blaze524 comments

Posted in: China announces visit by Aso See in context

OssanAmerica:

Since when is Japan "all of Asia". Was there an agreement between all the Asian nations to make Japan their representative?

Who said anything about "owning"? Clearly, you're making things up as you go along.

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Posted in: Developing countries want say in world finance See in context

Just a little an addendum to Taniwha's comment.

The IMF's structural adjustment policies have been disastrous in the majority of cases in which it has been forced upon a country. I say forced because these desperate countries have no one to turn to but the World Bank and IMF when things get dire.

In order to secure a loan from the IMF, the country must sign a contract that stipulates it will carry out the following conditions (among others):

1) Fiscal Austerity and focus on loan repayment

cut government spending meaning health care, education, and infrastructure investments are heavily reduced. What happens is people fall ill and have no safety net (health care) to fall back on. They can't work, lowering production and causing the country to be unable to service its loans. They are thus forced to sell at a loss. Additionally, a nation that is forced to sell it's natural resources for example timber loses out on the income multiplier effect. As a simple example, if instead of just selling the timber as is, the nation was to cut the timber, sell it to a furniture manufacture, who sells it to an exporter the money "multiplies" and travels across many hands.

2) Remove government subsidies to farmers Somewhat related to fiscal austerity is that farmers will receive no aid from the government but have to grow products that can be sold on the open market. The farmers that sell these products on the world market cannot compete with the commodities from Western nations, whom are heavily subsidized.

3) Focus on export driven growth, in the form of commodities

This means that you have to extract resources from your land and sell it on the open market at unsubsidized prices. Or grow a small number of crops (wheat, rice, corn etc) and sell that on the open market while competing with farmers from western nations, whom ARE subsidized.

4) Stabilize markets, raise interest rates and open up trade in order to spur foreign investment

These nations inevitably do not have the ability to house a proper stock market and high interest rates have the effect of discouraging borrowing from small businesses. In addition, capital flight is an enormous risk that could trigger market collapses (see the Asian Financial Crisis).

These conditions reinforce one another, leading to a vicious circle of futility. In comparison, during economic recessions (like now), no Western nation raises interest rates and cuts government spending because it would be suicide. And yet, this is exactly what the IMF expects a borrowing client to do. Also, farm lobby groups are among the most well entrenched special interest groups and are really the antithesis of free trade.

The fact that the head of the IMF, without exception has always been a member of the privileged class and Caucasian European causes understandable mistrust of the IMF by the developing nations.

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Posted in: U.S. questions growing Chinese military power See in context

Taniwha:

US supremacy and hegemony, though arguably waning, is not dead. The US is still responsible for 49% (2008 figures) of the world's defense spending. This figure alone indicates that the US is in a constant state of accumulating new technology and replacing its old, obsolete hardware.

You state that the USSR's collapse contributed to the deterioration of its military hardware. Duh. This isn't really surprising. But the comparison isn't valid, because the US hasn't collapsed, yet. The irony of the economic crisis is that during periods of uncertainty, the US greenback is deemed a 'safe' investment.

Hence, the US will find the means to maintain its military spending (read: borrowing to buy guns) partly because it seems to be woven into America's fabric to have a strong military, but the other reason is that defense spending is responsible for a ton of jobs. And we all know how important those votes are.

Projection of power requires the ability to bring your soldiers and aircraft to any region of the globe. China still lacks this capability. The technology that China seems to be researching involve mainly submarines - including the rumoured Jin Class sub that is supposedly docked at Hainan Island - and is meant to combat these carriers. The recent incident in which the USS Impeccable was harassed by those fishing boats seems to support this theory. This is also what China means when they say their military expenditures are for "defense purposes."

I focus on the carriers because it is the symbol of American wealth and power and while many nations may have a competent air force, the overwhelming majority do not have the ability to transport their aircraft across the globe to carry out missions. Simply put, there aren't many nations that even have 1 carrier; the US in comparison has 12 carriers in service, 2 more than the rest of the world combined.

I'm not fawning at US technology, rather I am pointing out the inherent hypocrisy of a nation that is responsible for virtually half of the planet's military expenditures when it "questions growing Chinese military power".

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Posted in: China marks 50 years of direct control over Tibet See in context

It never ceases to amaze me how OssanAmerica can continually take a complicated issue and reduce it to black and white terms. Your approach with the constant, cheap one liners (which you no doubt think is clever) has all the nuance and subtlety of a sledgehammer.

