Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mexico's Day of the Dead,A Unique Celebration of Life (PHOTOS)

Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is observed in Mexico on All Saints Day, November 1 and All Souls Day, November 2nd. Altars are lovingly decorated with photos of the deceased, their favorite foods and drinks, flowers and candy. Customs vary throughout different parts of Mexico, but the country as a whole faithfully celebrates the holiday.

The illustrator José Guadalupe Posada  created the famous skeleton dressed as a high-society lady now known as La Catrina and universally recognized as the reigning queen of Dia de los Muertos.

The origins of this unique holiday can be traced back thousands of years to Aztec culture. There are also similar holidays in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.


A Mexico massacre in unfamiliar place: the capital

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Armed men rumbled into a gritty neighborhood of the Mexican capital Thursday and gunned down six men hanging around a convenience store, fueling fears that one of the world's largest cities is falling prey to the cartel–style violence that has long terrorized other parts of the country.

More than 50 people have been killed in the past week in five apparently unrelated massacres, including four shot Thursday near the border city of Ciudad Juarez. But the Mexico City shooting has raised alarm among residents about a drug war that has long seemed distant.

"Massacres have arrived" in Mexico City, El Universal newspaper declared. But Mexico City Attorney General Miguel Angel Mancera said he did not know if drug gangs were involved in the middle–of–the night shooting in Tepito, a working–class neighborhood just north of the colonial center.

Drug dealing is rampant in Tepito, but Mancera said there also have been problems with disputes among carjacking gangs.

Gunmen in a white SUV drove up just after midnight to a street of drab apartment buildings, corner grocery stores and auto repair shops, witnesses said. They jumped out of the car and gunned down six men in their 20s and 30s who had just gathered in front of a tiny convenience store. A seventh man was wounded.

People were still out on the streets when the shooting occurred. Drug dealing and robberies have been on the rise in the neighborhood but store owners still feel safe enough to keep their businesses open late. That in itself contrasts with border cities like Ciudad Juarez, where streets empty and many business close in the early afternoon for fear of drug–gang violence.

Several Tepito residents said they assumed the gunfire was fireworks for St. Judas Tadeo Day, commemorated with processions and street festivals across the city. As word spread, they slowly emerged from their apartments, shocked to find bodies face down in pools of blood.

"I've never seen anything so horrific happen. I go around at 2 or 3 in the morning and nothing has ever happened to me," said Guadalupe Ramirez, a 53–year–old grandmother walking past the site of the shooting. She said her 15–year–old grandchild had just returned from buying milk when the gunfire erupted.

The gunmen exchanged angry words with the young men before shooting, Mancera told the Televisa network. Bullet casings of two different calibers — 9 mm and .223 mm — were found at the scene, Mancera said, suggesting there were at least two gunmen.

Police were interviewing relatives and witnesses to determine the background of the victims and a possible motive. At least two of the victims had criminal records for robbery, Mancera later told reporters without elaborating.

"We would like to reassure the population that we are going to find those responsible," Mancera said.


Canada searching for goals

Complete a performance you could ask for, with Canada dominating possession, dictating the pace of the match and looking far more dangerous than its opponent.

But for all of their domination, the Canadians only managed to score one goal against Trinidad and Tobago.

They'll have to do much better than that when they take on Guyana in the CONACAF Women's World Cup qualifying tournament on Sunday (CBC Bold,, 7 pm ET) in Cancun, Mexico.
Mexico faces Trinidad and Tobago in the other Group A match on Sunday.
Canada should have inflicted greater damage on Trinidad on Friday in a game that marked the team's tournament debut. But some wasteful finishing in front of net - not to mention having two goals incorrectly negated on offside calls - meant Canada could only muster a 1-0 victory.

Not good enough, says coach Carolina Morace.

"It's true that the first match is always the toughest, but we missed too many chances to score," said Morace. "We created four or five clear chances, chances [on which] we have to score."

Melissa Tancredi scored the winner against Trinidad and Tobago in the 63rd minute, after having two goals called back in the first half.

"I've always felt that Melissa Tancredi is a bit of an underrated player. She has excellent feet, excellent skills, and she's a great finisher," said CBC Sports soccer commentator Clare Rustad.

