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calendar   Friday - August 01, 2008

Does Obama ever think of us?

By Nile Gardiner

Barack Obama’s brief visit to London coincided with the opening of the new Batman film in British cinemas. How fitting.

On his journey through Europe last week the US presidential contender garnered adulation fit for a superhero. As a series of polls has shown, if the British public could vote on the American race, Obama would crush his rival John McCain by a margin of four or five to one.

Even 28 Tory MPs are backing him amidst an outbreak of Westminster Obamamania, despite his left-wing voting record, which made him the most liberal senator of 2007.

The British and European euphoria surrounding Obama’s trip is easy to understand. He is widely perceived as a charismatic, JFK-like figure, offering a seductive vision of a softer, sensitive America, while pledging to transform the negative image of the most powerful nation on earth.

But let’s consider the British national interest. When you push the spin and hype aside, there is scant evidence to suggest that an Obama presidency would actually strengthen the Anglo-American alliance, which has long been the engine of the free world. In fact, there is a risk it would be significantly weakened.

The special relationship was forged in the dark days of World War Two through the partnership between Winston Churchill and Franklin D Roosevelt, and has been a dominant feature of US and British foreign policy ever since. It is embodied in the close-knit military and intelligence ties between the two nations, as well as the huge volume of mutual trade and investment.

The alliance reached its zenith in the 1980s with the leadership of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, a powerful partnership that successfully faced down the Soviet empire. After a period of decline it was successfully revived by George W Bush and Tony Blair in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The Republican political elites in Washington still see the special relationship as critically important, a view shared by Senator McCain. In contrast, the Democrats have shown little affection for Britain in recent years, partly because of their love affair with continental Europe, but also due to Blair’s unstinting support for Bush over the war in Iraq.

After meeting with Gordon Brown yesterday, Senator Obama briefly acknowledged the special relationship, but only after prompting by journalists. He has yet to show much affinity with Britain; we should be wary of taking yesterday’s remarks at face value. In fact, his key foreign policy speeches have not mentioned Britain at all.

An Obama presidency could well usher in a seismic shift in the transatlantic alliance, with the centre of gravity of US policy in Europe moving away from London towards Berlin and Paris. His controversial decision to make Germany and France the centrepiece of his European tour, with Britain tacked on almost as an afterthought, is a clear sign of the importance placed by the Obama camp on enhanced relations with the continent.

The Democrats are traditionally strong supporters of a united, federal Europe, and have little sympathy for British objections to the further centralisation of political, military and economic power in Brussels. If David Cameron becomes prime minister at the head of a Eurosceptic administration, Downing Street and an Obama White House would be worlds apart.

And it won’t only be Obama’s European policy that will grate in London. Closely aligning himself with powerful labour unions, Obama has pronounced protectionist tendencies. He has opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement as well as a host of free trade treaties from Colombia to South Korea.

If the Left wins control of the White House in November’s election, many fear a new era of American protectionism will emerge. This could have a real and tangible impact in the UK - in shielding domestic US workers from foreign competition, including in the sensitive area of defence contracts, the Democrats would put thousands of British jobs at stake. This will draw the White House into conflict with the pro-free trade UK.

In his support for protectionist measures against the effects of globalisation, Obama will find common ground with several European leaders, including the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and it will consequently become harder for Britain to break down Europe’s own protectionist follies such as the Common Agricultural Policy.

Britain’s chattering classes should be careful what they wish for. Senator Obama promises change and a bold new course for the United States. The end result may be an America that looks away from Britain and erects higher barriers to trade and investment.

The special relationship has lasted over 60 years as the most powerful and successful partnership of modern times. Unfortunately it might not survive the next presidential election.

http://tinyurl.com/5l779p


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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 08/01/2008 at 02:01 PM   
Filed Under: • EditorialsUK •  
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A BIT OF ON TARGET HUMOR YOU MIGHT ENJOY.

I only have the link but it’s all you need. 

http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1329218104/bctid1674063085


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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 08/01/2008 at 01:48 PM   
Filed Under: • Humor •  
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The Mayor of London, has backed Barack Obama to become President of the United States.

This bothers me and I’ll just have to leave it to ppl like Grumps and Drew and Wardmom to articulate for me.  What the hell is it with oh this will be good for black around the world?  Why the hell should I care about that?  Are they paying American taxes in darkest Afrika? Are they voting in my country?
Oh wait,,, for all I know ....
But why the heck a very public man like Boris who really is somewhat a conservative (using the term loosely of course) why he should insert himself into our elections is beyond my understanding.  Far as I can tell, and okay I might be wrong here, I can’t think think of any American pol. who publicly backs any foreign office seeker for fear of being accused I suppose of interfering.

Boris Johnson backs Barack Obama as US President
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has backed Barack Obama to become President of the United States.

By Rosa Prince, Political Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:34PM BST 01 Aug 2008

His endorsement of the Democratic candidate, against John McCain, his Republican rival, would usually be considered unusual for a Conservative.

image

But during his recent European tour, Mr Obama proved successful at winning over politicians of all persuasions, charming David Cameron, the Conservative leader, who he met for talks in his House of Commons office.

A survey carried out last month found that a third of Tory MPs want the Democrat to emerge triumphant.

But the Mayor of London is the most high profile Conservative publicly to throw his weight behind Mr Obama.

He told this month’s Square Mile magazine: “I was looking at him on the news and just thinking what an amazing moment this is, watching his speech in Berlin and thinking what a critical moment this is for America and for attitudes towards what they can achieve amongst the black community.

“If Barack Obama can do it, it will be the most fantastic boost, I think, for black people everywhere around the world.”

