Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

PHOTOS: US First Lady Melania Trump Wears $2,595 Filipino Designer Gown Amid Islamic State Turmoil in Philippines

 US First Lady Melania Trump Wears $2,595 Filipino Designer Gown
First Lady Melania Trump stepped out with her husband, President Donald Trump, to attend the Ford’s Theatre Gala in Washington, D.C. Sunday evening wearing a gown made by a Filipino designer Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

USA First Lady Melania Trump Wears $2,595 Dollars Filipino Designer Gown of  Monique Lhuillier thats looks million price at an event to honor President Abraham Lincoln

First Lady Melania Trump stepped out with her husband, President Donald Trump, to attend the Ford’s Theatre Gala in Washington, D.C. Sunday evening wearing a gown made by a Filipino designer as Islamic State militants continue to wage a large-scale, murderous campaign to establish a Caliphate in the south Philippines.

For their first high-society gathering — at an event to honor President Abraham Lincoln — Melania chose a blush-toned slinky gown by Filipino designer Monique Lhuillier. The dress retails at $2,595.

Melania paired the cap-sleeved dress with matching silk charmeuse, blush-colored Manolo Blahnik pointed-toe pumps and her iconic tousled hair, draping around her face.

 US First Lady Melania Trump Wears $2,595 Filipino Designer Gown
Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

 US First Lady Melania Trump Wears $2,595 Filipino Designer Gown
Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

The fashion choice was unique for the former model First Lady, as she rarely wears Monique Lhuillier designs, usually opting for American designers Michael Kors or Ralph Lauren, as well as her favorite Italian brand, Dolce & Gabbana.

 US First Lady Melania Trump Wears $2,595 Filipino Designer Gown
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Whether direct or indirect, the gown may have been a nod to the Philippines, which has suffered in recent weeks as ISIS extremists have gone on a murderous rampage in the south of the country. Eyewitnesses from the besieged city of Marawi have described how Islamic State terrorists have recruited children as young as 13 years old to carry out executions, as previously reported by Breitbart News’s Frances Martel.

Last month, terrorist fighters from the ISIS-affiliated Maute group freed roughly 100 terrorists from Mindanao prisons before raising the Islamic State flag over the city. Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte — who resides on the island of Mindanao, where Marawi is located — has declared a 60-day period of martial law in response to the ongoing crisis.

Last week, an attack at a Philippines casino left 36 people dead from smoke inhalation after a gunman set fire to the building. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, but the perpetrator, 42-year-old Jessie Carlos, was later reported to have been a gambling addict who was heavily in debt. read more at Breitbart

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Global Research Pointed: USA, Loida Lewis and Liberal party behind the ISIS attack in the Philippines

 Global Research Pointed: USA, Loida Lewis and Liberal party behind the ISIS attack in the Philippines
GlobalReaseach.ca pointed out who are behind the Islamist terrorist attack in Marawi City in Southern Philippines

In the article written by Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago, USA, he pointed that Washington, Loida Lewis and the Liberal Opposition party in the Philippines are behind the IS attack in Marawi a step to oust Duterte

Why is ISIS Operating in the Philippines?

In response to violence allegedly instigated by ISIS in the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao, imposed military rule, and threatened to extend it nationwide to defeat the threat.

What’s going on? Why did ISIS begin operating in the Philippines? Weeks after taking office in mid-2016, Duterte blasted Western imperial Middle East policies, saying the Obama administration and Britain “destroyed the (region)…forc(ing) their way into Iraq and kill(ing) Saddam.”

“Look at Iraq now. Look what happened to Libya. Look what happened to Syria.”

He blasted former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for failing to act responsibly against what’s gone on for years – on the phony pretext of humanitarian intervention and democracy building.

He called Obama a “son-of-a-bitch” for his unaccountable actions – no way to make friends in Washington, especially if his geopolitical agenda conflicts with US aims.

Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte meeting with Russian President Putin
Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte meeting with Russian President Putin. Duterte cuts short trip to Russia after declaring martial law in southern Philippines due to Islamist terrorism attack in Marawi City. Photo: Japanese Times

On the day he declared martial law, he met with Vladimir Putin in Moscow for discussions on future military and economic cooperation.

He seeks improved economic and military ties with China. Ahead of visiting Beijing last October, he said

“only China…can help us,” adding:

“All that I would need to do is just to talk and get a firm handshake from the officials and say that we are Filipinos and we are ready to cooperate with you, to help us in building our economy and building our country.”

“If we can have the things you have given to other countries by the way of assistance, we’d also like to be a part of it and to be a part of the greater plans of China about the whole of Asia, particularly Southeast Asia.”

He promised to cool tensions over South China Sea disputes.

“There is no sense fighting over a body of water,” he said.

“We want to talk about friendship (with Beijing). We want to talk about cooperation, and most of all, we want to talk about business. War would lead us to nowhere.”

He announced no further joint military exercises with America, saying he’s open to holding them with China and Russia.

Shifting away from longstanding US ties doesn’t go down well in Washington. Are efforts by ISIS to establish a Philippines foothold part of an anti-Duterte Trump administration or CIA plot independent of his authority?

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Philippine President Rodeigo Roa Duterte meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping cooling down the tension in South China Sea and promised cooperation, progress, peace and stability of the Asian Region.

According to a June 2 Duran.com report, retired Philippine military official Abe Purugganan claims ISIS violence in Mindanao is part of an opposition Liberal Party plan to undermine Duterte and oust him from office – citing information from a party whistleblower.

Below are the comments The Duran posted, saying:

“There is a lot of noises and chatters flooding the cyberspace, you got to use your discernment to filter all these information.”