I'm not even sure you understand what a serf is. The following is taken from Michael Parenti's article, available at: http://www.michaelparenti.org/Tibet.html

"The serfs were taxed upon getting married, taxed for the birth of each child and for every death in the family. They were taxed for planting a tree in their yard and for keeping animals. They were taxed for religious festivals and for public dancing and drumming, for being sent to prison and upon being released. Those who could not find work were taxed for being unemployed, and if they traveled to another village in search of work, they paid a passage tax. When people could not pay, the monasteries lent them money at 20 to 50 percent interest. Some debts were handed down from father to son to grandson. Debtors who could not meet their obligations risked being cast into slavery."

This was the reality 95% of the Tibetans faced under Lamastic rule.

Like a good many other things, the Tibet issue consists of shades of grey. No, the CCP are not angels. But neither are they demons. Similarly, the lamas are not devout, pacifist Buddhists (and yes this includes the exalted Dalai Lama). They can be, and were militants, funded by the CIA (see link below) to conduct guerrilla warfare and generally be a thorn in the side of communist China. This is the reason for China's deep mistrust of the Dalai Lama.

http://www.nytimes.com/1998/10/02/world/world-news-briefs-dalai-lama-group-says-it-got-money-from-cia.html

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Posted in: U.S. questions growing Chinese military power See in context

Let's put this criticism in perspective.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, world military spending in 2007 breaks down thus:

"The USA is responsible for 45 per cent of the world total, distantly followed by the UK, China, France, and Japan each with 4 to 5 per cent of the world share."

http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-military-spending

Yes, it is indeed a case of the teapot calling the kettle black.

I have a feeling this criticism is really coming from special interest groups that are eager to conjure up the next bogey man. They are building up their latest "enemy", endowing the enemy with all of this power and mystique, while downplaying the US's capabilities. This creates a scenario where despite a threat being really unlikely, it becomes in the minds of the US government to be existential and causes the US to spend ever more on defense.

Additionally, all of this nonsense about China being a "super power" is misleading. China may be an emerging economic super power, but militarily, they have a ways to go before they can carry that mantle. From a geopolitical perspective, the only one true super power in the world is and will be for the foreseeable future, the United States. This is because in order to be a true super power, a nation must first be secure at home, thus allowing it (if it chooses to do so) to project power overseas. With Canada to the North and Mexico to the South, the US is really in an ideal position to focus it's might overseas. Contrast this with China which shares a border with a host of nations, not many of whom can be termed "friends".

Secondly, Projecting powering requires naval and air supremacy. This is where the aircraft carriers come in. Last I checked, the US had a boatload of aircraft carriers (10+). China has 0 or close to 0 (I don't think the rusting Soviet made Varyag counts). China is only a regional power and will remain so until they build some carriers. It is therefore, in the US strategic interests if China does not get along with her neighbours, i.e. Russia, India etc.

Finally, the amount of defense spending cited in those figures is not an aberration; that is, it isn't a one time thing. The US consistently spends the most on defense. It has been that way for years now. It would take China a number of years to match the US's current capabilities, assuming of course that US defense spending stagnates.

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Posted in: U.S. announces 12,000 troops to leave Iraq; suicide bomber kills 30 in Baghdad See in context

The JT headline for this article is very misleading. It appears to connect two mutually independent events in chronological order i.e the suicide attack occurred because of US announcement of troop withdrawal.

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Posted in: Obama reverses Bush stem cell restrictions See in context

Smith: You're welcome. As to your point about the two methods being complementary to each other, I don't think they are because the new methods are simply a better way of researching stem cells as it not only uses a patient's existing cells, but a type of cell that is abundant.

The other benefit of course is to remove the politics from the research and strip the pro-lifers of the ammunition needed to go on the warpath.

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Posted in: Obama reverses Bush stem cell restrictions See in context

While this is an encouraging development, this article is way behind the times when it comes to the current stem cell research environment. Despite, or rather in spite of the Bush administration's ban on stem cell research, various stem cell breakthroughs have occurred over the last 8 years. This research does not involve embryonic stem cells but rather taking a patient's existing skin cells and "reprogramming" i.e. getting the cells to undifferentiate so that they can be induced to specialize into various other cells (termed induced pluripotent stem cells).

