Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

Cuba/Venezuela: $10,000 “melange of Communism” trips

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Make sure you bring your own soap and toilet paper: “Get up close and personal with the locals that make up the melange of Communism.”

The Sydney Morning Herald calls it ‘Travel for the mind’ with George Negus – Venezuela & Cuba
READER OFFER: With George’s instinctive journalistic interest, this two-country excursion will awaken and engage your mind.


SMH readers are flying to Venezuela for a $10,000 per head socialism celebration while Venezuelans are trying to fly out

“Of course, I’d rather fly,” he said. “But there are no seats available.” Cordova said that he had tried for a month to get a seat on an airplane, to no avail. That’s because the economic policies that have driven him to leave Venezuela have also made it exceedingly hard for people to depart by air.

That’s the “melange of Communism” for you.

Good news Sunday: The Pacific Alliance

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

The Pacific Alliance met in Colombia last week, for the seventh time since its creation in June of 2012; This is good news for the world, not just for the region.

For starters,

there are two major “requirements” for a nation to join the Alliance. First, the government of the aspiring member state must adhere to the charter of the Alliance, which stresses respect for democracy.

In addition, the second requirement to joining the Alliance is that a new member must have free trade agreements with the other Alliance members before becoming full members. Hence, Costa Rica will only join the Alliance after President Chinchilla signs a free trade agreement with the Colombian government (San José [Costa Rica] already has FTAs with other Alliance members).

Member countries Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico were joined by Canada, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay, Japan, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama,

These countries and investors from outside of Latin America are attracted by the positive business climate among Alliance members—they occupy four of the top-five spots in the World Bank’s Doing Business in Latin America ranking—and encouraged by the fact that the bloc is serious. It is focused on trade, investment and immigration rather than politics and ideology.

Keep in mind that

The goal of the alliance is to create a free-trade corridor of all countries in the Americas with a Pacific coast. The hope is that dropping barriers on labor, finance and trade will help the Alliance become a hub for commerce with Asia.

The reason Japan, Canada, Spain and Australia attended as observers is that members of the Pacific Alliance are all part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership; they are serious about growth and prosperity. Bloggings by Boz lists what they are getting done:

  • The four current members dropped tariffs on 90% of the goods traded among them (something that was mostly done due to bilateral free trade agreements) and committed to completing the final 10% within the next few years.
  • The countries have dropped visa requirements with each other.
  • The four countries will likely create a joint visa system – Visa Alianza del Pacífico – that will allow tourists to visit all four countries on just one visa.
  • Peru dropped business visa requirements for the other three members.
  • The four current members agreed to open joint embassies in Africa and Asia.
  • The countries will conduct a coordinated trade mission in Africa and tourism promotion globally.
  • The creation of a fund to support small and medium sized businesses.
  • A fiscal transparency agreement to prevent businesses from avoiding taxes.
  • Agreement on educational exchanges, including 400 annual scholarships.
  • Agreement to consolidate a scientific network on adapting to climate change challenges.
  • Mexico signed an agreement with Chile to export meat.
  • Mexico moved forward on integration into the Integrated Latin American stock Market (MILA).
  • Costa Rica signed a free trade agreement with Colombia.
  • Guatemala and Peru will have a free trade agreement within the next few months.
  • Guatemala dropped its tourist visa requirements for Colombia.

Decreasing Trade Barriers and Increasing Economic Growth

This initiative is a significant step forward to synchronize members’ trade commitments and is aimed at enhancing trade with the bloc’s most dynamic partners in East Asia.

The Pacific Alliance numbers speak for themselves. These four economies are the most dynamic in the region, representing more than 40 percent of Latin America’s economy with a market of more than 210 million people—more than one-third of the region’s population. Since 2010, these four economies have grown at a higher rate than their neighbors and have also invested at a greater rate—25 percent of their combined gross domestic product (compared to just 20 percent elsewhere).

The Pacific Alliance is already having an effect on regional politics. Daniel Duquenal posts,

Brazil in recent years had a campaign to gain a permanent seat in the security council of the United Nations. All the efforts have been lost, I dare say with the recent fiascoes. How can a country aspire to such a rank when it is unable to protect democracy in its area of influence, and furthermore generates deep divisions as it may happen soon between Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance? Clearly Itamaraty hopes of world leadership are seriously compromised as its actors are revealed to be mere grocery shop managers, more worried about Venezuela paying its bills to them than the long term perspective. Or mere amoral operatives if you prefer. Let’s say it: Brazil is not ready for the major leagues, Colombia is.

