Thursday, June 16, 2011

View on News-16/06/2011

Nouriel Roubini: This "Perfect Storm" Of Threats Could Slam The Economy By 2013
The world economy could face a perfect storm of soaring sovereign debt and slowing growth, according to the economist who predicted the last global financial crisis. Debt problems in the US and Europe, slowing growth in China and stagnation in Japan could combine to harm the economic recovery, the New York University professor Nouriel Roubini said. This in turn could hurt the GCC by choking off demand for oil, the region's main revenue source, other economists say. Mr Roubini said there was a one-in-three chance of different factors converging to smother growth from 2013. Other possible outcomes were "anaemic but OK" global growth or an "optimistic" scenario in which the economy improved. "There are already elements of fragility," he told Bloomberg News. "Everybody's kicking the can down the road of too much public and private debt. The can is becoming heavier and heavier, and bigger on debt, and all these problems may come to a head by 2013 at the latest." Politicians and investors have closely followed Mr Roubini's comments since he made a series of accurate predictions about the global meltdown in 2008.

Iraq: Auditors Says $6.6 Billion Missing from Pentagon Probably Stolen
After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the George W. Bush administration flooded the conquered country with so much cash to pay for reconstruction and other projects in the first year that a new unit of measurement was born. Pentagon officials determined that one giant C-130 Hercules cargo plane could carry $2.4 billion in shrink-wrapped bricks of $100 bills. They sent an initial full planeload of cash, followed by 20 other flights to Iraq by May 2004 in a $12-billion haul that U.S. officials believe to be the biggest international cash airlift of all time. This month, the Pentagon and the Iraqi government are finally closing the books on the program that handled all those Benjamins. But despite years of audits and investigations, U.S. Defense officials still cannot say what happened to $6.6 billion in cash - enough to run the Los Angeles Unified School District or the Chicago Public Schools for a year, among many other things.

CIA Expands Drone Strikes to Yemen
The CIA is ready to expand its drone strikes from Pakistan to Yemen. A U.S. official said that a secret plan to bomb Yemen has been in the works for months, Fox News reports this week. Obama approved the secret plan without consulting Congress last year. It has been under development for several months and is set to be rolled out in July. In May, the State Department ordered all "non-essential" U.S. diplomats and family members to leave Yemen immediately. It also issued a warning to Americans to abstain from traveling to Yemen. The Wall Street Journal makes the case that drone attacks are more civilian friendly than the sort of NATO bombing currently underway in another Arab country, Libya. "CIA drones use smaller warheads, which officials hope will lower the risk of civilian deaths and anti-American backlash in Yemen, the newspaper said," Fox reports.

90% seized 'Taliban' civilians: U.S. report
Following the release of figures intended to portray an American success in Afghanistan, a U.S. military report shows that almost 90 percent of Afghans "captured" as Taliban militants were actually civilians. Back in December 2010, U.S. commander General David Petraeus claimed that during the previous six months a total of 4,100 Taliban rank and file had been captured and 2,000 had been killed, only to be revealed that nearly 90 percent of those captured had been civilians, Inter Press Service reported. Another set of misleading figures that was circulated claimed that U.S. Special Operations Forces had captured 1,355 rank and file Taliban militants, killed 1,031, while having killed or captured 365 middle or high-ranking Taliban members through May and July of the same year. The figures were released for media publicity and intended to reverse the U.S. reputation over its losses in war-torn Afghanistan. The report indicates that even more detainees were released from the U.S. detention facility at Bagram airbase, also known as the Detention Facility in Parwan, after their files were reviewed by a panel of military officers. Although the number of Taliban deaths claimed by the U.S. is impossible to double check, the number of detainees can be monitored, as detainees can only be held in a Forward Operating Base for 14 days before being released or sent to long-term detention.The death toll of the U.S.-led forces in 2010 stood at 711, making the year the deadliest on record for foreign forces in Afghanistan since the start of the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. NATO has admitted that the power of militants in Afghanistan is on the rise despite the presence of nearly 150,000 U.S.-led forces in the war-ravaged country.

US suspicious of Pakistan's bomb facility leak to militants: Robert Gates
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said Washington is disappointed and suspicious that militants in Pakistan were apparently tipped off that American intelligence officials had discovered two of their suspected bomb-making facilities, but stopped short of concluding that Pakistani officials had leaked the information to the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani insurgents. The US provided Pakistan with the specific locations of insurgent bomb-making factories twice in recent weeks, only to see the militants learn their cover had been blown and vacate the sites before military action could be taken, US and Pakistani officials said. "We don't know the specifics of what happened. There are suspicions and there are questions, but I think there was clearly disappointment on our part," The Washington Post quoted Gates, as telling a foreign news agency in an exclusive interview. Trust has been in short supply in the US-Pakistan relationship, highlighted most dramatically by the US decision not to tell Islamabad in advance of the May 2 Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan's Abbottabad city, out of fear that they might tip off the al-Qaida leader or his protectors. The State Department's counterterrorism coordinator, Daniel Benjamin, said on Tuesday that Osama bin Laden, who was killed by US troops in last month's raid on his lair, "obviously" benefited from a support network inside Pakistan. When asked whether it was time to take a harder line with Pakistan, Gates counseled patience, and noted that the Pakistanis have not forgotten that the US abandoned them in the late 1980s after the Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan. "We need each other, and this relationship goes beyond Afghanistan," he said. "It has to do with regional stability, and I think we have to be realistic about Pakistani distrust ... and their deep belief that when we're done with al-Qaida that we'll be gone, again."

Kissinger, Huntsman: U.S., China need cyber d├ętente
The United States and China need to reach an agreement to restrict cyber attacks and designate some areas as off limits to hacking, two former senior U.S. officials said on Tuesday. Henry Kissinger, an architect of the opening of U.S. relations with China in the 1970s, told a Thomson Reuters event that Washington and Beijing both had significant espionage capabilities and the key was finding a way to discuss them. Jon Huntsman, the former U.S. ambassador to China, likened raising cyber attacks with Beijing to the challenge of discussing missile defense and the military use of space -- issues that are also highly sensitive to the Chinese. "At some point, we are going to have to develop a context in which we can actually discuss this and, I would think, draw some red lines around areas that we don't want them into and they might not want us into," said Huntsman, who left China in April to plan his presidential election campaign, and was speaking at the same event. Their calls for a cyber detente follow a blitz of hacking attacks on major U.S.-based institutions in recent weeks, including the International Monetary Fund, the Senate, and companies such as Citigroup and Lockheed Martin.

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