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Communications over the world wide doesnt depend on sytax or eloquence or rethoric or articulation but on the emotional context in which the message is being heard.
People can only hear you when they are moving toward you and they are not likely to when your wordss are pursuing them
Even the choices words lose their powe when they are used to overpower.
Attitudes are the real figures of speech '-Friedman

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

KRAFT FOODS FACTORY IN ARGENTINA REOPENED


A Kraft Foods factory has reopened in Argentina after workers shut it down for more than a month to protest massive layoffs and anti-union measures. The Illinois-based corporation denies it was trying to break up unions and last week it obtained a court order to dislodge more than 60 workers who were blocking operations at the factory. The incident sparked street demonstrations yesterday and a response from the US embassy. FSRN´s Marie Trigona has more from Buenos Aires.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- An effort by Kraft Foods Inc. to end a labor dispute at its Argentina factory has ignited a larger dispute between leftist groups and the government, as several thousand people marched to the presidential palace late Monday in solidarity with fired workers.

Kraft spokesman Pedro Lopez Matheu said the plant in suburban Buenos Aires reopened Monday after police enforcing a court order evicted fired employees who had occupied the factory 40 days ago. About 65 people were detained and 12 injured in the operation.

A crowd of laid-off employees and their supporters gathered outside the factory, backing up rush hour traffic for miles (kilometers).

Later Monday, leftists and unionists angry at the government for being left out of talks between Kraft and the Labor Ministry marched from Congress to the presidential palace. Riot police lined the street to keep the protests from spreading.

Labor Ministry officials say the agency had to comply with the court's eviction order. "We are in no way disinterested in the fate of the fired workers," provincial Labor Minister Oscar Cuartango told the Diarios y Noticias agency.

The standoff began in July when 160 workers -- mainly activists and union representatives -- were laid off after they briefly prevented managers from leaving the factory, which makes cookies and other foods for Kraft.

The union demanded their reinstatement. Kraft says the workers were fired for cause for physically blocking managers during a workplace standoff.

Cristian Abarza, who was fired after eight years with the business, said the Northfield, Illinois-based Kraft wants to do away with the protections that union workers normally have in Argentina.

"They wanted to quiet us so they could begin applying the 12-hour American work shift, employing agency laborers that rotate every six months, increasing production without increasing salary or work force, freezing salaries and all the measures that these types of companies apply," Abarza said.

Kraft, the world's second-largest food company, has said it has no plans to freeze pay while increasing production.

The U.S. Embassy released a statement saying that although it was pleased to hear the plant had reopened, it was not involved in any negotiations between the parties.

"The Embassy has been following the conflict based on our interest in promoting U.S. investments in Argentina which have helped generate jobs for over 150 thousand Argentine workers," it said.

Union activist and members of social organizations protest outside a Kraft Foods plant in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Monday, Sept. 28, 2009. The union demanded jobs back for fired workers of Kraft Foods, a company based in Northfield, Illinois. The sign reads in Spanish "Don't give up, no more lay-offs."

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Taking a Chance on Risk, Again WALL STREET




By ANDREW ROSS SORKIN

Is there more or less risk on Wall Street today?

If “greed is good” was Wall Street’s unofficial motto of the 1980s, the mantra these days might be “risk is bad.” It’s a calming phrase after a frightening year — but it glosses over several important ideas that make the Street run.

We’ve already seen a world where no one wants to take risks. It was September 2008, when banks stopped lending to other banks for fear they wouldn’t be repaid the next day. Hearing speculation about a potential collapse, clients pulled their money from well-established investment banks, helping to turn rumors of trouble into reality. Commercial paper, the workaday stuff that lets companies make payroll, was suddenly viewed as radioactive — and business activity almost stopped in its tracks.

In a twist of logic, a year after Lehman Brothers tumbled into bankruptcy protection, we should all be rooting, at least to some degree, for financial institutions to become, yes, more risky.

President Obama seemed to acknowledge as much this week in a speech to Wall Street executives, saying, “For a market to function, those who invest and lend in that market must believe that their money is actually at risk.”

Still, Mr. Obama added, “Those on Wall Street cannot resume taking risks without regard for consequences, and expect that next time, American taxpayers will be there to break their fall.”

Of course, too much risk is just as bad. Just ask the financial wizards at American International Group who ended up on the wrong side of tens of billions of dollars in financial contracts, almost bringing down the world’s biggest insurer.

But now that the crisis has subsided — knock on wood — it’s important to avoid an overly simplistic view of risk and the financial system. After all, the least risky place for money is under a mattress. But economies don’t work well if everyone puts it there.

In conversations with Wall Street chiefs, regulators and economists, a more nuanced view of risk emerges.

What’s the state of risk today? There’s some good news, and some bad.

Without question, the markets have stabilized, and there doesn’t appear to be another Lehman Brothers (or Merrill Lynch or any others bank) on the horizon as a potential trouble spot at the moment. Those that could spell problems — like Citigroup and A.I.G. — have clearly already been identified. Hedge funds have also been forced to reduce the amount of leverage, or debt, that they use to magnify their profits (or losses) because banks just won’t lend them nearly as much money. Private equity firms have been all but cut off at the knees — preventing them from overpaying, or in some cases, paying at all, for investments, though there are early signs the market may be coming back. Without access to credit, gun-shy corporate boards too have avoided big, expensive mergers and acquisitions, save for a handful of exceptions.

Simon Johnson, a professor at Sloan School of Management at M.I.T. who has shouted from the rooftops about risk in the financial system and what he believes is a perverse incentive system to shoot the moon, actually thinks Wall Street has become much more prudent, at least for now.

“Back-to-back financial crises are rare; people are more careful,” he said. “We’re in something like 2004-2005 when it comes to risk. But we’ll get back up there.”

Perhaps the greatest measure of risk — and in this context, let’s define it as systemic risk to the entire system — is one word: leverage. There was just too much debt being piled up on top of bad bets. And that has come down.

But by other measures, there are still pockets — actually large swaths — of the financial services industry that are still taking risk. Lots of it. More than last year. And often for themselves (as opposed to for consumers and clients.)

A brief glance at a metric known as VAR or “value at risk,” which ostensibly measures the amount of money an institution could lose on any given day or week, shows that at some firms that number is way up. At Goldman Sachs, for example, the firm’s value at risk has risen from $240 million in the first quarter to $245 million. But the bigger leap is from February 2007, just a month before Bear Stearns was sold to JPMorgan Chase, when Goldman’s VAR stood at only $127 million. As a result, in part, it has recorded some of its most profitable trades in its history.

Even though Goldman is now a bank holding company, arguably with more regulatory oversight, the firm’s chief financial officer, David Viniar, told Bloomberg News, “Our model really never changed.”

In the immediate term, that may be just fine as Goldman has proved again and again that it appears to know how to “manage risk” better than its peers. But in a business that is somewhat akin to gambling, it is not impossible to believe that the firm’s lucky streak could one day run out.

On the other hand, Morgan Stanley, Goldman’s rival, has gone the opposite direction. The firm drastically scaled back its risk-taking, worried that it could overreach. But, oddly enough, it did so at its own peril. While Goldman was minting money by taking more risk, Morgan Stanley was losing money by sitting on the sideline.

VAR, by the way, is a horrible way to measure risk, as has been said again and again by economists, because it calculates the risk for only 99 percent of the time. As Mr. Johnson says, “VAR misses everything that matters when it matters.” Indeed, the VAR metrics obviously missed what led to what now has been dubbed the Great Recession.

