News Archive – August 1-15, 2012

AU-FlagAFRICAN UNION: Standing By to Standby – the African Peacekeeping Force With More Problems Than Solutions – AllAfrica, August 15, 2012 – Muammar Gaddafi proposed an African Army, offering to equip and house the army in purpose-built barracks in his hometown of Sirte. Gaddafi’s generous offer was refused by the African Union, wary of Gaddafi using it to protect himself against whatever Western power he would inevitably antagonize. This was prescient-just imagine how different the course of the Libyan Revolution would have been if thousands of well-trained African troops were stationed in Libya, answering to their paymaster.

PIF FlagPACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM: FORUM:PIF at a crossroad – Islands Business (Fiji), August 15, 2012 – The review notes a key tension underlying the politics of PIF; funding. The secretariat’s budget is still overwhelmingly provided by Australia and New Zealand (70%). Another 15 % is sourced from the European Union (EU). As the review notes, “ownership of the secretariat” by member states needs to be strengthened….The ANZ partners and other significant donors have used PIF as the prime vehicle for implementing their regional development policies.

SAARC FlagSAARC: SAARC, Key Instrument In Common War Against Terrorists: India – Bernama (Malaysia), August 15, 2012 – Asserting that it is a fact of political environment that some problems transcend borders, the Indian President said “SAARC was created 27 years ago to find solutions through dialogue, and by mutual cooperation create the rapid economic growth that is the only long-term answer to problems like migration and uneven development. SAARC must acquire vigor to fulfill its mandate.”
Economic, military pacts with different countries to be approved today – Business Recorder (Pakistan), August 15, 2012 – The object of the agreement is to provide SAARC members states with an effective regional mechanism for rapid response to disasters, so as to achieve substantial reduction in loss of lives along with social, economic and environmental assets in the disaster-hit country.

UNASUR FlagUNASUR: Puricelli praises defence links with Chile and support for Argentine Malvinas claim -MercoPress (Uruguay), August 15, 2012 – The minister underlined the advances in regional integration in the field of defence and gave the “Argentine vision” of such a process specifically mentioning Unasur, “which undoubtedly has become the utmost expression of the new multilateralism which progressively and institutionally consolidates the South American space.”

Eurasec FlagEURASIAN UNION – REGIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE: With free-trade pact ratified, Ukraine to seek natgas pipeline access – Ukrainian Journal, August 14, 2012 – Ukraine, citing a recently ratified free trade accord, will seek to get access to the Russian natural gas pipelines to start imports of gas from Central Asia, a senior official said Monday. Valeriy Muntian, the government envoy for cooperation with Russia, the CIS, Eurasian Union, and other regional organizations, made the comment days after the free trade deal was signed by Yanukovych.

ASEAN FlagASEAN: Construction of railway linking ASEAN finishes – China Daily, August 14, 2012 – Construction workers on Tuesday laid the last piece of a railway that will link Southwest China’s Yunnan Province with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.

nafta-flagNORTH AMERICA: Transportation | Canada’s Economic Action Plan – Regulatory Cooperation Council – ActionPlan.gc.ca, Released August 14, 2012 – During the winter and spring of 2012, the various Transportation-related working group Canadian and American co-leads coordinated the completion of the following RCC work plans:

AU-FlagAFRICAN UNION: China’s diplomatic success in Africa: Value of soft power’ – Zambia Daily Mail, August 14, 2012 – China projects soft power by building visible infrastructure projects on the continent. From the ‘Uhuru’ Tanzam Railway project, that links Zambia to the Indian Ocean to the African Union’s new gleaming skyscraper headquarters complex in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.
African nuclear commission takes shape – World Nuclear News, August 13, 2012 – The African Union (AU) established the African Commission on Nuclear Energy (Afcone) in November 2010, following the entry into force of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty in July 2009, which required the parties to establish a commission for the purpose of ensuring states’ compliance with their treaty obligations and promoting peaceful nuclear cooperation, both regionally and internationally.
Official: African countries want to revive ‘golden era’ of Israel ties – Ynetnews (Israel), August 14, 2012 – Deputy Minister Ayalon will discuss with his hosts Israel’s request to reinstate its status of observer with the African Union – having been disbarred from participating at AU meetings since the summit meeting of AU leaders in 2002, when Libya’s Gaddafi literally kicked Israel out.
EACJ to handle all arbitration cases – The Citizen (Tanzania), August 13, 2012 – All arbitration cases in East Africa will now be handled by the East African Court of Justice (EACJ), the president of the court, Justice Harold Nsekela, announced in Kigali, Rwanda, on Friday.
ECOWAS moves to establish a regional pact with EU on EPA – JOY99.7FM (Ghana), August 14, 2012 – ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] is stepping up efforts towards a regional settlement on the Economic Partnership Agreement, EPA with the European Union.
Nation to Host 16th Comesa Summit – AllAfrica, August 13, 2012 – Uganda is to host the sixteenth Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) summit scheduled for November this year….A statement issued by the COMESA secretariat said that the Secretary-General, Sindiso Ngwenya, used the occasion to re-emphasize the importance of having a working Customs Union and regional integration.