Democracy, free trade, investment and immigration: keys to the well being of the region, and the world.

Beefgiving day coming up!

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

The Aussies are ready,

If they’re really sinking, why open a new airport?

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Climate change castaways consider move to Australia

Threat ... much of the Maldives could be lost to climate change. Threat … much of the Maldives could be lost to climate change.

THE President of what could be the first country in the world lost to climate change has urged Australia to prepare for a mass wave of climate refugees seeking a new place to live.

The Maldivian President, Mohamed Nasheed, said his government was considering Australia as a possible new home if the tiny archipelago disappears beneath rising seas.

”It is increasingly becoming difficult to sustain the islands, in the natural manner that these islands have been,” he told the Herald in an interview in Male, the Maldives capital.

If you read on, the article seems to confuse beach erosion with rising sea levels. Beach erosion takes place whether the sea levels rise or not; it’s caused by the effect of tides and ocean currents on sands.

But back to the Maldives:

Tim Blair points out that Nasheed

Then … attended a ceremony to mark the construction of a new airport.

New airport?

When the country’s supposedly going to be swallowed by the waves at any moment?

Back to Tim Blair,

President Nasheed has more urgent problems than a few little waves:

An epidemic of cheap heroin has swept through the archipelago, but taken root in Male in particular. The UN has estimated 40 per cent of the country’s youth use hard drugs.

You mean, cheap heroin that arrives via airplanes?

Nasheed, a Muslim as the Maldives constitution obliges all Maldivians to be, also faces a rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism. Wahhabist Islamic scholars, most schooled in madrassas in Pakistan, are radicalising Islam in the Maldives.

Female circumcision is practised, and is reportedly on the increase, across the archipelago. There are calls for the return of amputation for crimes and for the banning of music and dancing. Women are flogged for having extra-marital sex.

Much more imminent problems than rising sea levels, indeed. The castaways have a long wait.

And, besides, weren’t the seas supposed to cease rising?

(links fixed)

Linked by Hot Air. Thanks!

Nils-Axel Mörner, a sea-level expert from Sweden, sent President Nasheed a letter some time ago telling him that the sea levelsweren’t actually rising.


Will Wikileaks’ Assange end up in Ecuador?

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

The Swedes are investigating him, and the Australians are “studying whether he’d broken any laws there”, so here comes Rafael Correa to the rescue,
Ecuador offers a home for founder of WikiLeaks

Deputy Foreign Minister Kintto Lucas said in audio posted online by the EcuadorInmediato news site that “we are open to giving him residence in Ecuador, without any kind of trouble and without any kind of conditions.”

“We think it would be important not only to converse with him but to listen to him,” Lucas added, saying Ecuador wanted to invite Assange to “freely expound” and see what it’s like in “friendly countries.”

He praised people like Assange “who are constantly investigating and trying to get light out of the dark corners of (state) information”

Lucas said Ecuador’s government was “very concerned” by revelations that U.S. diplomats have been involved in spying in the first of the more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables and directives that WikiLeaks has begun to release.

Assange was interviewed by Forbes and talked about “his profile”

You mean as your personal profile rises?

Yeah, the rising profile of the organization and my rising profile also. And there’s a network effect for anything to do with trust. Once something starts going around and being considered trustworthy in a particular arena, and you meet someone and they say “I heard this is trustworthy,” then all of a sudden it reconfirms your suspicion that the thing is trustworthy.

So that’s why brand is so important, just as it is with anything you have to trust.

Assange’s profile’s ought to be prosecuted. Today’s WSJ,

What WikiLeaks has done is use the betrayal by the original leaker to expose American secrets and thus destroy trust in America’s reliability. For an administration whose policy choices have already done so much to erode global confidence in the U.S., these leaks are a disaster. How should the administration go about regaining confidence? It’s astonishing that Iceland, a member of NATO, is where WikiLeaks is headquartered. Don’t we have an embassy there? It’s astonishing that the Australian government has yet to receive a request from the U.S. to take action against Mr. Assange, an Australian national. It’s astonishing that Pfc. Bradley Manning, the suspected leaker, has yet to be court-martialed. It’s astonishing that Mr. Assange should be described by National Public Radio as a “whistleblower,” while in fact he’s conducting a form of cyberwarfare against the United States.