Still, VAR may be a useful way to think about risk directionally.

And as odd it as may seem, in this case, more risk may be a positive sign.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

America abroad The quantity theory of foreign policy

AT THE start of his presidency Barack Obama squared up to the issues of the day with breathtaking vigour. In America he set about rescuing the economy and reforming health care. Abroad, he charged into areas where George Bush had become bogged down—peace in the Middle East, relations with Russia, climate change, Iran’s nuclear programme and war in Afghanistan. This eagerness to transform everything at once was not just youthful ambition. After the sullen, uncompromising finish to the Bush years, Mr Obama’s logic seemed to be that a big agenda combined with softer, more engaging diplomacy could work in his favour. With each success, he stood to gather enough momentum to attack the next obstacle.

Eight months on, this quantity theory of foreign policy faces a test. In short order, starting on September 22nd, Mr Obama chaired talks between the president of the Palestinian authority and the Israeli prime minister; he set out his climate-change agenda at the United Nations (see article); he was to chair a security-council session on the spread of nuclear weapons; and then head to Pittsburgh for a G20 meeting on finance and the world economy. Last week he reversed a Bush-era decision, when he chose a missile-defence system against Iranian weapons initially based at sea rather than on land; and next week America will seek to persuade Iran to forswear any military nuclear programme. The hope is that America’s president emerges from this diplomatic decathlon able to show that his approach is working. The fear is that Mr Obama will find himself as frustrated as his predecessor was.

The velocity of diplomacy

Optimists can chalk up one victory, at least. On Wednesday Russia’s president, Dmitry Medvedev, said that he is more open to sanctions against Iran. Although both sides denied it, this looks very much like a reward for Mr Obama’s shift on missile defence—Russia loathed the Bush plan (see article). Elsewhere too Mr Obama has made gains. In three speeches in Prague, Cairo and Accra earlier this year, he used the full power of his rhetoric to win people over. Each time he portrayed America as a respectful senior partner rather than a domineering chief executive; he asked nations to take responsibility for their own destiny, and they loved it. He worked with China to get new sanctions on rogue North Korea. And he showed his mettle by asking Israel to stop building settlements on occupied land—in effect, a down-payment to get peace talks started.

Mr Obama can still stir the heart: witness his address to the UN on Wednesday. But on the hardest issues he is bumping up against some harsh realities. Rattled by Mr Obama’s demands, Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has now slowed the push for peace right down (see article). America, for all its talk, had little to offer the world on climate change this week: domestic legislation is stuck in the Senate and will struggle to pass unless Mr Obama gets behind it. Even Mr Medvedev’s words on sanctions may be hard to turn into deeds, if only because China opposes them and Vladimir Putin, who still holds the cards in Moscow, has sounded less keen.

Most gravely of all, Mr Obama is vacillating over Afghanistan, which has the power to break his presidency. He has called it a war of necessity, but voters are turning against the campaign. General Stanley McChrystal, the commanding officer, has made a strong case for more resources, both to fight the Taliban and to convince Afghans that the outside world will stay the course. Mr Obama says he needs to see a strategy before adding to the 21,000 extra troops he has already sent to the country, but that looks like a device to reassure American voters at a time when his domestic policies are in trouble. It sends an alarming message to wavering Europeans itching to pull out and to Afghans wondering whether to throw their lot in with the government or with the insurgents. If Mr Obama really does believe he must prevail in Afghanistan, then public doubts and delay will only make the task harder.

These foreign-policy setbacks carry potent risks for Mr Obama at home. The time-honoured way for a Republican opposition to undermine a Democratic president is to depict him as profligate with the nation’s treasure and careless of its security. The president needs to keep his momentum or he could find his own logic working against him. Failure and impotence in one area risk undermining his ambitions in the next. If Mr Obama is to avoid that fate, the world must be convinced that behind his ability to inspire lies a steely resolve.

UN AUSTRALIA KEVIN RUDD, Prime Minister


Statement summary

KEVIN RUDD, Prime Minister of Australia, said much remained to be done in connection with the world economic crisis, which had brought such carnage to the world markets. The crisis had been a wake-up call for the international community to reform the institutions of international financial governance. The failure of those institutions was not only a matter of concern -- the price of their failure had been paid by working people all over the world. His country had also been seriously affected by the crisis. The G-20 were trying to address the issue, with Governments acting in concert to stabilize the global financial system, introduce stimuli, promote confidence and initiate a financial market reform programme.

Those extraordinary interventions had succeeded in breaking the fall, but economic recovery was far from certain and more turns and twists lay ahead, he continued. The financial reform must be completed. It was also necessary to agree on emergency interventions and articulate a new framework for sustainable future economic growth. One of the failures of the old system lay in the lack of global economic coordination and supervision. The G-20 would need to build on the structures of cooperation and apply them to the challenges of global recovery. The meeting in Pittsburgh presented an opportunity to achieve balanced and sustained growth. Among other proposals, he also mentioned the need for the International Monetary Fund to analyse individual national economic plans to see whether they were sufficient, as well as a German proposal on the adoption of a charter of sustainable economic activity.

With little time remaining before the climate meeting in Copenhagen, not enough action had been taken, he said. The collective political will had not been sufficient and mutual recriminations had become prevalent. What was required globally was the leadership to embrace the truth that all the Governments needed to reach beyond their own reasons and arrive at “a grand bargain” on climate change, anchored in science and the need to avoid a catastrophic climate change. Among the challenges were binding targets, public and private financing arrangements to support adaptation and mitigation, and transfer of technology issues. All available mechanisms for international cooperation should be used. Copenhagen would be a test of collective leadership. As chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, he knew that time was already running out for small island States. The South Pacific was part of the human face of climate change, and Australia was prepared to act on that great challenge.

Turning to nuclear weapons, he said that nuclear tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea this year had been rightly condemned by the international community. He was encouraged by the commitment by the United States and the Russian Federation to further reduce their arsenals. The NPT had played a crucial role, but a successful review conference in 2010 was needed to reinvigorate the process. Australia and Japan had recently established a commission to chart a realistic course to achieve a strengthened non-proliferation regime. In that regard, tomorrow’s Security Council meeting on non-proliferation and disarmament was of great importance.

The realization of the Millennium Development Goals was fundamental for the elimination of world poverty, he continued. That was a core reason why his Government was committed to devoting 0.5 per cent of gross national income for official development assistance purposes. The Doha Development Round was taking too long, due to the deficit of political will. Australia, as one of the lead negotiators, was ready to work to bridge the gaps.

UN BOLIVIA EVO MORALES AYMA, President

Statement summary

EVO MORALES AYMA, President of Bolivia, stressed the importance of unity, which was needed to resolve the current crises, meet the peoples’ needs, achieve dignity and, above all, tackle the deep asymmetries of today’s world. A number of statements in the Assembly had focused on the origins of the crisis, but the majority of speakers had only referred to the effects rather than the causes of the current situation. The origin of the crisis had been unbridled accumulation, commercialization of Mother Earth and, above all, capitalism. There could not be social peace if there was injustice and inequality.

He said that United States military bases threatened social peace, democracy and integration. They also provoked distrust among people. “We know what uniformed personnel of the United States can do in a country. When there are United States military bases in Latin America, social peace and democracy can not be guaranteed.” For instance, there was a United States military base in Honduras, he added.