UNASUR FlagUNASUR: Bolivia alert possible existence of U.S. bases in Paraguay – RNC (Radio Nacional de Venezuela), August 13, 2012 – (Google translation) -The Bolivian government announced Sunday it will investigate the possible installation of a U.S. military base in Paraguay’s border with Bolivia, after the deputy Luis Alfaro denounced Washington’s intention to build the base….Paraguayan Foreign Minister Jose Felix Fernandez denied that Paraguay has asked the U.S. a military base near the border with Bolivia in reply to the suspension of the country of MERCOSUR and UNASUR.
Puricelli said that integration is both Defence and Security – InfoRegión (Brazil), August 13, 2012 (Google translation) – The Defense Minister Arturo Puricelli said that integration into the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) occurs not only in defense but also in internal security.

GCC flagGCC (‘GULF UNION’): Bahrain reinstates its ambassador to Iran following sovereignty row – European Jewish Press, August 14, 2012 – State-owned Iranian daily Kihan is meanwhile reported to have called on Iran to annex Bahrain in response to news that six Arab states including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia were attempting to form their own breakaway Gulf Union. Bahrain shored up its close ties with America by appointing its first female ambassador to the US, Huda Noono, who also happens to be Jewish, in 2008.

PIF FlagSOUTH PACIFIC: Emissions trading and tax: a trans-Tasman perspective – Lexology, August 13, 2012 – It was recently accepted as part of a review of the New Zealand scheme that alignment between the Australian and New Zealand emissions schemes is an important consideration in the context of the Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement. It was concluded that it was desirable for the two schemes to broadly work in harmony.

GCC flagGCC: Iran-GCC relations based on geopolitical reality Both want to keep communication channels open – Gulfnews (Dubai, UAE), August 12, 2012 – Despite recent developments suggesting Iran and the Gulf ties could be warming up, stark differences remain. The Syria conflict has added tension to Iran’s relationship with Gulf countries, as Tehran pushes for a political solution and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has openly declared support for the Free Syrian Army.

EU-flagEUROPEAN UNION: How We’ll Build European Monetary Union 2.0 - By Olli Rehn(vice president of the European Commission and commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro) , Wall Street Journal, August 12, 2012 – The sovereign-debt crisis has both underlined the need and created the conditions for Europe to rebuild and reinforce its economic and monetary union. Thus the euro zone will continue to defy its detractors.

nafta-flagNORTH AMERICA:

Tenn. Senate candidate is an unconventional Democrat
USA Today, August 12, 2012 – Some of Mark Clayton’s policy positions are off the beaten path of either major party: his talk of a “new world order,” fears of America sliding into an “Orwellian super state,” concerns about “FEMA prison camps” and a belief that the United States, Canada and Mexico want to form a “North American Union.” But he can come across as more reasonable in person, speaking earnestly about what average citizens want and need from government.

UNASUR FlagUNASUR – Interview with Venezuala Ambassador to Uruguay Julio Chirino:Investments in Uruguay has to do with the great nation building
It has to do with a policy of strengthening regional integration….with the vision to build the great nation.
El Pais (Uruguay), August 12, 2012 (Google translation) – - The block is on track to merge with the UNASUR, with nothing more than political purposes?
-We have different areas that point to a destination that is the integration of our peoples, and where the Mercosur is the natural from an economic and commercial. We believe it can be the central engine of UNASUR, which is projected to more regional policies in areas of integration…

Eurasec FlagEURASIAN UNION: Cherry Picking The Soviet Past And Russian Present – Analysis – Eurasian Review, August 12, 2012 – In Russia, there appears to be an effort to mesh the past positive attributes of that country in line with modern day realities – while not seeking a return of either an absolute monarchy or Soviet Union, of which the proposed Eurasian Union is neither.

AU-FlagAFRICAN UNION: African Union: Power shifts south - The Africa Report, August 10, 2012 – South Africa is already Africa’s representative in the emerging economies club known as BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa….It hosts the Pan-African Parliament, which is taken seriously as representing the continent’s political zeitgeist. Just as South Africa’s seat on the United Nations (UN) Security Council expires at the end of this year, its former foreign minister takes over as head of the AU.
South Africa: President Zuma to Lead Delegation to SADC Summit – AllAfrica, August 10, 2012 – “This year’s summit marks the 20th anniversary of the historic signing of the SADC [South African Development Community] Treaty and Declaration, which led to the creation of this regional bloc. This will also be the first summit after the successful election of the SADC candidate, Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, as chair of the African Union Commission.”
Political pieces in the East and Horn of African jigsaw – The Africa Report, August 10, 2012 – Can the relative success of the East African Community (EAC) in moving towards a single market and political cooperation survive a radical expansion? South Sudan will be the next member, and Ethiopia is not far behind.

