin-based blog that focuses primarily on foreign news and commentary. However, at present we have our own problems here in Wisconsin resulting from the actions of “new” first term governor, Scott Walker, so you’ll see more statewide coverage for the time being. Inteltrends is pleased to share local and state updates from Christopher Fons, whose column is featured in CounterPunch. Additional news appears on Inteltrends’ Wisconsin blog.]
The War in Madison
© Christopher Fons
February 21, 2011
* When the People Lead, Leaders Will Follow
Day five and six in Madison and momentum continues to build as finally Milwaukee Public School teachers, the largest district in the state, called in sick en masse and shut down the district. The nation has now been inspired by Wisconsinites as they put their jobs on the line to defend the right to collectively bargain for public employees.
Thursday’s “strike” by the Democratic Senators — they hopped on a bus and decamped to Rockford, IL to deny quorum in the State Senate — showed that if the people act, the leaders will follow. The same phenomenon has occurred within the teachers’ unions both in local unions and statewide. The leadership of both WEAC (Wisconsin Education Association Council) the state-wide organization and the largest local, MTEA (Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association), have grudgingly endorsed job actions after members took matters into their own hands and starting calling in on the second day of the demonstrations (Tuesday). In the case of WEAC, the leadership followed the lead of the Madison local MTI (Madison Teachers Incorporated), who went out on their own without any prodding from above. Madison Teachers and support staff stayed out all week and meet Sunday in a mass meeting to decide what to do Monday and the coming week. In Milwaukee one school took the lead on Tuesday and by Wednesday night the MTEA leadership had no choice but to endorse action, which led to a system-wide shut down by Friday.
35 smaller school districts across the state have also been closed or had opening times pushed back as teachers realized that now is the time to defend their collective bargaining rights.
Saturday morning broke with a crisp arctic cold but everyone in the movement was warmed by the realization we had now gone international. One picture in particular inspired us all: that of a young Egyptian man in Tahrir Square with a sign stating “Egypt Supports Wisconsin Workers: One World, One Pain.”
By Wednesday MSNBC picked up the story and egofest was on as each of the liberal talking heads tried to position themselves as the savior of the people. Big Ed and Maddow showed they have a little fight in them as they recognized the historic nature of the moment but by the end of the week the Oprah like narratives emerged and for Maddow it was all about the Democratic Party. Even Ed knew this was baloney as he has rightly asked, again and again, where are the Democrats? Jesse Jackson showed up on Friday and seems to be the only national Democratic stalwart with any links to the popular movement left. Obama’s comments were typically milktoast in an interview with a Milwaukee TV journalist stating it “seemed like” Walker was going out of his way to bust the union.
The buzz on Friday was a little ominous as talk of a mass Tea Party rally irritated the crowd. The local and national media salivated as visions of hippies in dreadlocks screaming at Joe the Plumber danced in their heads. Sarah Palin was rumored to be coming as she tweeted her “Union Brothers and Sisters” to come to Madison to support union busting Governor “Snot” Walker. But boy were they disappointed as “CHAOS IN MADISON” became 80,000 mild mannered middle of the road Midwesterners came to the capitol and packed the streets in an orderly fashion to show solidarity with the public sector workers of Wisconsin while a few befuddled white dudes told them they were making too much.
Even the Tea Party folk seemed quite humbled as their paltry numbers (a thousand or two?) were dwarfed by the mass of determination that encircled them. The goal of the organizers and police was to keep the two sides apart by dividing the capitol in half but because our crowd was so large this became an impossibility and the crowd, like the rank and file members of the unions across the state, created their own path and made history in Madison once again.
This week will be a test as many will be pressured to return to work and the renegade Senators tire of phone calls from Good Morning America.
