NEWS ARTICLES – DECEMBER 2011

In 2012, Obama to press ahead without Congress – Chicago Tribune|Associated Press, Dec. 31, 2011 – …Obama’s re-election year will focus almost exclusively on executive action. …Obama will come out with at least two or three directives per week, continuing the “We Can’t Wait” campaign the administration began this fall, and try to define Republicans in Congress as gridlocked and dysfunctional.

Mugabe plan to rig next election exposed – Nehanda Radio, Dec. 31, 2011 – The days of Mugabe bullying Sadc [South Africa Development Community] are over. The regional body is determined to find a lasting solution to the Zimbabwean crisis. They see it as a blight on the regional bloc’s quest for political stability and sustainable economic growth. Moreover, events in the Arab North have spurred Sadc to act decisively in resolving regional crises in order to pre-empt foreign intervention.

AfDB provides $107.4m for transport project in The Gambia – Ghana Business News, Dec. 31, 2011 – According to the Tunis-based African lender, the project will help bring to fruition plans which the governments of The Gambia and Senegal have had for many years, to create free traffic flow between the northern and southern parts of each country in order to promote free movement of persons, goods and services between them and other countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Arab Spring becoming an Islamic Revolution – Vancouver Sun, Dec. 31, 2011 – Yet there are some signs that in countries lightly touched by the Arab Spring, such as Jordan, and among regional organizations, such as the previously moribund Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council, the cries for reform coming from the streets have been heard.

Charting a course to peace – China Daily, Dec. 31, 2011 – Despite ongoing disputes, China is seeking joint development of the South China Sea to turn a potential flashpoint into an area offering opportunities for friendly cooperation….China has proposed to shelve differences and is seeking joint development of the sea. It signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in 2002 with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which led to the agreement of the guidelines for the implementation of the DOC in July.

Emboldened by Monitors, Syrians Hold Huge Protests – ABCNews|Associated Press, Dec. 30, 2011 – In the largest protests Syria has seen in months, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets Friday in a display of defiance to show an Arab League observer mission the strength of the opposition movement.

WHO “deeply concerned” by mutated birdflu research – Reuters, Dec. 30, 2011 – The World Health Organization issued a stern warning on Friday to scientists who have engineered a highly pathogenic form of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus, saying their work carries significant risks and must be tightly controlled.

European Union: Restoring European growth – China Daily, Dec. 30, 2011 – But if creditors must share in the downside of the current crisis, they should also share in the future economic growth of peripheral eurozone economies. This requires a second step: linking the new bonds to warrants tied to debtor countries’ GDP growth.

African viewpoint: Rocked by revolt – BBC, Dec. 30, 2011 – Throw into this mix the deplorable treatment of black Africans….the humiliation meted out to the African Union as it tried to broker a ceasefire and a peace no-one wanted; the perceived manipulation of UN resolution 1973 from no-fly zone to effective regime change, then it becomes easy to read why Libya’s “liberation” is being seen by Africans as a Western plot. Libyans, however, showed in their eight-month war that they had rejected the colonel, and by extension his friends from black Africa, and there is now much more than the Sahara dividing Africa’s north from her south.

China, ASEAN share common interests – China Daily, Dec. 30, 2011 – ASEAN is the region with most overseas Chinese and the economic and social relations between China and the ASEAN are very close. The history and geographic position decide that the ASEAN is the first-choice partner for China to establish free trade zones.

Rwanda Now: Betting on economic growth – Global Post, Dec. 30, 2011 – Rwanda joined the East African Community, whose other members are Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi. The government is aligning Rwanda’s budget, trade, and immigration policies with its regional partners.

EurAsEC: Fitch Affirms Eurasian Development Bank’s at ‘BBB’; Outlook Positive – CBonds Info, Dec. 30, 2011 – The EDB’s ratings are underpinned by its strong capitalisation and excellent asset quality. EDB was endowed with a substantial capital base by shareholders at its creation in 2006, and its capitalisation is stronger than that of other sub-regional multilateral development banks (MDBs).

North America: Canadian government announces faster travel to US for Nexus card holders Workpermit.com, Dec. 30, 2011 – The Nexus program is available for pre-approved, low-risk travellers into Canada and the US at designated air, land and marine ports of entry.

Syrian troops fire on protesters as Russia describes Arab observer mission as ‘reassuring – Washington Post, Dec. 30, 2011 – The presence of Arab League monitors in Syria has re-energized the anti-government protest movement, with tens of thousands turning out this week in cities and neighborhoods where the observers are expected to visit.

China’s factories falter, pro-growth policies eyed – Reuters, Dec. 30, 2011 – “On top of monetary easing, mainly in the form of further reserve ratio cuts, we have long argued that fiscal policy can and should play a more important role in stabilize growth and jobs.”

Spain’s new government decides first wave of cuts – AFP, Dec. 30, 2011 – Spaniards prepared to bite the bullet Friday as a new right-leaning government met to decide its first wave of spending cuts ushering in an austere New Year.

Financial Crises and Narcissism – Financial Sense, Dec. 29, 2011 – Narcissism is a psycho-cultural affliction which goes to the heart of today’s financial crisis. For what is today’s indebtedness except an indication of the present sense of entitlement (without regard to future costs). One of the symptoms of narcissism most relevant to financial markets is gross overconfidence.

Intervention or not – Al-Ahram (Egypt), Dec. 29, 2011 – Western and NATO countries on the council (especially Britain, France and the United States) saw military intervention tasked with a “responsibility to protect civilians” as a useful way to reform, discipline or oust recalcitrant Arab regimes.

White House, Saudi Arabia Sign $30B F-15 Deal – ABC News, Dec. 29, 2011 – “This gives Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates really modern combat aircraft that are much more advanced than Iran has,” he said. “Iran cannot feel secure now if it attacks other Gulf Cooperation Council members in the region.”

Russian challenger urges joint currency with EU – Associated Press, Dec. 29, 2011 – The Russian billionaire challenging Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in March’s presidential election said Thursday that he will push for a common currency with the European Union and liberalize the nation’s political scene if elected.

Amid bloodshed, Hamas prepares to leave Syria – Boston Globe|Associated Press, Dec. 29, 2011 – Alarmed by bloody unrest in Syria, the Hamas militant group has pulled out many of its lower-level cadres from its Damascus headquarters and made contingency plans to move its leadership to locations across the Middle East, senior Hamas members have told The Associated Press.

For Iran, cost of closing strait may outweigh gain – Associated Press, Dec. 29, 2011 – Trying to close the strait would bring down a powerful military response on Iran’s head from U.S. forces in the Gulf and turn Tehran’s few remaining international allies against it.

Falklands’ flagged vessels: ‘Another diplomatic victory for President Fernández’ – MercoPress. Dec. 29, 2011 – Earlier in December a meeting of the newly formed 33-country Community of Latin American and Caribbean States unanimously backed Argentina’s “legitimate rights in the sovereignty dispute” over the Falklands and South Georgia. UNASUR, the putative South American union, has done likewise.

Privacy rights and a thinning Canada-U.S. border – Chronicle Herald (Canada), Dec. 29, 2011 – And once you start opening the information tap, how do you say no to further requests by the U.S. for additional information? What if U.S. officials wanted access to the names of all those who emigrated to Canada in a certain year?

Russian politicians do not envision revolution – The Voice of Russia, Dec. 29, 2011 – The US is intimidated by the integration processes, which Russia is a part of. Mr. Pushkov believes that Prime Minister and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin epitomizes the idea of Russia being an independent power, a center of the Eurasian Union and a leader of the BRIC economies which have become a prominent global force:

Ukraine to cooperate with Customs Union only on mutually beneficial terms – Kiev Post, Dec. 29, 2011 – The Customs Union’s member states planning to form the Eurasian Union account for approximately the same portion of Ukraine’s trade as all of the European Union’s 27 member countries, the minister said. “That is why we keep looking for an acceptable formula of cooperation with this entity for the sake of advocating Ukrainian exporters’ interests,” [Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostiantyn Hryschenko] said.