Commending the courage of President Zelaya, who had travelled to Honduras in peace and with the goal of restoring democracy, he exclaimed: “How good would it be if the United Nations were to issue an ultimatum to the military dictatorship in Honduras and if a democratically elected President were reinstated!”

Turning to climate change, he stressed the importance of living “in peaceful existence” with Mother Earth, which was life-giving, provided water, natural resources and oxygen. Without ensuring the well-being of Mother Earth, it was impossible to guarantee the well-being of its inhabitants. Earth could and would exist with or without human life, but human life could not exist without Mother Earth. It was as important to defend the rights of Mother Earth as human rights.

In that connection, he suggested that developed countries must pay off their “climate debt” to the planet. He also proposed the establishment of a “climate justice court” to try and punish those who damaged the planet. A structure was needed to quantify the damage imposed by a number of countries and transnational corporations in that regard. Finally, he presented to the Assembly a proposal, generated by indigenous civil society movements on the need to adopt a United Nations declaration on the rights of Mother Earth, a right to life, generation of bio-capacity, clean life and living in harmony. He hoped that proposal would be taken into account in Copenhagen. He also hoped the Conference would achieve important lasting solutions.

“If we want to change the world, we need to change the United Nations,” he continued. In particular, a real democratization of the Security Council was needed. It was necessary to eliminate permanent seats with the right of veto. All the countries must have the same rights within the United Nations. Through the democratization of the Council, democracy could be brought to the United Nations.

Expressing high hopes for the new Administration in the United States, he said that with the closing of Guantanamo Bay detention facility and other actions, progress had been made. He hoped the economic blockade against Cuba would be lifted. At the same time, certain custom tariff preferences had been given by former President Bush to some countries of Latin America. Those decisions had been taken for political reasons, but the former President had never taken into account the recent constitutional developments in his country.

Mr. Morales also rejected accusations that he was encouraging the production of cocaine. His Government had, indeed, launched a campaign for traditional use of coca leaf, but one should remember that coca leaf was not the same as cocaine. Zero-cocaine policy did not mean eradication of coca leaf, which was beneficial and healthy for humans. Coming from the unionist movement, he also denied the accusations that he had dismantled the unions.

He added that Chile and Bolivia felt sufficient trust to resolve the issue of maritime access bilaterally. If that could not be done, the intervention of the international community might become necessary.

UN COLOMBIA ALVARO URIBE VELEZ President


Statement summary

ÁLVARO URIBE VÉLEZ, President of Colombia, said his Government’s objective was to increase the international community’s confidence in his country, and that he would accomplish that in several different ways, including by strengthening security and democracy, promoting socially responsible entrepreneurship and investment and ensuring social cohesion.

In terms of security, he noted several key achievements, including the dismantling of paramilitaries. Those groups had been private criminal gangs whose objective was to combat drug-trafficking guerrillas. However, that had often led to a “mafia-style” relationship between the guerrillas and criminal gangs that only exacerbated the situation. Today, the State was the only body that combated criminals. The accompanying problems, such as intimidation and assassination of judges, were now gone, he added.

“We combat terrorism with wholehearted determination as we practice democracy with full devotion,” he said, stressing that Colombia was betting on a modern democracy, safe, free and building social cohesion, with independent institutions, with confidence derived from the transparency that was based on a high degree of citizen participation.

Another pillar of his Government’s strategy encouraged socially responsible investment and entrepreneurship as a means to overcome poverty and build equity. He said that speculation should be avoided, and “social responsibility is inseparable from the meaning of capital as a factor in the creation of social wealth and not of speculation”. He also stressed that social responsibility was inseparable from the fight against climate change.

Continuing, he noted that his country’s greatest contribution to the fight against climate change was the preservation of 578,000 square kilometres of rainforest. That was more than 51 per cent of the national territory, which encompassed the Amazon at its greatest extension.

Further, he said a special forest ranger families programme included some 90,000 rural families who helped protect the rainforest and keep it free of illicit drug crops. In addition, Colombia was the second largest producer of sugar cane-based ethanol in Latin America, and it also produced some 108,000 litres of biodiesel from African palm. Colombia was also providing incentive for other clean energies, such as solar and wind power, he added.

Lastly, he said the international community gained nothing if it failed to attach equal importance to the environment. Such insistence on environmental protection was crucial for Colombia, a “mega-diverse” nation that held 14 per cent of the planet’s diversity in plant and animal species.

UN ITALY SILVIO BERLUSCONI, Prime Minister


Statement summary

SILVIO BERLUSCONI, Prime Minister of Italy, began by reporting on the outcome of the recent G-8 Summit held in L’Aquila, which he had chaired. That meeting had brought together 28 countries comprising 80 per cent of the world economy. He said the participants had first decided to continue the work on banking and financial regulations that would be fleshed out during the upcoming Pittsburgh meeting of the G-20, with the goal of assuring economic growth, equity and transparency.

He highlighted the notion of a new development model -- one that would be based on open markets, rejected protectionism and allowed the poorest countries to “fully benefit from the growth opportunities afforded by international trade.” After the L’Aquila Summit, participants had decided to revive the Doha Round of world trade negotiations, with the goal of wrapping them up by 2010, after trade ministers met in India.

With regards to climate change, the main economies had reached an agreement to limit global warming to 2° C above pre-industrial levels. He said the “common front to combat climate change was reconfirmed” by yesterday’s Summit on Climate Change convened by the Secretary-General. “Winning the climate change challenge will require a commitment from all the protagonists of the world economy, without exception,” he declared.

On food security, the G-8 had decided to establish a $20 billion fund for agricultural development and to fight global hunger. He added that, on too many past occasions, the financial assistance allocated to developing countries had failed to reach the people for whom it was destined. That was why the resources set aside at L’Aquila would be invested in concrete projects targeting primarily agricultural infrastructure in countries that promoted democracy, had good governance and respected human rights, as well as the rights of women and children.

He went on to say that stock market speculation must be countered and that manipulation of energy, commodities and food resource markets must end. Speculating in wheat, rice and soy have led to serious crises, especially in Africa. Further, fluctuation in oil prices caused by speculation had lead to financial and economic instability, he added.

In short, he said, the “absolute priority is that the futures market be regulated more strictly”, proposing it would be key to consider a global system of strategic commodities reserves to “nip in the bud any speculative tendencies”. He added that the fight against speculation must also include the abolition of tax havens. While much had been done to wipe out existing havens, “we must also strengthen the monitoring role of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to fight attempts at creating new ones”.

UN United Kingdom GORDON BROWN, Prime Minister


Statement summary

GORDON BROWN, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said that, when the Assembly’s general debate had gotten under way last year, the world was on the brink of a global crisis, and the full scale of the dangers posed by the prospect of a collapse of the world banking system, a crippling loss of jobs and frozen credit were just becoming clear. As never before, the fate of each country rested in the hands of all, and as the fear of the unthinkable had begun to take hold, the international community had come together, through the G-20, to fight back against global recession.

“So today, we can draw on strength from the unprecedented unity that has defined the past year -- but we cannot be complacent,” he said, highlighting five current challenges -- climate change, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, poverty and shared prosperity –- that demanded swift and concerted action. Once again the world was on the brink, and if momentous decisions were not made, the next six months might prove even more challenging than the last.

He said that if the international community did not reach a real agreement at Copenhagen on climate change, “we cannot hope for a second chance some time in the future”. Indeed, now was the time to limit and reverse the climate change that was being inflicted on present and future generations. At the same time, he stressed that progress in Copenhagen was not certain, because a solid climate change deal required money. Moreover, if the poorest were going to adapt, richer countries must contribute financially.