Christopher Fons is a Social Studies teacher in Milwaukee and a member of the Milwaukee Teacher’s Education Association (MTEA). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Armed FRUD recruiting galore
© Ogaden Online
February 20, 2011 05:45
Abdoulkader Adan, a former military leader of the Afar rebel movement during the 1990s, has gone back to his first love. He, along with about ten of his comrades, has joined the wing of the Front pour la Restauration de l’Unité et la Démocratie (FRUD, rebel movement) which still advocates armed struggle against the regime of President Ismaël Omar Guelleh. During the early 1990s Adan was the deputy commander of the rebel movement’s northern front, before succeeding Ali Maki as head of FRUD military operations at the end of 1997. The Djibouti authorities had accused him of instigating the attack at the end of July 1999 on a national army barracks in Medeh, on the Mabla Mountain 50 km north west of Obock.
Adan relinquished arms after the peace agreement signed in 2001 between the FRUD’s then leader, the late Ahmed Dini, and the Djibouti government. Since then, the Djibouti government has been paying him a regular salary to keep him quiet. But he would seem to have changed his mind with the approach of the presidential election in April 2011. Moreover, a dozen Djibouti nationals of Issa (the clan of Saad Moussa, Odahgob and Fourlaba) extraction also joined the FRUD in the last two weeks of 2010. Finally, this rebel movement has embarked on a campaign to recruit young Afars in the north of the country, sometimes voluntarily but sometimes by force.
All the signs are that the FRUD rebel movement wants to form a small task force to carry out military actions ahead of the next election.
Radical Separatism: Contours of the Conspiracy
© Nil Nikandrov
Source: Strategic Culture Foundation
February 20, 2011
Overthrowing the regimes in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela is on Washington’s list of strategic objectives. Separatist leanings spread and radical groups proliferate in the countries with a clear backing from the outside world. No means of undermining the regimes remain unused, separatism – a traditional and proven instrument from the U.S. intelligence community’s arsenal being one of them.
An International Confederation for Regional Freedom and Autonomy (CONFILAR) was created on September 16, 2006 in Guayaquil, Ecuador by the pro-autonomy groups from Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Peru. The blueprint for the conference which established the confederation is attributed to Alberto Mansueti, vice president of the Rumbo Propio (Our Own Destiny) group based in Maracaibo, the capital of Zulia state. Mansueti is known to have authored CONFILAR’s underlying philosophy, a brand of radical separatism disguised as the demand for civilized autonomy. The extent of autonomy as requested by Mansueti and his brethren is practically tantamount to the abolition of centralized control over the corresponding territories. The radical position largely stems from its proponents’ aversion to the socialist policies pursued by the populist leaders such as H. Chavez, R. Correa, and E. Morales. Mansueti’s version of the autonomy envisages complete absence of economic or political regulation to be exercised by the central authority. The promised benefits of the arrangement are considerably better life quality, exceptional education and health care standards, jobs, higher pensions, and hefty social aid packages for the poor including food stamps, free tuition and medical care, while corruption, for example, is supposed to evaporate. In the past, similar pledges were generously dispensed by Correa’s ferocious critic Jaime Nebot and other leaders from the affluent Manabi province sited on the Pacific shore, which for a decade hosted a U.S. military base. Created with the stated goal of fighting drug trafficking, the base actually gave the U.S. control over the region’s countries. Correa pledged not to renew the base lease as he ran for president – and immediately faced a separatist surge in response upon coming to office. The CIA instigated separatism in Manabi in the hope that reaching an agreement on the base with the separatists should not be a problem, but Washington’s plans for the province failed to materialize. President Correa’s views on the U.S. military presence in Ecuador remain unchanged. In September, 2008 some 70% of the country’s population expressed at a national referendum support for a new constitution upholding the principles of solidarity, justice, and wealth for all. Ecuador acts independently in international politic, opposes the U.S. imperialist aspirations, and backs Latin American integration. In Guayaquil, however, the referendum was won by a relatively narrow margin.
CIA-coordinated separatist movements also rose in Bolivia and Venezuela. A May, 2007 referendum in Bolivia’s Santa Cruz province was won by deep autonomy enthusiasts who promised the population a greater share of the oil and gas revenues. Similar referendums were held in the Beni and Pando provinces in June the same year. Morales did not recognize the outcome citing low turnouts and likely rigging, and his supporters described them as a liberals’ mutiny, an offensive against the country’s new constitution launched by the opponents of socialism, and a step towards the Balkanization of Latin America.