Pakistan-Maldives relations to be enhanced: PM – Daily Times (Pakistan), Dec. 29, 2011 – [Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani] renewed his invitation to the Maldives’ president to visit Pakistan….He further said that Pakistan wanted to improve its relations with its neighbours especially with the SAARC countries and would support any reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

Bosnian ethnic factions find formula for government – Irish Times, Dec. 29, 2011 – Bosnia’s ethnically divided political parties have finally agreed to form a new government, after 14 months of deadlock that halted the country’s stumbling progress towards eventual membership of the European Union.

A-Jad: Gulf Arabs are Western Pawns – Arutz Sheva, Dec. 28, 2011 – Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused Iran’s Saudi-led Persian Gulf allies of being American pawns on Wednesday….Last week the six-member Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) resolved to pursue the formation of a diplomatic and military union as a means of forming strategic ballast against Iran, who they accuse of seeking to destabilize their regimes by inciting their Shiite populations against them.

The world must assist Amisom to complete the task in Somalia – Africa Review, Dec. 28, 2011 – It is easy to forget that when the United Nations Security Council, the body that bears the primary responsibility for the preservation of global peace, mandated the African Union to deploy a peace support mission to Somalia, few gave it much chance of success.

Official: Gulf states ready to offset Iran oil – Associated Press, Dec. 28, 2011 – Gulf Arab nations are prepared to offset any potential loss of Iranian oil in the world market, a senior Saudi oil official said as Iranian officials stepped up their rhetoric Wednesday about shutting off a key supply route.

More trouble for Gingrich as Iowa campaign quickens – Reuters, Dec. 27, 2011 – Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s campaign struggled to fend off more bad news on Tuesday after he was quoted supporting main rival Mitt Romney’s healthcare reform in Massachusetts.

South Africa seeks AU top seat – Daily Monitor (Uganda), Dec. 28, 2011 – The African Union commission top seat is now open for competition, with South Africa preparing to unseat Dr Jean Ping. French-speaking Ping has been chairman of the AU commission since 2008 and his term in office will end this year.

Speed up EAC economic integration – Business Daily, Dec. 28, 2011 – We need to fast-track full economic integration of East African Community (EAC) to multiply regional trade. It is when success in regional economic and trade harmonisation and growth is achieved that we can turn our attention to political unification, which currently may be premature.

Bridging the Persian Gulf – The Pioneer (India), Dec. 27, 2011 – Bulk of India’s trade is with the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, especially Saudi Arabia….Seen within this wider strategic context, Iranian rhetoric against the Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, goes against larger Indian interests in the Persian Gulf.

What Really Frightens the Oil-Rich Arab Monarchies – Bloomberg, Dec. 27, 2011 – In a summit ending with a call for greater “union” rather than mere “cooperation,” the oil-rich, Arab monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council stressed threats emanating from Iran.

 South African President Comdemns Attacks in Nigeria – Prensa latina, dec. 27, 2011 – South African President Jacob Zuma condemned the attacks in Nigeria in Christmas and repeated his commitment to fight terrorism within the African Union.

Arabs put credibility on line with Syria mission – Associated Press, Dec. 27, 2011 – The continued deaths and the sense that Assad is trying to make end runs around the observers threaten to undermine the credibility of the Arab League at a time when it is trying to be more muscular in dealing with conflicts.

UNASUR, Latin America: 600 million vs. USA – Pravda, Dec. 27, 2011 – In December, the leaders of 33 American countries situated southward of US borders gathered in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas. The leaders signed the agreement about the establishment of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)….It sees no ties with the Anglo-Saxon “North” and eyes the cooperation with the “South” – China, first and foremost. China supported the establishment of the CELAC.

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Forget ‘Nation-Building’ – Now it’s ‘Region-Building – CircumspectNews.com, Dec. 26, 2011 – What exactly are the U.S. objectives in all of these military deployments? Is the price in blood and treasure being sacrificed simply for a “war on terror,” or are ulterior motives being pursued? President Obama’s latest deployment announcements confirm the latter, and shed broader light upon this habitual misuse of our military.

Asian countries refuse to ‘take side’ – People’s Daily (China), Dec. 26, 2011 – “Both the United States and China are every important to the . We are friends with the United States and China. Please do not make us choose one from the two,” said a maritime analyst of Malaysia.

Yen-Yuan Trade Plan to Cut Dollar Dependence of China, Japan – Bloomberg, Dex. 26, 2011 – Japan and China will promote direct trading of the yen and yuan without using dollars…the Japanese government said….China also announced a 70 billion yuan ($11 billion) currency swap agreement with Thailand last week as part of a plan outlined in October to promote the use of the yuan in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations [ASEAN] and establish free trade zones.

EAC Single Currency Still a Dream, Kanimba Tells Parliament – AllAfrica, Dec. 26, 2011 – Negotiations on the East African Monetary Union (EAMU) protocol are underway but it is clear that important basics remain to be put in place before a common currency comes into effect, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Francois Kanimba, told lawmakers on Friday.

Major breakthrough at Riyadh summit – Gulfnews, Dec. 25, 2011 – The 32nd summit of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) held in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh has made notable breakthroughs at least on two economic integration proposals and indirectly hinting at a third.

Syrian opposition calls for UN role to end crisis – CBS News, Dec. 25, 2011 – The Arab League has begun sending observers into Syria to monitor its compliance with a plan demanding an end to the regime’s crackdown on political opponents. The 22-member bloc has warned that it could turn to the U.N. Security Council to help stop the violence that began in March.

Integration is result of mutual respect – IPPmedia (Tanzania), Dec. 25, 2011 – Tanzania too has expressed the desire to approach political federation on a gradual process, which is clearly as per the treaty establishing the EAC [East African Community] and not “fast-tracking” the process, which was a dream project of some quarters within the region.

Amisom takes on regional, continental character, as Kenya heightens attacks – The East African, Dec. 25, 2011 – The AU [African Union] force in Somalia is increasingly taking on a regional and continental character….In December 2006, the UN Security Council authorised the deployment of IGASOM, as the mission was to be called, but stipulated that neighbouring countries were stay out. However, when the Council approved Amisom’s deployment in place of IGASOM, these clauses were dropped.

Iran begins 10-day drill in Strait of Hormuz – Xinhuanet (China), Dec. 25, 2011 – Iran has kicked off 10 days of naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz. Concerns are now being raised over a possible closure of the world’s most strategic oil transit channel in the event of an outbreak of military conflict between Tehran and the West.

Egypt Islamist parties the big winners in second round of voting – Los Angeles Times, Dec. 25, 2011 – Islamist parties have solidified their lead in Egypt’s historic parliamentary elections, capturing about 70% of the seats up for grabs in the second phase of a three-part poll, according to results released Saturday by election officials and preliminary estimates by the parties.

Tens of thousands of protesters pressure Putin – Reuters, Dec. 25, 2011 – “I see enough people to take the Kremlin and the White House (government headquarters) right now!” anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, who has emerged as the most inspirational of the opposition leaders, said to loud cheers….Putin has also alienated many people by suggesting that a large number of people at the protests, which were mainly organized on social networking sites, were paid to turn up and accused the United States of encouraging them.

Bahrain to take part in Arab League delegation of observers to Syria – Bahrain News Agency, Dec. 24, 2011 – The decision stems from the kingdom’s belief in the importance of joint Arab action following a resolution by the Gulf Cooperation Council to send a unified unit representing all the GCC countries to take part in the Arab League delegation to observe the situation in Syria, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

European Union: Technocracy triumphs over Democracy – AllVoices, Dec. 24, 2011 – The European crisis has made it clear that financial capital determines what governments must do not the politicians. While democracy is allowed as long as elected governments do what financial capital demands, when governments fail to meet those demands they are replaced by unelected technocrats.