GCC flagGCC: Iran-Saudi Arabia clash puts Iraq in middle – WND, August 11, 2012 – Saudi Arabia and indeed all of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and United Arab Emirates, see Iran as a growing threat in spreading its Shi’ite influence among them.
Infrastructure: Public-private partnerships vital in GCC – Zawya, August 10, 2012 – The six Gulf countries that have historically been investing state funds generated from huge oil windfalls in infrastructure and development projects, could take advantage of the presence of a more mature private sector by forging partnerships in executing infrastructure projects.
[“Public-Private partnership” is a euphemism for big-government/big-business fascism and is a characteristic of all the world’s geopolitical/economic regions.]

ASEAN FlagASEAN: Creating an Asean community  – AsiaOne (Singapore), August 11, 2012 – Two thousand years ago, when the Roman Empire held sway, the proudest boast was Civis romanus sum (I am a Roman citizen). At the beginning of a New Asian Century, it is hoped that it would not be too ambitious to expect the peoples of Asean to one day proudly say in their own language, Saya warga Asean.
Indonesia, China mend South China Sea relations – ABC News (Australia Broadcasting), August 11, 2012 – China says it is willing to work with ASEAN on a regional agreement to resolve disputes.

EU-flagEurasec FlagEUROPEAN UNION, EURASIAN UNION: Armenia leadership wary of Eurasian Union – Armenialiberty.org (press review), August 11, 2012 – Stepan Safarian, a senior member of the opposition Zharangutyun party, tells “Aravot” that Armenia’s political leadership remains wary of the Eurasian Union advocated by Russia because it understands that joining the union would seriously complicate its efforts at European integration.
EU opts not to retaliate against Belarus – EUobserver, August 10, 2012 – Russia’s effort to pull Belarus into the Eurasian Union, a quasi-EU club of former Soviet states, also makes it a bad time for the West to push away Lukashenko.

UNASUR FlagUNASUR: No More Arms Race in the Region, Says Ecuador  – Radio Cadena Agramonet, August 10, 2012 – In a yearly address to the country, [Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño] said there has been progress in the creation of a Defense Council of UNASUR [Union of South American Nations] in order to generate a regional security policy…

SAARC FlagSAARC: SAARC countries urged to follow EU-ASEAN model  – Pakistan Observer, August 10, 2012 – Senate Chairman Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari on Thursday urged the SAARC countries to follow the EU and ASEAN model for strong economic and trade relations as the world was moving towards regionalism.

Eurasec Flag
EURASIAN UNION:
The future of the Eurasian Union – Voice of Russia, August 10, 2012 – There were proposals to expand the alliance to include, in addition to the already formed “Eurasian trio” (Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus), new members: Ukraine, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. And in the future, it could even include countries that were not part of the USSR (for example, Turkey).
Expert: Russian gas price unlinked to Armenia’s accession to Eurasian Union
PanARMENIAN, August 9, 2012 – There is no linkage between Armenian and Russian leaders’ statements on gas prices and establishment of a special committee, which is set to consider Yerevan’s possible involvement in integration processes of the Customs Union (CU) and Common Economic Space (CES), head of European Integration NGO said.
Marxist party head says Armenia’s accession to Eurasian Union necessity – PanARMENIAN, August 9, 2012 – Chairman of Armenia’s Marxist party has hailed RA’s possible accession to the Eurasian Union. “This implies military and political integration,” David Hakobyan told a press conference.

GCC flagGCC (‘GULF UNION’): The U.S. Region-Builds GCC Defense System: U.S. and Gulf allies pursue a missile shield against Iranian attack – Inland Empire News Radio, August 9, 2012 – In contrast, the Persian Gulf effort is mostly behind the scenes, and on a country-by-country basis, with billions of dollars in arms sales negotiated bilaterally between the United States and nations in the region. Thus, the next challenge is coaxing gulf nations to put aside their rivalries and share early warning radar data, and then integrate the capabilities of their unilateral missile interceptor systems to extend defenses over the entire region.