He also proposed an additional flow of financing action against climate change, from the public and private sectors, of around $100 billion a year by 2020. In addition, a post-Kyoto Protocol agreement on climate change at Copenhagen would be the next test of global cooperation.

On Afghanistan, he said that if the international community gave way to the insurgency, Al-Qaida and other terrorist groups would return and, from that sanctuary, plot, train and launch attacks on the world. A safer Afghanistan meant a safer world, but “none of us can be safe if we walk away from that country”. He added that the international community must unite against every source of terror and injustice in the world, mentioning violence in Somalia and Sudan, the conflict in Israel and Palestine, and the fact that Burma’s elected leader was incarcerated.

He went on to say that there could be no chance of a nuclear-free world if Iran was allowed to develop nuclear weapons and set off a new arms race. On other matters, he said that, if the international community did not follow through on coordinated global fiscal expansion, there would be no global compact for jobs and growth. Further, failing to fight preventable illness would leave some 12,000 children dead in Africa each day.

He reiterated that proliferation was a real threat, in light of the fact that there were now nine nuclear-armed countries. He said the world was at a moment of danger, and added that Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must know the world would be even tougher on proliferation and consider further sanctions.

Finally, he said the financial crisis had revealed the need for comprehensive reform and a “compact for jobs and growth” to bring rising prosperity, with stimulus measures. More important was to make sure the recovery did not falter, and that “we do not turn off life-support for the economy prematurely”. The financial crisis had devastated Africa, and therefore, recovery was needed and an assurance that the Millennium Development Goals did not fall beyond reach.

Describing poverty in Africa as “unyielding, grinding, and lethal”, he said that empowerment through trade justice must be matched by empowerment through free education and free health care. He added that there were the beginnings of free universal health care in parts of Africa and Asia. As a result, more than 10 million more people would have access to free health care.

UN FRANCE NICOLAS SARKOZY, President


Statement summary

NICOLAS SARKOZY, President of France, said the Assembly’s sixty-fourth session was taking place amid an unprecedented financial and economic crisis, and on the threshold of an environmental disaster. The international community had a responsibility to invest in a new world where the follies of the past were no longer possible and everyone was aware that the path taken over the last few decades was a dead end.

The international community was accountable to the tens of millions of people who had lost their jobs, homes and savings; the billion who were suffering from hunger; and the hundreds of millions who had no access to water, energy, health care or education. It was the duty of the Heads of States to restore hope to these human beings, he said. The question was whether the world would change because it acted together with wisdom and intelligence, or waited until change was thrust upon them by fresh crises.

On the issue of reform, he said the number of permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council needed to be increased. It was unacceptable that Africa did not have a permanent Council member. It was equally unacceptable that South America, with such a great Power as Brazil, or India, with its population of 1 billion, or Japan or Germany, be excluded from the Security Council. The legitimacy of the United Nations depended on such reform.

The international community needed to reform the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, he continued. Voting rights in those institutions needed to be more equitably distributed among countries and their missions redefined. There could not be a multi-polar world and a single currency, he declared. The system had to be reviewed. Tax havens had to be eliminated and the price swings of commodities that were subject to excessive speculation, starting with oil, had to be curbed.

On climate change, he said that, in Copenhagen, the international community needed to establish quantitative targets for greenhouse gas emissions and set up a world environment organization. The world could not let the law of trade be the only law. While believing in free trade, President Sarkozy said there were specialized United Nations organizations that set fundamental standards in areas such as health, labour and the environment. No single standard was more important than another.

The world needed to develop further resources for development assistance. These resources could be developed by taxing excessive speculative gains, if necessary. He appealed to all countries to have the recommendations made by the Commission of Experts of the President of the General Assembly on reforms of the international monetary and financial systems, chaired by Joseph Stiglitz, implemented as soon as possible.

The task before the world was a huge one. In Pittsburgh at the upcoming G‑20 meeting, and in Copenhagen, nothing would be worse than a mediocre compromise. France had come to say the world had no more time to act. He hoped that 2009 would be a year in which a more fair and efficient world order would be established.

UN CHILE MICHELLE BACHELET, President


Statement summary

MICHELLE BACHELET, President of Chile, said that, while six decades of international collaboration had led to “significant progress”, the current economic crisis had given new urgency to the need for global collaboration on combating climate change and world hunger, among other things. On the issue of poverty, she reminded the Assembly that more than 1 billion people suffered from hunger globally -- 50 million of them in Latin America alone.

She noted the “sad paradox” that at the same time Governments in developed countries spent trillions of dollars to revitalize the economy, the World Food Programme had seen its budget reduced by half. She then observed that less than 0.1 per cent of what had been spent on the financial rescue plans could end the food crisis, and she added that the issue of global hunger should be put on the agenda –- in the Assembly and at the forthcoming meeting of the G-20.

“[It] is not possible that, on the pretext of the economic crisis, the executives of the investment banks, which were at the centre of the current crisis, gambling irresponsibly with financial assets, should today be back to business as usual,” she continued, decrying the excessive bonuses still being paid out by some companies. The world could not continue that way, especially since the collapse of financial institutions in some countries had revealed a “crisis of conception”, where the State and the public sector were now seen as parts of the problem, not the solution. While widespread damage had thus far been averted, it was time for all to recognize the need for constructing realistic, fair and pragmatic models that ensured advancement for all peoples.

Turning to her own country, she said that, having learned the lessons of the past, Chile had developed stricter and more effective financial regulation and more solid macroeconomic foundations, with better capitalized banking systems. “Today, reform cannot wait -– either domestically…or abroad.” On the issue of the United Nations, she said Chile supported the Organization’s recent efforts in the areas of human rights, development and climate change. Her country favoured reform and enlargement of the Security Council and supported the “important work” being done by the Peacebuilding Commission.

Regarding climate change, she warned that, unless the countries coordinate at the highest level, the upcoming Copenhagen Conference would not attain its goal, and she urged the Assembly, “Let us not use the economic crisis as an excuse for not reaching an agreement that our citizens are demanding.”

UN RUSSIA FEDERATION DMITRY MEDVEDEV, President


Statement summary

DMITRY MEDVEDEV, President of the Russian Federation, said the current session was taking place at a very crucial and uneasy point in time, with an economic crisis, regional conflicts, food shortages and climate change. The agenda had been dictated by life itself, and that, in turn, dictated the growing demand for the United Nations as a tried and tested mechanism for the harmonization of various countries’ interests. As never before, the international community was feeling the need for informal collective leadership, increased role of such formats as the G-8 and more recently the G-20, as well as other negotiation and mediation fora.

Another distinctive feature of modern times related to an increasing role of regional entities, he said. That trend was entirely consistent with the principles of the United Nations Charter. His country, for its part, would continue to strengthen the mechanisms of regional interaction together with its partners across the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and in the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRIC ( Brazil, Russian Federation, India and China). Those mechanisms helped their members to respond collectively to common threats, mitigate the consequences of crises and increase the sustainability of their national economies.