Judge rules against Arizona sheriff in immigrant stops – Reuters, Dec. 24, 2011 – A federal judge on Friday barred high profile Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio from detaining people simply for being in the country illegally, in a ruling that faulted the local lawman for enforcing federal immigration law.

Multiple challenges await EAC in 2012 – The East African, Dec. 24, 2011 – As 2011 comes to an end, the East African Community faces a number of challenges….EAC Deputy Secretary General Beatrice Kiraso has already warned that if not dealt with, the militia threats would greatly undermine the progress of EAC integration.

GOP: Gingrich, Perry Will Not Be on Va. Ballot – ABC News, Dec. 24, 2011 – Failure to compete in Virginia, which is among the “Super Tuesday” primaries, would deal a huge blow to any contender who had not locked up the nomination by then.

African Union, China sign AMISOM support agreement – Afrique en ligne, Dec. 24, 2011 – China has agreed to provide equipment and material valued at about US$4.5 million for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), according to a press release issued by the African Union (AU) on Friday.

Italy May Have to Kick Its Cash Habit as Monti Cracks Down on Tax Evaders – Bloomberg, Dec. 23, 2011 – Prime Minister Mario Monti, in office just over a month, wants landlords, plumbers, electricians and small businesses to stop conducting large transactions in cash, which critics say helps them evade taxes. The government on Dec. 4 reduced the maximum allowed cash payment to 1,000 euros from 2,500 euros.

Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to be Released in the US for the First Time – Activist Post, Dec. 23, 2011 – A private firm plans to initiate the release of the GE mosquitoes in the Florida Keys. Florida will be the first beta testing grounds to determine whether or not the mosquitoes lead to detrimental environmental and genetic impact. Residents in this area will also be subjected — without choice — to these genetically manipulated insects.

Voters leaving Republican, Democratic parties in droves – USA Today, Dec. 22, 2011 – More than 2.5 million voters have left the Democratic and Republican parties since the 2008 elections, while the number of independent voters continues to grow.

Ambassador Vicki Huddleston says Ethiopia needs to ‘move on – Nazret (Ethiopia), Dec. 21, 2011 – With regard to security and stability concerns in the Horn of Africa, Huddleston [Assistant Deputy Secretary of Defense for Africa in the Office of the US Secretary of Defense] said that the sub-region is a great example of building the capacity of militaries under civilian leadership to deal with problems. “What the Department of Defense has done, along with the Department of State, under the overarching policy of the National Security Council, is to provide assistance to AMISOM, the African Union peacekeeping effort in Somalia,” she said. {Reference: Does the US, UN and AMISOM Supply Al-Shabaab? – Somalia Report, July 30, 2011 – Aid organizations funding terrorist groups is an unpleasant reality of Mogadishu. So is the reality of AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia] and TFG [Tranitional Federal Government] soldiers selling their weapons and ammunition for that tainted money.}

CIA’s watchdog: No problem with NYPD partnership – USA Today, Dec. 23, 2011 – A CIA officer also directed intelligence collection and reviewed reports, according to former NYPD officials involved.

President Obama signs payroll tax cut extension – Wall Street Journal, Dec. 23, 2011 – The bill’s $33 billion cost is expected to be covered by an increase in fees charged to mortgage lenders by government housing agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac….The fee increase, expected to raise about $35.7 billion in revenue over 10 years, likely would be passed on to new-home buyers, raising their monthly mortgage payments by as much as $15 on mortgages of $210,000.

U.S. Homes Lose $700 Billion in Value in 2011 — and That’s the Good News – DailyFinance, Dec. 23, 2011 – “While homeowners suffered through another year of steep losses, the good news is that homes are losing value at a substantially slower pace…”

Bombs rock Baghdad, raising fears of sectarian war – ABC News, Dec. 23, 2011 – A terrifying wave of bombs tore through mostly Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 69 people and evoking fears that Iraq could dissolve into a new round of sectarian violence now that American troops have left.

Persian Gulf: GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] moving in right direction – Gulfnews, Dec. 23, 2011 – Proposal for a Gulf union is in line with the spirit of the age, which calls for creation of big blocs to tackle present world realities.

The Nation: Why Do GOP Bosses Fear Ron Paul? – NPR, Dec. 22, 2011 – But the truth is that his politics descend directly from those of former Ohio Senator Robert “Mr. Republican” Taft and former Nebraska Congressman Howard Buffett—old-right opponents of war and empire who served in the Congress in the 1940s and 1950s….Taft opposed what he described as the “Eastern establishment” of the party—the Wall Streeters who, he pointedly noted, had little in common with Main Streeters. Taft was a steady foe of American interventionism abroad, arguing very much as Paul does today that it threatens domestic liberty.

Putting Belarus’s sovereignty in jeopardy – Washington Post, Dec. 22, 2011 – [Vladimir Putin] also extracted Mr. Lukashenko’s signature for a declaration on the creation of a Eurasian Union, which Mr. Putin dreams will restore Moscow’s control over large parts of the former Soviet Union, starting with Belarus and Kazakhstan.

The GOP’s Payroll Tax Fiasco – Wall Street Journal, Dec. 22, 2011 – Republicans have also achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-year tax cutter, although he’s spent most of his Presidency promoting tax increases and he would hit the economy with one of the largest tax increases ever in 2013. This should be impossible.

European Union signs over €12 million for Pacific Tourism – Pacific.scoop, Dec. 22, 2011 – The European Union yesterday signed assistance of €12.3 million to increase Pacific-ACP countries’ ability to benefit from global trade and regional economic integration….The agreement was signed on 20 December 2011 between the EDF Regional Authorising Officer, the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), and the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) as well as with the Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO) Secretariat in Suva, Fiji.

Cuban pharma exports could get a boost from UNASUR – Cuba Standard, Dec. 22, 2011 – Cuba’s pharmaceutical and medical exports could benefit from a decision by the just-formed Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) to centralize the purchasing of its member nations’ government healthcare systems. “In little time, in the healthcare area, the 12 countries will buy medicine en bloc,” …

South American states ban Falklands vessels from ports – BBC, Dec. 21, 2011 – The Mercosur decision is the latest in a series by Latin American regional bodies designed to show solidarity with Argentina which has long claimed sovereignty over the Falkland Islands. A spokesman said, “….It is not immediately clear what practical impact, if any, this statement will have, which mirrors the language already used by the Union of South American Nations [UNASUR] in 2010.”

North America: MP expresses outrage at border crossing cuts – Keremeos Review, Dec. 21, 2011 – Four border crossings in southern British Columbia are earmarked for closure or reduced services as part of the recently announced Canada-U.S. perimeter security deal….”That these negotiations were being conducted in secret for over a year is unacceptable, why weren’t these communities consulted? Where is the business case? What are the risks? The NDP categorically opposes any ill conceived border schemes that compromise our economy, sovereignty and security.”

Exclusive: Military to Designate U.S. Citizens as Enemy During Collapse - Infowars, Dec. 21, 2011FEMA Continuity of Government plans prep total takeover of society, dispatching military domestically under economic collapse emergency

Gulf unity a matter of urgency – The National|Arab News Digest, Dec. 22, 2011 – The union of the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] member states is crucial. It needs no committees, conferences or any waste of time. It is a union that has to come out of a collective sense of impending danger.

Institutions key to stronger Gulf ties – GulfNews, Dec. 22, 2011 – To police and monitor this kind of thing, the GCC itself needs much larger and more proficient technical staff, working under the GCC Secretariat. The same applies to any other economic area, like the stalled plan to unify the six GCC currencies.

God bless Gulf nation – Arab Times, Dec. 22, 2011 – Now it is up to the GCC leaders to act because the seeds have been sown on fertile prosperous land. When will we reach the Promised Land? When will we have one embassy to represent all of us in all countries of the world? When will we have one army and one economy?