I'm surprised that JT didn't pick up on this but it was a Japanese scientist that was instrumental in defining this new process, Shinya Yamanaka. From here, various other scientists took the baton and ran with it, including Dr. Douglas Melton from Harvard University. The most recent breakthrough by Canadian scientists is even more encouraging as it takes Yamanaka's research in another direction. While Yamanaka uses viruses in order to inject 4 genes into cells to get these cells to undifferentiate, Dr. Andras Nagy from the University of Toronto and his team found a way which is far safer.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090301.wstemcells0301/BNStory/Science/?page=rss&id=RTGAM.20090301.wstemcells0301

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/mar/01/stem-cells-breakthrough

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1874717-1,00.html

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Posted in: What do you think society will be like 20 years from now? See in context

UnagiDon, that's some wacky paradox you got going there...=)

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Posted in: Does the U.S. need to have military bases anywhere in Japan? See in context

China is about as likely to attack Japan as Iraq was about to attack the USA. Nowadays, China is more capitalistic than socialist and Japan is an important trading partner. North Korea is not a threat either. Don't let the media reports fool you.

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Posted in: Does the U.S. need to have military bases anywhere in Japan? See in context

Precisely. It's like saying I lent you my microwave and so I have an interest in making sure that you don't misuse it. So now you have to give me access to your house by arranging for me a room to live in. It isn't really in your best interest to have me there.

Undecidedabout08: can you be more specific? Your comment doesn't address my question.

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Posted in: Does the U.S. need to have military bases anywhere in Japan? See in context

The short answer appears to be 'no'. What is the US protecting Japan from? It appears more likely that the military bases are just another way of asserting and maintaining US dominance, a modern form of imperialism.

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Posted in: U.S. Navy warns of possible radioactive leak from nuclear sub in Sasebo, Okinawa See in context

WillB: Think about this for one second: if it wasn't a rhetorical question, would I really want to go on the JT forums to ask the readers for information? Wouldn't I say, Google it myself? Would I not go to the official sources?

Also, you haven't answered my question. I'm seeking a justification for the US's placement of military bases all over the world. The US has what - 700 to 1000 bases in over 150 countries. Why?

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Posted in: U.S. Navy warns of possible radioactive leak from nuclear sub in Sasebo, Okinawa See in context

It was a rhetorical question.

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Posted in: U.S. Navy warns of possible radioactive leak from nuclear sub in Sasebo, Okinawa See in context

Can anyone tell me why the US is allowed to have military bases all over the world?

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Posted in: Tokyo 2nd most expensive city for expats after Moscow See in context

Westurn: I think it's possible for Tokyo to be number 2 on the list and still have cheaper prices on foodstuff than New York. The report by Forbes includes in the cost of living rent, which as you pointed out is a lot higher in Tokyo than New York. If the report was based solely on food prices, the rankings would probably change quite a bit. Food prices tend to exhibit more variability across the board, so you all could conceivably be right. Seeing as it's all anecdotal evidence, why not try visiting one of the stores the other posters mentioned?

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Posted in: McCain ridicules Obama over Iraq policy See in context

Invading or liberating - depends on one's point of view. What gives the US administration the right to waltz into Iraq because it feels that Saddam should be removed for the betterment of the Iraqi people? Anyhow, that was not the original goal was it? Fact of the matter is that the US decided to attack another nation under false pretenses. The war was a pre-emptive strike aimed at removing WMDs when none existed.

If the Iraqi people want the US military out of Iraq, and McCain is talking about staying longer, is that not taking the country over and subjugating? With regards to being a credible threat, I should have been more clear. Iraq was in no position to launch a full scale war on its neighbors at the time the war started.

My original post did not state that the Coalition forces killed the innocent civilians. You're putting words in my mouth. It seems I over estimated the death toll. According to the site below, it is between 86000 - 94000. http://www.iraqbodycount.org/

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Posted in: McCain ridicules Obama over Iraq policy See in context

Sarge: "Is this the failed invasion that has brought to justice the awful dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, and provided conditions for free elections resulting in a government that doesn't threaten its neighbors?"

The original mission was to rid Saddam of WMDs...not playing the hero by violating international laws and invading a country. Nice bait and switch. The "free" elections have come at a terrible price: over 4000 dead US troops, 100000 innocent Iraqi civilian deaths, a failed US economy, $2.3 trillion in mounting debt, tarnishing of national image, and more global instability through the increase in more terrorists. Gee, doesn't sound like a fair deal now does it? Iraq was never a credible threat to its neighbors in the first place, seeing as it lacked WMDs in the first place.

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Posted in: Rare JK Rowling book on display in Tokyo See in context

I think Raj is trying to say that the common link between billionaires is "talent". Otherwise, the statement is completely ridiculous.

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Posted in: 16-year-old girl hangs herself after message on blog tells her to die See in context

I don't see the harm in discussing it over "cookies and milk". She may have had tunnel vision, and not see or think clearly because of it. Not knowing her family or school situation, it's hard to say one way or another. But most seemingly insurmountable problems your average 16 year old faces can be resolved without resorting to suicide. My condolences to the family.

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