“LETS PLAY FIRE WITH FIRE,” explaining “(t)hese are the exact words stated by Loida Lewis and her fellow oligarchs on a meeting months ago with Liberal Party members abroad,” adding:

Their plan is to use ISIS or ISIS-connected terrorists to instigate violence and chaos in Mindanao, wanting Duterte’s government destabilized and ousted.

If the information reported is accurate, it explains what’s now going on, likely to worsen, perhaps spread to other parts of the country.

Last week, Duterte said

“if I cannot confront (ISIS terrorists threatening the country), I will resign. “If I am incompetent and incapable of keeping order in this country, let me step down and give the job to somebody else.”

If US dirty hands are behind the ISIS insurgency, he’s got a long struggle ahead, trying to overcome the attack on him and perhaps Philippine sovereignty.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

The original source of this article is Global Research
Copyright © Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2017

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

US-Asean Business Council upbeat on Philippine Economic Prospects

In Photo: Members of the US-Asean Business Council (US-ABC) hosted a roundtable for Trade Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado on February 22 in Washington, D.C.
In Photo: Members of the US-Asean Business Council (US-ABC) hosted a roundtable for Trade Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado on February 22 in Washington, D.C.Photo: Business Mirror

‘FOR the first time in three years, the Philippines made it to the worldwide list of top 20 investment destinations of multinational enterprises,” Trade Undersecretary for Industry Promotion Group Nora K. Terrado told participants in a roundtable organized by the US-Asean Business Council (US-ABC) on February 22 in Washington, D.C.

Terrado said with the country’s 6.8-percent GDP growth in 2016, the Philippines continues to be one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies, exhibiting resilience amid external shocks.

This message highlighted Terrado’s presentation about the country’s improving global competitiveness ranking.

Terrado discussed the current administration’s 10-point socio-economic agenda, which aims to sustain improvements in the Philippine investment climate, support rural development, and further enhance the country’s infrastructure, human capital and social-protection programs.

“The whole government is tasked to continue to improve the ease of doing business in the Philippines,” Terrado said.

As chair for Asean 2017 Summit, the Philippines is poised to highlight the region’s strengths by engaging the international business community, foreign governments and investors through the Asean Business and Investment Program (Abip).

As chairman for the Asean Committee on Business and Investment Promotion, Terrado urged the US-ABC and its members to participate in the business activities to be held in the Philippines, focusing on themes, such as regulatory coherence, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), women and youth entrepreneurship, and innovation.

Marc Mealy, vice president for policy of the US-ABC, expressed positive feedback after the dialogue with Terrado.

“With the Philippines serving as the current Asean chairman and having one of the highest GDP growth rates in Asia, the representatives from the 13 American multinational companies who participated were keen to receive the undersecretary’s update on current business trends in the Philippines and the economic priorities of the Duterte administration,” Mealy said. “The Council looks forward to conducting our 2017 senior executives business mission to the Philippines later this year.”

The US-ABC members that participated in the dialogue were Coca-Cola, Fluor, Citi and Philip Morris, among others. - BUSINESS MIRROR

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Texas Instruments invests $10 million to expand Philippines facility

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Texas Instruments is a world leading manufacturer of Integrated Circuits (IC) used for mobiles phones and other electronic gadgets. Image: dallasnews.com

Texas Instruments Inc. has confirmed that it’s investing $10 million to expand its product distribution center in Clark Freeport, the Philippines.

A groundbreaking ceremony took place there last week, according to news reports from the Philippines.

It’s part of an overall $1 billion TI said in 2007 that it would invest in its Clark Freeport facilities through 2017, but it has been increased to $1.3 billion, according to a company spokeswoman.

“Our current product distribution center is overflowing; we do not have enough space do an efficient job on distributing,” Mohammad Yunus, president of TI Philippines, told the Pampanga Sun Times in the Philippines. Last quarter, TI shipped 1.5 billion semiconductor units from the Clark Freeport facility and plans to ship 1.9 billion units this quarter, he said.

“We are currently looking on the 2 billion units which could be a new record for any Texas Instrument site anywhere in the world,” Yunus said in the Sun Times.

TI built its first assembly and test site in the Philippines in Baguio City in 1979. In 2009, it opened a second facility in the Clark Freeport Zone,  doubling the company’s capacity in the Philippines. - The Dallas Morning News

Philippine natural and organic products to be featured in Maryland, USA trade show September

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Nine Philippine companies will be joining the Natural Products Expo East, the largest natural, organic, and healthy products event in the US East Coast, from September 17 to 19 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Maryland. STAR/File photo

MANILA, Philippines — Nine Philippine companies will be joining the Natural Products Expo East, the largest natural, organic, and healthy products event in the US East Coast, from September 17 to 19 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Maryland.

The Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) through the DA-Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) organized the following natural product exporters to participate in this event—Brandexports Philippines, Inc., Elemie Naturals Inc., GreenLife Coconut Products Philippines Inc., Nutramedica, Inc., Orich International Traders, Inc., Prime Fruits International, Incorporated, Sweet Pacific Foodfarms Product, Team Asia Corporation, and Tropicana Food Products Inc.

A variety of coconut products will be available to the American public such as coconut water, milk, milk powder, flour, cider vinegar, coconut nutraceutical products, desiccated coconut, coconut sugar, organic extra virgin coconut oil and virgin coconut oil beauty pearls. The coconut is known as the tree of life in the Philippines because of the seemingly endless list of products and by-products derived from all its parts.

Other Philippine products to be featured in the trade show are body products made from pili, handcrafted bath soaps, topical scalp products, vinegar, dried mangoes, noodles, juices and fruit juice drinks, camote (sweet potato) and banana chips, condiments and sauces.

