Archive for the ‘American’ Category

American Media and Culture Go Global; Even As America’s Image Sours

December 1, 2008

Shortly after the attacks on 9/11, a delegation of high-level media executives, including the heads of every major studio, met several times with White House officials, including at least once with President Bush’s former top strategist, Karl Rove, to discuss ways that the entertainment industry could play a part in improving the image of the United States overseas.

By Tim Arango
The New York Times
.
One of the central ideas was using “soft power” by spreading American television and movies to foreign audiences, especially in the Muslim world, to help sway public opinion.

There were few tangible results from the meetings — lesser ways of supporting the war on terrorism like public service announcements and packages of free DVDs sent to American soldiers.

But since then, the media companies have gotten what they wanted, even if the White House has not. In the last eight years, American pop culture, already popular, has boomed around the globe while opinions of America itself have soured.

The television program “CSI” is now more popular in France than in the United States. Hollywood movies routinely sell far more tickets overseas than at home. A Russian remake of the TV show “Married With Children” has been so popular that Sony, the producer of the show, has hired back the original writers to produce new scripts for Russia. Even in the Muslim world, American pop culture has spread.

But so far, cultural popularity has not translated into new friends. The latest data from the Pew Global Attitudes Project, released in June, shows that the image of the United States remained negative in the 24 countries in which Pew conducted surveys (although in 10 of those the favorability rating of the United States edged up slightly).

Joseph S. Nye Jr., the Harvard professor who coined the phrase “soft power” in 1989 to refer to the ways beyond military muscle that America influences the world, said that “what’s interesting about the last eight years is that polls show a decline in American attractiveness.”

He added: “But then you ask the follow-up questions and you see that American culture remains attractive, that American values remain attractive. Which is the opposite of what the president has said — that they hate us for who we are and what we believe in.”

Jeffrey Schlesinger, the head of international television at Warner Brothers, had a simpler explanation for the popularity of American entertainment.

“Batman is Batman, regardless….

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/01/business/media/01soft.html?_r=1&hp

Advertisements

U.S. Intelligence Experts Point To Future American Decline

November 21, 2008

The political, economic and military influence of the United States will substantially decline over the next two decades, according to the country’s leading intelligence organisation.

By Alex Spillius
The Telegraph (UK)
The National Intelligence Council analysis Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World will serve as a sobering reminder to President-Elect Barack Obama of the challenges he faces leading a country that might no longer be able to “call the shots alone”.

The use of nuclear weapons will grow increasingly likely by 2025, the report found, forecasting a tense, unstable world shadowed by war.

“The world of the near future will be subject to an increased likelihood of conflict over scarce resources, including food and water, and will be haunted by the persistence of rogue states and terrorist groups with greater access to nuclear weapons.”

Mr Obama will assume power in January with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a resurgent Russia, an Iran determined to build a nuclear bomb and instability over the Palestinian territories.

The report also predicted that some African and South Asian states may wither away altogether, and organised crime could take over at least one state in central Europe.

Struggling to find a bright spot, researchers concluded that terrorism could decline if “economic growth continues in the Middle East and youth unemployment is reduced”.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/north
america/usa/barackobama/3492802/US-influence
-to-decline-NIC-intelligence-report-predicts.html

Pact, Approved in Iraq, Sets Time for U.S. Pullout

November 17, 2008

Iraq’s cabinet on Sunday overwhelmingly approved a proposed security agreement that calls for a full withdrawal of American forces from the country by the end of 2011. The cabinet’s decision brings a final date for the departure of American troops a significant step closer after more than five and a half years of war.

By Campbell Robertson and Stephen Farrell 
The New York Times

The proposed pact must still be approved by Iraq’s Parliament, in a vote scheduled to take place in a week. But leaders of some of the largest parliamentary blocs expressed confidence that with the backing of most Shiites and Kurds they had enough support to ensure its approval.

Twenty-seven of the 28 cabinet ministers who were present at the two-and-a-half-hour session voted in favor of the pact. Nine ministers were absent. The nearly unanimous vote was a victory for the dominant Shiite party and its Kurdish partners. Widespread Sunni opposition could doom the proposed pact even if it has the votes to pass, as it would call into question whether there was a true national consensus, which Shiite leaders consider essential.