While Tancredi was effective in leading the attack for Canada, Christine Sinclair failed to make an impression. The Canadian captain was hounded by the Trinidadian defence the entire game, and was unable to add to her national team record of 102 goals.

"She's the [biggest] threat going forward to score goals, and every time she got the ball, she had one or two players in her face," explained Jason de Vos, former captain of the Canadian men's team.

"It was difficult for her to find that space and she never really had an opportunity on goal. ... But I expect big things from her in this tournament."

Canada and Mexico are tied atop Group A with three points apiece, but the Mexicans are in first place by virtue of a better goal difference (+5 compared to +1) thanks to a 7-2 win over Guyana in their opening game.

If Canada is to finish first in Group A - and thus likely avoid the top-ranked United States in the semifinals - it will have not only beat Guyana, but score plenty of goals in order to close the goal-differential gap with Mexico.

Rustad believes Canada "just needs to relax" against Guyana, and not "look ahead to the Mexico game."

The Canadians are attempting to qualify for their fifth consecutive Women's World Cup, scheduled for next summer in Germany.

Canada's final match of the group stage is Tuesday against host Mexico (CBC Bold,, 9:30 pm ET).


Apparent fireworks explosion kills 5 in Mexico

MEXICO CITY -- Authorities in Mexico City say an explosion inside a home where illegal fireworks were stored has wrecked two houses, killing at least three adults and two children.

City police say 10 more people have been injured and 13 other houses sustained damage in Saturday' blast in the Iztacalco district in the capital's northeast.

Police say they have detained the owner of the house where the explosion occurred and at least one other person.


16 Filipinos among 24 seamen aboard hijacked tanker in Gulf of Aden

MANILA, Philippines -- Sixteen Filipino seamen were among the 24 crew members of a Panama-flagged tanker hijacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila has yet to confirm the report which was relayed by the public affairs office of European Union Naval Force (EU Navfor) Somalia – Operation Atalanta on its website (

According to the EU Navfor, the MV Polar was attacked by pirates on the night of Oct. 30, some 1,100 kilometers east of the Yemeni island of Socotra.

The MV Polar, which a deadweight of 72,825 tons, has a crew of 24, of which one is a Romanian, three are Greeks, four Montenegrins and 16 Filipinos.

The EU NAVFOR is a military operation by the EU to deter and combat piracy and armed robbery of the coast of strife-torn Somalia.

On Oct. 24, Somali pirates also seized a Greek-owned and Singaporean-flagged tanker MT York with 14 Filipino crew members off the coast of Kenya.

According to the DFA, more than 100 Filipino seamen are being held captive by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden.


Brazil presidential candidate Jose Serra

BORN: March 19, 1942, in Sao Paulo.

FAMILY: Father was an Italian immigrant and fruit stand seller, his mother a Brazilian housewife.

EDUCATION: Ph.D. in economics from Cornell University.

RESUME: As leader of the National Student Union, resisted the dictatorship in its early days. Forced into exile in Chile in 1965, fled to the U.S. after Chile's 1973 coup. In 1986, elected federal deputy from Sao Paulo. In 1992, elected to Senate. Under President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, served as planning minister and then health minister. Ran unsuccessful for president in 2002. Elected mayor of Sao Paulo in 2004 and governor of Sao Paulo state in 2006.

Rousseff Poised to Lead as Brazil Votes

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — From the moment their political paths crossed, Dilma Rousseff began solving problems for President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. In late 2002, shortly before taking office, Mr. da Silva convened an urgent meeting of experts, including Ms. Rousseff, a little-known energy secretary from a southern state. Brazil was facing blackouts and rationing in one of the worst energy crises in its history, and Mr. da Silva needed answers.

Confident and outspoken, “She arrived with a laptop and would press the little buttons all the time while telling me, ‘No, Mr. President, it’s not like that, it’s like this,’ ” Mr. da Silva recalled in a recent speech. Three hours later, he said, he was convinced he had his new Minister of Energy and Mines.

