Archive for the ‘rice’ Category

Thailand May Sell More Rice, Crush Vietnam and World Market price

January 22, 2009

Thailand, the world’s largest rice exporter, is considering selling up to 5m tonnes from its stockpile – equal to a fifth of the world’s annually traded rice.

From FT

The market is worried that such a large disposal could put further downward pressure on prices, which have halved since spiking last year to an all-time high of about $1,100 a tonne.

Thai medium quality rice, the world’s benchmark, however, has showed resilience, trading at $580 a tonne, more than double the price in 2007, supported by fresh demand from importers in Africa, brokers said.

Thailand’s stockpile has built up as a result of its policy of buying surplus production at above market prices in an effort to protect the incomes of farmers.

The country has been paying its farmers a premium of about 30 per cent for their crops in a bid to shield them from lower prices and high production costs, particularly of fertilisers.

The Ministry of Commerce, which controls the rice reserve, has yet to decide whether to release the stocks onto the open market, which could hit world prices, or try to dispose of it in a government-to-government deal. Thailand and Iran have talked in the past about such a deal.

The Vietnamese government recently concluded a deal to sell 500,000 tonnes to the Philippines, the world’s largest importer, at a price of $420 a tonne including freight. The two countries are also talking about further shipments of about 1.0-1.5m tonnes.

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Above: Vietnamese farmers harvest rice…

Endgame In Gaza? Will Hamas Collapse or Just Fade?

January 9, 2009

Israel’s leaders have purposely obscured their war aims in Gaza. But there are only two possible endgames: (A) a Lebanon-like cessation of hostilities to be supervised by international observers, or (B) the disintegration of Hamas rule in Gaza.

By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
Under tremendous international pressure — including from an increasingly wobbly U.S. State Department — the government of Ehud Olmert has begun hinting that it is receptive to a French-Egyptian cease-fire plan, essentially acquiescing to Endgame A.

That would be a terrible mistake.

It would fail on its own terms. It would have the same elements as the phony peace in Lebanon: an international force that abjures any meaningful use of force, an arms embargo under which arms will most assuredly flood in, and a cessation of hostilities until the terrorist side is rearmed and ready to initiate the next round of hostilities.

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Israeli Army Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi (L), Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (2nd L), Defence Minister Ehud Barak (3rd L) and Yoav Galant (R), head of the Israeli army Southern Command, sit together during a visit to an army base in an undisclosed location in southern Israel January 8, 2009, in this picture released by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO). Several rockets fired from Lebanon struck northern Israel on Thursday, slightly wounding two people, police and medics said, in an attack seen as linked to Israel’s war on Hamas Islamists in the Gaza Strip. REUTERS/Amos Ben Gershom

UN Passes Cease Fire Resolution; Hamas, Israel Intensify Attacks; Day 14

January 9, 2009

The U.N. Security Council late Thursday overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

But Israel intensivied its air attacks to more than 50 on day 14, Friday.  The average number of air attacks upon Gaza from Israel has been between 30 and 40.

“We are all very conscious that peace is made on the ground while resolutions are written in the United Nations,” British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said. “Our job here is to support the efforts for peace on the ground and to help turn the good words on paper into changes on the ground that are desperately needed.”

At 0900 GMT Friday, more than 12 hours after the U.N. action, Israeli newspapers were reporting that Hamas rockets were still landing in Israel.

“Somebody doesn’t understand something,” said an Israeli.

Photo: AP

A Hamas spokesman said the Islamic militant group “is not interested” in the cease-fire because it was not consulted and the resolution did not meet its minimum demands.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Israel would continue to act in the best interest of Israel.

The Security Council overcame intense divisions and overwhelmingly approved the resolution urging an immediate and durable Gaza cease-fire.

The U.S. abstained.

An Israeli army tank takes position on a hill at the border ...

The U.S. and Arab nations worked out the deal but Israel and Hamas have to stop the fighting on their own.

The resolution “stresses the urgency of, and calls for, an immediate, durable, and fully respected cease-fire which will lead to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.”

The vote was 14-0, with the United States abstaining. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the U.S. “fully supports” the resolution but abstained “to see the outcomes of the Egyptian mediation” with Israel and Hamas, also aimed at achieving a cease-fire.

Early Friday in Gaza, violence continued unabated….

There was no immediate reaction from Israeli officials to the vote, but Israel has opposed the idea of a binding resolution. Israel’s political security cabinet was to meet Friday to determine whether to pursue the ground offensive or accept a truce.

For its part, Gaza’s Hamas rulers did not recognize the resolution as it had not been consulted on it, said a spokesman for the Islamist group.

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Reuters said:

Israel pushed ahead with its offensive in the Gaza Strip on Friday, ignoring a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in the 14-day-old conflict.

Israeli warplanes dropped bombs on the outskirts of the city of Gaza, residents said. Elsewhere, Palestinian medics said tanks shelled a house in Beit Lahiya in the north of the Gaza Strip, killing six Palestinians from the same family.




Associated Press:

Israel Fears Binding Resolution:
Gaza: Israel Worries About United Nations Binding Resolution

Why do we have the UN?

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Will Visit China

January 2, 2009
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit China from next Wednesday to Thursday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced in Beijing Friday.

Rice, who is at the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, is slated to attend the activities marking the 30th anniversary of China-US diplomatic ties.

Rice, who is at the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, is slated to attend the activities marking the 30th anniversary of China-US diplomatic ties, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.

During Rice’s two-day visit, China and the United States will exchange views on bilateral ties and other issues of common concern, Qin said.