The second CONFILAR forum convened in Santa Cruz in September, 2007 to broadcast solidarity with the Bolivian pro-autonomy groups. Separatist tendencies dominated Bolivia’s political agenda in 2008 and the early 2009, but the elimination by the Bolivian special forces of a group of terrorists sent to the country by the CIA from Croatia, Hungary, Romania, and Ireland had a sobering effect on the populations of the defiant Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni, and Pando provinces. It became widely known that the Santa Cruz leadership maintained close ties with the U.S. embassy and that weapons were secretly supplied to separatists from abroad. The computers seized by the Bolivian authorities contained files with a detailed plan of destabilization in Bolivia and the assassination of president Morales. A number of terrorists were arrested and others fled to the U.S.
In Bolivia, as in Ecuador, the constitution serves as the main barrier in the way of separatism. Bolivia’s constitution which entered into force in February, 2009 was the country’s first one to be propped up by a popular vote and to grant the native population a special status. The constitution handed to the state extensive powers in the sphere of economic regulation, and established the autonomy of provinces, municipalities, and Indian communities. It also shuts foreign military bases out of the country and bans the privatization of its energy resources. The opposition predictably reacted to the constitution with a grudge, and recurrences of confrontation with the rightists in Bolivia’s eastern part remain likely.
The CIA, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, and DEA managed to build a separatist stronghold in Venezuela’s Zulia state. For a long time, Zulia used to be run by Chavez’s staunch opponent Manuel Rosales who routinely discussed with U.S. ambassadors Brownfield and Shapiro bilateral deals between Zulia and the U.S., the theme to which Caracas explainably has a thin skin. Normally, the state is not entitled to independent foreign policies, though Brownfield admitted publicly that for him Zulia was “an independent republic” and openly urged the local elites to wrestle with Caracas over unrestricted autonomy.
Rosales’s Un Nuevo Tiempo party refrains from statements that might be regarded as downright calls for divorce with Venezuela, but its separatist agenda is not deeply hidden. As for Rosales, he used to combine separatism as a creed with corruption as a hobby, and eventually had to flee amidst the official probe into his machinations. He took shelter in Peru as a result, but the separatist forces in Zulia are still at work. Currently the Rumbo Propio, a party blessed by Rosales and maintaining divisions in several Venezuelan border states spearheads the activity. One of its leaders Nestor Suares calls the party’s supporters to push for Zulia’s full autonomy and to defy Chavez’s socialist legislation. Another Rumbo Propio key figure – former Venezuelan ambassador to the Dominican Republic Julio Portillo – declared severing all ties with “Chavez’s dictatorship” during the 2002 coup but his reckoning proved wrong as Chavez regained his presidency and Portillo had to turn to “regional patriotism” as a legitimizing concept. This must be the explanation behind his radical separatism and calls for an independence referendum in Zulia. Portillo was among the founders of the Zulia’s People for Constitution Democratic Front which sprang up when vacant lands south of the Maracaibo Lake were allocated to rural cooperatives. Money is poured into Zulia’s separatist groups both by the CIA and the local banks like Banco Occidental de Descuento.
The presence of a Columbian population numbering hundreds of thousands factors into the state’s turbulent situation. Many people sought refuge in Venezuela from Columbia’s internal conflict but are members of rightists paramilitary groups. They tend to be hostile to Chavez, meaning that the CIA and the separatists can count on them as a potential strike force which can help bring about Zulia’s sovereignty.
The Guayaquil – Santa Cruz – Zulia separatist axis will continue to be used to undermine the populist regimes and the regional integration initiatives in Lain America. Separatist groups will be given the key role if Washington opts for the Balkanization of Latin America, as the onset of chaos would make it easier to justify the U.S. intervention in the region. Any moment the U.S. Southern Command is ready to implement Plan Balboa which was put together five years ago.