Among the problems that could not be effectively resolved without the United Nations, he mentioned the imbalance of existing world economy governance mechanisms, the inadequacy of their “rules of the game”, and the chasm between financial markets and real economy. With the Millennium Development Goals under a threat of disruption, donor assistance to the countries in need could not be put off until later. The arrangements made at the G-20 summits and the United Nations conference on the world financial and economic crisis must be implemented within the deadlines that Member States had set. It was also important to address the issues of global energy security. His country had recently solidified the principles of a new legal framework for cooperation that had been formulated at the Saint Petersburg G-8 Summit three years ago, and was now inviting everyone to engage in further constructive discussions in that regard. Those discussions should be conducted with an active involvement of specialized multilateral institutions, including the agencies of the United Nations system.

His country also deemed it important to strengthen the United Nations itself, he continued. The Organization must adapt to the new world realities, strengthen its influence and preserve its multinational nature, as well as the integrity of the Charter provisions. The reform of the Security Council was an essential component of that revitalization. The time had come to step up the search for a compromise formula of its expansion and increased efficiency.

Turning to disarmament, he mentioned a Russian-Chinese initiative regarding a treaty on the prevention of the deployment of weapons in outer space, as well as the proposal to universalise the Russia-United States Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Short-Range Missiles. The Russian Federation was steadily following the path of verifiable and irreversible reductions in nuclear weapons as an essential element of “a new start” in its relations with the United States. Presidents Obama and Medvedev had signed a relevant document in Moscow last July, and a mandate for further negotiations had been agreed upon -- to elaborate a legally binding treaty, which should replace the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, which would expire in December. The recently announced adjustments to the United States plans for a missile defence system -- a subject of his meeting with President Obama today -- represented a constructive step in the right direction. His country was prepared to engage in a thorough discussion of the United States proposals and relevant Russian initiatives regarding cooperation in that area.

Real progress in nuclear disarmament was impossible without addressing national missile defence and non-nuclear strategic offensive arms potential. He expected work on a new treaty to fully take into account relevant provisions of the joint document endorsed by the Presidents of the United States and the Russian Federation during their meeting in Moscow. Other nuclear States should join the disarmament efforts. There was no need to wait for further progress in Russia-United States disarmament. It was possible to start elaborating acceptable and practical arrangements, taking into account the difference in the size of potentials. The 2010 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Review Conference would focus on the issues of nuclear disarmament, strengthening of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and a peaceful atom. A global summit on nuclear security next April would also present a good opportunity to continue those discussions. The Russian Federation had agreed with the United States Administration on joint steps for further progress in such aspects of nuclear security as prevention of nuclear terrorism and expanding access for all members implementing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in good faith to the achievements of a peaceful atom. He called for collective cooperation on those matters.

As a member of the Quartet, Russia supported the efforts aimed at strengthening the nuclear-non-proliferation regime in the Middle East, he said. His country had made specific proposals in the framework of the NPT Review in that regard. Russia had also made proposals within the framework of the six-party talks in connection with the mechanism to ensure peace and security in North-East Asia.

Turning to regional conflicts and security, he recalled “a reckless attempt of Georgia’s authorities to resolve the problem in its relations with South Ossetia by military means”. To avoid the repetition of the events of August 2008, it was necessary to have clear and effective mechanisms to implement the principle of the indivisibility of security. Without that, it would be impossible to overcome the legacy of the past, its instincts and prejudices. Moreover, irresponsible regimes should not have any opportunity whatsoever to cause disputes among other countries. The role and place of modern nations in ensuring global security was one of the most relevant topics. Such issues had been the focus of discussion at an international conference in the Russian city of Yaroslavl. The outcome of that discussion was that the future belonged to “smart politics”. The current global crisis was not only the crisis of economy, but also a crisis of ideas. It accumulated “a critical mass” of outdated policies and development models.

The Russian Federation had introduced an initiative to sign a European security treaty and proposed a fresh look at that problem, he said. The initiative concerned the Euro-Atlantic space, but its key provision on indivisibility of security was a universal principle applicable to all regions of the world that was fully consistent with the Charter of the United Nations.

Referring to the growing nationalist moods, numerous manifestations of religious intolerance and animosity, he said it would be extremely useful to establish a high-level group on interreligious dialogue under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General. That was especially relevant on the eve of the year for Rapprochement of Cultures in 2010.

He added that, on the eve of the sixty-fifth anniversary of the end of the Second World War next year, Russia had made a proposal to adopt a General Assembly resolution on the matter and hold a special session to commemorate all victims of that war next May. Attempts were being made to whitewash Nazism, deny the Holocaust and revise the decisions of the Nuremburg Tribunal. Firm and joint resistance to the manifestations of neo-Nazism and attempts to revise the outcome of the Second World War should remain a priority task for the United Nations.

UN IRAN MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, President


Statement summary

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, President of Iran, said that to create “a bright tomorrow”, fundamental changes of attitude would have to be made. First off, the current financial system would have to change. “The engine of unbridled capitalism, with its unfair system of thought, has reached the end of the road and is unable to move,” he said. “The era of capitalist thinking […] and the age of setting up empires is over. It is no longer possible to humiliate nations and impose double standards on the world community.” Such hypocrisy would not be allowed to continue. “Those who define democracy and freedom and set standards while they themselves are the first who violate fundamental principles […] can no longer be both the judge and executor, and challenge the real democratically established Governments.” He added that “most nations, including the people of the United States, are waiting for real and profound changes.”

With regard to Palestine, he said that the entire population of a country had been deprived of their homeland for more than 60 years, and their legitimate right of self-defence had been denied. He noted that while certain Governments unconditionally supported the occupiers against defenceless women and children, at the same time, “oppressed men and women” were subjected to heavy economic blockades, the result of which was “genocide”. He then addressed issues in the wider Middle East and said it was “not acceptable that some who are several thousand kilometres away from the Middle East should send their troops for military intervention” and spread war, bloodshed, aggression and terror.

It was no longer possible to bring a country under military occupation in the name of the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, while the production of drugs multiplied and terrorism widened its dimensions, he said. And “those who have created the current disastrous situation continue to blame others. How can you speak about friendship and solidarity with other nations while you expand your military bases in different parts of the world, including in Latin America?” He warned that such “militaristic logic” would have dire consequences and exacerbate the problems in the world. “There are those who export billions of dollars of arms every year, stockpile chemical and biological, as well as nuclear weapons […] while accusing others of militarism.”

On the subject of the economy, he said the current financial mechanisms were outdated, and those inequitable structures were unable to solve the challenges ahead. The political and economic structures created following the Second World War had been based on intentions to dominate the world and failed to promote justice and lasting security. “By the grace of God, Marxism is gone. It is now history. Unhindered capitalism will certainly have the same fate.” He spoke against colonialist and discriminatory goals and hypocrisy in international relations, and called for collective action “to return to basic moral and human values”.

Before the Assembly were several points on the agenda, he said. The first included the reform of the Organization itself, in particular the structure of the Security Council and the abolishment of veto rights, and the restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people. He also called for an end to inference in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe. “Oppression against Palestinians and violations of their rights still continue,” he said. “Bombings in Afghanistan and Pakistan have not yet stopped, and Guantanamo prison has not yet been shut down. And there are still secret prisons in Europe.” Further points before the Assembly included reform of the current international economic structures and political relations, and the “eradication of the arms race and the elimination of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons”. At the same time, he emphasized the right of “all nations to have access to peaceful technologies”.

Speaking of his own country, he said: “Our nation has successfully gone through a glorious and fully democratic election, opening a new chapter for our country in the march towards national progress and enhanced international interactions. They entrusted me once more with a large majority with this heavy responsibility.” He emphasized that Iran was ready to engage with the international community and “warmly shake all those hands which are honestly extended to us”, he said. “No nation can claim to be free from the need to change and reform in this journey towards perfectness. We welcome real and humane changes, and stand ready to actively engage in fundamental global reforms.”