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. expressed optimism in the growing share of the Philippines in the natural products market and encouraged US buyers to take advantage of the growing demand for such products.

“The Philippines has long been producing natural, organic, and healthy agricultural products as well as nutritionally-dense foods considered ‘superfoods’ abroad. The Natural Products Expo East is the perfect venue for sellers to bring their products to the attention of the US buyers. I am glad Philippine companies, with the help of the Department of Agriculture and our Agricultural Attaché, have penetrated this market. I hope more Philippine businesses will follow soon,” said Ambassador Cuisia.

The 2014 Market Overview of Natural Foods Merchandiser, a leading media source and information provider for the healthy products industry, showed that US nationwide sales of all natural and organic products jumped 9 percent to nearly $99 billion last year.

According to Philippine Agriculture Attaché to the US Dr. Josyline C. Javelosa, this has also led to a growth in the Natural Products Expo.

“More retail buyers are walking the show floor at Expo East than ever before, looking for the newest quality products to bring back to their stores,” Dr. Javelosa said.

The trade show will reportedly bring over 22,000 attendees and more than 1,800 exhibitors, with approximately 30 percent of those exhibiting for the first time and new to the marketplace, according to Natural Product Expo East.

This year, the expo will include for the first time a Farm-to-Market Tour where attendees will have the opportunity to visit some of Baltimore’s nearby farms and retail stores that source from them. - philSTAR

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

China stock loses $3.2 trillion US Dollars in weeks; Suicide rumor -Economy facing trouble

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A stock investor looks up in a brokerage house in Shanghai. Chinese authorities have launched frantic efforts to shore up plunging stock prices following another 5.7 per cent decline in the country's main market index on Friday. Source: AP

Chinese chaos worse than Greece: Chinese stock market loses $3.2 trillion, authorities inject cash

WHILE the world worries about Greece, there’s an even bigger problem closer to home: China.

A stock market crash there has seen $3.2 trillion wiped from the value of Chinese shares in just three weeks, triggering an emergency response from the government and warnings of “monstrous” public disorder.

And the effects for Australia could be serious, affecting our key commodity exports and sparking the beginning of a period of recession-like conditions.

“State-owned newspapers have used their strongest language yet, telling people ‘not to lose their minds’ and ‘not to bury themselves in horror and anxiety’. [Our] positive measures will take time to produce results,” writes IG Markets.

“If China does not find support today, the disorder could be monstrous.”

In an extraordinary move, the People’s Bank of China has begun lending money to investors to buy shares in the flailing market. The Wall Street Journal reports this “liquidity assistance” will be provided to the regulator-owned China Securities Finance Corp, which will lend the money to brokerages, which will in turn lend to investors.

The dramatic intervention marks the first time funds from the central bank have been directed anywhere other than the banks, signaling serious concern from authorities about the crisis.

At the same time, Chinese authorities are putting a halt to any new stock listings. The market regulator announced on Friday it would limit initial public offerings — which disrupt the rest of the market — in an attempt to curb plunging share prices.

While the exact amount of assistance hasn’t been revealed, the WSJ reports no upper limit has been set.

All short-selling — the practice of betting that stocks will fall — has been banned, and Chinese media has rushed to reassure citizens.

Yesterday, shares in big state companies soared in response to the but many others sank as jittery small investors tried to cut their losses, Associated Press reports. The market benchmark Shanghai Composite closed up 2.4 percent but still was down 27 percent from its June 12 peak.

Experts fear it could turn into a full-blown crash introducing even more uncertainty into global markets as Europe teeters on the edge of a potential euro zone exit by Greece, after Sunday’s controversial referendum.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR AUSTRALIA?

For Australia, the market crash in China is likely to impact earnings on key exports iron ore and coal, further slashing government revenue, while also putting downward pressure on the Australian dollar.

Jordan Eliseo, chief economist with ABC Bullion, said it was important to remember that the amount of wealth Chinese citizens have tied up in the stock market is relatively minor compared with western investors.

Stocks only make up about 8 per cent of household wealth in China, compared with around 20 per cent in developed nations.

“The market crash there is generating headlines, but it’s not going to have the same impact as a comparable crash would in a developed market,” he said.

“What it means for Australia, though, is it’s very clear there are some serious imbalances in the Chinese economy, and the rate of growth they’ve enjoyed in the past is over. There’s no question our export earnings are going to take another hit.”

Mr Eliseo predicts Australia is likely to experience “recession-like” conditions such as negative wage growth for many years to come. “I believe that’s going to be the new norm,” he said.

CRACKDOWN AS PANIC TRIGGERS ‘SUICIDE’ RUMOURS

Underscoring growing jitters amid the three-week sell-off, police in Beijing detained a man on Sunday for allegedly spreading a rumor online that a person jumped to their death in the city’s financial district due to China’s precarious stock markets.

The 29-year-old man detained was identified by the surname Tian, and is a manager at a technology and science company in Beijing, police said in a post on their official microblog.

Police said Tian’s alleged posting of the rumor took place Friday and called on internet users to obey laws and regulations, not to believe and spread rumors, and to cooperate with police.

The state-run Xinhua news agency reported that Tian allegedly posted the rumors with video clips and screenshots Friday afternoon.

The post, which is said to have gone viral, “provoked emotional responses among stock investors who suffered losses over the past weeks”, Xinhua said.

Xinhua added that a police investigation showed that the video in question had been shot on Friday morning in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu where a man had jumped to his death. Local police there were investigating that case, Xinhua said.

