China and Brazil won’t speak ‘American’ anymore

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | MARCH 28, 2013

The days when the dollar was important seem to be long gone.

Every couple of months, bilateral relations between new global powerhouses seem to confirm what has been long announced: The U.S. dollar is no longer seen as the world’s reserve currency.

This week it was the time for China and Brazil to ditch the once mighty U.S. dollar as the base for their commercial relations. The rising Asian country and the former Portuguese enclave in Latin America will now use their own currencies to trade.

Both countries have signed an agreement to use their own currencies when buying and selling from and to each other. The deal will be valid for the next three years and will amount to what is now worth some 60 billion Brazilian reals. This agreement is the first between the two nations, but not new when it comes to getting rid of a debilitated, less valuable dollar. In the past few months, China and Russia, China and India and other so-called emerging powers closed similar deals.

The kind of agreement to trade in local currencies is supposed to set a new standard in the international dynamics that for many years supported the prevalence of the U.S. dollar as everything all other currencies wanted to be. “Our interest is not to establish new relations with China, but to expand relations to be used in the case of turbulence in financial markets,” said Brazilian Central Bank Governor Alexandre Tombini said.

Mr. Tombini has got it just right. Carefully crafted turbulence in the Western economic landscape mandates new ways to assess risk and more importantly, to prepare for and mitigate unknowns. While the Euro zone and the American economy slowly but surely walk towards financial Armageddon, countries that were once completely dependent on the American and European way of doing business are now looking elsewhere to guarantee their survival. The recent Chinese-Brazilian expansion in their commercial relations is another example of how developing countries are assuring their lifeline in the post-dollar future.

What China and Brazil have in mind with the latest agreement is to buffer their commercial ties should another financial bomb explode somewhere in the world. Many academics and experts agree that solid ties between China and Brazil are very important for the political alliance know as the BRICS. What these two countries along with Russia, South Africa and Indian intend to do, is to limit the impact of economic instability by allying themselves with nations that have equal goals and conditions.

Commercial ties and exchange between China and Brazil grew exponentially in the last few years. It went from about 14 billion to more than 150 billion Brazilian Real between 2003 and 2012. The effects of this commercial partnership has gone so far as to turn China into Brazil’s main trading partner. This fact has further isolated Brazil from the negative effects of a dollar collapse, or an American economic downfall which many experts agree, has been looming for a long time.

The question many people are asking is whether Brazil is closing a deal with the devil or simply changing one devil for another. The only way to know is to observe near future events. Perhaps, the coming of the new Development Bank that the BRICS have agreed to create will further commercial ties among partners and help solidify agreements such as the one signed by the two countries.

BRICS will create a bank to end hegemony of Europe and the U.S.

The bank will be the headquarters for trade in multiple currencies which do not include the dollar or the euro as references.

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | MARCH 27, 2013

The first day of the fifth annual summit of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) was dedicated to the bilateral relations of its members, and it served to meet the intent of the five members on Wednesday who issued a joint statement on the commissioning of a bank, which would serve as a counterweight to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The BRICS consider both institutions excessively controlled by Europe and the United States.

Issues such as decision-making or the contribution of each member are yet to be decided, which will likely prevent the release of the specific plans for the bank today, ahead of the meeting of Finance Ministers.

The creation of a joint fund of foreign exchange reserves will be another issue on the table, and the establishment of a self-study center and a business council of the BRICS.

Furthermore, the investments that BRICS make in Africa will be one of the key issues to be addressed at the summit today. “The association of the BRICS and Africa for the development, integration and industrialization” will be the slogan used to bring everyone together during the discussion.

The South African Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, stressed the importance of economic relations between the five and the mainland during his speech to businessmen from all members in the Business Forum of the BRICS.

“The African continent is recognized as the second fastest growing after Asia,” Davies recalled, citing the need for infrastructure as one of the attractions for investing in Africa at this time of economic crisis in Europe and the U.S..

A study by the Standard Bank, the BRICS trade with Africa rose last year to 340,000 million dollars, far exceeding the number of exchanges between the five economies of the group.