Controversial ‘bird flu’ edits move ahead – AFP, Dec. 22, 2011 – Top US scientists defended their bid to stop details of a mutant bird flu virus from being published and called for global cooperation to ward off an uncontrollable pandemic.

Forum takes stock of 2011 Pacific Plan progress – Radio New Zealand, Dec. 22, 2011 – The Pacific Islands Forum secretariat has taken stock of progress in its Pacific Plan and says despite a number of challenges, it remains the strategy for regional integration.

Ukraine does not plan to join EuroAsEC yet – ForUm, Dec. 21, 2011 – Ukraine will first look at how the Eurasian economic community (EuroAsEC) works and then will consider its participation in the union, President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych said.

North America: Beyond the Border is too timid – By Stephen Blank, Winnipeg Free Press, Dec. 21, 2011 – To compete in the emerging global economy, we need to think in terms of big ideas — about free trade in freight transportation, a North American energy strategy and a North American infrastructure strategy. Keeping heads down, under the legislative radar, is an attractive but dangerous approach….If we act like conspirators, we will surely be suspected of conspiracy. [Too late on that one, Mr. Blank.]

Holiday Showdown Over Payroll Tax Tests Obama, GOP – ABC News, Dec. 21, 2011 – If legislation isn’t passed by New Year’s Day, payroll taxes will go up by almost $20 a week for a worker making a $50,000 salary. Almost 2 million people could lose unemployment benefits as well, and doctors would bear big cuts in Medicare payments.

Eurasian integration: step by step – The Voice of Russia, Dec. 20, 2011 – “This is the first supranational body in the history of our nations – a body to which our states have essentially given a part of their sovereignty,” [Russian President Dmitry Medvedev] says. “Its scope of authority will gradually broaden….He stressed that the Eurasian Economic Union is open to accession by new members, first and foremost by those from the CIS and the EurAsEC.

TSA screenings aren’t just for airports anymore – Los Angeles Times, Dec. 20, 2011 – Roving security teams increasingly visit train stations, subways and other mass transit sites to deter terrorism. Critics say it’s largely political theater.

First Djibouti troops join AU Somalia force – AFP, Dec. 20, 2011 – The first Djiboutian contingent of 100 soldiers landed in Mogadishu Tuesday to join the African Union force battling Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab forces in Somalia, the mission said.

Gulf Arabs back unity after hinting at Iran threat – Reuters, Dec. 20, 2011 – The goal of greater union is enshrined in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council’s 1981 founding charter, but has only been given impetus by the mass uprisings that have reshaped the power balance in the Middle East, as well as fears of a newly assertive non-Arab, Shi’ite Iran across the Strait of Hormuz.

Alarm as Dutch lab creates highly contagious killer flu – London Independent, Dec. 20, 2011 – Some scientists are questioning whether the research should ever have been undertaken in a university laboratory, instead of at a military facility. The US Government is now taking advice on whether the information is too dangerous to be published.

Iraqi PM calls for crisis talks – Reuters, Dec. 20, 2011 – Days after US forces left the country and on the eve of the first anniversary of the government, Iraq’s fragile political truce looked to be unravelling.

Iran envoy meets Rai, praises Syria over decision to allow in observers – Daily Star (Lebanon), Dec. 20, 2011 – Speaking to reporters at Bkirki, the seat of the influential Maronite patriarchate, Rukn Abadi described as “very positive” Syria’s approval of the Arab League plan.

High Court to Hear Health-Care Case in March – Wall Street Journal, Dec. 20, 2011 – Supreme Court arguments over President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul will stretch over three days, beginning March 26, the court said Monday.

EurAsEC leaders sign new deals on further integration – People’s Daily|Xinhua (China), Dec. 20, 2011 – The presidents of the EurAsEC [Eurasian Economic Community] member states — Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, signed several documents on matters including the further buildup of the Russia-Belarus- Kazakhstan Customs Union, the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Common Economic Space and the operation of the new EurAsEC court.

The Eurozone Crisis and Lessons for the East African Monetary Union – Brookings Institution, Dec. 20, 2011 – Policymakers working on EAC [East African Community] integration have been approaching the adoption of a single monetary union with caution given the ongoing sovereign debt crisis in Europe.

Beware the Coming Bailouts of Europe - Ron Paul, Dec. 20, 2011 – What is needed is for bad debts to be liquidated. Banks that invested in sovereign debt need to take their losses rather than socializing those losses and prolonging the process of adjusting their balance sheets to reflect reality.

Power plant closures to cost US towns jobs, taxes – Associated Press, Dec. 20 2011 – An Associated Press analysis has found that more than 32 mostly coal-fired power plants in a dozen states will be forced to close because of the new, more stringent regulations. Another 36 plants are at risk of closing.

Saudi King Abdullah Calls for a Closer Arab Gulf Union – Bloomberg, Dec. 19, 2011 – Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah called on leaders of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council to strengthen their alliance into a united “single entity” as they confront threats to national security.

House Republicans push for new payroll tax cut talks – Reuters, Dec. 19, 2011 – When the House votes on Tuesday it will in effect be rejecting a bill that passed the Senate overwhelmingly on Saturday and calling for formal negotiations with the Democratic-led Senate.

China, ASEAN go beyond trade – China Daily, Dec. 19, 2011 – China-ASEAN economic cooperation has never been more dynamic and fruitful….China and the ASEAN have elevated the status of their relationship from dialogue partnership to strategic partnership in two decades.

Saudi says its security targeted, urges Gulf unity – Reuters, Dec. 19, 2011 – Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah said on Monday the security of his country and that of his Arab neighbors was being targeted, in an apparent reference to regional rival Iran, and called for Gulf Arab states to close ranks in a “single entity”….addressing the opening session of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

EU-Ukraine pact finalized, signing stalled – Associated Press, Dec. 19, 2011 – The European Union on Monday balked at signing a landmark cooperation agreement with Ukraine over the jailing of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, in a move that could push Kiev back into Russia’s orbit as it lobbies Moscow for cheaper gas prices.

Arab League: Syria signs Arab League deal to allow observers in – Associated Press, Dec. 19, 2011 – The regime’s acceptance of observers after weeks of delays came after a warning from Arab leaders that they would turn to the U.N. Security Council for action to try to end President Bashar Assad’s crackdown that the U.N. says has killed at least 5,000 people.

Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan Get Eurasian Union Rolling – Novinite, Dec. 19, 2011 – The state leaders of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have approved the appointment of the “Eurasian Economic Commission”, a new supranational body to integrate the three former Soviet republics within a common economic space, the so called Eurasian Union, as of January 1, 2012.

Russia to assist Belarus in WTO accession. – TVR, Dec. 19, 2011 – The leaders exchanged views on topical issues, including the launch of the Single Economic Space and the development of EurAsEC, Eurasian Union and the first-ever supra-national body formation in the history of post-Soviet states became main issues topping the agenda.

RA President attends EurAsEC interstate Council – Aysor, Dec. 19, 2011 – Armenia owns an observer’s status at EurAsEC. The full members of the organization are Russia, Belorussia, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan and Tajikistan. Three of the members – Kazakhstan, Belorussia and Russia – have established the customs union on which will be based the Eurasian Economic Union in 2015.

Paul leads in Iowa – Public Policy Polling, Dec. 18, 2011 – Newt Gingrich’s campaign is rapidly imploding, and Ron Paul has now taken the lead in Iowa. He’s at 23% to 20% for Mitt Romney, 14% for Gingrich…

As US departs Iraq, it leaves behind allies who won’t talk – Kansas City Star, Dec. 18, 2011 – Saudi Arabia also has gone out of its way to exclude Iraq, whose main port is at the head of the Persian Gulf, from the Gulf Cooperation Council, but wants to add landlocked Jordan and Morocco, hundreds of miles away on the Atlantic.

