Geo-politics at a glance – reposted from various sources – 19th April 2012
Beijing, Manila continue Scarborough spat – Published: April 18, 2012 at 6:30 AM
Manila said it will stand firm against Chinese calls for its research and fishing vessels to leave the Scarborough Shoal, which Beijing claims as its own.
MANILA, Philippines, April 18 (UPI) — Filipino officials said they will stand firm against Chinese calls for its research and fishing vessels to leave the Scarborough Shoal, which Beijing claims as its own.
China has asked all Philippine vessels immediately to leave Panatag Shoal, as the South China Sea area is called in the Philippines, and sent a second aircraft to harass Filipino fishermen, officials in Manila said.
The aircraft flew past the ships at less than 500 feet, continuing a spat that started earlier this month.
The shoal is a triangular collection of reefs covering less than 60 square miles and whose highest point is around 10 feet above sea level.
The shoal is more than 400 miles off the Chinese coast but 150 miles off the coast of Zambales, a province on the western shore of Luzon Island, the largest and most northern Philippines island.
Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Philippine ships won’t leave the area, a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer said.
“As of now we still have a standoff because we are told to leave but we won’t leave and we tell them to leave but they don’t want to leave,” Gazmin said.
“We will fight for what is ours. We are in the area and we will not leave while we continue the talks between our Department of Foreign Affairs and Chinese authorities.”
His comments come after the Chinese Embassy in Manila insisted that Panatag, which China calls Huangyan Island, is within China’s maritime zone, the Inquirer report said.
“We urge the archaeological vessel to leave the area immediately,” spokesman Zhang Hua said in a statement.
“It is China that first discovered this island, gave it the name, incorporated it into its territory and exercised jurisdiction over it,” the embassy said.
The Chinese statement said several treaties — Paris 1898, the Treaty of Washington 1900 and a treaty with Great Britain in 1930 — that set out Philippines territorial limits never referred to Huangyan Island nor included Scarborough Shoal.
But Raul Hernandez, Filipino department of Foreign Affairs spokesman, said the shoal is part of the coastal town of Masinloc in Zambales.
Hernandez said he would “continue to reach a diplomatic solution to the problem,” the Inquirer report said.
Philippines Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario has called on China to settle the issue at the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.
“The whole world knows that China has myriad more ships and aircraft than the Philippines,” Rosario said in a statement posted on a government Web site.
“Chinese ships are currently engaging in illegal activities within the Philippine exclusive economic zone,” he said.
“However, we hope to demonstrate that international law will be the great equalizer. In pursuing a peaceful settlement of the Scarborough Shoal issue, we fully intend to humbly invite our Chinese friends to join us in the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.”
In December the Philippine navy said it soon would receive its second decommissioned U.S. Coast Guard ship, the former USCGC Dallas, a Hamilton class cutter. The 378-foot-long, 3,250-ton Dallas was commissioned in 1967 at the Avondale Shipyard in New Orleans.
The Scarborough Shoal standoff is part a continuing and larger maritime territorial dispute in which China is claiming many islands, shoals and rocky outcrops stretching south into the South China Sea.
Among the disputed territories are the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands.
Last month several local authorities in Vietnam said they will send six Buddhist monks to occupy refurbished shrines and religious buildings on several islands in the disputed Spratlys.
The temples were last inhabited in 1975 but were recently renovated to assert Vietnamese sovereignty over the Spratly Islands, which are off Vietnam in the South China Sea, a BBC report said.
As well as Vietnam and China, ownership of various Spratly islands and reefs — some only visible at low tide — are disputed by Brunei, Taiwan, Malaysia and the Philippines, although Brunei doesn’t occupy any of the islands.
The Spratly dispute has erupted into open military confrontation on occasions, such as the brief 1988 Johnson South Reef skirmish between China and Vietnam in which about 70 Vietnamese military personnel were killed.
Send a flotilla to blockade the conquistadores wannabes conquered by Phillip. A plethora of hurt awaits those playing brinksmanship. Time to prune the hedges of these small villages eh?
Note the causal links :
King of Spain says he’s sorry for going on elephant hunt – April 18, 2012 | 7:25 am
MADRID — The king of Spain offered an unprecedented apology Wednesday for going on an elephant-hunting safari in Africa while his subjects struggle with recession and high unemployment at home.
The Spanish public only found out about last week’s Botswana jaunt after King Juan Carlos, 74, fell and broke his hip while getting out of bed Friday and had to be airlifted home for hip-replacement surgery the next day. By law, the king is required to inform the government of his whereabouts, but it’s unclear whether he did that, or whether he specified the nature of his Africa trip.
He emerged from his hospital room Wednesday on crutches, to a scrum of photographers and reporters. He moved slowly and did not smile.
“I’m very sorry,” the monarch said, blinking in the light of flashbulbs and TV cameras. “I made a mistake and it won’t happen again.”
He appeared to be wearing pancake makeup to cover his pallor. Juan Carlos thanked well-wishers for their support and said he was feeling “much better.” He was later discharged from the hospital.
It was a rare “Lo siento” from the Spanish monarch, who holds a largely symbolic position but garners wide respect from across Spain’s political spectrum. He was hand-picked by Gen. Francisco Franco to lead Spain after the military dictator’s 1975 death, and is credited with soothing tensions in the country’s transition to democracy and with averting a military coup in 1981.
It’s too early to tell whether the royal apology will ease popular anger against the king, who has faced scathing criticism from animal rights groups and from ordinary Spaniards upset about the cost of his travels. While the royal palace did not issue figures, the newspaper El País estimated the cost of his one-week hunt in Botswana to be nearly $58,000 — more than twice the average annual salary in Spain. In general, the king’s expenses are borne by the state.