Assange promises more megaleaks to come regarding the private sector because

there will be some flagrant violations, unethical practices that will be revealed, but it will also be all the supporting decision-making structures and the internal executive ethos that cames out, and that’s tremendously valuable. Like the Iraq War Logs, yes there were mass casualty incidents that were very newsworthy, but the great value is seeing the full spectrum of the war.

You could call it the ecosystem of corruption. But it’s also all the regular decision making that turns a blind eye to and supports unethical practices: the oversight that’s not done, the priorities of executives, how they think they’re fulfilling their own self-interest. The way they talk about it.

Assange says he’s got stuff on Russia, too, even when he claims,

It’s not right to say there’s going to be a particular focus on Russia.

One can easily conclude that Assange is an optimist if he believes that the Russians are going to take anything sitting down, and that he’ll be enjoying a nice comfortable existence under the aegis of Rafael Correa.

Cross-posted at The Green Room

Ed’s got more on how the Russians may approach Wikileaks.


O to Oz: There ain’t gonna be no trip

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Remember that Australia trip Obama was going to make last Spring, which got postponed?

It ain’t gonna happen, again:
Obama postpones Indonesia, Australia trip again

President Obama has once again postponed his trip to Indonesia and Australia, telephoning the leaders of the two countries late Thursday night, the White House said.

It is the second time the trip has been canceled. It was originally planned for March but was put off because the president wanted to be in Washington for a critical health-care vote in Congress.

Now, the president needs to stay in Washington to oversee the worsening environmental crisis from the oil spill off the Gulf Coast, making a seven-day venture oversees impractical and politically problematic.

As Roseanne Roseannadanna said, “it’s always something!”, isn’t it?

Obama had been scheduled to leave June 13 and stay abroad for a week, spending time in Indonesia, Guam and Australia. There was no indication in the statement about when he might try again.

This time Obama dropped the pretense of a “re-schedule”,

Mr. Obama telephoned Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia to tell them he could not come after all, the White House said in a statement issued at midnight.

This ought to clear any doubts as to whether Obama sees himself almost exclusively as a domestic-issues president.

Well, in that case, “never mind!”

Daniel Drezner: Barack Obama has foolishly decided to blow off the most dynamic region in the globe — again


Snakes on a plane? Oh yeah!

Friday, April 17th, 2009

For people like me, who are midly phobic of both snakes and air flight, the synergy would be too much to handle:

Snakes escape, ground plane

MELBOURNE, April 16 (UPI) — An Australian airline said two flights were canceled due to the escape of four baby pythons from a container in a plane’s cargo hold.

Qantas bosses said workers discovered that a shipment of 12 non-venomous Stimson pythons in the cargo hold of a plane that arrived in Melbourne from the city of Alice Springs was light four snakes, Britain’s The Daily Mail reported Thursday.

Officials said the Boeing 737 was grounded after staff members were unable to locate the escaped pythons.

“At first we were not sure what had happened to the other snakes,” Qantas Corporate manager David Epstein said. “A reptile expert suggested that some of the baby pythons had eaten the others because apparently it is not uncommon for baby pythons to eat each other.”

Worse yet, they never found them.



But they fumigated the plane so everything’s back to hunkydory.

Or perhaps not?

(Language not suitable for work in this video:)

Link sent to me by Ada, who claims to have required tranquilizers for her latest LA-Newark NJ trip, even in the absence of snakes.

Pres. Bush honors Tony Blair, John Howard and Alvaro Uribe

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Via Allahpundit,

Regarding President Uribe, Pres. Bush said,

National leaders sometimes take office without fully knowing all the tests that await them. But when Alvaro Uribe became the President of Colombia, the challenges were in full view. He knew exactly what he was getting into.

For more than a generation, good and decent people across that country had lived at the mercy of brutal drug cartels and illegal armed groups. A contagion of terrorist violence and killings and kidnappings had shaken the political system and caused many Colombians to despair for their nation’s future. Early in this decade, the Republic of Colombia was near the point of being, at best, a failed state — or, at worst, a narco-state. In those conditions, it took more than ambition and ideals to run for political office — it required immense personal courage and strength of character.