From China Daily

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, seen here, will visit ... 
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, seen here, will visit China on January 7 and 8, the foreign ministry said here Friday, in her last scheduled trip before the Bush administration leaves office.(AFP/File/Pavel Wolberg)



Israeli Foreign Minister Says Hamas Is to Blame; U.S. Seems To Agree

December 28, 2008

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni defended the Israeli assault in Gaza, saying on America’s Sunday morning talk shows that Hamas, not Israel, “is the one who needs to be condemned by the international community.”

By Sharon Otterman
The New York Times

Hamas rocket hits Israeli house

Above: Aftermath of Hamas rocket hitting an Israeli house

Reacting to anger from the Arab world, as well a call by the United Nations to cease hosilities, Ms. Livni said on “Fox News Sunday” that the assault “is needed in order to change the realities on the ground, and to give peace and quiet to the citizens in southern Israel.”

Speaking from Jerusalem in taped interviews, Ms. Livni said that until Hamas recognized Israel’s right to exist and ceased rocket attacks against Israel, they remained terrorists who needed to be acted against. The Israeli air assault has killed at least 280 Palestinians since it began Saturday.

She said army was seeking to avoid unnecessary deaths in the assault against Hamas headquarters in Gaza. Palestinian hospitals have reported numerous civilians among the dead and wounded.

“We are targeting Hamas, we are not looking for civilians to kill more than that,” she said in a second interview, on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Israel Sees Existential Fight: Enemies, Uncertainty All Around

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The Bush administration, due to hand over to Obama on January 20, put the onus on Hamas, the Islamists in charge of Gaza, to prevent more violence. It did not demand an end to Israeli attacks but urged all concerned to protect innocent lives.

Israel’s attacks on Gaza three weeks before Barack Obama becomes U.S. president pose an unexpected challenge for a man who has promised to work for Middle East peace from his first day in office.

Jordanians shout anti-Israel and anti-U.S. slogans during a ... 
Jordanians shout anti-Israel and anti-U.S. slogans during a demonstration against Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip, in Amman December 27, 2008.(Muhammad Hamed/Reuters)

By Reuters: Read it all:


World leaders clash on Iran sanctions

December 17, 2008

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday briefed a half-dozen key Arab states on U.S.-led efforts to stem Iran‘s nuclear program but achieved no new consensus on how to prevent Iran from developing the technology for a nuclear weapon.

“All there expressed their concern about Iran’s nuclear policies and its regional ambitions,” Miss Rice said after the morning meeting with diplomats from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.

Representatives from Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany – which have been trying without success to persuade Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program for several years – also took part in the session conducted on the sidelines of a Security Council debate on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

By Betsy Pisik
The Washington Times 

British Foreign Minister David Miliband, far left, listen as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, second from right, address the United Nations Security Council at the United Nations in New York, Tuesday Dec. 16, 2008. Council members debated before voting on a draft resolution calling for an intensification of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Associated Press.

Above: British Foreign Minister David Miliband, far left, listen as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, second from right, addresses the issue of Iran’s nuclear efforts.

Miss Rice said there was no discussion of new sanctions against Iran, which has defied several U.N. resolutions demanding that it curb its nuclear program.

Those attending are “concerned that there will need to be a way to finally incent Iran to make a different choice concerning its nuclear ambitions,” Miss Rice said. “But this was not an effort to develop a common strategy.”

Divisions among Iran’s Arab neighbors across the Persian Gulf have made it more difficult to contain Iran.

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“Made in China” label battered by product scandals

December 8, 2008

Milk, toothpaste, cough syrup, pet food, eels, blood thinner, car parts, pork, eggs, honey, chicken, dumplings, cooking oil and rice — if you can fake it or taint it, you can almost guarantee it’s happened in China.

A string of product safety scandals, including contaminated infant formula that is believed to have killed six babies and sickened thousands of others, have rocked the faith of shoppers, making them wary of buying products made in China despite the often cheaper price tag.

Officers from the local Administration for Industry and Commerce ...
Officers from the local Administration for Industry and Commerce prepare to destroy confiscated milk in Baofeng, Henan province in this November 10, 2008 file photo.(China Daily/Files/Reuters)

By Ben Blanchard, Reuters

“I was physically disgusted when I saw it on the TV,” said Sally Villegas, a mother of two in Australia, referring to the melamine-tainted infant formula scandal that came to light in September.

“If I’m shopping and I pick up a product made in China, yes I would put it back.”

The melamine scandal was the latest in a string of recent high-profile safety problems that included lead paint on toy cars and contaminated Chinese-made blood thinner heparin which was blamed for fatalities in the United States and Germany and prompted a global recall early this year.

After each scandal, Beijing seemed to have the same response: launching a crackdown, destroying tainted goods on television, jailing a few officials and saying they “pay great attention” to the problem.

Trouble is, for all the government’s efforts and exhortations, the scandals keep happening, and will likely keep on happening, due to lax rule enforcement, fragmented industries, widespread poverty and the sheer size of China, analysts say.

“I’m sure that there will be more. It’s a near certainty. Not only in the fields that we’ve seen already, but in other ones,” said Duncan Innes-Ker, a China analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit in Beijing.

“China faces a lot of problems because it is developing into a big but very poor economy, and obviously you can’t have Western-style safety mechanisms in an economy where half the population doesn’t earn much more than a couple of dollars a day,” he added.


Jin Biao, vice president of Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group, one of China’s largest dairy producers, admitted the melamine problem had dented the country’s already badly tattered reputation overseas.

“The contamination was our management problem. We must first resolve it without trying to pass the blame on to the farmers, or to society, or the country,” he told Reuters.

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