The original post was unavailable Sunday on China’s tightly controlled social media, where authorities are quick to delete controversial material. - Jews News /  News.com.au

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Philippine Economy is the Strongest in the World - Findings of Washington USA Think Tank



Philippines has most resilient economy – study


(CNN Philippines) — Should an economic crisis akin to last decade's Great Recession happen again, the Philippines would be the most "resilient" country and be able withstand it, despite its status as an emerging-market economy.

That's the assessment of Center for Global Development (CGD), a think tank based in Washington, D.C.

It's not that hard to imagine another financial crisis happening: Growth in China — the world's second largest economy — has slowed, the United States' bull market hasn't had a correction since 2011, and in the Eurozone, debt-ridden Greece has yet to strike a deal with its creditors.

Economist Liliana Rojas-Suarez of the CGD recently created a "resilience indicator" that measures the vulnerability of an economy to future financial shocks.

Her metric looks into several economic indicators that fall under two categories:
  • a country's ability to withstand external shocks 
  • government's ability to "rapidly" implement policies that counteract the effects of such shocks 
"I compare the values of the identified variables in 2007 (the preglobal financial crisis year) with the respective values at the end of 2014," she said.

Rojas-Suarez explained: "A country is said to be highly resilient to adverse external shocks if the event does not result in a sharp contractions of economic growth, a severe decline in the rate of growth of real credit and/or the emergence of deep instabilities in the financial sector."

Of the 21 countries she studied, Rojas-Suarez ranked the Philippines as the most resilient economy, ahead of South Korea and China, which fall at second and third, respectively.

Rojas-Suarez found that the Philippines posted a strong improvement in its indebtedness. The debt indicators had substantial influence over the country's ranking.

For example, she points out that the country cut in half its external debt to GDP ratio "from around 40 percent in 2007 to around 20 percent in 2014." This figure stands in stark contrast with most whose ratios are "without significant changes" within that same time period.

She also cites the country's lower government debt to GDP ratio which stood above 40% in 2007, and subsequently shrank to below that figure in 2014.

Likewise, the country also stood out because of its improved inflation performance in 2014 relative to 2007. Rojas-Suarez pointed out that inflation rates have been within the government's targets.

Latin American countries did not do well in the study: "Four of the six Latin American countries in the sample have deteriorated their positions in the ranking. This includes Argentina, which now holds the last position. "

Apart from "bad luck in terms of unfavorable trade," Rojas-Suarez explained that such countries ranked lower because of "the squandering of opportunity to implement needed reforms in the good post-crisis years."

Her study ultimately affirms a long-running cliché: An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

"Policy decisions taken in the precrisis period played a major role in explaining a country's macroeconomic performance during the global economic crisis (of last decade)," explained Rojas-Suarez.

"[I]nitial conditions at the onset of a severe adverse external shock matter a lot. The good news is that, besides the commodity price shock, the most feared external shock: a sudden rise in interest rates in the US has not (yet) materialized. Time is still on the side of emerging markets’ authorities." - CNN

Monday, June 4, 2012

World’s newest & stealthiest $3Billion USD destroyer will counter China in West Philippines


This file image released by Bath Iron Works shows a rendering of the DDG-1000 Zumwalt, the U.S. Navy's next-generation destroyer, which has been funded to be built at Bath Iron Works in Maine and at Northrop Grumman's shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. (AP/Bath Iron Works)

A super-stealthy warship that could underpin the U.S. navy's China strategy will be able to sneak up on coastlines virtually undetected and pound targets with electromagnetic "railguns" right out of a sci-fi movie.

But at more than $3 billion a pop, critics say the new DDG-1000 destroyer sucks away funds that could be better used to bolster a thinly stretched conventional fleet. One outspoken admiral in China has scoffed that all it would take to sink the high-tech American ship is an armada of explosive-laden fishing boats.

With the first of the new ships set to be delivered in 2014, the stealth destroyer is being heavily promoted by the Pentagon as the most advanced destroyer in history -- a silver bullet of stealth. It has been called a perfect fit for what Washington now considers the most strategically important region in the world -- Asia and the Pacific.

Though it could come in handy elsewhere, like in the Gulf region, its ability to carry out missions both on the high seas and in shallows closer to shore is especially important in Asia because of the region's many island nations and China's long Pacific coast.

"With its stealth, incredibly capable sonar system, strike capability and lower manning requirements -- this is our future," Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, said in April after visiting the shipyard in Maine where they are being built.

On a visit to a major regional security conference in Singapore that ended Sunday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the Navy will be deploying 60 percent of its fleet worldwide to the Pacific by 2020, and though he didn't cite the stealth destroyers he said new high-tech ships will be a big part of its shift.

The DDG-1000 and other stealth destroyers of the Zumwalt class feature a wave-piercing hull that leaves almost no wake, electric drive propulsion and advanced sonar and missiles. They are longer and heavier than existing destroyers -- but will have half the crew because of automated systems and appear to be little more than a small fishing boat on enemy radar.

Down the road, the ship is to be equipped with an electromagnetic railgun, which uses a magnetic field and electric current to fire a projectile at several times the speed of sound.

But cost overruns and technical delays have left many defense experts wondering if the whole endeavor was too focused on futuristic technologies for its own good.

They point to the problem-ridden F-22 stealth jet fighter, which was hailed as the most advanced fighter ever built but was cut short because of prohibitive costs. Its successor, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, has swelled up into the most expensive procurement program in Defense Department history.

"Whether the Navy can afford to buy many DDG-1000s must be balanced against the need for over 300 surface ships to fulfill the various missions that confront it," said Dean Cheng, a China expert with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research institute in Washington. "Buying hyperexpensive ships hurts that ability, but buying ships that can't do the job, or worse can't survive in the face of the enemy, is even more irresponsible."