US soldiers secure the area along with Iraqi troops following ...
US soldiers secure the area along with Iraqi troops following a roadside bomb in the northern city of Mosul, some 370 kms from Baghdad. The White House on Sunday welcomed the approval by Iraq’s cabinet of a military pact that requires the withdrawal of all US troops by the end of 2011.(AFP/Ali al-Saadi)

The proposed agreement, which took nearly a year to negotiate with the United States, not only sets a date for American troop withdrawal, but puts new restrictions on American combat operations in Iraq starting Jan. 1 and requires an American military pullback from urban areas by June 30. Those hard dates reflect a significant concession by the departing Bush administration, which had been publicly averse to timetables.

Iraq also obtained a significant degree of jurisdiction in some cases over serious crimes committed by Americans who are off duty and not on bases.

In Washington, the White House welcomed the vote as “an important and positive step” and attributed the agreement itself to security improvements in the past year.

Throughout the negotiations, the Shiite parties and the prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, under pressure from forces both within and outside the country, had been trying to strike a balance in forging a viable agreement with the Americans that would guarantee Iraq’s security and that would still stand firm against what many, including neighboring Iran, consider a hostile force

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/17/world/middleeas
t/17iraq.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

**********************

BAGHDAD – Iraq’s Cabinet overwhelmingly approved a security pact with the United States on Sunday, ending prolonged negotiations to allow American forces to remain for three more years in the country they first occupied in 2003.

Read the Associated Press report:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081117/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_
iraq;_ylt=AgDMXJb9ChdxknE9ktwMJ6.s0NUE

Race, Obama, World: After U.S. Breakthrough, Europe Looks in Mirror

November 12, 2008

In the general European euphoria over the election of Barack Obama, there is the beginning of self-reflection about Europe’s own troubles with racial integration. Many are asking if there could be a French, British, German or Italian Obama, and everyone knows the answer is no, not anytime soon.

By Steven Erlanger
The New York Times

It is risky to make racial comparisons between America and Europe, given all the historical and cultural differences. But race had long been one reason that Europeans, harking back to the days when famous American blacks like Josephine Baker and James Baldwin found solace in France, looked down on the United States, even as Europe developed postcolonial racial problems of its own.

“They always said, ‘You think race relations are bad here in France, check out the U.S.,’ ” said Mohamed Hamidi, former editor of the Bondy Blog, founded after the 2005 riots in the heavily immigrant suburbs of Paris.

“But that argument can no longer stand,” he said.

For many immigrants to Europe, Mr. Obama’s victory is “a small revolution” toward better overall treatment of minorities, said Nadia Azieze, 31, an Algerian-born nurse who grew up here. “It will never be the same,” she said, over a meal of rice and lamb in the racially mixed Paris neighborhood of Barbès-Rochechouart.

Her sister, Cherine, 29, is a computer engineer. Mr. Obama “really represents the dream of America — if you work, you can make it,” she said. “It’s a hope for the entire world.”

But the sisters are less optimistic about the realities of France, where minorities have a limited political role, with only one black deputy elected to the National Assembly from mainland France.

Has the Obama election caused any real self-reflection among the majority here? “It’s politically correct to say, ‘O.K., great! He’s black,’ and clap,” Nadia said. “But deep down, there’s no change. People say one thing and believe another.”

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/12/world/europe
/12europe.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Decline, Failure of American Business, Industry and Government: BBC Experts Give reasons

November 7, 2008

This week the BBC’s host of World Business News and Global Business Peter Day is in Dublin talking to two brothers who are rarely in the same country at the same time about the legacy of the Puritan Gift. They review the evolution and failure of American business from Puritan times to the Harvard Business School and the meltdown of 2008…

Will Hopper is a banker.  Along with his briother Ken, he wrote a book about the decline of American business and government….

Oldarm.ww.gif

The BBC Reports (Audio report):
http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/check/worldservice/meta/tx/
globalbusiness?nbram=1&nbwm=1&size=au&lang=en-ws&bgc=003399&ls=p12

Afghan Officials Aided an Attack on U.S. Soldiers

November 4, 2008

An internal review by the American military has found that a local Afghan police chief and another district leader helped Taliban militants carry out an attack on July 13 in which nine United States soldiers were killed and a remote American outpost in eastern Afghanistan was nearly overrun.

