23 November, 2007

What I want for Christmas (part 1)

Bombs don't kill people, bodyguards kill people

Strategypage provides yet another example of why I don't want to ever be surrounded by gun-happy people, even if they are nominally on my side:

November 23, 2007: In Afghanistan, an examination of the 77 people killed by a November 6 suicide bomb attack, found that most of them were killed by bullets, not the bomb. The bullets came from the bodyguards of tribal chiefs and politicians that were at the gathering. More than a hundred people were wounded as well, and most were hit by bullets. The bodyguards fired for more than three minutes after the bomb went off. Most of the dead (61 of 77) were students from a local school. Five teachers and five bodyguards also died.
Please note: I have nothing against guns, per se. I just worry about some of the idiots who carry them.

16 November, 2007

Follow the money

An excerpt from pinr---

Chinese Banks Becoming Powerful Factor in the Global Financial Sector
Drafted By: Adam Wolfe

On October 25, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (I.C.B.C.), the world's largest bank by market capitalization, announced that it would purchase a 20 percent stake in Standard Bank, South Africa's largest bank. If the US$5.6 billion deal is approved, it will be the largest foreign direct investment in South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994 and the biggest overseas investment by a mainland Chinese company.

Altering its Approach to Africa

The deal is a logical extension of China's shifting approach to Africa, which PINR first outlined in February, but it also demonstrates the growing power of China's banking sector. Until recently, most observers have focused on the bad debt held by Chinese banks, in addition to the lack of internal controls. However, with some strategic help from the Chinese Communist Party (C.C.P.), China's banking sector appears posed to grow into a powerful factor in the global financial sector. [See: "China Adjusts its Approach in Africa"]

Whereas China remains primarily interested in securing access to Africa's natural resources for its growing economy, this year has marked an evolution to the arrangement in which China increasingly involves itself in African politics in order to foster a better business relationship.

There's good news and bad news here. The good news is China is integrating itself into the world financial system. The bad news is its another sign of the relative decline of American power in this sector, and money that will not be invested in American treasury bonds. Have the Party and the banks come to the conclusion that investing in US bonds is a bad deal? That would have all sorts of consequences for the American economy, budget deficits, and taxes. Who knows--we might even have to pay more of the price of empire. And that may not be so bad after all.