Asked for his views on the Republican candidate, Mr Johnson said: “Well, OK, I think John McCain has many, many wonderful qualities, but I think a Barack Obama victory would do fantastic things for the confidence and the feelings of black people around the world - that they can win.”

Asked if his words amounted to an endorsement of the Democrat, he said: “Yes.”

Mr Cameron has also spoken of his admiration for Mr Obama, backing his controversial call for black fathers to take greater responsibility for their children, but has stopped short of endorsing him over Mr McCain.

In the interview, Mr Johnson, who was elected Mayor in May after toppling Labour’s Ken Livingstone, also told how much he was enjoying the new job, despite the long hours involved.

He said: “Exhausted? I am full of fire. I am like a greased bounding panther. My legs are steel springs and every day I get out of bed and I beat my chest.

“Every morning I am full of wonderment that the people of London have done the honour of making me their Mayor, I really am. It’s an absolutely wonderful feeling. I think many other people are full of wonderment too. “It’s a joy and easily the best job I’ve ever had - a very, very difficult job and a very, very big job - but the best job.

http://tinyurl.com/5q7cua


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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 08/01/2008 at 01:14 PM   
Filed Under: • EUro-peonsInternationalUK •  
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Allah Is Angry! No bread for you!

Syrian Wheat Crop Halved By Drought



image

2007 was a bad drought year with a reduced harvest, but 2008 is twice as bad in Syria



Syria resorted to the international wheat market last week for the first time in 15 years to compensate for one of its smallest harvests on record.
A commodities official told newswire al-Reuters the harvest would fall to around two million tonnes this year compared with an earlier estimate of three million tonnes and 4.1 million tonnes last year. It would be even less than the 2.5 million tonnes produced in 1999.

As a result, the government’s cereal division has issued a tender to buy 120,000 tonnes of soft wheat of any origin.
...
Syria resorted to the international wheat market last week for the first time in 15 years to compensate for one of its smallest harvests on record.  Drought and unstable weather hit Syria’s harvests in the last two years, undermining the country’s role as a food and farm commodities player in the Middle East.

Syria touts food security as a major achievement and the agriculture minister told government newspapers that Syria’s strategic wheat stocks would last until 2010.  But the country’s new import needs underline the economic challenges faced by the Baathist government, which has been under sanctions from Washington since 2004 for supporting anti-US groups in the Middle East.

The sanctions, which were expanded this year, do not ban US agricultural exports to Syria.

They don’t? Why the hell not? Better fix that right now Georgie Boy.

The wheat harvest is in across Syria and the Middle East and the situation looks grim. The most recent Syrian estimates place the harvest at 2 million metric tons - less than half the 4.1 million ton harvest of 2007, and the 2007 harvest was almost 1 million tons below a peak harvest.

The culprit is a devastating drought that has left soil dry and dusty. The early stages of the drought affected the 2007 harvest and it has now intensified and decimated the 2008 Syrian harvest. The strength of the drought increases eastward towards the Iraqi border. Everywhere here precipitation has been less than 50 % of normal. Even weeds are sparse in dry empty fields.

The drought is also affecting pasture lands putting pressure on the Bedouin and their sheep. In Syria both shepherds and farmers face an uncertain future. Irrigation has helped in some cases, but less that 50% of fields are irrigated and irrigation water often disappears in the dry winds. In addition, groundwater and reservoir supplies are under pressure, some reservoirs are now mere puddles compared to their former capacity. Even the mighty Euphrates is not immune to the drought, discharge has decreased and pumps run incessantly drawing water from the river. Syria has promised to aid Iraqi farmers with releases of water, but by the time the flow reaches the border the salt content has doubled.

Syria with its growing and increasingly urbanized population has only months of emergency wheat stores left and for the first time in 15 years is resorting to purchases on the international market - a market that is becoming increasingly expensive.

Similar declining harvests due to drought in Turkey, Lebanon, Iran are driving those countries to purchases on the international market, In Syria and throughout the Middle East, an old enemy, drought, is again challenging an ancient and troubled region.

SYRIA: Wheat Production in 2008/09 Declines Owing to Season-Long Drought

Syria, like its neighbor Iraq, has been experiencing a serious drought during the past 8 months. Drought stress in 2008/09, which was exacerbated by abnormally hot spring temperatures, is expected to cause significant losses to the nation’s winter grain crops. Wheat production is expected to decline 38 percent compared to last year, to the lowest level in the past seventeen years. As the chart at the right illustrates, wheat is the single most important food grain grown in Syria, and this year’s projected shortfall could lead to a significant drawdown in domestic stocks unless the country increases imports or the government raises procurement prices high enough to capture a larger proportion of the domestic crop this year.

Extremely low rainfall conditions have affected much of Syria during the 2008/09 winter grain growing period, with drought conditions increasing in severity as the season progressed. Total rainfall accumulations averaged between 15-30 percent of normal for most of the primary wheat producing areas, with the exception of western coastal regions (minor producing areas) which received more beneficial winter rains. This amounts to an average of about 2 inches or less total rainfall during the 8 months between September 2007 and April 2008 in the major wheat producing provinces.

As in Iraq, there was little to no measurable rainfall this year in the planting period from October-December in the primary wheat producing regions of northeastern Syria (see charts below). The governorates of Al Hasakah, Ar Raqqah, and Aleppo, which together account for 73 percent of total national wheat area and 65 percent of total production, were particularly affected by extremely low rainfall and poor planting conditions.

image

The maps may look incomplete, but things only grow in the Northern and Eastern parts of Syria anyway




Syria should have a desalination plant about every 100 yards all along the Med. Instead, they spend their money to try and build nukes. Allah is pissed. No food for you.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/01/2008 at 12:40 AM   
Filed Under: • Middle-EastWar On Terror •  
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