Archive for the ‘australia’ Category

Australia Stresses “Global Economy,” Asks More From China

March 24, 2009

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has commended efforts by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to cushion the economy against the global credit crisis and bolster Australia’s financial system.

Sydney Morning Herald

Mr Rudd is “A+ on these issues”, Mr Geithner said, speaking at a Wall Street Journal conference in Washington overnight. “If we did what he advised, we’d all be in a better place.”

The Federal Government last month said it would spend $42 billion in cash handouts to families and on infrastructure.

The Government also guaranteed bank deposits last year and indicated in January it might establish a fund to lend directly to companies should foreign banks fail to roll over as much as $75 billion of maturing debt.

Mr Rudd, who spoke after Mr Geithner, said US President Barack Obama’s plan to finance as much as $US1 trillion in purchases of illiquid real-estate assets was an important step.

“None of the above works unless it’s globally co-ordinated,” Mr Rudd said.

When asked whether there was a need for a global reserve currency, Mr Rudd said: “The dollar’s position on that score remains unchallenged.”

He also said everyone was waiting for China to “come alive”.

“I detect some modest signs of optimism [about China],” he added.

Mr Rudd also said China must be part of efforts to raise more money for the International Monetary Fund, and that the Asian nation should have voting rights at the fund.

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It’s Obama Time But: “He Doesn’t Get It” or “Did The Right Thing” Depending Upon Your View

January 13, 2009

The President-elect is already enjoying the spotlight and adulation and comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln.  But the stage still has other actors and they of course spark great discussion and disagreement….

George W. Bush gave what he promised was his final press conference as President of the United States Monday, an event that re-opened much of the discussion and criticism of him and his presidency.

You either love George Bush or you hate him, it seems.  Nobody, some say, is in the middle.

Transcript:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/rele
ases/2009/01/20090112.html

Fred Barnes, the Weekly Standard editor and an unabashed conservative, mentioned on Fox News (where else?) last evening that he wrote about Bush’s accomplishments.

He even told Charles Krauthammer and the other pundits that he listed 10 Bush accomplishments and then got many others from readers via e-mail.

So, during a sleepless night, we went for a look.

Bush Ground Zero.jpg

Barnes has said about George Bush (43): “Bush, of course, is a conservative, but a different kind of conservative. His tax cuts, support for social issues, hawkish position on national security and terrorism, and rejection of the Kyoto protocols make him so. He’s also killed the ABM and Comprehensive Test Ban treaties, kept the United States out of the international criminal court, defied the United Nations, and advocated a shift in power from Washington to individuals through an ‘ownership society.’ On some issues–partial privatization of Social Security is the best example–he is a bolder conservative than Ronald Reagan, the epitome of a conventional conservative.”

So below, here is the list of President Bush (43) and his accomplishments, according to Mr. Barnes:

1) His decision in 2001 to jettison the Kyoto global warming treaty.

2) The selective use of enhanced interrogation of terrorists. Along with use of secret prisons and wireless eavesdropping, this saved American lives.

3) Bush’s third achievement was the rebuilding of presidential authority, badly degraded in the era of Vietnam, Watergate, and Bill Clinton.

4) Achievement number four was Bush’s unswerving support for Israel. Reagan was once deemed Israel’s best friend in the White House. Now Bush can claim the title.

5) His fifth success was No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the education reform bill cosponsored by America’s most prominent liberal Democratic senator Edward Kennedy.

6) Sixth, Bush declared in his second inaugural address in 2005 that American foreign policy (at least his) would henceforth focus on promoting democracy around the world.


President Bush boards Air Force One (AP Photo)

7) The seventh achievement is the Medicare prescription drug benefit, enacted in 2003. It’s not only wildly popular; it has cost less than expected by triggering competition among drug companies.

Eight: John Roberts and Sam Alito. In putting them on the Supreme Court and naming Roberts chief justice, Bush achieved what had eluded Richard Nixon, Reagan, and his own father. Roberts and Alito made the Court indisputably more conservative. And the good news is Roberts, 53, and Alito, 58, should be justices for decades to come.

9) Bush’s ninth achievement has been widely ignored. He strengthened relations with east Asian democracies (Japan, South Korea, Australia) without causing a rift with China.