Moreover, the currency swap agreement reached by Brazil and China has a value of 30,000 million dollars, said the president of the Brazilian Central Bank, Alexandre Tombini, in the South African city of Durban. “The objective is to facilitate trade between the two countries regardless of international financial conditions,” said Tombini.

The agreement is valid for three years and protects trade between the two economies against dollar fluctuations and international financial turmoil.

The Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega told reporters that, along with their counterparts from the BRICS, he proposed to the presidents of their countries to create an agreement of the same type in a multilateral way among all partners.

In the intense round of bilateral meetings which marked the first day of the summit, South African President and summit host, Jacob Zuma, met with colleagues from China, Xi Jinping, Russia, Vladimir Putin, and Brazil, Dilma Rousseff. For his part, the president of Brazil did the same with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Rousseff meets today with the president of China, the largest trading partner of Brazil, according to Brazilian sources who are part of the  country’s delegation in South Africa.

Moreover, the human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) today took an opportunity to urge the BRICS to stop the Syrian conflict and to require an “immediate cessation” of “indiscriminate” violence against civilians. In a statement, HRW called for India, Brazil and South Africa to “pressure” to Russia and China, which have good relations with Damascus to “suspend weapons sales and assisting the Syrian government.”

BRICS countries account for about 42 percent of the world’s population and nearly 45 percent of the labor force on the planet, according to the group’s own figures. In 2012, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa accounted for 21 percent of world’s GDP and trade between them reached a total of 282,000 million.

North Korea threatens to attack U.S. bases in Japan and Guam

BY JACK KIM | REUTERS | MARCH 21, 2013

North Korea said it would attack U.S. military bases on Japan and the Pacific island of Guam if provoked, a day after leader Kim Jong-un oversaw a mock drone strike on South Korea.

The North also held an air raid drill on Thursday after accusing the United States of preparing a military strike using bombers that have overflown the Korean peninsula as part of drills between South Korean and U.S. forces.

North Korea has stepped up its rhetoric in response to what it calls “hostile” drills between South Korea and the United States. It has also been angered by the imposition of fresh U.N. sanctions that followed its February 12 nuclear test.

Separately, South Korea said a hacking attack on the servers of local broadcasters and banks on Wednesday originated from an IP address in China, raising suspicions the intrusion came from North Korea.

“The United States is advised not to forget that our precision target tools have within their range the Anderson Air Force base on Guam where the B-52 takes off, as well as the Japanese mainland where nuclear powered submarines are deployed and the navy bases on Okinawa,” the North’s supreme military command spokesman was quoted as saying by the KCNA news agency.

Japan and U.S. Pacific bases are in range of Pyongyang’s medium-range missiles.

It is not known if North Korea possesses drones, although a report on South Korea’s Yonhap news agency last year said it had obtained 1970s-era U.S. target drones from Syria to develop into attack drones.

“The (drone) planes were assigned the flight route and time with the targets in South Korea in mind, Kim Jong-un said, adding with great satisfaction that they were proved to be able to mount (a) super-precision attack on any enemy targets,” KCNA reported.

It is extremely rare for KCNA to specify the day on which Kim attended a drill. It also said a rocket defense unit had successfully shot down a target that mimicked an “enemy” Tomahawk cruise missile.

North Korea has said it has abrogated an armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War and threatened a nuclear attack on the United States.

Although North Korea lacks the technology to carry out such an attack, Washington said it would deploy more anti-missile batteries in Alaska to counter any threat.

PYONGYANG HAS HACKED SOUTH KOREA BEFORE

The hacking attack brought down the servers of South Korean broadcasters YTN, MBC and KBS as well as two major commercial banks, Shinhan Bank and NongHyup Bank.

South Korean communications regulators said the attack originated from an IP address based in China.

An unnamed official from South Korea’s presidential office was quoted by the Yonhap news agency as saying the discovery of the Chinese IP address indicated Pyongyang was responsible.

Investigations of past hacking incidents on South Korean organizations have been traced to Pyongyang’s large army of computer engineers trained to infiltrate the South’s computer networks.

At least one previous attack was traced to a Chinese IP address.

South Korea’s defense ministry said it was too early to blame the North but said such a cyber capability was a key part of its arsenal. Experts say thousands of North Korean engineers may have been recruited for the purpose.