Arab League flag
ARAB LEAGUE:
The other Arab spring – The Economist, August 10, 2012 – The Arab League has a collective annual GDP of $2 trillion, or $6,000 per head. Arabs are increasingly interconnected and plugged in. Arabsat (Arab League), Nilesat (Egypt) and Noorsat (Bahrain and Jordan) broadcast 1,500 television and radio channels between them.
New U.N. statehood bid for Palestinians? – JWeekly, August 9, 2012 – The Palestinian Authority is considering a bid next month to be a U.N. “non-member observer state. P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas is ready to take the step, and has the backing of the Arab League, but has not yet decided when he will go ahead, according to the Associated Press.

EU-flagEUROPEAN UNION:
Finnish Premier Calls for U.S.-Style Bank Fund   – Wall Street Journal, August 10, 2012 – Europe could borrow from the financial crisis management toolbox of the U.S. and establish a European-wide banking crisis fund as well as a deposit protection fund as part of a proposed banking union, Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen said Friday.

nafta-flagNORTH AMERICA: Beyond the Border critics set to meet with Senate and House ag members – AgraNet, August 9, 2012 – Critics of the White House-led Beyond the Border (BtB) initiative, which aims at harmonizing trade procedures between Canada and the United States, have scheduled a meeting, Aug. 21, on Capitol Hill with members and staff of the House and Senate agriculture committees to discuss potential problems with meat and poultry inspection.

AU-FlagAFRICAN UNION: Continent of hope – Fin24 (South Africa), August 10, 2012 – African economic blocs have also integrated. The Economist says the East African Community, which launched a common market in 2010, is doing well; the Economic Community of West African States less so. The Southern African Development Community has made the movement of goods and people across borders much easier.
East Africa: Regional Prison Authorities Need Training – Says Minister – AllAfrica, August 9, 2012 – Dr. Julius Rotich, the EAC Deputy Secretary General for Political Federation said the prisons and correctional services subsector has been integrated into the regional peace and security strategy for EAC member states.

Eurasec FlagEURASIAN UNION: Sarkisian, Putin Discuss Gas, ‘Eurasian Union’ – Asbarez Armenian News, August 8, 2012 – President Serzh Sarkisian on Thursday met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss Armenia’s possible involvement in a customs pact, known as the ‘Eurasia Union’ and to agree on future price for Russia’s gas supply to Armenia.

AU-FlagAFRICAN UNION: ‘Africa’s Intra Trade Relations to Generate U.S.$200 Billion Annually’ – AllAfrica, August 9, 2012 – “Once there is a legal framework in this direction, the issue of unnecessary and heavy taxation as being experienced in Ghana by Nigerian businessmen will be a thing of the past. The continental body will ensure that such continental laws must be domesticated by member states of African Union and erring states will be adequately sanctioned.
The Scramble For African Land – Leadership Newspapers Group (Nigeria), August 8, 2012 – Africa has experienced unprecedented pressure from foreign investors seeking cheap agricultural land over the past decade. A review of data from several national reports, together with surveys by the African Union, the United Nations and the World Bank, suggests Africa has effectively given away some $100bn of land since 2000.
North Africa should integrate economies to speed growth: Report – Ahram (Egypt), August 8, 2012 – Better integration of North African economies can have a vital impact on their overall development, claims a new report from the African Development Bank (AFDB). Entitled ‘Unlocking North Africa’s potential through regional integration,’ the report looks at the key challenges for regional integration in North Africa’s six Arab countries: Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Libya and Mauritania.

ASEAN FlagASEAN: Asean faces ‘daunting challenges’ but on track - Mizzima (Burma), August 9, 2012 – With just two years to go, Asean must press ahead to realize its objective of an Asean Community by 2015, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen recently.

GCC flagGCC (‘GULF UNION’):‘Arab Spring’ without a bloom  – Asia Times, August 8, 2012 – The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the guardian of the international payments system and dispenser of good economic and financial policies, says little to criticize Saudi Arabia and fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries about their needed political reform and the management of their oil revenues as they have been big lenders to the IMF.
GCC Ministerial Council to meet in Jeddah Sun.
– Kuwait News Agency, August 8, 2012 – The meeting will debate a range of regional and international issues foremost among which are the situations in Syria, Iraq and Yemen and the integration among the GCC members, the secretariat said in a statement, inviting the press people to cover the event.
Ahmadinejad to attend Muslim summit in Saudi Arabia – Daily News (Egypt), August 7, 2012 – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accepted the invitation of Saudi King Abdullah yesterday to attend the extraordinary summit in Mecca scheduled for 14 August….The summit describes its mission as “unifying the ranks” of Muslims and is expected to discuss the situation in Syria, the massacres against Muslims in Burma, updates on the Palestinian issue and Saudi experts predict that the Bahraini crisis might also be on the table for discussion.

EU-flagEUROPEAN UNION: Palestinians urge European Union to drop Israel upgrade  – Jewish Chronicle, August 8, 2012 – The Palestinian Authority has called on the European Union “to reconsider” upgrading relations with Israel. Last month the EU boosted its trade and diplomatic ties with the Jewish State. The European Commission’s Action Plan is intended to enhance the “scope and intensity of political co-operation” between the two.