Obama signs spending bill, averts shutdown – AFP, Dec. 18, 2011 – The US Senate passed the spending bill and a two-month payroll tax holiday extension on Saturday, punting that problem down the road, but not for long.

Germany’s Merkel beset by domestic turbulence – AFP, Dec. 18, 2011 – A success for the eurosceptics could have thrown into doubt the survival of the fractious coalition already buffeted by FDP reluctance to support German aid for debt-wracked eurozone countries.

Arab League may turn to UN Security Council over Syria violence – Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 18, 2011 – The Arab League has threatened to turn to the UN Security Council to pressure Syria to accept its peace plan. The league has set a Wednesday deadline for Syria to act.

‘60 Minutes’ Edits Out Obama‘s Claim That He’s the Fourth Best President – The Blaze, Dec. 18, 2011 – President Barack Obama sat for an extensive interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” last week, though it appears the portion of the interview actually broadcast on TV left out a statement where Obama essentially declared himself the fourth best president in terms of his accomplishments.

The End of Canada as a Sovereign Nation State? Canada, the US and the “Security Perimeter” – Global Research (Canada), Dec. 17, 2011 – The security agreement uses the threat of terrorism, crime and health securities to announce an increasing merger of the two countries’ border security, including an integrated entry-exit system that will involve full sharing of individuals’ biometric details between the two governments by 2014 and even the creation of integrated cross-border law enforcement teams with authority to collect intelligence and conduct criminal investigations on either side of the border.

The Truth about the New Detainee Policy – By Rep. Justin Amish (R-Mich), RedState, Dec. 17, 2011 – Our Constitution does not permit the federal government to detain American citizens indefinitely without charge or trial.

Feinstein Introduces Due Process Guarantee Act – The New American, Dec. 17, 2011 – The stated purpose of the act is: To clarify that an authorization to use military force, a declaration of war, or any similar authority shall not authorize the detention without charge or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States and for other purposes.

Russia joins world trade organization – Xinhua (China), Dec. 17, 2011 – The six largest economy of the world is becoming a member of the WTO. With Russian accession, the WTO will regulate 97 percent of world trade.

Putin credits Nazerbayev as “main engine” for economic integration – BSR Russia, Dec. 17, 2011 – During his marathon televised Q & A on Thursday Russian premier and presidential candidate, Vladimir Putin, credited Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev as being the driving force behind the Customs Union and the Eurasian Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

‘[P]GCC mustn’t weaken resistance front’ – PressTV, Dec. 17, 2011 – Iran’s deputy foreign minister has urged the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC) to refrain from weakening the anti-Israel resistance front in the region.

EAC, SADC launch joint climate change initiative – IPPMedia, Dec. 17, 1011 – The East African Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have launched a joint five-year Programme on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation….The programme aims to harmonize climate change programmes by the three regional blocs…

Dutch priests abused ‘up to 20,000 children’ – Irish Times, Dec. 17, 2011 – The report of the Deetman Commission, chaired by former education minister Wim Deetman, also concluded that knowledge of the abuse was widespread, and it accused religious orders, dioceses and even congregations of failing to help the victims or take action against the abusers.

Fed’s Dudley Says He Doesn’t Foresee Breakup of European Union – Bloomberg, Dec. 16, 2011 – Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William C. Dudley said he doesn’t foresee the European Union dissolving.

Syrians protest against Assad after Russia U.N. move – Reuters, Dec. 16, 2011 – Syrian forces killed 13 people on Friday during widespread protests against President Bashar al-Assad, activists said, a day after Syria’s big power ally Russia sharpened its criticism of Damascus in a draft United Nations resolution.

Divided lawmakers muster modest tax deal – Reuters, Dec. 16, 2011 – Deeply divided U.S. lawmakers on Friday eked out an agreement to extend payroll tax cuts for just two months, and only after Democrats bowed to Republican demands on a controversial oil pipeline.

US and NATO troops train on the Syrian border – RT, Dec. 16, 2011 – Sibel Edmonds, president of the National Security Whistle blowers Coalition, exposes what is going on around Syria.

Expose: The Vatican Wants to Lay its Hands on Jerusalem – Arutz Sheva, Dec. 15, 2011 – The Vatican is now reiterating demands for control of religious sites in Jerusalem. Jordan’s occupation 1948-1967 didn’t bother them.

Integrating financial Asia – By Xiao Gang, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Bank of China, China Daily, Dec. 16, 2011 – It is encouraging that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is progressing on an ambitious plan to build up an integrated economic community by 2015.

Arab uprisings redefine geopolitics in Middle East – AFP, Dec. 16, 2011 – The Arab uprisings mark a historic milestone in a region long ruled by dictators and have reshaped the political map, heralding the rise of a Sunni Islamist bloc against a waning Shiite axis led by Iran, analysts say. From Tunisia to Egypt, Syria and Yemen, a new order is emerging in the Arab world with the traditional balance of power fading as a new — mainly Sunni — political front emerges.

U.S. Navy may station ships in Singapore, Philippines – Reuters, Dec. 16, 2011 – The disputed ownership of the oil-rich reefs and islands in the South China Sea is one of the biggest security threats in Asia. The sea is claimed wholly or in part by China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.

ASEAN-China transport ministers adopt joint statement for stronger cooperation – Peoples Daily (China), Dec. 16, 2011 – The 10th ASEAN-China transport ministers meeting concluded here on Friday with adoption of a joint ministerial statement to deepen ASEAN-China cooperation on Maritime Consultation Mechanism, Air Transport Agreement, and Joint ASEAN-China Activities for 2012.

Shutdown Likely Averted as Tax Talks Go On – ABC News, Dec. 16, 2011 – Congress appears on track to avert a government shutdown this weekend, even as President Barack Obama’s push to extend a payroll tax cut and jobless benefits for another year is encountering snags.

Fitch cuts Goldman, Deutsche, five other large banks – Reuters, Dec. 16, 2011 – Fitch Ratings, the third-biggest of the major credit rating agencies, on Thursday downgraded Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and five other large banks based in Europe and the United States, citing “increased challenges” in the financial markets.

East Africa: EAC to Harmonize Water Transport Regulations – AllAfrica, Dec. 16, 2011 – All East African Community (EAC) partner states are set to have similar policies and regulations governing their water bodies, which, officials say, will help reduce fatal marine accidents.

Obama admin. denies federal money to Texas unless state funds Planned Parenthood – LifeSite News, Dec. 15, 2011 – Tom Suehs, HHSC’s [Texas Health and Human Services Commission] executive commissioner, said in a statement that the denial of funds was itself “inconsistent with federal law,” since states have the right to “establish qualifications for Medicaid providers.”

US set to try soldier over leaks, targets Assange – Associated Press, Dec. 15, 2011 – Experts say that a prosecution under the century-old Espionage Act would risk criminalizing practically any form of investigative journalism. A conspiracy charge, which some have floated as an alternative, would also be tough to prove.

United at last – National Post (Canada), Dec. 15, 2011 – Watching Canada from the vantage point of Washington, it’s clear that Stephen Harper’s policies on Israel, Iran, Kyoto and the oil sands aren’t really different policies at all, but rather different facets of a larger North American strategic play that includes this month’s “Beyond the Border” agreement between Ottawa and Washington.

Egyptians set to give Islamists biggest bloc in vote – Reuters, Dec. 15, 2011 – Egyptians voting on Thursday said they felt empowered by the first free election after Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule, a poll likely to give Islamists the upper hand in a parliament that will help shape Egypt’s new constitution.

Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan may have common currency in future – Putin – RIA Novisti, Dec. 15, 2011 – Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan may introduce a single currency in the future within the Eurasian Economic Union between the three former Soviet republics, a new entity meant to promote cooperation both with Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.