By Eric Schmitt
The New York Times
.
Afghan and American forces had started building the makeshift base just five days before the attack, and villagers repeatedly warned the American troops in that time that militants were plotting a strike, the report found. It said that the warnings did not include details, and that troops never anticipated such a large and well-coordinated attack.

NATO should borrow lessons from Iraq and work with local tribes ... 
NATO should borrow lessons from Iraq and work with local tribes in Afghanistan, to improve security there, Major General Marc Lessard, the outgoing Canadian commander of foreign troops in the south of the country, seen here in February 2008, said Saturday.(AFP/File/Shah Marai)

The assault involved some 200 fighters, nearly three times the number of Americans and Afghans defending the site.

As evidence of collusion between the district police chief and the Taliban, the report cited large stocks of weapons and ammunition that were found in the police barracks in the adjacent village of Wanat after the attackers were repelled. The stocks were more than the local 20-officer force would be likely to need, and many of the weapons were dirty and appeared to have been used recently. The police officers were found dressed in “crisp, clean new uniforms,” the report said, and were acting “as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.”

The attackers were driven back after a pitched four-hour battle, in which American artillery, warplanes and attack helicopters were ultimately called in. Still, the militants fought in ways that showed imaginative military training, if not sophisticated weapons.

In the midst of the battle, American soldiers were at times flushed out into the open when they fled what they thought were grenades, but were in fact rocks thrown by Taliban attackers, the report said. The day before the attack, the militants began flowing water through an irrigation ditch feeding an unused field, creating background noise that masked the sounds of the advancing fighters.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/04/world/asia
/04military.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

Specter of Deflation Lurks as Global Demand Drops

November 1, 2008

As dozens of countries slip deeper into financial distress, a new threat may be gathering force within the American economy — the prospect that goods will pile up waiting for buyers and prices will fall, suffocating fresh investment and worsening joblessness for months or even years.

By Peter S. Goodman
The New York Times

The word for this is deflation, or declining prices, a term that gives economists chills.

Deflation accompanied the Depression of the 1930s. Persistently falling prices also were at the heart of Japan’s so-called lost decade after the catastrophic collapse of its real estate bubble at the end of the 1980s — a period in which some experts now find parallels to the American predicament.

 
The Mansfield Manufacturing plant in Dongguan, China. The global economic crisis is threatening the country’s factory jobs.  Photo: Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“That certainly is the snapshot of the risk I see,” said Robert J. Barbera, chief economist at the research and trading firm ITG. “It is the crisis we face.”

With economies around the globe weakening, demand for oil, copper, grains and other commodities has diminished, bringing down prices of these raw materials. But prices have yet to decline noticeably for most goods and services, with one conspicuous exception — houses. Still, reduced demand is beginning to soften prices for a few products, like furniture and bedding, which are down slightly since the beginning of 2007, according to government data. Prices are also falling for some appliances, tools and hardware.

Only a few months ago, American policy makers were worried about the reverse problem — rising prices, or inflation — as then-soaring costs for oil and food filtered through the economy. In July, average prices were 5.6 percent higher than a year earlier — the fastest pace of inflation since 1991. But by the end of September, annual inflation had dipped to 4.9 percent and was widely expected to go lower.

The new worry is that in the worst case, the end of inflation may be the beginning of something malevolent: a long, slow retrenchment in which consumers and businesses worldwide lose the wherewithal to buy, sending prices down for many goods. Though still considered unlikely, that would prompt businesses to slow production and accelerate layoffs, taking more paychecks out of the economy and further weakening demand.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/01/business/e
conomy/01deflation.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

Economic and Fiscal Reality Closing In On China

October 19, 2008

Unemployed worker Wang Wenming was angry at his boss for shutting down a massive Chinese factory this week that made toys for Mattel Inc., Hasbro Inc. and other American companies.

By Associated Press Writer William Foreman

But the assembly line worker was also furious at the United States.

“This financial crisis in America is going to kill us. It’s already taking food out of our mouths,” the 42-year-old laborer said Friday as he stood outside the shuttered Smart Union Group (Holdings) Ltd. factory in the southern city of Dongguan.