Eurasec FlagEURASIAN UNION: Press Review: Armenia to Give ‘Clear Answer’ on Eurasian Union  – Armenialiberty.org, August 8, 2012 – “Zhoghovurd” says that President Serzh Sarkisian will travel to Moscow this week to give a clear answer on Armenia’s participation in a “Eurasian Union” of former Soviet republics promoted by Russian President Vladimir Putin. “For Serzh Sarkisian, who has become pro-Western lately, it will be extremely difficult to explicitly say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’” writes the paper. “Either answer would have negative consequences.

AU-FlagAFRICAN UNION: AfDB Plans First U.S.$22 Billion Africa Infrastructure Bond - Leadership Newspapers Group (Nigeria), August 8, 2012 – The African Development Bank plans to float Africa’s first infrastructure bond to member nations to raise up to $22 billion….An Economic Report on Africa launched in June in Zambia, by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union (AU) reported that…Africa’s potential required even more investment in human capital and technology, physical infrastructure, agriculture and regional economic integration, among others.
On Farewell Tour of Africa, Clinton Hits Familiar Themes – World Politics Review, August 7, 2012 – “Increasingly, the U.S. is also focusing on the East African Community,” [Mwangi Kimenyi, director of the Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution] added, explaining that the U.S. is looking at it as a model for other regions in Africa. “The EAC has moved very fast in terms of breaking down the barriers,” he said, mentioning the successful launch of a customs union, among other regional integration measures.
East African Court of Justice opens sub-registries in member countries – Afrique en Ligue, August 8, 2012 – The EACJ, established in November 2001, is one of the EAC organs and its major responsibility is to ensure adherence to law in the interpretation and application of and compliance with the EAC Treaty….Decisions of the Court on the interpretation and application of the Treaty take precedence over decisions of national courts on similar matters.

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NORTH AMERICA: US Ambassador to Canada, David Jacobson meets with CME-BC Members to discuss the Regulatory Cooperation initiatives  – Canadian Manufacurers and Exporters, August 7, 2012 – As of July 30th, the Regulatory Cooperation Council announced that the sectoral initiatives in the Action Plan have been finalized. They are available for viewing at www.trade.gov/rcc. This Action Plan is intended to cut unnecessary red tape for companies small and large that want to do business across the Canada/US border.

AU-FlagAFRICAN UNION: East African Community: Joint Military Exercises Set for October – AllAfrica, August 7, 2012 – Recently in the 10th extra-ordinary summit of EAC Heads of State approved and signed the EAC protocol on co-operation in defence. The summit directed that the protocol be ratified and instruments of ratification deposited with the EAC Secretary General by November 30 this year. They agreed that the negotiations on the mutual defence pact commence immediately thereafter.
East Africa: Pool EAC Oil and Gas Resources – AllAfrica, August 6, 2012 – However, it would be better if the region looked the at oil and gas discoveries that have been announced in Uganda, Tanzania and recently Kenya as a regional concern….Resources can also be pooled so that there would be no need for duplication of effort and money in terms of drilling capacities, storage, refining and marketing of these precious commodities.
East Africa: Go Slow On Single Customs Union – AllAfrica, August 6, 2012 – Probably the biggest threat Rusagara observed is that custom officials on most EAC border posts are still more ‘national’ than ‘regional’ upholding interests of their countries rather than those of the community. “The issue of multiple currencies in the region also needs to be addressed,” added Rusagara.

EU-flagEUROPEAN UNION: Italian Commentator Accuses Germany Of Establishing 4th Reich  – Arutz Sheva (Israel), August 7, 2012 – ‘…states in difficulty that would like to get assistance will de facto have to renounce their sovereignty and accept new impositions and sacrifices decided between Brussels and Berlin.” He compared this to the German bullying at the 1938 Munich Conference…

UNASUR FlagUNASUR: Foreign Ministers of Peru and Brazil today dialogue on integration and combating drug trafficking – Andina (Peru), August 6, 2012 (Google translation) – Peruvian Foreign Minister Rafael Roncagliolo, meets today in Lima with his Brazilian counterpart, Antonio Patriota, to discuss physical integration, energy, combating drug trafficking and the agenda of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).

UNASUR FlagSAARC: ‘Pak-India trade can reach up to $10b’ – The News International (Pakistan), August 7, 2012 – These views were expressed by panelists in the Jang Economic Session, held on “Impact of Indian permission for Pakistani investment” here on Monday. The discussants were SAARC Chamber of Commerce Industry vice-president Iftikhar Ali Malik, former banker Tariq Jameel, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) president Irfan Qaiser Sheikh and former president of Gujrat Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mirza Imtiaz.