Will the African Integration Revolution be Televised? (3)…especially when Africa is rising? - Modern Ghana, Dec. 15, 2011 - In between the trough and crests of structural adjustment and Breton Woods prescriptions lay buried an African Integration narrative that is now asserting itself. Africa, arise!

Ron Paul gains ground, further stirring Republicans – Reuters, Dec. 15, 2011 – “He definitely takes more from Gingrich than he does from Romney,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who said he is neutral in the nominating process. “He’s doing to Newt Gingrich what Romney hasn’t been able to do. In a lot of ways he’s Newt Gingrich’s worst nightmare.”

Analysis: Supreme Court immigration case a federal-state test – Reuters, Dec. 15, 2011 – A key issue is the legal doctrine of preemption, derived from what is known as the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause and interpreted to mean that federal laws – even federal agency regulations – trump conflicting state laws.

Gulf countries ambassadors visit Chengdu – China Daily, Dec. 14, 2011 – Abdullah Salleh AL-Saadi said he and other ambassadors of the Gulf Cooperation Council came to Chengdu to visit the Tianfu Economic Zone.

Iran, Saudi Officials Hold Rare Talks – Wall Street Journal, Dec. 14, 2011 – Gulf leaders are set to discuss bolstering a regional military force, in part due to unease over Iran’s nuclear program, at a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting this month in Riyadh. Saudi King Abdullah met with the head of the six-nation GCC, Abdul Latif Zayani, on Tuesday, the Saudi news agency said.

House to move ahead on defense bill – Boston Globe, Dec. 14, 2011 – Congress is on track to require military custody for suspected terrorists linked to al-Qaida and indefinite detention without trial for some suspects, even U.S. citizens captured on American soil.

EU Must Stop ‘Theatrics’ to Forge Fiscal Union, Polish Economy Chief Says – Bloomberg, Dec. 14, 2011 – The European Union shouldn’t apply “brute force” as it implements new budgetary rules aimed at strengthening fiscal discipline among member, said Pawlak, who is also the economy minister.

Eurasian Union: Catherine Ashton: EU interested in formation of Eurasian Union – PanArmenian, Dec. 14, 2011 – Baroness Catherine Ashton told Komemrsant that they discussed the issue with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov in Moscow. According to her, the issue will probably be discussed at the Russia-EU summit in Brussels.

Ron Paul: Defense Bill Establishes Martial Law In America – Infowars, Dec. 13, 2011 – Top tier presidential candidate Ron Paul has decried the ‘indefinite detention’ provision of the National Defense Authorization Act, warning that it represents an arrogant, bold and dangerous attempt to establish martial law in America.

Ron Paul: Fast & Furious a Criminal False Flag – Infowars, Dec. 13, 2011 – Appearing on the Alex Jones Show today, Texas Rep. and presidential candidate Ron Paul said Attorney General Eric Holder should be fired immediately and Congress should investigate his role in the Fast and Furious operation run by the ATF and the Justice Department. He specifically criticized the government for continuously engaging in politically motivated and criminal behavior he characterized as false flag operations.

MF’s Corzine said to know of customer fund misuse – Reuters, Dec. 13, 2011 – The regulatory arm of CME Group has turned over interviews to the Justice Department that allege former MF Global chief Jon Corzine knew that the now-bankrupt brokerage firm used customer money to lend to a European affiliate, a CME executive said on Tuesday.

Unasur Sees Financing From Multilaterals, China For Infrastructure – Wall Street Journal, Dec. 13, 2011 – The Unasur group is a political and economic alliance. It was formed in 2008 and is composed of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

IMF: Greece can’t tax its people any further – Associated Press, Dec. 13, 2011 – Greece has reached its limit in raising taxes and needs to refocus its austerity program on long-term spending cuts, the International Monetary Fund said Tuesday.

U.S. Postal Service puts 5-month pause on closings – Reuters, Dec. 13, 2011 – he U.S. Postal Service has agreed to a five-month moratorium on closures of post offices and processing facilities while lawmakers hammer out legislation to overhaul the cash-strapped mail carrier, a group of U.S. senators said on Tuesday.

Hello ASEAN+3, good-bye Europe – Jakarta Post, Dec. 13, 2011 – ASEAN+3 countries should ensure countries within this region that are lagging behind to eventually catch up with the rest….Whether ASEAN+3 moves forward or ends the story like the Europeans is a matter of political will.

Italian bond yields soar as strikes raise doubts over Monti’s austerity cuts – London Guardian, Dec. 12, 2011 – Italy’s government of technocrats was under intense pressure to confront workers involved in a wave of strikes after financial markets drove the cost of state borrowing to crisis levels and confidence in the European Union’s plan to fix the euro crisis began to evaporate.

The Pretext for a North American Homeland Security Perimeter – OpEd News, Dec. 12, 2011 – Prime Minister Harper proclaimed that, “These agreements create a new, modern order for a new century. Together, they represent the most significant steps forward in Canada-U.S. cooperation since the North American Free Trade Agreement.”

What Can SAARC Offer To Afghanistan? – Analysis – Eurasian Review, Dec. 12, 2011 – It has already been five years since Afghanistan joined the SAARC but it has still not been possible to chart out concrete ways to help the country come out of the shackles of civil war….Following the American withdrawal, an idea of a South Asian peacekeeping contingent can also be mulled over but only after a certain degree of stability has been established and after receiving the mandate from the UN.

Verizon says ‘civil emergency’ alert in N.J. was only a test; company apologizes for ‘inconvenience’ – NerJersey.com, Dec. 12, 2011 – In a response statement issued about two hours after the mass text was sent out, alarming some Garden State residents, Verizon Wireless apologized to its customers.

Iran army declines comment on MP’s Hormuz exercise remarks – Reuters Africa, Dec. 12, 2011 – A member of the Iranian parliament’s National Security Committee said on Monday that the military was set to practise its ability to close the Gulf to shipping at the narrow Strait of Hormuz, the most important oil transit channel in the world, but there was no official confirmation.

Judge blocks Alabama immigration rule on mobile homes – Reuters, Dec. 12, 2011 – A federal judge temporarily blocked a part of Alabama’s tough new immigration law on Monday that requires residents to show proof of citizenship when registering mobile homes with the state.

East Africa: Land – the Obstacle to EAC Integration – AllAfrica, Dec. 12, 2011 – As negotiations on the establishment of the East African Community Political Federation gather steam, citizens within the bloc remain wary that they would lose their land.

ASEAN, China to discuss strengthened defense ties – China Daily, Dec. 12, 2011 – Defense officials and scholars from China and ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] member countries will gather in Beijing on Monday to discuss strengthening defense and security ties.

African DiplomacySouth Africa’s changing role in the play for power – Black Business Quarterly, Dec. 12, 2011 - While the AU [African Union] Commission’s chairmanship traditionally has gone to one of Africa’s less powerful countries, SA [South Africa] wants to break with that tradition. Pretoria believes the post should be held by one of the more powerful African countries in order to give more clout to AU proposals and demands in the global arena of power politics.

EurAsEC: Law to harmonise Russian legislation and that of the Customs Union within the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) – ISRIA, Dec. 12, 2011 – In addition, the federal law makes amendments to Russian legislation on special economic zones to bring it in line with the agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation, the Government of the Republic of Belarus, and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan of June 18, 2010…

Celebrating the Kenya National day for Somalia – New Vision (Uganda), Dec. 12, 2011 – This year, the day has more significance on the East African region, and on an even higher level, the African Union because finally, Kenya has agreed to join the African Mission in Somalia.

No One Says Who Took $586B in Fed Swaps – Bloomberg, Dec. 11, 2011 – While the transactions with other central banks are all disclosed, the Fed doesn’t track where the dollars ultimately end up, and European officials don’t share borrowers’ identities outside the continent.