UN CHINA HU JINTAU, President


Statement summary

HU JINTAU, President of China, said that, as the world moved further towards multi-polarity and economic globalization, multilateralism and democracy in international relations had won greater public support, while opening up cooperation for mutual benefit. At the same time, the world remained under the impact of the financial crisis and the prospects for an economic recovery were still not clear. Global issues such as climate change and food security had been thrown into sharp relief. In the face of unprecedented opportunities and challenges, the members of the international community should commit themselves to four areas of work -- peace and security, development and common prosperity, cooperation and common progress, and tolerance and harmony -- to continue “our joint endeavour to build a harmonious world”, he said.

In terms of security, he emphasized the need to adhere to the “purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations”, and said that the Organization played an important role in the field of international security. He added that “China has consistently stood for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons and a world without nuclear weapons”, and urged the international community to advance the nuclear disarmament process to eliminate the proliferation of nuclear weapons, while advancing the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

With regard to development and prosperity, he said the equal participation by developing countries was a key to shared prosperity, and a fairer and more just economic order. He called on the United Nations to deepen its development contribution and to achieve more balance in the global economic system by creating an “international environment conducive to the development of developing countries”. He suggested that developed countries open their markets to developing countries by reducing or exempting tariffs for those countries. He also noted that for developing countries, self-reliance was essential and South-South cooperation should be upgraded.

As for cooperation and common progress, he said that no country was exempt from the global challenges of climate change, food and energy security, and public health. On these issues, he said, international cooperation was a key -- especially under the auspices of the United Nations and in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, and he offered China’s help to prevent and control the further spread of Influenza A (H1N1) in developing countries.

Finally, with reference to increased tolerance and harmony, he called for an acknowledgement of cultural differences, social systems and values combined with a “vigorous” promotion of human rights. And he went on to encourage the countries of the international community to seek common ground while also respecting each other’s differences.

Concluding, he spoke of Chinese history and his country’s contribution to the world. He said that China would continue to develop and open up, to the benefit of both China and the rest of the world. Specifically, he outlined four promises with regard to Chinese support for developing countries that were particularly hurt by the financial crisis, including “relevant capital increase and financing plans”; assistance with the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals; increased assistance to Africa and the reduction or cancellation of debt for heavily indebted poor countries; and participation in and promotion of regional monetary and financial cooperation.

“Let’s join hands, share development opportunities, rise above challenges and make unremitting effort to build a harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity,” he said.

UN Argentina ;Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, President


Statement summary

CRISTINA FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER, President of Argentina, said she had meant to begin her statement with a strong appeal for the need to rebuild multilateralism and cooperation in order to overcome the current socio-economic crisis. Some developments, however, had led her to begin with the situation in Honduras, where the power at her country’s embassy had been cut off this week, as the protests and marches in favour of a return to democracy were going on in the country.

The embassy of Brazil had had its electricity and water cut off for having given shelter to the constitutional President of Honduras. It was crucial that the international community became aware that its failure to design a strong multilateral strategy to return democracy to Honduras would set a very serious precedent in the region. She called upon nations to safeguard the basic values of democracy and respect for human rights in the region.

Multilateralism meant understanding that it was necessary to set common and general rules in the world that must be accepted by all countries, she said. Defining multilateralism would require concrete actions by all the players under the same parameters. For instance, the only possibility of successfully tackling climate change required setting common rules for addressing the problem, for both developed and developing countries. Another issue that pointed to the need to look at multilateralism as not just a rhetorical statement related to the Malvinas, which still could not achieve sovereignty -- a principle that had been proclaimed by the General Assembly on many occasions.

In connection with the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in 1994, she also reiterated her country’s request for the extradition of several Iranian officials who were sought by Argentina -- not to be sentenced, but to be investigated and tried, enjoying all the freedoms and guarantees granted by democracy. This year, one of the officials whose extradition had been requested had been made a minister. Today, the Assembly would hear a statement by the President of Iran, who would perhaps deny the tragic events of the past and would certainly mention the threat of imperialism and invoke the name of God. Her country was not an imperialistic country. On the contrary, it had suffered the effects of colonialism. Like the President of Iran, she believed in God.

Among the positive developments, she mentioned a recent visit of an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to Argentina, 30 years after its first visit, to investigate the crimes committed by the dictatorship. She also spoke about a bill to the Congress of Argentina to eliminate the crime of libel against journalists -- a measure that would promote the freedom of the press in the country.

As a member of the G-20, which would meet tomorrow, she also asked for the voice of another multilateral forum to be heard -- the International Labour Organization (ILO). Workers and businessmen were real stakeholders in the efforts to reactivate the world economy, and their opinion should be heeded.

In conclusion, she stressed that democracy, human rights and similar rules for all the countries of the world were the keys to building new multilateralism. It was clear that those with more responsibility and power also had the obligation to exercise that leadership in a responsible manner. That was what developing countries were asking for.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Racism, Eric Holder, my Son and Me


By Larrey Anderson
Thanks to Mrs Adriana Scrivano from Boston

Enough is enough. I have had thirty plus years of enough. I have had enough of being called a "racist." I will not sit here and be called a racist and a coward by a self-serving, race-baiting politician like Eric Holder.