Arab League flagARAB LEAGUE: United Nations Ignores Al-Qaeda Link to Syrian Rebels  – FrontPage Magazine, August 6, 2012 – …Arab League members led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar went to the UN General Assembly for a symbolic vote on a resolution strongly condemning the Assad regime. The resolution said nothing about al Qaeda and other Islamist jihadists who are hijacking the armed opposition and committing their own atrocities.
VIDEO: Reality Check: Is Al-Qaeda An Enemy Or Not?Fox19 WXIX Cincinnati, BenSwannRealityCheck, Aug 2, 2012 – Ben Swann Reality Check looks at a new report that the U.S. Government is funding the opposition in Syria including al Qaeda fighters.
Three US Senators Call for Aid to Syrian Rebels- Jakarta Globe, August 6, 2012 – The senators — John McCain, Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham — said in an op-ed piece in The Washington Post they were aware of the risks associated with deepening US involvement in the conflict in Syria.

nafta-flagNORTH AMERICAN HIGHWAY INFRASTRUCTURE: Houston’s I-69 traffic expected to soar to 350,000 by 2035  - Houston Chronicle, August 6, 2012 – Experts say traffic will increase regardless of whether the so-called NAFTA Superhighway, envisioned two decades ago as a trade route from Mexico through Houston to Canada, is fully built. Gov. Rick Perry initially proposed a more elaborate Trans-Texas Corridor that would be an entirely new thoroughfare that included room for rail and utilities.
[The North American Highway system is part of the North American regional infrastructure project that includes the Keystone pipeline. Similar regional infrastructure projects are underway in the ASEAN region, SAARC, the Arab League, the GCC, the African Union, and UNASUR.]

GCC flagGCC (‘GULF UNION’): Gulf countries to discuss integration next month  – Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah proposed last December that the Gulf Cooperation Council, which also includes Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, should move “to the stage of unity in a single entity” in response to uprisings in the Arab world and the perceived threat from Iran. “The initiative to move to a Gulf union will be discussed by the GCC foreign ministers when they convene next month,” said Abdulatif al-Zayani, the group’s secretary general…
EU-flagEUROPEAN UNION: UKIP’s Nigel Farage: UK has ‘no influence’ in Europe – BBC News, August 6, 2012 (VIDEO) – Nigel Farage MEP and leader of UKIP – the UK Independence Party – told Stephen Sackur that Europe had been “hijacked by a gang of unelected bureaucrats” and Britain would be better off leaving the EU.

AU-FlagAFRICAN UNION: Mission of East African Court of Justice – Daily News (Tanzania), August 6, 2012 – Prof Dr John Ruhangisa told journalists that the now 12-year old Arusha-based regional court was becoming fully fledged and to achieve that it was starting by extending services in the capital cities of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi….The East African Court of Justice is a treaty-based judicial body of the East African Community with mandate to ensure law observance in the interpretation, application of and compliance with the EAC Treaty of 1999…
SADC meets to assess Zimbabwe’s political progress – ZimEye (Zimbabwe), August 6, 2012 – The regional body, Southern African Development Community(SADC) meets tommorrow and senior officials will be travelling to Harare in the next two weeks to assess the country’s political progress following announcement of the draft constitution.

PIF FlagPACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM: ACP-EU negotiations critical – Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, August 6, 2012 – “Overall, our region has not been able to achieve the level of economic integration and success as a direct consequence of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (perhaps influenced by third parties) wrongfully excluding Fiji…”

UNASUR FlagUNASUR: Mercosur changing global geo-economic order  – RNV (Radio National de Venezuela), August 4, 2012 [Google translation) – Thus, South America, in the broad framework of UNASUR,…is split into two antagonistic blocs….On one side, Mercosur, and on the other hand,…is the alliance of the Pacific (Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico). This group of countries to the North prefers to subordinate (whether EU or U.S.)…. Mercosur…changes the power relations with the North…
Chavez expects Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia to join Mercosur in the future – Qué (Spain), August 4, 2012 (Google translation) – Chavez said “a truly historic event” the entry of his country as a full member of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) to intervene in a campaign caravan in an area of western Caracas.

SAARC FlagSAARC & REGIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE: Nepal: Weakness in harnessing Water Resources – Telegraph (Nepal), August 5, 2012 – The government of Nepal does not know the future of Nepal; it only knows to accept what India or Indians propose. They are ready for negotiating export schemes to sell electricity to the power-starved north Indian grid, which already has a shortfall of 5,000 MW at peak hour periods.
India to Boost Oil Imports from Iran  - Fars News Agency (Iran), August 4, 2012 – India will soon boost oil imports from Iran as the country’s insurers have agreed to step in to provide insurance cover for tankers carrying Iranian crude.
Post FDI, Pak allows two banks to open branches in India – Firstpost (India), August 3, 2012 – Following India’s move to allow investments from the neighbouring country, Pakistan’s central bank has allowed two banks to open branches in India as part of efforts to normalise economic and trade relations between the two countries.
FPCCI welcomes India opening door for Pakistanis – Business Recorder (Pakistan), August 3, 2012 – Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) and India Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IPCCI) have welcomed Indian Government’s decision for opening the door for Pakistani’s to make investment in India.