 SAARC: Pak-India need bold measures to activate SAARC: seminar – Daily Times (Pakistan), Dec. 11, 2011 – [Rahmatullah Javed, the former secretary general SAARC chamber] said if Germany, France and other countries even after fighting against one another in the Second World War could come close in exemplary ties in the form of European Union, why not Pakistan and India who lived with one and other for 800 years before separation of Subcontinent. UMT Rector Dr Hassan Sohaib Murad said Pakistan and India need to learn lesson from other regional blocks and associations like European Union, NAFTA, ASEAN, GCC (Gulf Cooperative Council) and ECO (Economic Cooperation Organisation) etc.

Gold Prices Rise as EU Leaders Agree to a Fiscal Union – Beacon Equity Research, Dec. 11, 2011 – Gold prices rose in trading on Friday as [European Union] countries, excluding Britain, agreed to push for a deeper economic integration.

Egypt could join GCC, Kuwaiti official says – Gulf News.com, Dec. 11, 2011 – “We support Jordan and Egypt joining the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) as full members, but only after two years,” Al Radhwan told Kuwaiti daily Al Rai ahead of the GCC summit in Riyadh next week.

ECOWAS Common External Tariff – Afrique en ligne, Dec. 10, 2011 – The finalisation of the CET, a major step in the establishment of a Customs Union under the ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] integration agenda, is also critical to the conclusion of ongoing Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations between the ECOWAS, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) Commissions and the European Union (EU).

U.N. Chief Pays Surprise Visit to Somalia – New York Times, Dec. 10, 2011 (Google link) – Kenya’s Parliament voted this week to have the Kenyan forces become part of the official African Union mission, a move that could shift the financial burden from Kenya to countries like the United States that help pay for the African Union operations. But before that can happen, the African Union needs authorization from the United Nations Security Council to expand its mission, and Kenyan officials have said that process could take months.

Transformation of Saarc on pattern of EU sought – DAWN.com (Pakistan), Dec. 9, 2011 – Diplomats and keynote speakers on Friday called upon the governments of South Asia to take decisions for transformation of Saarc on the pattern of European Union for eradication of poverty and uplift of the region.

Army Posts Job for “Internment Specialist” Following KBR Call for FEMA Camp Subcontractors – Infowars.com, Dec. 9, 2011 – Following our report on December 6 documenting KBR’s outfitting of FEMA internment camps in the United States, Business Insider posted an article entitled The US Army Now Offers A Prison Guard Specialty Securing ‘Civilian Detainees.’

Europe forges fiscal union, sees way out of crisis – Associated Press, Dec. 9, 2011 – To prevent excessive deficits, countries in the treaty will have to submit their national budgets to the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, which will have the power to send them back for revision. Nigel Farage: Escape Euro Prison! – YouTube Video, Dec. 9, 2011 – Nigel Farage, MEP & UK Independence Party leader:

Oath Keepers Alert: Federal Agents Demand Customer Lists From Mormon Food Storage Facility – Oathkeepers.org, Dec. 8, 2011 – Oath Keepers has learned that federal agents recently visited a Latter Day Saints (Mormon) Church food storage cannery in Tennessee, demanding customer lists, wanting to know the identity of Americans who are purchasing food storage from the Mormons.

Pacific island countries to choose new chief trade advisor this weekend – Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 9, 2011 – A special meeting of trade ministers from Pacific Islands Forum countries is being held this weekend in Brussels to consider applications for chief trade advisor.

Latin America’s message to the Arab world – Aljazeera, Dec. 9, 2011 – Unasur is also still in the beginning; for the moment it is essentially a forum….So it’s up to Latin Americans to perfect their democracies, advance their own regional integration and….share their experience with their Middle Eastern brothers and sisters in the global South.
[The Arab League, like the African Union, is lagging behind UNASUR and other regions in the trek toward political “regionalization.” That is the real reason why the United States has troops in the Middle East and Africa.]

UK isolated as Europe agrees on new fiscal union – Reuters, Dec. 9, 2011 – Twenty-three of the 27 leaders agreed to pursue tighter integration with stricter budget rules for the single currency area….”It also means that member states would have to submit their draft budgetary plans to the (European) Commission,” [Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council] said.

Time for Asean to grow some teeth – New Straits Times, Dec. 9, 2011 – The Arab League is nothing at all like Asean. Nor is the African Union for that matter. These three regional organisations exist in different places, different political circumstances and are subject to entirely different internal dynamics and processes….The widening gap in how Asean operates vis-a-vis other regional institutions is something that should spark discussions of whether its continued lack of ambition and boldness to grow teeth is warranted.

Republican congressman says heads must roll in Operation Fast and Furious – Washington Post, Dec. 8, 2011 – “If you don’t get to the bottom of this,” there is only one alternative, and “it’s called impeachment,” said Sensenbrenner, without specifying whom he had in mind.

Pak softening on trade will change face of South Asia – Firstpost (Mumbai, India), Dec. 8, 2011 – Trade has played a positive role in conflict resolution between neighbouring countries, the prime examples being the European Union and Asean….Normal relations between the two largest countries in south Asia would also go a long way in making Saarc (the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation) an effective regional body.

Soviet nostalgia binds divergent CIS states – Reuters, Dec. 8, 2011 – Putin published an article in October outlining his plans to bring former Soviet states into a new “Eurasian Union,” saying that “a stronger integration on a new political and economic basis and a new system of values is an imperative of our era.”

GCC police team up to create regional force – ArabianBusiness, Dec. 8, 2011 – Police forces in the six GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] states are to team up under an agreement to create a regional agency and a permanent security committee as political upheaval threatens the wider Middle East.

African Union Press release – StarAfrica.com. Dec. 8, 2011 – The African Union has drafted a model national law on the ratification of treaties….The model national law aims at encouraging member states of the African Union to ratify treaties which they have adopted, work towards harmonization of procedures for ratification of treaties on the continent, and facilitate their effective implementation according to the legal systems of member states. It borrows heavily from best practices in some States on the continent, which have adopted national laws setting out binding procedures with time frames for the signing and ratification of AU instruments.

Better Indo-Pakistan ties augurs well for South Asia – The Financial Express (Bangladesh), Dec. 8, 2011 – Some people often seek to compare the South Asian regional forum SAARC with the South East Asian forum ASEAN and the European Union and jump to the conclusion that the SAARC has largely failed while the others have flourished. Drawing such an analogy is somewhat irrational since the background and political milieu of the regions are vastly different.

Armenian Premier: No Plans To Join Russia’s ‘Eurasian Union’ – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Dec. 8, 2011 – Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian says Yerevan has no plans to join a customs union of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan which Moscow hopes could form the basis of a future “Eurasian Union” of former Soviet republics, RFE/RL’s Armenian Service reports.

Gingrich surge unnerves some Republican lawmakers – Boston Globe, Dec. 8, 2011 – The 1994 “revolutionaries” who turned Democrats out of power for the first time in 40 years as well as more senior lawmakers waver on the question of whether Gingrich would be good for the GOP and the country given his rocky past.

North America: Civil liberties, privacy groups cry foul as PM hails historic border deal – Vancouver Observer (Canada), Dec. 7, 2011 – “Basically, it’s surrendering a lot of decision-making on who is legitimate and who isn’t, who is allowed into the country or not — it’s surrendering to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” said Stuart Trew, trade campaigner with the Council of Canadians….The deal includes sharing intelligence on people entering and leaving both countries, identifying “radicalized” individuals as security concerns, allowing U.S. and Canadian armed police to operate on cross-border teams, sharing a single perimeter for cargo screening and speeding up border crossings with fast lanes and more easily accessed pass-cards.

Border security agreement a big deal in Canada, not in U.S. – Yahoo! News, Canada, Dec. 7, 2011 – Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled the details of a much-touted perimeter security initiative at the White House Wednesday afternoon. The agreement includes measures that erect a thicker wall of security around the continent,  while easing trade barriers at the border between the two countries.