A vendor sell vegetables on a street in Chongqing in China's ...
A vendor sell vegetables on a street in Chongqing in China’s Sichuan province. China’s strong economy appeared to put the nation on the global high ground when the financial tsunami first struck last month, but as the storm continues to rage, that position is looking less sure.(AFP/File/Peter Parks)

The company, which has struggled as global growth has slowed in recent months, employed 7,000 people in mainland China and Hong Kong. It wasn’t immediately clear how many have lost their jobs.

Economic upheaval in the U.S. is already changing and shrinking China‘s vast manufacturing hub in the southern province of Guangdong, long regarded as the world’s factory floor. However, factory closures won’t just be a China problem — shoppers will feel the effect in malls and stores in the U.S. and Europe.

“When these companies go bust, the outcome is higher prices,” said Andy Xie, an independent economist in Shanghai. “Labor costs have gone up 70 to 100 percent in the last three or four years. But these guys have not been able to raise their prices because Toys “R” Us, Home Depot and Wal-Mart are saying no price increase. How is that possible?”

File photo shows construction workers passing high rise commercial ... 
Construction workers passing high rise commercial buildings in Beijing. China’s economic growth has slowed to 9 percent in the third quarter as global financial woes started taking a toll on the country’s staggering development the government has said.(AFP/File/Teh Eng Koon)

For years, there were too many factories competing to win bids from foreign buyers demanding prices that were often unrealistically low. The winners were American and European consumers, who enjoyed rock-bottom prices.

But many factories were scrimping on materials and stiffing their suppliers just to survive, Xie said. The financial crisis will be the final culling factor that forces many wobbly factories to go belly up and end an unsustainable situation, he added.

Already, China’s toy industry is hurting. The official Xinhua News Agency reported this week that 3,631 toy exporters — 52.7 percent of the industry’s enterprises — went out of business in 2008. The causes: higher production costs, wage increases for workers and the rising value of the yuan, the report said.

Nor is Christmas likely to make much difference. Big toy giants generally put in their Christmas orders months in advance so toys can be shipped to them in time.

Even before the financial crisis, China’s exports were dropping because of the slowdown in America and Europe. For the first time in three years, the growth rate for Chinese exports in the first quarter of 2008 declined, according to customs figures.

Chan Cheung-yau, chairman of toy and games subcommittee under the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong, agreed that the outlook was gloomy for toy makers. He predicted that thousands more factories would close in China next year.

“The tightening credit market has made it more difficult for manufacturers to raise funds,” he said. “It has created a huge cash flow problem.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081019/ap_on_re_as/as_china_
factory_woes;_ylt=Ap.goKlGPMxJl52PR4pV.7Ks0NUE

Iran’s Ahmadinejad Continues to Gloat About End of Godless America, Capitalism

October 15, 2008

Iranian leaders say the world financial crisis indicates the end of capitalism, the failure of liberal democracy and divine punishment — marking the superiority of the Islamic republic’s political model.

“The school of Marxism has collapsed and the sound of the West’s cracking liberal democracy is now being heard,” supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday, recalling the fate of the Soviet Union.

Hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is backed by Khamenei, said on Tuesday that “it is the end of capitalism.”
Australia has dropped moves to take Iranian President Mahmoud ... 
Ahmadinejad: Everyone knows where he stands…
(AFP/Behrouz Mehri)

Such convictions can be traced back to the ideals of the 1979 Islamic revolution, which Ahmadinejad has sought to revive since he rose to power in 2005.

The firebrand president, who has not missed a chance to denounce Western “decadence” since his election, has exploited the scale of the global crisis to play up his argument.

He benefits from the luxury that the Tehran stock market has been unaffected by the losses that bourses in neighbouring Gulf states have suffered. That stability is attributable to the absence of foreign investors and to the government’s firm grip on economic activity.

Several Iranian newspapers, regardless of their reformist or conservative leanings, have also blamed the global economic crisis on excessive liberalism.

And some officials, such as the head of Iran’s electoral watchdog body, have come up with less conventional theories and branded the turmoil as “divine punishment.”

“These people see the outcome of their bad deeds. This problem has spread to Europe now which makes us happy. The unhappier they are the happier we become,” Ayatollah Ali Janati, who heads the Guardians Council, said in last Friday’s prayer sermon.