You wanna talk racism, Mr. Holder? Okay. It's time we talked. In fact, we should have had this talk thirty years ago. It's time someone like me talked to someone like you about race.
Why am I qualified to talk about racism? Simple: I am a middle-aged white American male -- this fact alone qualifies me as a racist in this Wonderland of political correctness that is the United States.
But my "racism" goes much deeper than particulars of gender and skin color. In fact, as a working writer and a retired politician, I have a lifelong pattern of "racism." I was called a "racist" twenty-five years ago when I voted against "hate crimes" legislation in the Idaho State Senate. I had this insane notion that all violent crimes were hate crimes -- clearly a racist thought (no doubt instilled by the white culture of hate that surrounded me).
I have been called a racist for writing that the science behind man made global warming is shaky -- and for defending Sarah Palin's acceptance speech for her vice presidential nomination at the RNC. Surely these are thoughts that spring from a childhood that must have been spent with the KKK.
During the past twenty-five years, I have been called a racist for writing about gun control, taxes, international banking, property rights, the Constitution, and abortion. All of these topics are obviously crucially related to race relations in the United States. How could I have been so blind?
In short, I am a racist because I am not a liberal. I am a racist because I do not agree with Eric Holder's politics. Not only am I a racist, Mr. Holder informs me, I am also a coward because I don't want to talk about being a racist.
Mr. Holder wants me to pony up, be a man, and finally face my cowardice -- and the inner hatred I may have of human beings that have a skin color different from mine.
There is one tiny little problem: Holder's request is coming about thirty years too late. And, if my son's and my life experiences are any indication, Holder is twenty to thirty years late challenging other Americans to look inside of themselves.
The fact is that most Americans have already been there, done that. We let go of our racism -- if we happened to have had any -- years ago.
I first heard about my soon to be son when he was two days old. I had had a friend call me about the baby. My friend was on an adoption list. He was seventh on the list. He told me that there was this newborn baby boy that no one wanted.
I bluntly asked my friend if the infant was physically deformed or had some mental impairment. "No. Not exactly," he told me. "Maybe you should come and take a look at him."
So I did. I first held my son when he was three days old. His skin was discolored by jaundice and his body was swollen with some type of blood incompatibility. His skin was a puffy, dark, almost Brunswick green -- except for his fat butt -- which was glaucous hued.
I still tease my son about our first few moments together. Honest to goodness, I thought I was holding My Favorite Martian. He looked like some creature out of a really bad science fiction movie.
As I gazed down at this strange and lonely little being in my arms, I had, what might be called, a religious experience. Lights flashed at the periphery of my vision. (Think of the lights that flash by in the tunnel on a subway.) I found myself sitting in a park on a bench staring into the eyes of a handsome young black man. We were laughing together. We were connected through the laughter to a profound friendship and empathy. I understood and loved this young man and he understood and loved me.
The lights flashed again. I was staring into the eyes of the little baby boy in my arms that I now knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, was my son.Larrey and son
That was some thirty years ago. And in those thirty years, I have watched America grow up regarding matters of race. I have watched most of my fellow citizens learn how to treat all people as human beings. And my fellow citizens have been doing a damn good job of it. I know this for a fact because for thirty years I have watched the people around me mature and treat my own son with increasing respect and dignity as a human being.
Sure there were a few racial related problems in the late 70s when I first adopted my son. (I was still in graduate school when he was adopted. We lived in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia until the early 80s.) I went to meetings where some people would not sit next to me because I was holding a little black baby. (Not very many people -- but there were a few.)
I had a couple of people ask me if I was "looking for trouble" by adopting a non-white child. My response? I asked them if they were looking for trouble by asking me such a stupid question.
Reflecting back, problems like these were few and far between.[i] Most people congratulated us, supported us, and admired us. I don't remember any person openly hating us.
They certainly did not hate my son. In 1982 we moved from the east coast back to Idaho. My son started his education here in Idaho. He was an extraordinarily popular kid in school. In a few of the schools he attended he was the only black student in the school. Although there was some name calling in some of these schools (there always is in every school), there was only one outright racial incident that I know of.
One time, in the sixth grade, one of his classmates called my son a "nigger." The kid physically challenged my son. My son accepted the challenge (he was taught never to back down from this kind of mindless bullying) and agreed to meet the young thug in the playground after school to settle the matter.
I found out about the impending confrontation and drove to the school. I hid behind some cars in the parking lot to watch the episode unfold. Apparently, the ruffian expected my son to be a no-show. I watched as the punk walk down the steps into the schoolyard, got a good close look at my son's fists, and then turned tail and sprinted back into the school crying.
The thirty young white kids, who had gathered in the playground to witness the event, encircled my son and cheered. Six years later, my son went on to be elected student body president of one of the whitest high schools in America. That, Mr. Holder, is how racist America really is -- which is to say not much.
Racism exists in America only in the communities were it is stipulated, reinforced, and taught as a alternative to the veracity of hard work and lasting opportunity that is the real America. In other words, Mr. Holder, racism, where it exists in this country, is a political and cultural contrivance sustained and manipulated by people like you.
Is more evidence needed? My son has always had a job (in fact, he has always had multiple job offers) since he reached manhood. Why? Because he is a responsible, articulate, hard working, smart, human being -- who happens to be black. For someone like my son, belonging to a minority race in today's America is not a curse -- it is a blessing.
My son is married to a very good-looking young white woman. They have two (soon to be three) beautiful sons. Maybe my daughter-in-law carries the brunt of the racism. I called her the other day, told her I was writing this article, and asked her how bad the racism surrounding her marriage was. What was it like to walk into a store with a black husband and two little mixed race sons. Was she ever threatened? Was she ever afraid?
She just laughed at the questions. (She tends to laugh at me -- must be a daughter-in-law thing.)
"Never," she replied in one word.
"Never what?" I asked.
"Racism. Never. Not once ... well, my ninty-year-old great grandmother didn't like the idea of me dating a ‘colored man.' I remember she really hurt my feelings. But, other than that, I can't think of anything. It just doesn't happen. People love my husband. They respect our family. We just don't have those problems. I don't think people have those problems."
She then told me about some of the mixed race marriages of some of her friends. None of them have problems either. When these couples get together, they don't even talk about racism -- because there isn't any.
Sorry, Mr. Holder, it isn't cowardice that keeps Americans from discussing racism -- it is the fact that there is nothing to talk about. The racist America that you are talking about started to disappear at least thirty years ago.
There are, of course, certain communities in this country that have been deliberately and continually segregated by people like you. In these communities people eat, drink, and breathe racism.
It is a shame that racism still exists in this country. But the Eric Holders, the Jesse Jacksons, the Al Sharptons, and the Barack Obamas of the world are keeping this issue alive. Mr. Holder, the shame and the cowardice of racism belong to you -- not to my son and me.
Larrey Anderson is a writer, a philosopher, and submissions editor for American Thinker. His latest award-winning novel is The Order of the Beloved. His memoir, Underground: Life and Survival in the Russian Black Market, has just been released.

[i] I suppose our little family broke a few racial barriers. It was certainly not our intention. I didn't adopt my son because he was black. I adopted him because I fell immediately and deeply in love. Still, not many people were adopting kids of different races back then. So we were pioneers -- of a sort.
[ii] These three boys will be the only males in our family to carry the "Anderson" name into the future

STATEMENT BY H. E. LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA,


STATEMENT BY H. E. LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA,
PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERATIVE REPUBLIC OF BRAZIL,
AT THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE 64TH SESSION OF THE
UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
New York, 23 September 2009