Eurasec FlagEURASIAN UNION: Putin invites Armenia’s president to Moscow  – Messenger (Georgia), August 3, 2012 – Russian President Vladimir Putin invited his Armenian counterpart to visit Moscow on August 8. Major topics for discussion will be the integration of Armenia into the Eurasian Union.

AU-FlagAFRICAN UNION: The Fast-Track to Integration  – The Southern Times (Namibia), August 3, 2012 – The African Union should fast-track the implementation of the continent’s free trade area (CFTA), a continent-wide initiative which is seen as the panacea to low levels of intra-African trade and lack of infrastructure. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), in a recent report titled “Towards an African Continental Free Trade Area” agitate for speedier implementation of the initiative.

PIF FlagSOUTH PACIFIC: Should we have an ANZAC economy?  – ITBdigital (Australia), August 3, 2012 – Increasing integration and boosting economic relations between Australia and New Zealand (NZ) is on the agenda again, after the governments of both countries asked their respective productivity commissions to review the opportunities, costs and benefits of closer ties. Initial findings will be available early in September…

EU-flagEUROPEAN UNION: EU “Upgrades” Relations with Israel, Strangling Strings Attached – Gatestone Institute, August 3, 2012 – The upgrade, which comes amid a barrage of unending criticism of Israel’s policies, in fact appears aimed at increasing Israel’s economic dependence on the European Union, with the objective of enhancing the bloc’s leverage over the State of Israel. Authored by EU delegations to the Palestinian Authority, the document includes severe recommendations meant to strengthen Palestinian control over East Jerusalem and coerce Israel to change its policy in the West Bank. The document is unprecedented in that it deals with internal Israeli issues.
No EU state can afford end of Euro now – ex-EU Counsel – RT|Reuters, August 2, 2012
EUROPEAN UNION & ‘MARITIME CAPACITY’ REGION-BUILDING: Somalia: The European Union High Representative Catherine AshtonVisits EU Naval Force Operation Headquarters – AllAfrica, August 2, 2012 – During the visit, Rear Admiral Potts updated the High Representative on EU NAVFOR’s counter piracy operations off the Horn of Africa, together with how, in line with the EU’s Comprehensive Approach to Somalia, EU NAVFOR continues to provide support to local and regional maritime capacity building programmes.

nafta-flagNORTH AMERICA: Canada, U.S. a step closer to harmonized regulations -  24 Hours Vancouver, August 3, 2012 – The embassy confirms the joint Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council now has a fully laid-out plan for what steps officials will take over the next two years to create common regulations in a host of areas, including transport along the St. Lawrence Seaway, meat inspections and new car safety standards.
SAARC: EDITORIAL : Way forward for Pakistan-India   – Pakistan Daily Times, August 3, 2012 – For too long, Pakistan-India hostility has kept SAARC from achieving its true potential. In an era of trade blocs and Free Trade Agreements, more trade and investment in South Asia can lift SAARC to enhanced international significance.
SAARC CCI hails India for allowing investment from Pakistan – Pakistan Daily Times, August 3, 2012 – Shri Vikramjit Singh Sahney, President, SAARC CCI [Chamber of Commerce and Industry] regarded it as a great breakthrough in the history of both the countries and said that it would not only augment bilateral cooperation manifold but also compliment efforts for meaningful implementation of SAFTA [South Asian Free Trade Agreement].

GCC flagGCC: Gulf union to be discussed in September  – Zawya, August 2, 2012 – A proposal to turn the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) into a Gulf union will be reviewed by the alliance foreign ministers in September….Pro-Gulf union supporters envisage close political, military and economic coordination and the setting up of a new decision-making body that would replace the GCC Secretariat and would be modelled after the European Union.

AU-FlagAFRICAN UNION: West Africa: ECOWAS Schools Members on Sub-Region Laws  – AllAfrica, August 2, 2012 – As part of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) activities in building law and order in the sub region, it has organized its third annual consultative meeting in Accra….For ECOWAS, one way of achieving these objectives is through inter-state co-operation, harmonization of national policies and integration of important programme. The community is of the view that co-operation in legal and judicial matters as a means of establishing a harmonized legal and judicial system for the region is considered vital to the success of the regional integration agenda.
Africa: SA Should Be Hub of Foreign African Investment – AllAfrica, August 2, 2012 – “We can best leverage our position by working to make sure the S in Brics becomes Sadc (South African Development Community) instead of SA (South Africa). We are in Brics by default of being an emerging market in Africa but Sadc as a region is bigger than some of the other Brics states” he said.