“That’s a lot of money!” said Roy Alexander Bouzas, 22, a college student who was eating lunch with his girlfriend not far from the king’s hospital in downtown Madrid. “The king has even been one to remind us that all the people in Spain need to make efforts and sacrifices [in the economic crisis], and he doesn’t do anything.”
Juan Carlos had recently spoken out about Spain’s recession, urging Spanish politicians to be sensitive and think about their own behavior as a demonstration of modesty. He also said he often loses sleep over Spain’s youth unemployment rate, which is more than 50%. The overall jobless rate is 24%.
“So I think that was all lies,” said Bouzas. “Because he’s doing what he wants at every moment.”
In addition to his royal duties, Juan Carlos serves as honorary president of the World Wildlife Fund in Spain. The group has fielded hundreds of complaints, and its director has requested an audience with the king, once he recovers from surgery.
“It’s something shameful! We’re completely opposed to hunting,” said Javier Moreno, a spokesman for Igualdad Animal, an animal-rights group that organized a small protest outside the king’s hospital earlier this week. “The indignation that this has caused … in a way it could be something positive, awakening people to what’s happening in this country, and with animal rights.”
This has been a tough year for Spain’s royal family. The king’s son-in-law, Uñaki Urdangarín, is under investigation for allegedly embezzling public money in a corruption scandal. Another probe was opened last week into the alleged use of firearms by a minor after the king’s 13-year-old grandson, Felipe Juan Froilán, shot himself in the foot — literally.
Would P(ortugal)I(taly)I(reland)G(reece)S(pain) like to team up with BRICS-ALBA-(PIIGS) to form a safety promoting/hegemony preventing counterweight to the Commonwealth Anglais (backed by NATO) in exchange for investments? Charlemagne’s EU awaits Spain being able to clear debts instead of bcoming an IMF Bankster controlled country. Preservation of Sovereignty via new alliances. Perhaps the elephant that died could be something BRI(ndia)CS could work with. Would HRH Carlos consider making the most of what could have been a failed safari or just be content with fading into the background while Spain crumbles while ex-colony Phillipines squanders the spiritual wealth of already fionancially bankrupt Spain in hopeless self aggrandization via military adventurism?
Note the timing of the launch :
Agni-V missile launches without a hitch – Published: Thursday, Apr 19, 2012, 8:48 IST | Updated: Thursday, Apr 19, 2012, 8:59 IST – Agency: DNA
The launch of India’s nuclear-capable Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile ‘Agni-V’ with a strike range of over 5,000 km was successful on Thursday.
Bad weather at the test range off the Odisha coast stalled its scheduled launch yesterday.
The missile puts India in an elite group of four nations with Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) launch capabilities and had the potential to strike targets deep in China.
Solidarity if anything?
Spain Is Doomed: Why Austerity Is Destroying Europe – by Matthew O’Brien – Apr 18 2012, 10:00 AM ET
… but the beatings will continue until bond yields improve!
Let’s try a thought experiment. Imagine you walked into the bank, told them you were going to be taking pay cuts for the next few years, and then asked for a loan. You’d be laughed out of the office or else pay an interest rate so high that “usurious” wouldn’t do it justice. The logic is simple: If you’re in debt and your income is shrinking, it’s mighty hard to pay back what you already owe.
It’s not any different when it comes to countries that can’t print their own money. That brings us to Spain.
Nearly a quarter of Spain’s population is unemployed. Half of its youth are out of work. And it’s only going to get worse. Spain is supposed to trim its deficit by some 5.5 percent of GDP over the next two years. That’s not a recipe for growth. Just ask the IMF, which downgraded its projections for Spain’s economy back in January.
What matters for a nation is its GDP. That’s a country’s equivalent of personal income. If Spain’s GDP is set to fall for the foreseeable future — and it is — then who would want to lend to Spain? The markets gave their answer — practically nobody! — and ECB was forced to fill the void by giving Eurobanks free money to then invest in sovereign debt. Yields came down. European policymakers declared “Mission Accomplished.”
But now the free money is gone. It’s unsurprising that Spanish borrowing costs are surging again.
Unsurprising to everybody who isn’t a Eurocrat, that is. Consider this mind-boggling quote from the chairman of the euro zone finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker:
I invite financial markets to behave in a rational way. Spain is on track.
On track? For national bankruptcy, yes. But for recovery, absolutely not. Juncker’s quote betrays a fundamental misreading of what is making markets anxious. He thinks markets shouldn’t worry because Spain is going to follow through on its budget cuts. But markets are worried that Spain is going to follow through on its budget cuts. Austerity would almost certainly shrink the economy and make the country’s unconscionable unemployment even worse.
If you’re persuaded by my opening analogy, you can see why lenders are so concerned about growth. It’s why they don’t actually like austerity. But just today, the Bundesbank — Germany’s national central bank, and the real power behind the ECB — came out and told countries not to worry about growth. Telling a country in a debt crisis like Spain not to worry about growth is like telling man in debt to not worry about finding a job. The most polite way to characterize this advice is “delusional.”
To crib from Keynes, Europe’s policymakers have blundered in the control of a delicate machine, the workings of which they do not understand. They’re not evil. But they’re almost certainly wrong. Rather than consider the possibility that the economy might work differently than they think, they have settled on a simple message: The beatings will continue. Unfortunately, morale will continue to not improve. Eventually, you have to think leaders in Europe’s beat-up countries will begin to wonder if life might be better outside the euro zone. Hopefully, the ECB will come to its senses first.
There will be some things that BRICS will want in exchange for ensuring Spain is not taken over. How about PIIGS(pain) led by a caring monarch, begin initiatives to have Spain underwritten by BRICS than being taken over by a soulless anglo-led IMF banking cartel?