Saturday, April 11, 2009

Current Events

Today's Peninsula offers an editorial calling for the saving of the newspapers in the U.S. It is fascintiating that a Gulf States acknowledges and calls for the U.S. freedom of press. It is the home of Al Jazeera.
The dire status of the newspaper industry calls for a government bailout of journalism. If the government can bail out banks, insurance companies and automobile firms, why can’t they do the same for the newspapers? Industry experts have suggested some ways for the government to help and the Obama administration needs to act on them. The consequences of the death or even a trimming down of print journalism are disastrous. How will the public get extensive coverage on various global crises? Who will expose corruption and officials mistakes the way investigative journalists do? Without the guardian role of the print media, the American society wouldn’t have been where it is today. Most recently, the print media’s exposures of George W Bush’s lies on the Iraq war and his umpteen policy failures have been instrumental in securing a landslide win for Obama.

The survival of the US print media will be in the interest of global press freedom. And the government must bail out this industry.

From the Peninsula yesterday an editorial that discusses the recent spoof of the piracy circulating the internet and discusses the seriousness of the piracy business. They call for tough action but offer no suggestions.

Power of piracy

If Somali pirates were to announce their annual results, bulls would rule the floor on Wall Street; if they were to inject funds into cash-strapped banks, our markets would be awash with liquidity, and if they were to share their business wisdom with our idea-starved corporate moghuls, the global economy would emerge from recession and boom ahead! Such has been the acumen with which Somali pirates have run their business that the world can only watch in awe, literally, being unable to do anything to check them. A phony Bloomberg story which was doing the rounds recently celebrated their audacity and had shell-shocked Wall Street financiers in splits. The story said the pirates, known for hijacking ships, including most recently a $200m Saudi Arabian oil tanker, are negotiating a purchase of Citigroup. The pirates planned to finance the deal with existing cash stockpiles and by selling Pirate Ransom Backed Securities. The bid resulted in Moody’s upgrading Somali pirates to AAA, and financial experts calling the Pirates fundamentally sound and their stocks best buy. Pirate spokesman Sugule Ali said that the negotiations had entered the final stage. “You may not like our price, but we are not in the business of paying for things. Be happy we are in the mood to offer the shareholders anything,” said Ali.

This is no time for humour, but the helplessness of the global community, with all its military might and nuclear arsenals, to confront the pirates is bound to generate some harmless humour. On Wednesday, the pirates took on the most powerful country in the world, the United States, by hijacking a ship in which there were 20 American crew. Gunmen briefly hijacked the 17,000-tonne Maersk Alabama freighter, but the crew retook control after a confrontation far out in the Indian Ocean, where pirates have captured five other vessels in a week. The four gang members were holding the captain on the ship’s lifeboat and the crew were trying to negotiate his release, while a US Navy destroyer arrived at the scene to apply pressure on the pirates. Ironically, the ship was carrying thousands of tonnes of food aid destined for Somalia and Uganda from Djibouti to Mombasa, Kenya, when it was attacked about 300 miles off Somalia. The attack makes a mockery of an unprecedented international naval effort against the pirates, including ships from Europe, the United States, China, Japan and others.

With the latest incident, one thing is clear: either the international community is powerless to tackle this menace, or they are not serious enough and has not yet mustered the political will to do so. Whatever the reason, the shipping industry will continue to have sleepless days. A solution to this threat on the seas is extremely difficult, but the sooner they find one, the better.

From the day before yesteday's paper we see that
Qatar welcomes Obama’s address

Doha: Qatar has welcomed the US President Barrack Obama’s recent address in Turkey in which he has asserted the US appreciation of Islam and that US was no and would not be in a war against Islam, and that the relationship between the West and Islam should be based on mutual understanding, respect and joint interests, an official source at the Foreign Ministry said in a statement to Qatar News Agency (QNA).

The official said the US President’’s address was a significant and positive step that would contribute to supporting dialogue among civilizations, enhancing confidence building and establishing a constructive relations between US and Muslim world in a way that contributes to fostering the international security and peace. 