Now Ms. Rousseff, a twice-divorced grandmother, is poised to succeed her former boss as Brazil’s next president, becoming the country’s first female leader. Voters went to the polls on Sunday for a runoff between her and José Serra, the former governor of São Paulo, with polls pointing to Ms. Rousseff winning by at least 10 points.

If elected, she will have Mr. da Silva, the most popular Brazilian president in a generation, to thank for transforming a no-nonsense bureaucrat and former student militant without elected political experience into his chosen successor.

But while Ms. Rousseff, 62, has pledged to cleave to the formula that endeared Mr. da Silva to so many, she is hardly a carbon copy and faces some monumental tasks that he has left unfinished: fixing the nation’s troubled educational record, improving dismal health and sanitation standards for millions, and turning Brazil into the kind of developed nation it envisions itself becoming.

“Dilma will not be Lula II,” said Roberto Mangabeira Unger, a former minister of strategic affairs under Mr. da Silva. “She is a different person; it’s a different moment, and it’s a different job.”

Ms. Rousseff, who in her early 20s battled a military dictatorship as a part of a militant group with Marxist-Leninist underpinnings, has already indicated that she favors giving the state greater control over the economy, especially the oil industry, potentially steering the country farther to the left than under the pragmatic approach of Mr. da Silva.

“There is this temptation that now that Brazil is performing so well that the state get more involved in these economic opportunities, like the oil sector,” said Michael Shifter, the president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a research group. “It is going to create some nervousness in some sectors that this could upset the formula that worked so well under Lula.”

Brazil’s profile on the world stage may also fall off with Ms. Rousseff at the helm, many analysts say. She cannot match his charisma and has shown little inclination to wade into the global diplomatic arenas where Mr. da Silva made a name for himself and his nation.

“Dilma isn’t interested in international prestige; she doesn’t care if she is seen as a great world leader,” said Rubens Barbosa, Brazil’s former ambassador to London and Washington. “In the first few years of her administration she is going to concentrate more on domestic and economic policy, and less on taking the lead in international relations.”

To many, her campaign became a referendum on the prosperous eight years of Mr. da Silva, who maintained economic stability and narrowed the inequality gap. In that vein, Ms. Rousseff has suggested that she will select experienced technocrats for important cabinet posts, a signal that she is not seeking to radicalize the government.

Both Ms. Rousseff and Mr. da Silva found their calling during the military dictatorship. While Mr. da Silva opposed the regime as a union leader, Ms. Rousseff took a more radical path.

She was born in the southwest to a Brazilian mother and a Bulgarian father who came here to escape persecution for ties to the Communist Party, she said. A lawyer by training, he did well in business in Brazil, giving her a comfortable middle-class upbringing replete with piano and French lessons.

In the late 1960s, she joined the armed struggle against the dictatorship, using various code names as a member of the VAR-Palmares, which robbed arms caches from army installations in Rio de Janeiro.

She has denied taking up arms herself, saying she was merely involved in organizational activities. In an interview last year, she denied involvement in the most celebrated episode local news organizations have tied to her, the 1969 robbery in Rio de Janeiro of the safe of Gov. Adhemar de Barros of São Paulo. It contained $2.5 million. 


Obama visit: India, US to partner in Africa anti-poverty drive

Next week president of United States Barack Obama sits down for talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh next week, India and the US will look to joining hands in spurring a green revolution and health uplift in Africa - a partnership that has the potential to counter China's growing clout in the oil-rich continent.

"India and the US will explore the principles and parameters of jointly working together in Africa," a senior Indian official told IANS, adding that collaborating in Africa figured prominently in recent high-level discussions between the two sides.

"The US appreciates the Indian experience of working in Africa in human resource development and food security. The US too has vital stakes in these areas," said the official.

Obama is expected to flag off these areas of cooperation during his address to top corporate honchos in Mumbai Nov 6 and later when he meets Manmohan Singh for official talks in New Delhi Nov 8.

Africa will also figure in the discussions when the two leaders will discuss maritime security and piracy, part of a larger collaboration on counter-terrorism.

The key areas of collaboration that are being discussed include pooling together resources and research to spawn a second green revolution and developing a coordinated strategy for combating HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, said officials.