The United Nations General Assembly has been and must continue to be the great forum for general debate on humankind’s major problems. This morning, I wish to discuss three issues which I believe to be inter-connected. Three perils haunt our planet: the on-going economic crisis, the lack of stable, representative world governance and the threat of climate change for all of our lives.
Mr. President,
Exactly one year ago, at the onset of the crisis that overtook the world economy, I said from this
tribune that history would never forgive us for the serious blunder of dealing only with the impacts
rather than the causes of the crisis.
More than a crisis of big banks, this is the crisis of big dogmas.
An economic, political and social outlook held to be unquestionable has simply fallen apart. A
senseless way of thinking and acting, which dominated the world for decades, has proved itself
bankrupt.
I refer to the absurd doctrine that markets could regulate themselves, with no need for so-called
“intrusive” state intervention, and to the thesis of absolute freedom for financial capital, with no rules
or transparency, beyond the control of peoples and institutions. It was an iniquitous defense of a
minimal, crippled, weakened state, unable to promote development or fight poverty and inequities. It
included the demonization of social policies, an obsession with precarious labor relations and an
irresponsible commodification of public services.
The real cause of the crisis was the confiscation of most of the sovereignty of peoples and nations
through the state and democratic governments – by autonomous networks of wealth and power.
I said then that the time had come for political decisions.
I said that leaders, rather than arrogant technocrats, must take responsibility for bringing world-wide
disorder under control.
Controlling the crisis and changing the course of the world economy could not be left to the usual few.
Developed countries – and the multilateral agencies they run – had been unable to foresee the
approaching catastrophe, much less prevent it.
The impact of the crisis spread around the world, striking even countries that for years and at great
sacrifice had been rebuilding their economies.
It is not fair that the price of runaway speculation be paid by workers and by poor or developing
countries, who had nothing to do with it.
Twelve months later, we observe some progress, while many doubts still persist. No one is clearly
willing yet to confront serious distortions of the global economy in the multilateral arena.
The fact that we avoided a total collapse of the system has apparently given rise to an irresponsible
acquiescence in certain sectors.
2
Most of the underlying problems have been ignored. There is enormous resistance against the
adoption of mechanisms to regulate financial markets.
Rich countries are putting off reform at multilateral agencies like the IMF and the World Bank. We simply cannot understand the paralysis of the Doha Round, whose conclusion will above all benefit poor countries. There are also worrisome signs of return to protectionist practices, while little has been done to fight tax havens.
Many countries, however, have not sat waiting.
Brazil – fortunately one of the last countries to be hit by the crisis – is now one of the first to emerge from it.
There is no magic in what we did. We simply kept our financial system from being contaminated by the virus of speculation. We cut back our external vulnerability as we turned from debtors into
international creditors. Along with other countries, we decided to contribute resources for the IMF to
loan money to poor countries, free of unacceptable conditionalities imposed in the past.
Above all, however, both before and after the crisis broke out we implemented anti-cyclical policies.
We intensified our social policies, particularly income-transfer programs. We raised wages above
inflation rates. We used fiscal measures to stimulate consumption and keep the economy moving.
We have now emerged from the brief recession. Our economy has regained its impetus and shows promise for 2010. Foreign trade is recovering vitality, the labor market is doing amazingly well and macro-economic equilibrium has been preserved, at no cost to the victories of our people’s movements.
What Brazil and others have shown is that, at times of crisis, we must still carry out bold social and development programs.
Yet I hold no illusions that we might solve our problems alone, within our own borders. Because the global economy is interdependent, we are obliged to intervene across national borders and must therefore re-found the world economic order.
At the G-20 and many other meetings I have held with world leaders, I have insisted on the need to irrigate the world economy with a significant volume of credit. I have defended the regulation of financial markets, the widespread adoption of anti-cyclical policies, the end of protectionism and the fight against tax havens.
With the same determination, my country has proposed a true reform of multilateral financial
agencies.
Poor and developing countries must increase their share of control in the IMF and the World Bank.
Otherwise, there can be no real change and the peril of new and greater crises will be inevitable. Only
more representative and democratic international agencies will be able to deal with complex problems like reorganizing the international monetary system.
Sixty five years later, the world can no longer be run by the same rules and values that prevailed at the Bretton Woods Conference.
Likewise, the United Nations and its Security Council can no longer be run under the same structures imposed after the Second World War.
We are in a period of transition in international relations.
3
We are moving towards a multilateral world. However it is also a multipolar world, based on
experiences in regional integration such as South America’s experience in creating the UNASUR.
This multipolar world will not conflict with the United Nations.
On the contrary, it could be an invigorating factor for the United Nations.
For a UN with the political and moral authority to solve the conflicts in the Middle East, assuring the co-existence of a Palestinian State with the State of Israel.
For a UN that confronts terrorism without stigmatizing ethnic groups and religions, but rather dealing with underlying causes and promoting dialog between civilizations.
For a UN that can really help countries like Haiti, trying to rebuild its economy and social fabric, after achieving their political stability.
For a UN committed to the African Renaissance we are now seeing.
For a UN able to implement effective policies that preserve and expand Human Rights.
For a UN that can make real progress towards disarmament, in true balance with non-proliferation.
For a UN that can truly lead in initiatives to protect the planet’s environment.
For a UN that can use its ECOSOC to forge decisions on confronting the economic crisis.
For a UN that is representative enough to handle threats to world peace, through a reformed Security Council, open to new permanent members.
Mr. President,
We are not wishful thinkers.
Yet it takes political will to confront and overcome situations that conspire against peace, development and democracy.
Unless the political will is present, throwbacks like the embargo against Cuba will persist.
Unless there is political will, we will see more coups like the one that toppled the constitutional
president of Honduras, José Manuel Zelaya, who has been granted refuge in Brazil’s embassy in
Tegucigalpa since Monday. The international community demands that Mr. Zelaya immediately return to the Presidency of his country and must be alert to ensure the inviolability of Brazil’s diplomatic mission in the capital of Honduras.
Unless political will prevails, threats to the world like climate change will continue to grow.
All countries must take action to turn back global warming.
We are dismayed by the reluctance of developed countries to shoulder their share of the burden when it comes to fighting climate change. They cannot burden developing countries with tasks which are theirs alone.
Brazil is doing its part. We will arrive in Copenhagen with precise alternatives and commitments.
We have approved a National Climate Change Plan that includes an 80% cut in deforestation of the Amazon by 2020. We will reduce C02 emissions by 4.8 billion tons, more than the sum-total of all developed country commitments. In 2009, we can already show the lowest deforestation rate in 20 years.
Brazil’s energy blend is in one of the cleanest in the world. 45% of the energy my country consumes is renewable. In the rest of the world, only 12% is renewable, while no OECD country has a rate higher than 5%. 80% of our electric power also comes from renewable sources.
All the gasoline sold for our passenger cars has 25% ethanol blended into it. More than 80% of the cars produced in the country have flexible-fuel engines, allowing them to use any blend of gasoline and/or alcohol.
Brazil’s ethanol and other biofuels are produced in ever-improving conditions, under the aegis of the
agricultural zoning plan we have just implemented nationwide. We have banned sugarcane
plantations and alcohol plants in areas with native vegetation. This decision applies to the entire
Amazon region as well as to Brazil’s other major biomes.
Sugar cane production covers no more than 2% of our tillable land. In contrast to other biofuels, it does not affect food security, and much less compromise the environment.
Companies, workers and the government have signed an important commitment to assure decent working conditions on Brazil’s sugar cane plantations.
All these concerns are part of the energy policies of a country that is self-sufficient in oil and has just found major reserves that will put us in the forefront of fossil fuel production.
Even so, Brazil will not relinquish its environmental agenda and simply turn into an oil giant. We plan to consolidate our role as a world power in green energy.
Meanwhile, developed countries must set emission-reduction goals that go far beyond those tabled to date, which represent a mere fraction of the reductions recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
We are also deeply concerned that funding for technological innovations needed to protect the
environment in developing countries, as announced to date, is totally insufficient.
The solution to these and other impasses will only arise if the perils of climate change are confronted with the understanding that we share common but differentiated responsibilities.
Mr. President,
The issues at the core of our concerns – the financial crisis, new global governance and climate
change – have a strong common denominator.
It is the need to build a new international order that is sustainable, multilateral and less asymmetric, free of hegemonies and ruled by democratic institutions.
This new world is a political and moral imperative.
We cannot just shovel away the rubble of failure; we must be midwives to the future!
This is the only way to make repairs for so much injustice and to prevent new collective tragedies.
Thank you.

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As MSNBC.com's science editor, Alan Boyle runs a virtual curiosity shop of the physical sciences and space exploration, plus paleontology, archaeology and other ologies that strike his fancy. Since joining MSNBC.com in 1996, Boyle has won awards from the National Academies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Association of Science Writers, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Space Frontier Foundation, the Pirelli Relativity Challenge and the CMU Cybersecurity Journalism Awards program. He is the author of "The Case for Pluto," a contributor to "A Field Guide for Science Writers," the blogger behind Cosmic Log: Bacteria can walk on 'legs' — and an occasional talking head on the MSNBC cable channel. During his 33 years of daily journalism in Cincinnati, Spokane and Seattle, he’s survived a hurricane, a volcanic eruption, a total solar eclipse and an earthquake. He has faith he'll survive the Internet as well. alanboyle@feedback.msnbc.com

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