Documents: ATF used “Fast and Furious” to make the case for gun regulations – CBS News, Dec. 7, 2011 – Emails show they discussed using the sales, including sales encouraged by ATF, to justify a new gun regulation called “Demand Letter 3″. That would require some U.S. gun shops to report the sale of multiple rifles or “long guns.” Demand Letter 3 was so named because it would be the third ATF program demanding gun dealers report tracing information.

Majority in GCC support single currency union – Gulf Times (Qatar), Dec. 6, 2011 – A good number of Gulf Co-operation Council nationals think that their countries will benefit from being members of the proposed GCC single currency.

Exclusive: Government Activating FEMA Camps Across U.S. – Infowars, Dec. 6, 2011 – Infowars.com has received a document originating from Halliburton subsidiary KBR that provides details on a push to outfit FEMA and U.S. Army camps around the United States.
Detention Camp Order Follows Preparations For Civil Unrest – PrisonPlanet, Dec. 7, 2011 – This follows the Senate’s passage of Section 1031 of the National Defense Authorization Act which allows American citizens to be snatched off the street and held in detention camps without trial.

Amnesty criticizes US arms shipments to Egypt – Associated Press, Dec. 7, 2011 – Amnesty said Washington permitted three shipments to Egypt from U.S. weapons producers between April and October….Egyptian security forces have repeatedly cracked down on protesters since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in February in a popular uprising.

MF Global fallout delays U.S. farm seed, land deals – Reuters, Dec. 6, 2011 – Farmers are among the thousands of former MF Global clients who are missing money from the brokerage. The firm run by former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, an ex-CEO of Goldman Sachs, collapsed on October 31 after making bad bets on European debt.

Divisions over EU treaty threaten crisis solution – Associated Press, Dec. 7, 2011 – Britain, which doesn’t use the currency, has threatened to put the brakes on treaty changes, fearing they would force a greater transfer of power from London to Brussels and curb British influence in the EU.

Heads of GCC assemblies to meet in Jeddah Saturday – Arab News, Dec. 7, 2011 – “The main objective of the meeting is to enhance the scope of GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] joint action and to achieve integration and unity among the GCC countries, as well as to develop parliamentary work in the region within the framework of an effective institutional system in the Gulf Cooperation Council,” Shoura Council Chairman Abdullah Al-Asheikh said.

EU to finance African Union forces in Somalia – NewEurope, Dec. 5, 2011

Prince Turki calls for a stronger Gulf bloc – Arab News, Dec. 6, 2011 – Prince Turki Al-Faisal on Monday called on Gulf states to make the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) a powerful regional bloc with a unified armed force and a unified defense industry.

Russia hopes for clout with new bloc – ChinaDaily, Dec. 5, 2011 – This new alliance, based on the current Common Economic Space between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan and modeled on the European Union, will be an intergovernmental community of sovereign states that incorporates both former Soviet republics as well as other states.

Police in City see occupiers as ‘terror’ risk – London Independent, Dec. 5, 2011 – An Occupy London spokesman said: “Activism is not a crime and the desire to participate in democratic decision-making should not be a cause for concern for the police in any free society.”

Iowa NBC/Marist Poll: Obama Leads All Republicans Except Paul – Released Dec. 4, 2011 – Obama ties Paul, leads Gingrich by 10%, Romney by 7%, but only has a majority lead against Bachmann.

Masonic Leaders Meet EU Bosses to Talk ‘Democracy’ – The New American, Dec. 5, 2011 – Critics of the supranational regime, meanwhile, pointed out the irony of unelected regional rulers discussing democracy — especially after the EU-backed overthrow of democratically elected leaders in Italy and Greece in recent weeks….Secular and humanist organizations were also represented. [The irony goes further, since those meeting with the unelected rulers were secret society elitists.]

Partnerships – A Necessity In Pacific-African Cooperation – Scoop (New Zealand), Dec 5, 2011 – “These are principles that resonate strongly in Pacific island countries and correspond to principles enshrined in our Pacific Plan for Strengthening Regional Cooperation and Integration, otherwise known as the Pacific Plan,” [Cook Islands Finance Minister, Hon. Mark Brown] said.

Busan deal reaffirms work of Pacific Islands Forum – Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 6, 2011 – The secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum, Tuiloma Neroni Slade,….says the agreement moves the global community’s focus away from aid towards development, and it is a significant step forward.

Des Moines Register’s Iowa Poll: Gingrich leads GOP pack, then Paul, Romney – Des Moines Register, Dec. 4, 2011 – Newt Gingrich, with support of 25 percent of likely Republican caucusgoers, is seven points ahead of the rising Ron Paul, who’s at 18 percent. Mitt Romney drops to third, at 16 percent.

Austrian chancellor backs EU treaty change: report – Reuters, Dec. 4, 2011 – Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann backs changes to the European Union treaty that would create a political and economic powerhouse even at the cost of relinquishing some national sovereignty.

Video: Sen. Paul on ‘Indefinite Detention’ Video: 11/29/11 - ‘Indefinite Detention’ Video: 11/29/11 – Sen. Rand Paul Provision of Defense Authorization Act - Sen. Paul with Judge Andrew Napolitano Opposes Americans’ Indefinite Detention

Detroit in a hostile takeover bid? – CBS News, Dec. 4, 2011 – The idea is extreme, even in a city accustomed to fighting for survival: Should the state of Michigan step in to run Detroit?

ASEAN stock exchanges eye cross-border trading in 2012 – Reuters, Dec. 3, 2011 – The 10-country Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) wants to establish an economic community modelled on the European Union by 2015 and the market venture will support one of its aims, allowing capital to move more freely between states.

Germany, France in push for ‘fiscal union’ to save euro – Times of India, Dec. 2, 2011 – “Anyone who had said a few months ago that we, at the end of 2011, would be taking very serious and concrete steps toward a European stability union, a European fiscal union, toward introducing (budgetary) intervention in Europe would have been considered crazy,” [German Chancellor Angela Merkel] said.

Africa’s New Engine: Middle-class consumers to drive prosperity – Ghana Business News, Dec. 2, 2011 – Africa is moving rapidly to foster regional integration aimed at creating larger continental markets. The most inspiring of such efforts is the June 2011 launch of negotiations for a Grand Free Trade Area (GFTA) stretching from Libya and Egypt to South Africa. The proposed GFTA would merge three existing blocs, including the Southern African Development Community, the East African Community (EAC), and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa….These efforts build on ongoing integration efforts in the EAC, including a customs union, common market, common currency, and political federation.

Egypt’s Islamists poised to dominate parliament – ABC News|Associated Press, Dec. 1, 2011 – Final results, expected Friday, will be the clearest indication in decades of Egyptians’ true political views and give the long-banned Muslim Brotherhood a major role in the country’s first freely elected parliament.

Ex-cop to be sentenced for shootings cover-up – Times-Picayune|Associated Press, Dec. 1, 2011 – A former police officer is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday for his role in covering up deadly shootings of unarmed residents on a New Orleans bridge after Hurricane Katrina.

ECB’s Draghi hints at more support for euro – Associated Press, Dec. 1, 2011 – European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi hinted the bank was ready to play a bigger role in the resolution of Europe’s debt crisis, but only after the 17 countries that use the euro tether their economies more tightly.

Syrian oil, VIPs targeted in new sanctions – Reuters, Dec. 1, 2022 – The Arab League put Syrian VIPs on a travel ban list Thursday and European Union foreign ministers readied a raft of economic sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad to press him into stopping a military crackdown on popular protests.

Greeks strike against new government’s ‘starvation’ budget – Reuters, Dec. 1, 2011 – Unions representing about 2.5 million people — around half of the national workforce — called the strike to protest new austerity measures that are expected to heap more misery on Greeks already reeling from waves of salary cuts, layoffs and tax hikes.

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