10) Finally, a no-brainer: the surge. Bush prompted nearly unanimous disapproval in January 2007 when he announced he was sending more troops to Iraq and adopting a new counterinsurgency strategy.

We might add the fight against AIDS in Africa and other accomplishments…but we know, if you hate the guy you hate the guy…..

See Fred Barnes’ entire view:
http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/P
ublic/Articles/000/000/015/986rockt.asp

Bush was never afraid to make the tough call:
Bush Personally Redirected SecState Rice To Support Israel

Obama May Bring Hope But One Third of Global Citizens Expect Worse Year

January 3, 2009

One third of adults around the world are worried about what the year will bring, according to the Voice of the People survey released by Gallup International. 35 per cent of respondents in 46 countries expect 2009 to be worse than 2008.

The proportion of respondents who expect the next year to be “the same” has remained stable in the past three annual surveys. In 2006 and 2007, roughly two-in-five respondents expected the next year to be better. The proportion has dropped to 27 per cent this time.

At least 48 per cent of respondents in Kosovo, China, Australia, Lebanon and Colombia expect a better year, while at least 60 per cent of those in Hong Kong, Iceland, Singapore, Ireland and Greece believe conditions will deteriorate.

Angus Reid Global Monitor

Since 2007, defaults on so-called subprime mortgages—credit given to high-risk borrowers—in the United States have caused volatility in domestic and global financial markets and raised concerns that the U.S. economy could fall into a recession. A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth. The crisis has affected the global financial and credit systems.

On Dec. 31, outgoing U.S. treasury secretary Hank Paulson discussed the crisis, saying, “We’re dealing with something that is really historic and we haven’t had a playbook. The reason it has been difficult is first of all, these excesses have been building up for many, many years. Secondly, we had a hopelessly outdated global architecture and regulatory authorities in the U.S.”

Read the rest:
http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/view
/32541/a_third_of_global_citizens_ex
pect_worse_year

Coral reef growth is slowest ever

January 2, 2009

Coral growth in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has slowed to its most sluggish rate in the past 400 years.

The decline endangers the species the reef supports, say researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

They studied massive porites corals, which are several hundred years old, and found that calcification has declined by 13.3% since 1990.

Global warming and the increasing acidity of seawater are to blame, they write in Science journal.

BBC

Coral reefs are central to the formation and function of ecosystems and food webs for tens of thousands of other marine organisms.

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest in the world, composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands.

Dr Glenn De’ath and colleagues investigated 328 colonies of massive Porites corals, from 69 locations.

The largest corals are centuries old – growing at a rate of just 1.5cm per year.

Read the rest:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/
nature/7807943.stm

Australia Moves to Censor Internet

December 27, 2008

A proposed Internet filter dubbed the “Great Aussie Firewall” is promising to make Australia one of the strictest Internet regulators among democratic countries.

Consumers, civil-rights activists, engineers, Internet providers and politicians from opposition parties are among the critics of a mandatory Internet filter that would block at least 1,300 Web sites prohibited by the government — mostly child pornography, excessive violence, instructions in crime or drug use and advocacy of terrorism.

Hundreds protested in state capitals earlier this month.

“This is obviously censorship,” said Justin Pearson Smith, 29, organizer of protests in Melbourne and an officer of one of a dozen Facebook groups against the filter.

The list of prohibited sites, which the government isn’t making public, is arbitrary and not subject to legal scrutiny, Smith said, leaving it to the government or lawmakers to pursue their own online agendas.

AP

“I think the money would be better spent in investing in law enforcement and targeting producers of child porn,” he said.

Internet providers say a filter could slow browsing speeds, and many question whether it would achieve its intended goals. Illegal material such as child pornography is often traded on peer-to-peer networks or chats, which would not be covered by the filter.

“People don’t openly post child porn, the same way you can’t walk into a store in Sydney and buy a machine gun,” said Geordie Guy, spokesman for Electronic Frontiers Australia, an Internet advocacy organization. “A filter of this nature only blocks material on public Web sites. But illicit material … is traded on the black market, through secret channels.”

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy proposed the filter earlier this year, following up on a promise of the year-old Labor Party government to make the Internet cleaner and safer.

