Thursday, March 24, 2005

Another Revolution

Kyrgyzstan, the country whose just dumped leader a decade ago announced his intent to create the Switzerland of Central Asia, went through a revolution peaking today.

This time, without apparent Western involvement[*]. There were violent protests in the southern towns five years ago and a few years later too, tapping serious popular discontent. However, judging from the list of opposition leaders, without exception former cadres sidelined by now deposed President Akayev, the actual power change is more of a palace coup than an elite replacement.

I wonder when, on a very basic machiavellian level, Putin & remaining cohorts will realise that old-style quasi-dictatures are - well - just too old in comparison with the new democratures. Too instable and too obviously non-democratic.

[*] Tough the vita of the ex-foreign-minister in the link suggests the possibility.

What's Up With India?

The previous government of India, led by Hindu nationalists from higher castes, had the idea of declaring India no longer a developing, but a developed nation - because of some booming industries like the software industry in Bangalore. From this they also followed that India no longer needs any foreign help.

Nevermind that whatever improvements a hundred million Indians enjoyed, 90% of India is still living in the same shit (literally). (My sister toured around Northern India just last month, her photos attest to that.)

Then came the Congress party election victory, where the spin was that the rural people had enough of the BJP's delusions. But they continue just where their predecessors quit. (Complete with the same idiocy about foreign help, refused after the Tsunami.)

The latest and worst idiocy is that in order to get into the WTO, the government is willing to end the production of generic drugs (f.e. against AIDS), pleasing the Western multinationals. Under The Same Sun and histologion have the story.

Who Was Jeff Gannon's Customer In The White House?

Come on, how else did he get his press pass?

Rigorous Intention aims high. (Via Blood & Treasure)

EU Constitution vs. The Directive From Hell

The worst of the neoliberal schemes European governments pursue in the mantle of the EU, the services-liberalising Bolkestein Directive, became a threat to the EU project: despite all major parties' endorsement, a slight majority of the French public opinion turned against voting "Oui" on the EU constitution.

To head off the shipwreck, the recent meeting of the EU Council decided to re-work the directive. I don't expect more than cosmetic changes, tough.

Should the EU Constitution be rejected by an anti-neoliberal, pro-social French majority, rather than an anti-EU, pro-"sovereignity" British majority, that could actually have positive effects: a re-drafting of the Constitution with more weight on social matters. (I'd be happy with strenghtening the parts on environment too, tough I don't see that happening due to a French "Non".)

On the other hand. The weights in the Constitution, the near-unanimous support of states behind the Bolkestein Directive on services, and the software patents directive (actually another work of Bolkestein; held up only by vetoes of single states until the Luxemburg Presidency, there goes my respect for PM Juncker, pushed it through) shows the unfortunate fact that pro-business dogmatism is firmly implanted in the heads of nearly all the continent's major parties. So until that is changed[*], I will expect neither a much better Constitution, nor a better conduct of national governments with or without a Constitution of whatever nature possible at this time. (And, of course, without an EU, we would have zero common limiting regulation where we now have minimal.)

Hence, the neoliberal odour around the Constitution doesn't have much practical importance to me - the small increase in the European Parliament's powers, the small advance towards a common foreign policy and the big advance towards a fairer weighting of countries (after Chirac messed it all up in Nizza - which only got him the memorable Spanish-Polish blockade duo a year and half ago) matter more.

But everything possible should be done to defeat the Bolkestein Directive.

BTW, for those readers speaking German, taz has some recent good articles on the issue.

[*] For the Left, the EU should be something to take over, not something to oppose as f.e. many in Sweden think. The Social Democrats wasted their time in the nineties when they dominated the EU-15, an example not to repeat.

Can't Do Body Counts

85 insurgents killed by Iraqi forces becomes 85 killed by Iraqi forces with US support becomes 85 killed in US air strike becomes 11 killed in US air strike.

Read here.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Yesterday In Budapest

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Looming US Financial Crisis Part XLVIII

I'll extend this post with some more analysis later; for now, I link directly to the 2004 4th Quartal/full year US International Transactions table[M$ Excel], and point out the bottomline: it's line 70, "Statistical discrepancy (sum of above items with sign reversed)". Why the sign has to be reversed (and not put as the very last line) I don't know, the issue is: for four consecutive quartals now (i.e. all of 2004), net capital pouring into the USA and smaller items failed to balance the net outpouring of money paid for goods (i.e. the trade deficit).

This item, which as yet lacks a handy name, is the deficit that really can put pressure on currencies and economies (rather than at times dominant subtotals like the over-hyped trade deficit).