The two sides also plan to collaborate in the development of non-conventional sources of energy such as solar and wind energy and sharing their experience in e-learning and the India-aided Pan Africa e-network that brings the benefits of tele-education and tele-medicine to Africans.

Poverty eradication in Africa is high on the global agenda of Obama, the first African American president of the US who was born to a Kenyan father. In his whirlwind visit to African countries last year, Obama described himself as having "Africa in his blood" as he spoke of the possibilities of the continent's emancipation from the scourge of poverty and disease.

With his deep admiration for Mahatma Gandhi and for India's experience in poverty reduction, Obama is open to constructive partnerships with likeminded countries like India in this area, said a US official.

Although the two sides officially deny competition with China as a motive animating their partnership, R.K. Bhatia, India's former high commissioner to South Africa, said the Americans often voiced apprehensions about Beijing's activities in Africa during his interactions with US envoys posted in African capitals.

"They definitely will be talking about how the two large democracies can spread the arc of democracy and economic growth," Bhatia told IANS.

Against the backdrop of the surging Chinese influence in Africa, the US and some of the Western powers find themselves drawn to the cost-effective and transformational model of India's engagement with Africa that hinges on trade, technology transfer, human resource development and lines of credit for African-owned infrastructure projects.

On the other hand, China's $108-billion bilateral trade, billions of dollars in aid, the practice of befriending dictatorial regimes and its focus on extractive resources have aroused much concern in key Western capitals.

It's not the US alone but its key ally Japan also held a maiden dialogue with India early in October on exploring cooperation in Africa. The Indian side was led by Gurjit Singh, joint secretary in charge of west and south Africa. The dialogue focused on sharing experiences of working in Africa, specially in areas of developmental cooperation, an official said. 


18 dead, 100 still missing in boat incident in eastern India

NEW DELHI, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- At least 18 people are now confirmed dead while 100 others are still missing in a boat tragedy in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal Saturday, a senior police official said on Sunday.

"Some 160 people are on the boat which capsized in the Muriganga river near Sagar Islands in the state's South 24 Parganas district yesterday. The trawler was sailing from the Hijli Sharif shrine in East Midnapore district to Kakdwip when it capsized," the official said.

Apart from local police and coast guard, the Indian Navy has been called in to help in the rescue operations in the Muriganga river.

"The rescue team scoured the four to five km area in the strong currents of the Muriganga with hovercraft backed by aerial surveillance," he added.

Meanwhile, state's Sundarbans Affairs Minister Kanti Ganguly told the media in state capital Kolkata that four fish finding machines to locate the exact spot of the capsizal were requisitioned from the naval headquarters in Vishakapatnam for the rescue operation. 


India: Land of many cell phones, fewer toilets

Mumbai slum of Rafiq Nagar has no clean water for its shacks made of ripped tarp and bamboo. No garbage pickup along the rocky, pocked earth that serves as a road. No power except from haphazard cables strung overhead illegally.

And not a single toilet or latrine for its 10,000 people.

Yet nearly every destitute family in the slum has a cell phone. Some have three.

When President Barack Obama visits India Nov. 6, he will find a country of startlingly uneven development and perplexing disparities, where more people have cell phones than access to a toilet, according to the United Nations.

It is a country buoyed by a vibrant business world of call centers and software developers, but hamstrung by a bloated, corrupt government that has failed to deliver the barest of services.

Its estimated growth rate of 8.5 percent a year is among the highest in the world, but its roads are crumbling.

It offers cheap, world-class medical care to Western tourists at private hospitals, yet has some of the worst child mortality and maternal death rates outside sub-Saharan Africa.

And while tens of millions have benefited from India's rise, many more remain mired in some of the worst poverty in the world.

Businessman Mukesh Ambani, the world's fourth-richest person, is just finishing off a new $1 billion skyscraper-house in Mumbai with 27 floors and three helipads, touted as the most expensive home on earth. Yet farmers still live in shacks of mud and cow dung.