“This is not an argument about free speech,” he said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. “We have laws about the sort of material that is acceptable across all mediums and the Internet is no different. Currently, some material is banned and we are simply seeking to use technology to ensure those bans are working.”

Read the rest:
http://tech.yahoo.com/news/ap/2008
1226/ap_on_hi_te/tec_australia_internet_filter

China’s Growing Naval Reach May Cause Worries

December 26, 2008

China’s Pacific neighbors worry that the superpower’s growing naval power could cause regional tensions to rise and fester…

The first deployment of three Chinese ships to the coast of Africa in hundreds of years means China is becoming more involved in world and international matters.  The pirates in Somalia are causing insurance prices to rise for everyone.  So China’s committment and involvement causes many to applaud.

But not everyone is applauding China’s naval moves.  Many worry.

Japan, South Korea and Vietnam, to name just a few nations, worry that China’s growing naval strength means China will eventually want something in Asia and have the power to take it without too much discussion.

Even Pacific Ocean nations like Australia worry that China will become too dominant in the region.

Here at Peace and Freedom, readers from Vietnam, Japan and South Korea have swamped us with questions about China’s actual strength at sea — and China’s intent.

And why does China need a large navy?  What is China’s “Grand Strategy”?

“I think the objective of the grand strategy is to squeeze out, very slowly and very gradually, the influence of the United States in East Asia, without war, with economy and culture,” said Chong-pin, Professor at the Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University in Taiwan.

The “Grand Strategy” will ultimately include aircraft carriers.

China will “seriously consider” building aircraft carriers to protect its vast maritime territory, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense said on just last week as the anti-piracy mission was being prepared.

Huang Xueping made the remarks at a news conference called to announce details of a Chinese flotilla that departed for Somali waters on Friday to protect Chinese ships from pirates.

Asked whether the Chinese navy’s first deployment abroad is a good opportunity to build a carrier, Huang said the government would seriously consider the issue.

“Aircraft carriers are a symbol of a country’s overall national strength as well as the competitiveness of its naval force,” Huang said.

“China has a long coastline and the sacred duty of China’s armed forces is to safeguard the country’s marine safety and sovereignty over coastal areas and territorial seas,” he said.

Above: Near the Republic of Korea (Oct. 7, 2008). The ROKS Gangkamchan (DDH 979) steams by a line of  warships during the International Fleet Review “Pass and Review.”

China has many mineral rights and oil disagreements at sea with Japan, Vietnam and other nations — and a poweful navy means to these countries that China will, before long, lay down the law from Beijing on other regional neighbors.

According to Japan’s Navy Retired vice admiral Fumio Ota, currently director of the Center for Security and Crisis Management Education of the National Defense Academy, “One reason is China wants to make advances in the sea to secure energy resources. The other is to survey and expand the area of its operational waters in preparation for a war with Taiwan ….. China’s State Oceanic Administration has said: ‘The one who controls the sea will survive and grow. China will build a powerful and modern maritime state.'”

Most worriesome to the United States and those neighbors of China is this: no one really knows how big and capable China’s navy has become or how much China is spending on naval programs.

Beijing’s rapidly growing military spending, estimated at $85 billion to $125 billion last year, is still dwarfed by the United States, where a half-trillion dollars is shelled out for defense spending each year, not counting money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office last year said the U.S. Navy needs to spend about $21 billion annually on new ship construction over 30 years to meet its goal of a 313-ship fleet. That is far above the Pentagon’s average spending between 2000 and 2005, and about $6 billion more than President Bush requested for this year.

But it is China’s secrecy on military spending and programs that causes so many to worry in Asia — and that is why U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates frequently speaks about the need for “transparency” in both China’s military investments and their intentions.

China’s military spending and intentions are hidden behind a fog of state controlled media and government secrecy.

On the aircraft carrier issue,  China’s Maj. Gen. Quan Lihua said:

“The question is not whether you have an aircraft carrier, but what you do with your aircraft carrier.  Even if one day we have an aircraft carrier, unlike another country we will not use it to pursue global deployment or global reach.”

Of course: we can all trust China.