The Navy says it's money well spent. The rise of China has been cited as the best reason for keeping the revolutionary ship afloat, although the specifics of where it will be deployed have yet to be announced. Navy officials also say the technologies developed for the ship will inevitably be used in other vessels in the decades ahead.

But the destroyers' $3.1 billion price tag, which is about twice the cost of the current destroyers and balloons to $7 billion each when research and development is added in, nearly sank it in Congress. Though the Navy originally wanted 32 of them, that was cut to 24, then seven.

Now, just three are in the works.

"Costs spiraled -- surprise, surprise -- and the program basically fell in on itself," said Richard Bitzinger, a security expert at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University. "The DDG-1000 was a nice idea for a new modernistic surface combatant, but it contained too many unproven, disruptive technologies."

The U.S. Defense Department is concerned that China is modernizing its navy with a near-term goal of stopping or delaying U.S. intervention in conflicts over disputed territory in the South China Sea or involving Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province.

China is now working on building up a credible aircraft carrier capability and developing missiles and submarines that could deny American ships access to crucial sea lanes.

The U.S. has a big advantage on the high seas, but improvements in China's navy could make it harder for U.S. ships to fight in shallower waters, called littorals. The stealth destroyers designed to do both. In the meantime, the Navy will begin deploying smaller Littoral Combat Ships to Singapore later this year.

Officially, China has been quiet on the possible addition of the destroyers to Asian waters.

But Rear Adm. Zhang Zhaozhong, an outspoken commentator affiliated with China's National Defense University, scoffed at the hype surrounding the ship, saying that despite its high-tech design it could be overwhelmed by a swarm of fishing boats laden with explosives. If enough boats were mobilized some could get through to blow a hole in its hull, he said.

"It would be a goner," he said recently on state broadcaster CCTV's military channel.

Foxnews

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

COMMENTARY: Is a Nuclear War with China Possible?

BY LAWRENCE S. WITTNER

While nuclear weapons exist, there remains a danger that they will be used.  After all, for centuries national conflicts have led to wars, with nations employing their deadliest weapons.  The current deterioration of U.S. relations with China might end up providing us with yet another example of this phenomenon.

The gathering tension between the United States and China is clear enough.  Disturbed by China's growing economic and military strength, the U.S. government recently challenged China's claims in the South China Sea, increased the U.S. military presence in Australia, and deepened U.S. military ties with other nations in the Pacific region.  According to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the United States was "asserting our own position as a Pacific power."

But need this lead to nuclear war?

Not necessarily.  And yet, there are signs that it could.  After all, both the United States and China possess large numbers of nuclear weapons.  The U.S. government threatened to attack China with nuclear weapons during the Korean War and, later, during the conflict over the future of China's offshore islands, Quemoy and Matsu.  In the midst of the latter confrontation, President Dwight Eisenhower declared publicly, and chillingly, that U.S. nuclear weapons would "be used just exactly as you would use a bullet or anything else."

Of course, China didn't have nuclear weapons then.  Now that it does, perhaps the behavior of national leaders will be more temperate.  But the loose nuclear threats of U.S. and Soviet government officials during the Cold War, when both nations had vast nuclear arsenals, should convince us that, even as the military ante is raised, nuclear saber-rattling persists.

Some pundits argue that nuclear weapons prevent wars between nuclear-armed nations; and, admittedly, there haven't been very many—at least not yet.  But the Kargil War of 1999, between nuclear-armed India and nuclear-armed Pakistan, should convince us that such wars can occur.  Indeed, in that case, the conflict almost slipped into a nuclear war.  Pakistan's foreign secretary threatened that, if the war escalated, his country felt free to use "any weapon" in its arsenal.  During the conflict, Pakistan did move nuclear weapons toward its border, while India, it is claimed, readied its own nuclear missiles for an attack on Pakistan.

At the least, though, don't nuclear weapons deter a nuclear attack?  Do they?  Obviously, NATO leaders didn't feel deterred, for, throughout the Cold War, NATO's strategy was to respond to a Soviet conventional military attack on Western Europe by launching a Western nuclear attack on the nuclear-armed Soviet Union.  Furthermore, if U.S. government officials really believed that nuclear deterrence worked, they would not have resorted to championing "Star Wars" and its modern variant, national missile defense.  Why are these vastly expensive—and probably unworkable—military defense systems needed if other nuclear powers are deterred from attacking by U.S. nuclear might?

Of course, the bottom line for those Americans convinced that nuclear weapons safeguard them from a Chinese nuclear attack might be that the U.S. nuclear arsenal is far greater than its Chinese counterpart.  Today, it is estimated that the U.S. government possesses over five thousand nuclear warheads, while the Chinese government has a total inventory of roughly three hundred.  Moreover, only about forty of these Chinese nuclear weapons can reach the United States.  Surely the United States would "win" any nuclear war with China.

But what would that "victory" entail?  A nuclear attack by China would immediately slaughter at least 10 million Americans in a great storm of blast and fire, while leaving many more dying horribly of sickness and radiation poisoning.  The Chinese death toll in a nuclear war would be far higher.  Both nations would be reduced to smoldering, radioactive wastelands.  Also, radioactive debris sent aloft by the nuclear explosions would blot out the sun and bring on a "nuclear winter" around the globe—destroying agriculture, creating worldwide famine, and generating chaos and destruction.

Moreover, in another decade the extent of this catastrophe would be far worse.  The Chinese government is currently expanding its nuclear arsenal, and by the year 2020 it is expected to more than double its number of nuclear weapons that can hit the United States.  The U.S. government, in turn, has plans to spend hundreds of billions of dollars "modernizing" its nuclear weapons and nuclear production facilities over the next decade.