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Current news

Today's local paper, The Peninsula, reports some interesting items that may not get into U.S. news. The first is Qatar's private business sector hailing the current budget that allocates strong funding for private initiatives. Unlike the U.S. it is not called stimulus but the purpose is the same.
Private sector hails budget
Web posted at: 4/4/2009 5:5:49
Source ::: The PENINSULA

DOHA: The private sector has hailed the current budget and said higher allocations for public projects would help it overcome the challenges posed by the global economic downturn.

Private businesses are the biggest beneficiaries if outlays for development projects in a state budget are large, say businessmen.

And the fact that despite an estimated deficit of QR5.8bn due to falling oil prices in the global markets, if Qatar has earmarked huge funds for public spending, it reflects the government’s intention of keeping the private sector engaged in national development.

The paper also reports on joint exercises between U.S. marines and their Qatari counterparts.
Qatari and US troops in joint exercise
Web posted at: 4/4/2009 2:29:20
Source ::: The Peninsula

US Marines and Qatari Emiri Land Forces officers plot a point on a map during the first day of the military exercise.

DOHA: Qatari and American military forces are conducting a two-week joint military exercise designed to build and improve cooperation between both military forces and strengthen the defensive capabilities of both nations.

During Exercise Eastern Maverick 2009, which began on March 28, elements of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, including Marines and sailors will conduct a number of training exercises alongside the Qatari military, including small-unit vehicle training and live-fire exercises, as well as pilot training with the Qatari Air Force.

US Ambassador to Qatar Joseph LeBaron said: “The military relationship is a vital part of our bilateral relations with Qatar — a relationship that the United States values deeply.”

The ambassador added that the exercise, which is conducted annually, provides an excellent opportunity for both militaries to renew and strengthen the bonds that are vital to understanding and working with one another.

The US Marines and sailors are also taking time off from their exercise schedule to learn more about Qatari culture through visits to local schools and friendly sporting events with their Qatari military colleagues.

Finally, a third article, AFP (Agence France-Presse) discusses the perceived value of Obama's trip to Turkey in two days.
Obama poised to win hearts
Web posted at: 4/4/2009 0:48:11
Source ::: .AFP
Muslims wait for the Friday congregational prayers at the Blue Mosque in Istanbul yesterday. US President Barack Obama will visit the mosque and the St Sophia museum during a two-day official visit which begins on Monday.

Obama, who will be visiting Turkey on Monday and Tuesday, has already made headway in winning over Turkish hearts since his election in January.

In 2005, only 9.3 percent of Turks said they trusted George W Bush - compared with 4.6 percent who trusted Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden - whereas in February 39.2 percent said they had confidence in Obama, making him “the most trusted leader” in Turkish eyes, according to a poll by the Infakto Research Workshop company.

While a Turkish businessman sought to make a fortune by claiming he was the manufacturer of the shoes thrown at Bush last year, a leading Turkish bank is now seeking to capitalise on Obama’s reassuring image, using a look-alike in a TV advertisement promoting “anti-crisis” loans.

“The Garanti Bank said it wanted to revitalise the economy and we thought that Obama is seen as the sole person who can stop the economic downturn,” said Bediz Eker, a manager at the company which shot the advertisement. Bush’s invasion of neighbouring Iraq in 2003, in which Ankara denied US troops permission to use its territory, led to an outpouring of solidarity with the Iraqis and fuelled fears here that the United States wants to fundamentally reshape the Middle East.

“The Turks hated Bush... Bush linked everything to terrorism and Islam and he was very wrong. He crusaded in a way,” Orhan Tekelioglu, an academic specialising in popular culture said.

“The Turks have a very positive feeling about Obama because he is not creating a world where he is going to act as the only leader... He says he wants to cooperate. Bush was not saying so,” he added. Tekelioglu noted that Obama’s ethnic origin was also appealing to the Turks.