Related:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf
/12/26/china.pirates/index.html

.
Piracy draws China back to the ranks of maritime giants
.
China’s “Grand Strategy”: U.S. Out Of Asia?
.
China Launching First Long-Range Naval Mission Since 15th Century

General Hints China’s Navy May Add Carrier

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, seen here on December 2008, ... 
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, seen here in December 2008.(AFP/Getty Images/File/Scott Olson)

***********************

From the Associated Press

China’s willingness to send ships so far from home is also the latest example of the growing power and confidence of the country’s navy. In recent years, the military has been loading up on warships, planes, missiles and other weapons — a beef-up that has worried its neighbors and the U.S.

Those most concerned include the Japanese and South Koreans, who have long-standing disputes about territorial waters that occasionally flare up. China has also been locked in an uneasy stand off with the Philippines, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian nations over the ownership of the potentially oil-rich Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the East-West Center in Hawaii, said countries in the region will view China’s mission off Somalia differently.

“For Japan and some in South Korea, this is another step in the unwelcome growth of the Chinese navy as a capable blue-water force, which has only downsides for Tokyo and Seoul,” said Roy, an expert on China’s military.

“I think the objective of the grand strategy is to squeeze out, very slowly and very gradually, the influence of the United States in East Asia, without war, with economy and culture,” said Chong-pin, Professor at the Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University in Taiwan at Princeton.

But he said most Southeast Asian countries may see China’s involvement in the anti-piracy campaign as a positive thing. It would mean that China was using its greater military might for constructive purposes, rather than challenging the current international order.

However, the analyst added, “The Chinese deployment gets at a question the U.S. and other governments have been asking: ‘Why the big Chinese military buildup when no country threatens China?’ Or more bluntly, ‘Why do the Chinese need a blue-water navy when the U.S. Navy already polices the world’s oceans?”‘

Roy said the answer is that China is unwilling to rely on the U.S. to protect China’s increasingly global interests. Beijing still believes it needs to enter the field, Roy said, and that leaves open the possibility of a China-U.S. naval rivalry in the future.

China has said the mission’s purpose was to protect Chinese ships and crews that have come under attack from pirates. The vessels would also be willing to share intelligence and conduct humanitarian rescue operations with other countries involved in the anti-piracy efforts, Senior Col. Huang Xueping, spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense, said Tuesday.

Read the entire article:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,473044,00.html

170 arrested in global child porn investigation

December 13, 2008

More than 170 people around the globe, including at least 61 in the United States, have been arrested in a major operation targeting international child pornographers, officials said Friday.

By Terry Frieden
CNN
.
So far, Operation Joint Hammer has rescued 11 girls in the United States, ages 3 to 13, who were sexually abused by child pornography producers, U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey and representatives of the European Union said at the Justice Department Friday.

Dozens more were located in Europe, including several young female victims in Ukraine.

Authorities found connections between producers, distributors and customers in nearly 30 countries as a single investigation grew to a global inquiry into the dark corners of brutality and child abuse.


U.S. child actress Miley Cyrus on the cover
of Vanity Fair Magazine….Criminal child porn
is well beyond this….

The investigation, code-named Operation Koala in Europe, was first developed when investigators determined a pornographic video found in Australia had been produced in Belgium.

Read the rest:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/12/12/porn.arr
ests/index.html?section=cnn_latest

Drought forces Australian state to purchase water

December 6, 2008

Australia’s driest state has been forced to purchase water for the first time to ensure adequate supplies in the midst of a drought, a government official said Friday.

Karlene Maywald, state water security minister, said South Australia has purchased 61 billion gallons (231 gigaliters) of water so that Adelaide, the state capital, will have enough water for 2009 even if the drought continues.

By TANALEE SMITH, Associated Press Writer

Map of Australia shows its annual precipitation by region; 2 ...

“We’re just being prudent, getting into the market and buying it (water) to make sure we’ve got it,” Maywald told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

The purchase highlights the dire situation in South Australia, which some experts had predicted would run out of water by the end of the year. The state has suffered through drought for the past five years, and water in Adelaide’s storage containers and reservoirs dropped 8 percent in the last year.

South Australia receives the least rainfall of any Australian state. Adelaide, on the coast, averages 20.8 inches (528 millimeters) a year but much of the state gets less than 9.8 inches (250 millimeters).

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081205/ap_on_re_as/as_australia_drought_2