Wednesday, September 25, 2013

World Alert:Clams and Climate;Terrorist Funding

Clams are giving us information about what's happening in the ocean as a result of climate change.There's a lot of ups and downs in climate in particular places.You have to look at records in their totality,British scientists studying the clams say.Their research may become part of a UN report on climate change.
Clams are sensitive to climate change.They do not like warming temperatures and their reproduction is negatively affected by them,Antarctic research shows.*
The market for male skin care and grooming products in South Korea amounted to a fifth of the products' sales worldwide.It's because of the gangnam style movement and celebrity promotions in the country.The male skin care and grooming market is worth approximately 20 billion dollars globally.*
Al-Qaida affiliate al-Shabab's leader,Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr,or Godane,is blaming the Kenyan government and its Western backers for their deadly attack on Westgate Mall in Nairobi,whom he says have killed Somali women and children.There will be more such attacks,he warned.He is not a charismatic figure,but the 36 year old militant has a lot of power.He fought beside the Taliban when America invaded Afghanistan after the 9-11 attacks.
The charcoal industry in East Africa is possibly being exploited,along with ivory to fund the terrorism.The authorities are seeing increased elephant poaching since 2008 as the price of ivory soared.In the last 40 years,we've seen a steady level of poaching of ivory that has gone out from Kenya thorugh Somalia,and al-Shabab controls the border there,so it's a credible possibilty.*

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Microsoft's Era of Change

Microsoft is buying Nokia's devices and services unit for 7.1 billion dollars to accelerate the growth of their mobile business.The deal includes 10 years of access to relevant patents.
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop,who formerly worked at Microsoft,will return there-presumably to replace the retiring Steve Ballmer as CEO-and 32,000 other Nokia workers will be transferring to Microsoft as well.*
Ballmer and Microsoft have been laggards,said Matthew McCormick,portfolio manager at Bahl and Gaynor Investment Counsel.Ballmer's departure opens up so many doors.You're gonna see some capital return to shareholders,some new thought and leadership.We think there's gonna be more unlocking of value throughout the tech sector.
They need someone from the outside.They need to make a move.We have high expectations Microsoft is gonna do something big.
The tech sector has the best opportunity for growth going forward,and dividend growth.*
It's about accelerating our share position,to further accelerate our position with Windows phone,Mr.Ballmer said.Our partners in Windows phone have been nothing but enthusiastic.We're certainly focused on being a devices and services company.
Nokia accounts for over 80% of the Windows phone volume today.Its hardware,enterprise and distribution staff is truly world class.It's a big transformation,but that's how you have to be in the tech business,Mr.Ballmer noted.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Geneva Syria Talks:Change and Danger

Secretary of State John Kerry is headed for Geneva,Switzerland for two days of talks with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.Each side will bring technical experts to assess the proposed turnover of Syria's chemical weapons to international supervision and evaluate the way forward,according to White House spokesman Jay Carney.At the same time,there are discussions at the UN to frame a Security Council resolution on the matter.We are working with Great Britain and France on the resolution.
The process needs to be credible and verifiable.After 20 years,Syria suddenly acknowledges it has chemical weapons and says it will sign the convention against their use.This is significant.
The president never considered canceling his Tuesday night speech.It is still very important for the president to speak to the American people.We will continue to have this discussion in the days ahead.This is far too complex an issue to reduce to a single phrase or words.
Russia has made this proposal and is engaging with other members of the UN Security Council.Russia's prestige is on the line.
There's no question very significant changes have taken place from the recent past.We go into this with eyes wide open.The goal of the Geneva meeting is to test the seriousness of the Russian proposal,Mr.Carney indicated.
Congressman Peter King,R-New York,said I have multiple concerns about Russia.We have now made Russia a major player in the Middle East.They will have influence over the region,and we will be almost indebted to them.Iran is actually more of a threat than Syria.
We've pretty much given immmunity to Assad.We should be extremely sceptical,extremely wary and not make any more concessions.We have to take a tough line with Russia.Russian President Vladimir Putin strengthens Syria and Iran's position in the Middle East.Don't give the benefit of the doubt to Putin.He wants to reestablish Russia and assert himself in a powerful way,Congressman King warned.
Mr.Putin is being seen as a man who does business with Syria and Iran,obsessively cultivating a Cold War mentality of being the counterweight to the influence of the United States.The Russians are part of the problem in Syria;they are not credibly part of the solution,said Senator John Cornyn,R-Texas.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Syria:Bigger By the Day

A number of Obama administration officials continued their lobbying efforts for military action against Syria on Wednesday,fielding wide-ranging questions from sometimes irate Members of Congress.The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations did vote to approve the mission 10-7 after a classified briefing.
Polls show the American public largely opposed to the mission.The story is huge and growing,taking up the lion's share of cable news broadcasts.Some are calling for the President to address the American people on Syria from the Oval Office in prime time.
*We know that Assad will read our silence as a sign he can use his weapons with impunity.Iran and North Korea are listening for our silence.This is a vote for accountablity,Secretary of State John Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.Degrading his chemical weapons will have an impact on the battlefield.There will be downstream impacts.
These weapons pose a grave threat to our allies Israel,Jordan,Saudi Arabia and Iraq.North Korea maintains a massive chemical weapons stockpile that threatens 20,000 US troops on the border.
There have been 60-100 officer and enlisted defections from the Assad regime in the last day or so.There are serious questions in the elite of Syria that are asking if Assad has gone too far.
Currently in the region,a number of countries have offered to be part of the military action-more countries than our military thinks we need.France and others in the region are prepared to be part of the operation with us.
Arab countries have offered to bear the cost and assist us.They've been quite significant offers-up to the whole cost,if the US does what it's done in the past.
*This will not be a pinprick;it will be a strike that degrades his capability,added Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.We have spent days and days going over every option and contingency,such as embassy security and collateral damage.
Allies will provide basing and overflight rights,noted General Martin Dempsey,Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.The focus and purpose will give us the best chance of limiting it.I can never discount the possibility of escalation,but we've kept it as low as possible.
Congressman Eliot Engel,D-New York,an expert on Syria,is concerned about the message we send to Iran as they pursue a dangerous nuclear capability.His colleague Dutch Ruppersberger,D-Maryland,pointed out that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against Iran and the Kurds in the 1980s.Unchallenged,he went on to invade Kuwait in 1990.
*The whole Senate seems likely to approve the mission at this point,but the House of Representatives is an open question.It could be that the President will have to cast the deciding vote himself,as it were.