To avert the enormous disaster of a U.S.-China nuclear war, there are two obvious actions that can be taken.  The first is to get rid of nuclear weapons, as the nuclear powers have agreed to do but thus far have resisted doing.  The second, conducted while the nuclear disarmament process is occurring, is to improve U.S.-China relations.  If the American and Chinese people are interested in ensuring their survival and that of the world, they should be working to encourage these policies.

* * *

Wittner is Emeritus Professor of History at the State University of New York/Albany. His latest book is "Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement" (Stanford University Press). This commentary was distributed by PeaceVoice a program of the Oregon Peace Institute, Portland, OR.

http://www.peacevoice.info/

Sunday, November 20, 2011

South Korea – the Philippines Strengthen ties – SKorean President State Visit to the Philippines

The Philippines and South Korea will sign on Monday agreements envisioned to further strengthen overall ties between the two countries.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who arrived in Manila on Sunday afternoon, will officially begin his state visit with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Rizal Shrine in Luneta before proceeding to Malacañang for a meeting with President Aquino.

The two leaders are expected to discuss, among other things, trade and investment opportunities, and tourism, Deputy Presidential Spokesman Abigail Valte said in an interview over dzRB, the government radio, on Sunday.

"There are many tourists from South Korea who come to the Philippines. We also have common interests in trade and investment. We know that the Republic of Korea is our development partner, particularly in agriculture and infrastructure, so we expect the flow of discussions to go around the topics that were mentioned," Valte said.

Filipino businessmen are hoping the state visit would result in a joint communiqué with South Korea in the form of an accelerated version of an economic partnership agreement (EPA).

The joint communiqué should outline initiatives that will further the exchange of trade, investments and people between the two countries, said Donald Dee, vice chairman and treasurer of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).

"We don't need to negotiate an EPA with Korea because we are already linked in several areas and we already have the Asean-Korea Free Trade Area [AKFTA]. We no longer have barriers when it comes to tariffs and manufacturing. We only need to have a joint communiqué," Dee told the BusinessMirror.

The document, Dee said, should focus on non-tariff barriers, investments, services and a mutual recognition agreement.

Currently, the country's EPA is with Japan. On a regional basis as part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), however, the Philippines has free-trade agreements with Japan, South Korea, China, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Based on the study of the Universal Access to Competitiveness and Trade, which serves as the PCCI think-tank, Dee said merchandise trade between the two countries increased rapidly since the forging of the AKFTA in 2007. Exports to South Korea are up 23 percent and it is now the eighth-largest trading partner of the Philippines.

South Korean investments, on the other hand, went up from less than $100 million in 2007 to $600 million in 2010. Among the top South Korean investors in the Philippines are Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction, Samsung Electronics Philippines Manufacturing Corp., and Daelim Industrial Co. Ltd.

On the tourism side, Dee said Koreans make up 22 percent of the total foreign visitors to the Philippines.

With the existing complementarities economically and socially, Dee said the Philippines and South Korea could skip the tedious part of negotiating an EPA and proceed to the forging of a joint communiqué.

"We only need to list down all our matching industries and then reconcile our ambitions and expectations," Dee said.

The joint communiqué, he said, should state that South Korea and the Philippines will work together to enhance the economies of both countries.

The two countries will then separately outline their respective commitments on how their ambitions will be achieved in the areas of trade, investments, services and mutual recognition for the practice of professions.

Coinciding with the visit of Mr. Lee, a former CEO of Hyundai Engineering and Construction, the government has arranged a meeting between the PCCI and the South Korean business delegation at the Manila Hotel on Monday, which the South Korean leader will keynote. President Lee flew in at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday accompanied by his wife, Kim Myun-Ok.

Apart from his Palace engagements, Mr. Lee will also attend a town hall meeting at the Ateneo de Manila University before returning to Malacañang for a state dinner in his honor.

He will depart Manila on Tuesday morning.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Clinton warns against intimidation in South China Sea dispute

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday urged claimants to the South China Sea not to resort to intimidation to push their cause in the potentially oil-rich waters, an indirect reference to China ahead of a regional leaders' summit.

Clinton reiterated that the United States wanted a candid discussion of the maritime dispute, which an Australian think tank warned earlier this year could lead to war, when the leaders gather in Bali, Indonesia, this week.

However, China says it does not want the issue discussed, putting it at loggerheads with the United States once again after they exchanged barbs over trade and currency at last week's meeting of Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum in Hawaii.

"The United States does not take a position on any territorial claim, because any nation with a claim has a right to assert it," Clinton said in Manila, while marking the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty.

"But they do not have a right to pursue it through intimidation or coercion. They should be following international law, the rule of law, the U.N. Convention on Law of the Sea."

She said disputes in the sea lanes should be resolved through the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which defined rules on how countries can use the world's oceans and their resources.

That could embolden Southeast Asia's hand against China, which has said it would not submit to international arbitration over competing claims to the area, believed to be rich in natural resources and a major shipping lane.

China says it has historical sovereignty over the South China Sea and so supersedes claims of other countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

"Introducing a contentious subject into the meeting would only affect the atmosphere of cooperation and mutual trust, damaging the hard-won setting of healthy development in the region," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said on Wednesday. "That's is beyond any doubt."

Beijing bristles at what it calls U.S. interference and has blamed the maritime tensions on U.S. trouble making.

Estimates of proven and undiscovered oil reserves in the South China Sea range from 28 billion barrels of oil to as high as 213 billion barrels, U.S. figures showed in 2008. Gas deposits could be as high as 3.8 trillion cubic metres, the U.S. Geological Survey has estimated. Both would supply China with energy supplies for decades if proven.

