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Archive for May 17, 2011

What You Need to Know About the International Monetary Fund

May 17, 2011 1 comment

wealthcycles

The International Monetary Fund is in the news again for scandals of a more personal and dubious type—the arrest of fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn over allegations of sexual assault. This comes at a time when the IMF can least afford to be embroiled in political scandals—the global recovery is tenable at best, and the combination of rising prices, declining credit, and falling faith in fiat currencies is becoming a cocktail for disaster. But this does give us a great opportunity to help people understand what the IMF does, who pays for it, and how it works.

What the Heck is it?

Most people in the world couldn’t describe what the IMF does; yet if your country is one of the 187 member countries, you have paid for it. ABC World News says this:

The Fund has deposits from member countries – commonly called “quotas” – totaling some $340 billion, with additional commitments for about $600 billion from member governments should the funds be needed.
Quota requirements are determined by the size of the member country’s economy. So the United States, with a $14 trillion GDP, is the biggest contributor with about 18 percent of the quotas.

And what do they do with all that fiat currency? To answer that, we need a little history lesson.

The IMF was founded after World War II during the beginning of the Bretton Woods system. In the Bretton Woods system, exchange rates were Read more…

Fukushima Reactor 1 melted down, 2 and 3 may have too

May 17, 2011 Comments off

arstechnica

Yesterday, TEPCO, the company responsible for running the Fukushima nuclear reactors, released a provisional analysis of the events that occurred in Unit 1, one of the reactors that was active when the tsunami struck. In five stark pages, the report lays out the impact of the tsunami on the facility: water levels that plunged below the bottom of the fuel, a complete meltdown of the nuclear fuel, and extensive damage to the reactor vessel.

The new analysis was enabled by the recent installation of air purifiers that let personnel reenter the reactor control room for the first time. Once inside, they were able to recalibrate some of the instruments that have been monitoring the reactor core; Read more…

Netanyahu: Israel willing to ‘cede parts of our homeland’ for true peace

May 17, 2011 Comments off

haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Israel would be prepared to compromise and “cede parts of our homeland” for true peace with the Palestinians, but added that he did not believe the latter was ready to be a true partner for peace.

A Palestinian government that comprises representatives of Hamas, a movement that refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist, is not a government with which it would be possible to make peace, said Netanyahu.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses Knesset, on May 16, 2011.
Photo by: Emil Salman

Addressing the Knesset a day after an unprecedented wave of demonstrations marking Nakba Day, on which Palestinians annually protest the creation of the state of Israel, Netanyahu said Israel must stop blaming itself for the conflict and start looking at the “reality” of the situation with “open eyes”.

The root of conflict was not the absence of a Palestinian state, said Netanyahu, but Palestinian opposition to the creation of the State of Israel.

“This is not a conflict about 1967 but about 1948, when the state of Israel was established,” said Netanyahu. “The Palestinians call this a day of catastrophe, but their catastrophe is that their leadership has not succeeded in reaching a compromise. Still today, they don’t have a leadership Read more…

Pakistan’s Gilani visits ally Beijing amid US rift

May 17, 2011 Comments off

Associated Press

BEIJING (AP) — Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani begins a visit to Beijing on Tuesday with old ally China looking more attractive after the U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden further strained Islamabad’s ties with Washington.

The sentiment is mutual, with China now in the process of shoring up its relations with Islamabad, Afghanistan and several other Central Asia states in step with an expected diminished U.S. presence as it winds down military operations in Afghanistan.

For Pakistan, Beijing represents an uncritical friend ready to provide aid, investment and military assistance. To the leaders in Beijing, ties with Pakistan and other countries in its neighborhood offer a bigger diplomatic footprint, better access to resources and a larger stable of allies to challenge U.S. supremacy.

Although Gilani’s four-day visit starting Tuesday was planned well in advance, it comes at a critical time for his country’s relations with the U.S., which have been thrown into crisis over the American raid that killed bin Laden in the northern Pakistani city of Abbottabad on May 2. Pakistan has called it a violation of its sovereignty and threatened to retaliate if there are any similar operations in future.

While American politicians served up withering criticisms over Pakistan’s failure to find bin Laden’s hide-out – or the possibility that officials were protecting him – China offered welcome Read more…

Chinese space plans cause military jitters

May 17, 2011 Comments off

rt.com

China has announced plans to put its own space station in orbit by 2020. The 60-tonne construction will be one-seventh the weight of the ISS and will focus on scientific experiments. However, military involvement with the project is causing concern.

Beijing’s Space City research center is opening its doors to the media, as China has announced its intention to build a rival to the International Space Station.

While some see Chinese advances in space travel as a potential threat, the country’s officials are keen to stress the spirit of co-operation, which they say is behind China’s space program.

“We are looking forward to co-operating with other countries in the field of space exploration,” said Yang Liwei, Vice Director of Manned Space Engineering Bureau. “We are also looking forward to having more countries join this club, so we can promote the common goals of mankind.”  

For the moment though, the Chinese space program is doing very well on its own.

Since becoming only the third country in the world to send a person in to space, in 2003, the Chinese also carried out a space walk in 2008 and the Read more…