Friday, April 03, 2009

G-20: Much Talk, Thankfully Little Action

The likelihood that this meeting will kick-start a recovery from the global economic downturn is about as high as your winning the jackpot with the next lottery ticket you buy. At the prior G-20 meeting in November all parties solemnly proclaimed their devotion to free trade and opposition to protectionist measures in the midst of recession. Since then, 17 of the 20 countries, including the United States, have imposed recovery-killing protectionist measures.

The world would be better off if the two major initiatives being pushed at this meeting were similarly ignored. The U.S. and Great Britain will try to persuade other countries to commit to the kind of large-scale domestic "stimulus" spending they have instituted. Meanwhile the continental European countries will try to persuade the U.S. to regulate its financial institutions more tightly, emulating the strict European regulation that failed to stave off imprudent exotic investments and a financial crisis there.

France, Germany, Japan and other countries are rightfully leery of too much deficit spending, convinced that it won't end the recession and concerned about subsequent inflation. Stricter U.S. regulation will be designed to prevent the previous round of excesses while failing to anticipate problems that have not yet materialized, accomplishing little at great cost.

All in all, then, the best news out of London would not be announcements of great decisions agreed upon, but flowery statements about "friendly discussions" and "frank exchanges," which when decoded translate to "we did nothing much."



G20 summit: Leaders target bankers

Totally trivial amid the present financial meltdown but that seems to be all that the blowhards have been able to agree on. Laughable, really

World leaders will agree unprecedented global restrictions on pay and bonuses for bankers at the G20 summit in London. In future, bankers will be prevented from receiving multi-million pound cash bonuses for speculating on the stock market. Their remuneration will instead be based on the risks they take over the long term. Bankers deemed to be making risky investment decisions will only be paid in shares that can be cashed in after several years.

The multi-million-pound bonuses paid to bankers have been blamed for encouraging them to take the "reckless" decisions that triggered the global financial crisis.

The Daily Telegraph has learnt that the remuneration deal was thrashed out over the past few days following intensive diplomatic efforts by Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, and Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor. The measure did not appear in a draft communiqué that was leaked at the weekend. The European leaders were understood to have pushed for an exact monetary limit on banking pay but were prepared to sign up to the new, strongly-worded agreement.

Regulators in each of the G20 countries will impose the new restrictions, which cover both private banks and those owned both wholly and partially by the state. The agreement will be the most eye-catching part of the communique, which is expected to be released by G20 leaders at the summit in London's Docklands on Thursday.



Good start for Netanyahu

By Ted Belman

The Netanyahu government is looking good to me. First, Netanyahu studiously avoided giving anything away upfront to the consternation of the EU and Livni. He offered negotiations on “three parallel tracks, economic, security and diplomatic” with the Palestinian Authority. As the NYT put it Netanyahu Offers Conciliation, but Not Concessions. His sole position on the peace process was that he would abide by all signed agreements.

As Min Lieberman made forcefully clear today, that didn’t include Annapolis. The International community was dying to make discussions under Annapolis binding on Israel but the Netanyahu government would have none of it and came out of the gate stressing this point.

In Understanding Netanyahu, I pointed out that Bibi intended to take Bush’s “vision speech” of 2002 as his point of reference. Even the Roadmap isn’t a signed agreement. Let’s look at it.
A two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only be achieved through an end to violence and terrorism, when the Palestinian people have a leadership acting decisively against terror and willing and able to build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty, and through Israel’s readiness to do what is necessary for a democratic Palestinian state to be established, and a clear, unambiguous acceptance by both parties of the goal of a negotiated settlement as described below.

The emphasis on a “negotiated settlement” precludes an imposed solution which is currently what the Obama Administration would like to do..
However, as a performance-based plan, progress will require and depend upon the good faith efforts of the parties, and their compliance with each of the obligations outlined below.

There is no way progress can be made under this roadmap so long as there is violence and the Arabs will never give up on the use of violence.
A settlement, negotiated between the parties, will result in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours.

Notice he word “sovereign” is left out.

Netanyahu has taken the position that he will not consider making Palestine a sovereign state. He is offering “limited sovereignty” otherwise known as autonomy.
The settlement will resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and end the occupation that began in 1967, based on the foundations of the Madrid Conference, the principle of land for peace, UNSCRs 242, 338 and 1397, agreements previously reached by the parties, and the initiative of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah - endorsed by the Beirut Arab League Summit - calling for acceptance of Israel as a neighbour living in peace and security, in the context of a comprehensive settlement.



The Ted Stevens Scandal

After yesterday's dismissal, time to put rogue government prosecutors in the dock

Last fall, the senior Senator from Alaska was the poster octogenarian for political corruption. As of yesterday, Ted Stevens is merely another casualty of abusive prosecutors out to make a name for themselves.

The Justice Department yesterday moved to set aside an October conviction on ethics charges and forgo any future trials for Senator Stevens. He walks free, in other words, an innocent man. In the motion, Justice said it "recently discovered" that prosecutors withheld from the defense notes about an interview last April with the state's star witness, Bill Allen, that contradicted his subsequent testimony. Under the Brady Rule for evidence, Justice was obliged to share that with Senator Stevens's lawyers.

This was one of many prosecutorial missteps that came to light after Mr. Stevens was found guilty less than two weeks before Election Day. The Republican narrowly lost his bid for a seventh term. Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday promised a "thorough" probe into the conduct of prosecutors, which is the least the Department owes Mr. Stevens. The Obama Administration made the political calculation here to walk away from the original mistake made by Bush Justice rather than further embarrass the Department in post-trial hearings....

Evidence since the trial confirms suspicions that Justice lawyers were eager to bag such a prominent Senator before Election Day and before a new Administration brought in different political appointees. Perhaps they knew that a Republican Attorney General wouldn't dare overrule career lawyers prosecuting a GOP Senator, especially amid charges of "politicizing" Justice. They failed to share other documents with the defense and redacted exculpatory passages from witness transcripts. Chad Joy, an FBI "whistleblower," filed a complaint in early December, saying his partner, Mary Beth Kepner, had an unspecified "inappropriate relationship" with Mr. Allen, the prosecution witness.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in February called the behavior of Justice lawyers "outrageous," taking the rare step of holding them in contempt. The Department subsequently replaced the entire prosecutorial team, which had been led by the chief of its public integrity section, William Welch. The Justice internal probe will have a lot of ground to cover. The government's lawyers likely miscarried justice and should be held to account. All of this comes too late for Mr. Stevens's political career, but perhaps not for other politically tempting prosecutorial targets.



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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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