China's resource needs and its risk-taking behaviour over staking its claim in the increasingly crowded sea lanes of the maritime region raise the possibility of armed conflict that could draw in the United States and other powers, the Lowy Institute said in a report in June.

Tensions flared again earlier this year with concerns raised over China's enforcement of its claim in areas also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines, including the cutting of cables on survey ships, threats to ram some vessels and breaches of airspace by military aircraft.

UNITY

On Tuesday, the Philippines criticised its South East Asian neighbours for failing to take a united stand against China.

"ASEAN is now at a critical junction of playing a positive and meaningful role to contribute in the peaceful resolution of the disputes in the South China Sea," said Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario.

Manila wants ASEAN to be able to help resolve sensitive issues without letting them affect bilateral or multilateral relations, he said.

Smaller Southeast Asian claimants view a U.S. presence and a multilateral approach to negotiations as strengthening their stance against China's all-encompassing claim on the sea.

ASEAN and China approved guidelines this year to make a code of conduct agreement signed in 2002 more concrete as they sought to cool tensions.

Indonesia's foreign minister, Marty Natalegawa, suggested claimants to the maritime region should pursue the code of conduct negotiations while apparently chiding China and the United States.

"ASEAN now has a clear scenario and approach. So ASEAN countries will not let the Southeast Asia region become a competition arena for countries who consider themselves as big powers, whoever or whenever they maybe," he told a press briefing.

"We have an interest to make a clear code of conduct (for the South China Sea) so that concerns from non-Southeast Asian countries can be reflected based on the interest of ASEAN countries' national interest," he said.

It was important for ASEAN to promote a break from "a self-fulfilling vicious circle of action and counter-reaction," he added.

Washington says its interest in the rift is to make sure a shipping lane that carries some $5 trillion in international trade a year is kept open and can be freely navigated.

"President Obama will reaffirm our national interest in the maintenance of peace and security in the region and internationally," Clinton said.

She said that included freedom of navigation, the rule of law and unimpeded lawful commerce, with the United States seeing UNCLOS as the overriding framework for territorial disputes.

Philippines Sandwiched by 2 competing superpowers US-China

Philippines’ President Benigno Aquino III will discuss the disputes over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) and steps on further strengthening the long-standing economic and defense relations between the Philippines and the United States during his meeting with US President Barrack Obama in Bali, Indonesia where the 19th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit is being held.

The President left at around 8 a.m. on Thursday for Indonesia from the tarmac of the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing at the Villamor Airbase in Paranaque City (Metro Manila).

In his pre-departure speech, the President cited the importance of the regional bloc, which was established in 1967 and is aimed at the "creation of a cohesive, peaceful, stable and resilient region".

In a press briefing at the Courtyard Mariott Bali Nusa Dua Hotel, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ramon Carandang said that the United States has been exerting efforts to re-engage itself with the countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including the Philippines, which the world superpower considers as important partners in economic and political development.

"I think what's very clear is that the United States wants to re-engage itself in the Asia Pacific region, especially now that they're winding down their commitments to other parts of the world.

The Asia-Pacific region has become much more important to them economically and politically. And what we're seeing are manifestations of that increased importance that Asia-Pacific, including the Philippines, is taking and I am sure the discussions between the two leaders will hew to that general theme," he said.

When asked if the Philippines will seek security assistance from the United States on the dispute in the West Philippine Sea, Carandang said that the government has been considering that.

"I think we've been doing what we can already with the West Philippine Sea issue and the American presence here, and the fact that they agree with our position is something that we find helpful," he said.

Carandang added that the government welcomes any assistance from the US, specifically in increasing the maritime defense capabilities of the Philippines.

The bilateral talk betweens President Aquino and Obama is scheduled on Friday as part of the 19th Asean Summit and Related Summits.

Also attending the event are the heads of state of Asean's dialogue partners including Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and United Nations Secretary General BanKi-moon, among others.

The Asean will widen on Saturday into the East Asia Summit which takes in Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, and this year welcomes the United States and Russia.

A major issue

The maritime dispute with China and a debate over whether to reward Myanmar for fledgling reforms are expected to dominate talks during the 19th Asean Summit.

With the eurozone lurching through a debt crisis, raising the specter of Asean's export markets drying up, there is also pressure on the 10-member bloc to speed up the integration of its potentially huge common market.

Obama is coming to Bali as the US rolls out a diplomatic campaign to assert itself as a Pacific power, including plans for up to 2,500 Marines to be deployed in Australia.

Its more robust role, which smaller Asian states welcome as a counterbalance to China, has caused friction with the two powers trading warnings that set the stage for a confrontation at the East Asia Summit.

The US has signaled that it will raise the issue of China's territorial claims over the West Philippine Sea, with its strategic shipping lanes and rich oil and mineral reserves, despite Beijing saying that the topic should be off-limits.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday on a visit to the Philippines, which along with Vietnam has complained that China is becoming more aggressive in asserting its claims, that threats were unacceptable.

"Any nation with a claim has a right to exert it, but they do not have a right to pursue it through intimidation or coercion," she said.

The Philippines, which has led calls for ASEAN to build a united front against China over the dispute, was slammed by China's state-run Global Times on Thursday, which said that it should be punished with trade boycotts and travel bans.

"The way that China punishes the Philippines should not be overdone or elicit regional fears toward China, but it must make the Philippines pay the price," said the paper, known for its nationalistic stance.

Diplomats in Bali have expressed concern that Southeast Asian nations may get squeezed between the competing interests of the two big world powers.

"We must ensure the stability and security of our region," Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said in an opening speech.