“Throughout the world, states that create cyber warfare and engage in those types of activities are precisely the same countries that develop nuclear weapons,” Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said.

“North Korea has strongly stepped up development of asymmetrical strategy with nuclear development and many types of ballistic missiles as well as a special forces of 200,000 strong.”

China says most cyberattacks against its infrastructure come from the U.S.

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | MARCH 20, 2013

China also has its own proof that the United States is the main threat to its infrastructure, or so they say.

A Chinese official report states that many of the cyber attacks against China come from the United States and that the threat to the cyber security of its websites is “growing”.

According to the report, which echoes the official report cited by Xinhua news agency last year, says that hackers attacked 16,388 Chinese websites, including 1802 pages that belong to the government. This numbers, says the report, represent an increase of 21.5 and 6.1 percent year on year, respectively.

The research, conducted by the National Coordination Center for Emergency Response (CNCERT), also states that in 2012 nearly 73,000 foreign IP addresses attacked about 14.2 million Chinese servers with computer viruses like “Trojan” or “botnet”, and that these activities came, in large part from the U.S..

The same agency said it detected 22,308 phishing sites, the majority (96.2%) from foreign servers, especially the U.S. (83.2%).

CNCERT further indicates that the cyber security risks increase with the application of new technologies such as computer services in the cloud, that as they stress, complicate the fight against cyber attacks.

Therefore, the report urged Chinese institutions to increase research efforts to improve cybersecurity protection for nearly 600 million Chinese Internet users, the world’s largest community.

China and the U.S. spent months locked in a campaign of mutual accusations of cyber espionage.

Last February, a report by a U.S. company specializing in Internet security reported that many of the cyber attacks against the U.S. have their origin in a Chinese army unit.

Beijing categorically denied the charge adding that it is also the victim of numerous attacks, which have increased over the years and most of them are from the North American country.

In his first press conference as Prime Minister of China, Li Keqiang, argued that the government “does not support the hacking” and described as “baseless” U.S. allegations that the Chinese government had any involvement in the attempts to hack into American infrastructure.

On 19 February, a report by the U.S.-based company Mandiant accused the Chinese military of being behind a series of cyber attacks against businesses, institutions and infrastructure in the U.S.. That was not the first time that China received accusations of this type, although the novelty at that time was that the report localized in detail the origins of the attacks. According to Mandiant, a Chinese army building in a suburb of Shanghai was responsible for most if not all of the attacks.

China practiced 330 million abortions between 1971 and 2010

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | MARCH 19, 2013

China carried out almost 330 million abortions between 1971 and 2010, according to figures made ​​public by its own Health Ministry before announcing a merger of their activities with those of the National Population and Family Planning.

“Family planning will be strengthened, not weakened,” said Wang Feng, deputy head of the office of public sector reform agency quoted by China News. “After the reform, China will continue its family planning policy,” he the Chinese Secretary General, Ma Kai.

Since the beginning of the 80s, the limit imposed on the number of births to all Chinese is part of its one-child policy for urban residents as determined by the government in Beijing, which according to their own numbers helps the Chinese avoid 400 million births in the world’s most populous country, which had 1.354 million people at the end of 2012.

But abortions were also used for the selective elimination of female fetuses and embryos, which reduced the number tens of millions of women.

The number of abortions was more than 10 million per year between 1982 and 1992, with a peaks of more than 14 million between 1983 and 1991, says the Ministry of Health. The limitation of births brought a large number of forced abortions, that although supposedly banned, are still practiced in many regions of the country.

This past June, the case of a woman forced to abort when she was seven months pregnant caused a scandal and forced the authorities to apologize. But most of forced abortions and abuse committed by government agencies goes without any challenges as China has become the worldwide model for a strong Eugenics campaign that has been slowly but surely implemented in most Western nations.

Much of the propaganda being used to brainwash women and families into opting for not having more than one child originates from the idea that the world is overpopulated, or that women are supposed to neglect their children and family in order to become successful in life. It is also asked of families to leave their children in the hands the government, which through its traditional educational system, manages to destroy all creativity and self-respect in the minds of youngsters.