Eurasec FlagEURASEC (‘EURASIAN UNION’): EurAsEc officials to get diplomatic immunity  – Russia & India Report, August 3, 2012 – Within the framework of the new draft, EurAsEc will be an international organisation similar to the United Nations with a Secretary-General, an inter-parliamentary assembly and courts being created in the spirit of the 1961 Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.

PIF FlagPACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM: US steps up commitment in the Pacific Islands  – Matangi Tonga, August 3, 2012 – USA Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton would be attending the Pacific Islands Forum annual meeting to be held in the Cook Islands toward the end of August. It will be the first time for a USA Secretary of State to attend.

ASEAN FlagASEAN: ASEAN parliament leaders to meet in Indonesia’s Lombok  – Philippine Star, August 2, 2012 – “Around 350 people, including parliament leaders from 10 ASEAN nations, will take part in 2012 AIPA slated to be held in Lombok this September,”…

EU-flagEUROPEAN UNION: European Union to turn into United States of Europe?  – Pravda (Russia), August 2, 2012 – The interdependence of the economies in Europe is too high, so the collapse of the South in any case will have a catastrophic effect on its north. A creation of something similar to the “United States of Europe”, but under the auspices of Berlin, can be another way out.
THE EU WANTS TO RUIN US AND WE’RE FOOTING THE BILL – London Express, August 2, 2012 - The American fight for independence in the late 18th century was inspired by the battle cry “no taxation without representation.” Taxation without representation is exactly what we have under the undemocratic, larcenous European Union and it is costing us a fortune.

nafta-flagNORTH AMERICA: US, Canada to boost co-operation throughcommon electronic gateway for drug submissions  – Scrip Regulatory Affairs, August 1, 2012 -The US and Canadian governments have finalised work plans to reduce “unnecessary regulatory differences” in pharmaceutical and other sectors 1 ,2 . The initiative forms part of the US-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC)…
[Just in time for “regulatory cooperation” of a new U.S. government healthcare system with Canada’s program.
]

SAARC FlagSAARC: India allows FDI from Pakistan – Daily News & Analysis, August 1, 2012 – In a major decision, India on Wednesday allowed investment from Pakistan paving way for Islamabad to normalise bilateral economic ties by implementing much-delayed Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status for New Delhi.

AU-FlagAFRICAN UNION: Hillary Clinton embarks on Neo-colonial Tour of Africa – Media Monitors Network, August 2, 2012 – Senegal is the most unabashedly pro-Western and belligerently aggressive member of ECOWAS which early last year pushed for an ECOWAS military force to be deployed to Ivory Coast. It is also the main member of the organization the U.S. can count on it developing a collective military intervention force to serve as the nucleus of and prototype for a West African component of the U.S.- and NATO-backed African Standby Force, modeled after the NATO Response Force.

PIF FlagPACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM: Clinton may be coming to Pacific Islands Forum  – Radio New Zealand, August 2, 2012 – The Cook Islands government has confirmed a United States security team has conducted an assessment amid speculation US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could attend the Pacific Islands Forum in August.

Eurasec FlagEURASIAN UNION: The President of the Russian Duma in Yerevan [Armenia] – Armenian News Magazine, August 2, 2012 – “The Armenian authorities are closely monitoring the development of the Eurasian project and seek to determine their place in this project, knowing that the Eurasian area will develop economic relations.”
EurAsEC states to synchronize their national telemedicine systems – Interfax (Ukraine), August 2, 2012 – The member countries of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) will synchronize their national telemedicine systems, Kazakhstan’s Healthcare Development Center said in a press release on Thursday.

ASEAN FlagASEAN: ASEAN near consensus on sea row: Jakarta  – AdelaideNow (Australia), August 2, 2012 – South-east Asian countries are “on the cusp” of agreeing a statement of unity on the South China Sea dispute, the Indonesian foreign minister says after meeting his Cambodian counterpart.

AU-FlagAFRICAN UNION: ECOWAS submits draft Act to enhance powers of parliament – Nigerian Tribune, August 1, 2012 – The Speaker of ECOWAS [Economic Commission of West African States] Parliament, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who submitted the Act, regretted that the commission’s Parliament was the only supranational parliament with solid structure and prospects of transforming into a full legislative body throughout the African continent. He informed that at the time of its inception in 2000, it had remained a mere consultative and advisory parliament, whereas other regional parliaments it predated had either gained legislative powers or about doing so.

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