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Showing posts from December 2, 2013

Selling Secrets?

There are dozens of examples, one of whom is the author of a post this week at Pando.com which accuses me and Laura Poitras of having "promptly sold [the Snowden] secrets to a billionaire",

By Glenn Grenwald


December 01, 2013 - The other day I referred to those who "evince zero interest in the substance of the revelations about NSA and GCHQ spying which we're reporting on around the world", but "are instead obsessed with spending their time personally attacking the journalists, whistleblowers and other messengers who enable the world to know about what is being done." There are dozens of examples, one of whom is the author of a post this week at Pando.com which accuses me and Laura Poitras of having "promptly sold [the Snowden] secrets to a billionaire", Pierre Omidyar, and claims we made "a decision to privatize the NSA cache" by joining Omidyar's new media organization and vesting it with a "monopoly" over those docum…

Dollar Survival Behind US-China Tensions

By Finian Cunningham

December 01, 2013 - The escalation of military tensions between Washington and Beijing in the East China Sea is superficially over China’s unilateral declaration of an air defense zone. But the real reason for Washington’s ire is the recent Chinese announcement that it is planning to reduce its holdings of the US dollar.

That move to offload some of its 3.5 trillion in US dollar reserves combined with China’s increasing global trade in oil based on national currencies presents a mortal threat to the American petrodollar and the entire American economy.

This threat to US viability - already teetering on bankruptcy, record debt and social meltdown - would explain why Washington has responded with such belligerence to China setting up an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) last week extending some 400 miles from its coast into the East China Sea.

Beijing said the zone was aimed at halting intrusive military maneuvers by US spy planes over its territory. The US has …

Germany's Relationship with Russia Under a New Government

Social Democratic Party chief Sigmar Gabriel (L) shakes hands with Christian Social Union head Horst Seehofer (R) on Nov. 27 at the Bundestag while German Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) looks on. (SEAN GALLUP/Getty Images)

Summary


Germany's status as a NATO member and one of the most important members of the European Union stands in contrast to its interest in a strong bilateral relationship with Russia. The issue returned to the fore early Nov. 27, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, and the Social Democratic Party reached a coalition agreement. Apart from agreeing on new domestic policies such as the introduction of a minimum wage, the agreement outlines the parties' foreign policy priorities. As in the past, one of these priorities is to broaden collaboration with Russia.

Next year the bilateral relationship is unlikely to see any drastic change. However, apart from preserving the cohesio…

China: Beijing's Investment in Europe Reveals Long-Term Strategy

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang (second from left) meets other of heads of government at a Central and Eastern European Countries and China summit in Bucharest, Nov. 26. (DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


China is making inroads into Central and Eastern Europe. In recent years, as the crisis in the European Union bears down on Western Europe's economic vitality, the capacity to fund and invest in peripheral regions like the Balkans and Baltics has waned. As a result these countries have begun to seek supplemental sources of capital, technology and trade. The countries of Central and Eastern Europe are looking to develop low-level commercial ties outside their immediate neighborhood in order to reduce their near-total reliance on Russia and the EU.

Chinese investment in Central and Eastern Europe is sure to grow in the coming years, but will be constrained both by logistical and political-administrative factors, as well as the region's basic geopolitical reality. In …

Low Expectations at the Eastern Partnership Summit

Pro-European demonstrators, angered at Russia's perceived meddling in Ukraine's attempts to strengthen ties with the EU, protest in the Western city of Lviv, Nov. 27. (YURIY DYACHYSHYN/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


The European Union will hold a summit of the Eastern Partnership, its flagship program to build closer ties with former Soviet states in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus (Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan), in Vilnius on Nov. 28-29. The highly anticipated summit was expected to make significant progress with a number of its target states, but the past few months have seen intensified competition between the European Union and Russia over the Eastern Partnership states.

Moscow's notable gains over Brussels, particularly in Ukraine and Armenia, have greatly tempered expectations over what can be achieved at the summit. Various obstacles, including Russian opposition, EU divisions and the domestic political constraints of the target states themse…

China's New Air Zone Poses a Test for Rivals

A Chinese-produced J-10 fighter jet on display in Beijing. (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


Beijing's newly declared Air Defense Identification Zone above some disputed islands in the East China Sea has escalated the ongoing struggle between China and its rivals over maritime territorial claims. This is occurring as Japan shapes a more aggressive defense policy and the United States seeks to preserve the status quo balance of power in the region. In response to the declaration of the zone on Nov. 23, the United States dispatched two unarmed B-52 bombers from Guam on Nov. 25 to fly through the zone without notification. Then on Nov. 29, China dispatched its own warplanes into the zone as a "defensive measure" in response to challenges by both Japanese and Korean military aircraft. While the carefully choreographed drama in the sky represents an escalation of territorial disputes and accompanying rhetoric, all sides are likely -- barring miscalculation or accident -…