Ahmadinejad has recently echoed that, saying “the reason of their defeat is that they have forgotten God and piety.”

— From AFP

Read the rest:
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=
081015152055.72llwkbo&show_article=1

*************************

Below from Iran’s State media IRNA

Iran Will Cut Off Hands of Aggressors: Ahmadinejad

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday that the Iranian nation will strongly cut off hands of aggressors.

President Ahmadinejad made the remark an his address to a large crowd of enthusiastic people in Gilan province on Wednesday.

The president is visiting the province on the second round of his provincial tours to follow up implementation of the projects that had been approved during the first round of his provincial tours.

Referring to Iran’s peaceful nuclear program, he said the enemies did their best to deprive the Iranian people of their legitimate rights but to no avail.

By grace of Almighty God, resistance of Iranian people under wise leadership of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s flag has been hoisted with pride worldwide and the enemies feel ashamed, he said.

They have confessed to their defeat in the face of the Iranian nation as well as all other nations around the globe, he said.

Addressing the arrogant powers, he said, “You have committed so many crimes and now should stop it, it is time to return to God, justice and a decent life which will be to your benefit,” he said.

“If you inject even dlrs 100 billion a week into your ailing economy, you will not survive,” underlined the president.

“Your fate will not be much better than that of Pharaoh and Nimrod, unless you repent,” he said.

The Iranian nation is unified and will cut off the hands of any aggressor, underlined President Ahmadinejad.

“28 years ago you imposed a cruel war on the Iranian nation but the brave Iranian nation pushed you towards a humiliating defeat,” he said.

“Our youths are capable enough to give you a crushing response,” underlined the president.

The president’s speech was interrupted several times by the crowd chanting “Death to America”.

Tyranny and violation of people’s rights are the root cause of economic recession in the West, the president said.

It is about 30 years that the great Iranian nation has been exposed to economic and political pressures only because they wanted to be independent and believe in monotheism, he said.

“We have heard that since the beginning of Iraq’s occupation, over 100 million barrels of oil have been taken out from the country,” he said.

President Ahmadinejad, along with his Cabinet members arrived in the city of Rasht, capital of the northern province of Gilan Wednesday morning.

He made the initiative to visit different provinces since he took office in 2005 in order to bring the government closer to ordinary people.

The president will also hold a Cabinet meeting in Rasht to discuss the needs of the province.

Donald Blakeslee; World War II Combat Fighter Commander

October 13, 2008

By May 1, 1944, his group had become the first in the European theater to record 500 kills, the most in American fighter group history. The group destroyed 207 German planes in one month alone. By the end of the war, Col. Blakeslee and his men had destroyed 1,020 enemy aircraft, 550 shot out of the air and 470 hit while on the ground….

By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 13, 2008; Page B06

Donald J.M. Blakeslee, 90, commander of the first American fighter squadrons to reach Berlin during World War II and one of the most successful combat fighter commanders in the history of the Air Force, died Sept. 3 of congestive heart failure at his home in Miami.
Col. Donald Blakeslee receives the Distinguished Service Cross from President Dwight Eisenhower. Col. Blakeslee was commander of the first American fighter squadrons to reach Berlin during World War II.

Above: Col. Donald Blakeslee receives the Distinguished Service Cross from President Dwight Eisenhower. Col. Blakeslee was commander of the first American fighter squadrons to reach Berlin during World War II. (Courtesy Of The Eighth Air Force Historical Society)

Over the years, he shunned would-be biographers and publicity of any kind, said his daughter, Dawn Blakeslee of Miami, his only immediate survivor. She said she did not announce her father’s death last month because of his reluctance to call attention to his wartime heroics.

On Jan. 1, 1944, the Ohio native was named commander of the 4th Fighter Group of the 8th Fighter Command. He assumed command at a time when the German Luftwaffe ruled the skies over Europe.

Roy Heidicker, the 4th Fighter Group historian, recalled that Col. Blakeslee’s message to his pilots was simple and straightforward: “We are here to destroy the Luftwaffe and shoot the Germans out of the sky, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/
article/2008/10/12/AR2008101202095.html


Col. Blakeslee flew Spitfires early in World War II