"Asean must continue to play a proactive role to facilitate and engage itself in the resolution of issues," he said in an apparent reference to the West Philippine Sea dispute.

Bali, a resort island that is normally a haven for tourism and relaxation, has been transformed for the event, with six warships patrolling off the beaches and 7,000 police and soldiers providing a blanket security presence.

Myanmar issue

The Asean summit also sees the diplomatic debut of Myanmar's new military-backed government, which has surprised observers with a string of conciliatory moves since it was sworn in eight months ago.

The leaders are set to formally approve a plan to allow Myanmar to chair the regional bloc in 2014, despite objections from the United States which said that it was premature.

Myanmar's Information Minister Kyaw Hsan called on the US to recognize what he said were "irreversible" reforms and abandon its economic sanctions, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Thursday.

Kyaw Hsan blamed the sanctions for the country's lack of development and said that they forced Myanmar to be reliant on Chinese companies.

"When we are striving for development, we cannot be choosers -- we have accepted what is best for the country," he added.

The nominally civilian government has held direct talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, freed 200 dissidents, frozen work on an unpopular mega-dam and passed a law giving workers the right to strike.

But rights campaigners say those measures could easily be reversed and that handing Myanmar the diplomatic prize could remove the incentive for more fundamental change in a nation still accused of serious rights abuses.

Asean's leaders will also review stuttering progress on an ambitious plan for a common and barrier-free market by 2015, a task made more urgent by the crisis in major export markets in Europe.

The gaps between the region's economies--which range from the wealthy city-state of Singapore to underdeveloped Laos and Myanmar -- are a formidable barrier to establishing a common market of more than 600 million people.

But Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan said on Wednesday that the economic woes in Europe and the US presented an opportunity for Asean to "behave more collectively".

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Not contented in Spratlys; China now Claim Palawan islands

During the APEC summit 2011 in Hawaii; China protest the Philippines to use its resources and explore the oils in Palawan and pronounced its claim to the Palawan Islands.

China has claimed new territory less than 50 miles (80 kilometers) from a Philippine province, boosting tensions over potentially resource-rich areas of the South China Sea, but the Philippines has dismissed the claim, an official said Monday.

Energy Undersecretary Jose Layug Jr. told The Associated Press that China protested a Philippine plan to explore for oil and gas in the area in July. It is the closest point in waters off the main Philippine islands that China has claimed in the increasingly tense territorial disputes.

Beijing has been asserting its territorial claims more aggressively as its economic and diplomatic muscle has grown. Its new claims are likely to bolster Philippine resolve to seek a U.N. ruling on the long-simmering disputes, which involve China, the Philippines and four other claimants.

Among the areas being contested is the Spratlys, a chain of up to 190 islands, reefs, coral outcrops and banks believed to be sitting atop large deposits of oil and natural gas, which many fear could be Asia's next flash point for conflict.

The issue is expected to be discussed Wednesday with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The two new areas being claimed by China are not part of the Spratlys, Layug said.

The Chinese Embassy delivered a protest to the Philippine government on July 4 after Manila invited foreign companies to bid for the right to explore for oil and gas in 15 areas. Chinese officials opposed the inclusion of "areas 3 and 4" northwest of Palawan province, claiming they fall under Chinese sovereign territory.

"The Chinese government urges the Philippine side to immediately withdraw the bidding offer in areas 3 and 4, refrain from any action that infringes on China's sovereignty and sovereign rights," China said in a diplomatic note to Manila, adding that the Philippine action "cannot but complicate the disputes and affect stability in the South China Sea."

China told the Philippine government that the planned oil explorations violated a nonbinding 2002 accord that called on claimants to South China Sea territories to stop occupying new areas and avoid action that could spark tension.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said at a regular briefing: "We do not want foreign commerce involved in these kinds of investment and disputes over the South China Sea."

Palawan province, about 510 miles (820 kilometers) southwest of Manila, faces the South China Sea, which is claimed entirely by China.

One of the offshore areas now being claimed by Beijing lies just 49 miles (79 kilometers) northwest of Palawan, while the other is 76 miles (123 kilometers) from the western Philippine province, Layug said.

The Philippine government told China the areas are located well within Philippine waters and are far from any disputed area, officials said.

"The areas that we're offering for bidding are all within Philippine territory," Layug said. "There is no doubt about that."

The two areas are more than 500 miles (800 kilometers) from the nearest Chinese coast, Layug said.

About 50 foreign investors, including some of the world's largest oil companies, have expressed interest in exploring for oil and gas in the Philippines, half of them in the new areas being claimed by China, because of strong indications of oil there, he said.

None of the prospective foreign companies has expressed concern over the territorial disputes, Layug said.

"Of course their issue would be ensuring security and the support of the Philippine government when they are awarded the contract," he said.

In March, two Chinese vessels tried to drive away a Philippine oil exploration ship from Reed Bank, another area west of Palawan. Two Philippine air force planes were deployed, but the Chinese vessels had disappeared by the time they reached the submerged bank.

The Philippines protested the incident, which it said was one of several intrusions by China into its territorial waters in the first half of the year. Vietnam has also accused Chinese vessels of trying to sabotage oil exploration in its territorial waters this year, sparking rare anti-China protests in Vietnam.

A British company behind the exploration at Reed Bank found very strong indications of natural gas and plans to start drilling in about six months, Layug said.

President Benigno Aquino III plans to discuss a Philippine proposal at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit this week in Bali, Indonesia, to segregate disputed South China Sea areas so coastal states can freely make use of non-disputed areas. China has opposed the plan.

Aquino's government also plans to bring the territorial disputes before the United Nations for possible arbitration.

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