As a presidential candidate in 2002, Alvaro Uribe pledged to his people greater security, a healthier democracy, and a better chance for prosperous lives. He was elected on a theme that expressed perfectly what the Colombian people desired in a president: “Strong hand, and big heart.”

President Uribe’s leadership has been resolute and uncompromising. Today in Colombia, homicides are down 40 percent, kidnappings are down more than 80 percent, terror attacks are down by more than 75 percent. The forces of violence are on the defensive, and the people are reclaiming their country.

President Uribe’s fellow citizens know him as someone who speaks forthrightly and follows through on his commitments. With his lifelong interest in public policy, he has a phenomenal grasp of the details of governing. At the same time, he has formed a powerful bond with his people. They met their President in town halls across the country. They’ve seen him deliver results. They like him and they trust him — and they have made him the first Colombian leader in the modern era to win reelection.

Lately I’ve been asked to reflect on the most memorable events of my presidency. Among those is a phone call I received several months ago from President Uribe. He called to say that a group of hostages — including three Americans that had been held in captivity for five years — had been rescued, and were alive and safe and sound. It was a joyful moment, Mr. President. And it was a credit to your leadership.

For President Uribe, the great demands of office continue. Today the United States honors all Colombians by honoring the man they have chosen to lead them. By refusing to allow the land he loves to be destroyed by an enemy within, by proving that terror can be opposed and defeated, President Uribe has reawakened the hopes of his countrymen and shown a model of leadership to a watching world. Colombia remains a nation with challenges. But the future will always be bright in a country that produces such men as President Alvaro Uribe.

Congratulations, mi amigo. (Applause.)

Allahpundit said that Uribe was out of place in the trio. Allahpundit is wrong. Alvaro Uribe has done more against terrorism in our hemisphere than any other head of state: the drug trade, criminality and terrorism are all threads in one fabric in our hemisphere.

More photos at Noticias24.

Also blogging: Gateway Pundit

UPDATE, Wednesday 14 January
Bush Awards Freedom Medals to Three U.S. Allies in Terror War

Bush credited Uribe with taking a country rife with drug cartels, killings and kidnappings, to one where terror attacks are down more than 75 percent. “The forces of violence are on the defensive and the people are reclaiming their country,” Bush said.

Elected in 2002, Uribe has strengthened democracy and the rule of law and brought to the country what voters most wanted in a president: “a strong hand and a big heart,” Bush said.

Related: Uribe’s Voice: Transcript of a Call


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Note to the WaPo, Obama wasn’t kicked out of Blair House

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Philip Rucker and Al Kamen of the WaPo believe that Obama was “kicked out” of Blair House by John Howard:

The veil is lifted. We now know who is booked at Blair House, kicking President-elect Barack Obama and his family to the waiting list and across Lafayette Park to the Hay-Adams Hotel.

The only overnight visitor at the presidential guest manse is none other than John Howard, a former Australian prime minister and leading member of President Bush’s coalition of the willing in Iraq.

No, Al & Phil. Obama was not in Blair House and John Howard didn’t come over and booted him out of the place. Blair House is “the President’s guest house

playing host to foreign heads of state visiting the United States on official business.”

Barack Obama is president elect (not head of state yet) of the United States (not a foreign country), who will take office later this month. He is not a foreign head of state. John Howard, as former Prime Minister (head of state) of Australia (a foreign country) will be here to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (official business).

Tony Blair and Alvaro Uribe will also be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

Howard and his entourage will be bunking at Blair House on Jan. 12, the night before he, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe are to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Bush, said Sally McDonough, a spokeswoman for first lady Laura Bush.

From Colombia’s point of view, this will be a nice yet symbolic gesture of support for Mr. Uribe; Nancy Pelosi’s Congress has failed miserably by denying Colombia the real support that country has requested, which is the free trade agreement.

Much to their credit, the WaPo’s editorial board supports the free trade agreement with Colombia.


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Heading to Australia Today

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Please scroll down for the Mumbai updates

My latest post, Heading to Australia Today is up at LadyBlog.