The cell phone frenzy bridges all worlds. Cell phones are sold amid the Calvin Klein and Clinique stores under the soaring atriums of India's new malls, and in the crowded markets of its working-class neighborhoods. Bare shops in the slums sell pre-paid cards for as little as 20 cents next to packets of chewing tobacco, while street hawkers peddle car chargers at traffic lights.

The spartan Beecham's in New Delhi's Connaught Place, one of the country's seemingly ubiquitous mobile phone dealers, is overrun with lunchtime customers of all classes looking for everything from a 35,000 rupee ($790) Blackberry Torch to a basic 1,150 rupee ($26) Nokia.

Store manager Sanjeev Malhotra adds to a decades-old - and still unfulfilled - Hindi campaign slogan promising food, clothing and shelter. "Roti, kapda, makaan" and "mobile," he riffs, laughing. "Basic needs."

There were more than 670 million cell phone connections in India by the end of August, a number that has been growing by close to 20 million a month, according to government figures.

Yet U.N. figures show that only 366 million Indians have access to a private toilet or latrine, leaving 665 million to defecate in the open.

"At least tap water and sewage disposal - how can we talk about any development without these two fundamental things? How can we talk about development without health and education?" says Anita Patil-Deshmukhl, executive director of PUKAR, an organization that conducts research and outreach in the slums of Mumbai.


Change to BlackBerry security architecture for India: RIM

Telecom operators may have given compliance reports on upgrading their networks to intercept BlackBerry services, but the maker of the high-end handsets, Research In Motion (RIM), has asserted there is "no change" to its security architecture, which is the same around the world. "No changes to the

security architecture for BlackBerry Enterprise Server customers since, contrary to any rumours, the security architecture is the same around the world and RIM truly has no ability to provide its customers' encryption keys," the BlackBerry-maker has said in a statement.

The Canada-based company made it clear that its security systems are still cutting edge by saying, "RIM maintains a consistent global standard for lawful access requirements that does not include special deals for specific countries."


Pakistan hockey coach confident of beating India in Asiad

KARACHI: Pakistan's Dutch hockey coach Michel van den Heuvel is confident that his team will turn the tables on India in the Asian Games after suffering two consecutive defeats at the hands of the old rivals.

India beat Pakistan comprehensively in their last two meetings - in the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games - but van den Heuvel is hopeful that things will be different in the November 12-27 Asian Games.

Pakistan and India are placed in the same group and will meet in a mouthwatering clash November 20 in Guangzhou.

"I am very sure that with the team we have got, we would be in a position to give India a befitting response," Heuvel said in an interview.

"I think there were quite a few things that went against us during the Commonwealth Games. I was new to the job and quite a few players were also fresh and playing their first ever mega event," he said.

"We had to play tough back-to-back matches against Australia and India without a rest day. The Indians, on the other hand, had much needed rest and that turned out to be one of the reasons of our defeat in the end."

The Dutchman said that Pakistan was also missing services of key players in the Commonwealth Games.

"We played badly during the first twenty minutes against India and conceded four goals. During the rest of the match, we had an upper hand. When you concede too many goals, you get little chance of making amends. Secondly, we were also missing services of some of the key players," he said.

The coach said his team will go all out for the Asian Games title in a bid to confirm its place in the 2012 London Olympics.

"I know well about the importance of the event and that is why we have been training hard to give our best in the competition.

"I think we have some very good players and if we succeed in fielding our best available team, we would be in a position to beat the best teams," he said.


What happened to Google,if U.S. economy completely collapsed?

Why a complete economic collapse in the U.S. is unlikely even if the dollar loses 100% of its value.

Disclaimer: This article is opinion based with likely scenarios derived from logic based situations.

Discussion includes doomsayer fears, logical outcomes, and a good example of how currency value is subjective.

It is well known that the U.S. Federal Reserve continues to print money to pay down debts owed to countries such as China. It is also known that the Fed printed billions to “bail out” banks and create “stimulus” plans to boost the economy.

There are a lot of doomsayers on the internet and in media that say this devalues the U.S. dollar both locally and globally. Technically their claim is correct: each dollar used to be backed by actual gold; that backing was removed in the 1970s and ever since then money could basically just be printed up.

But this is where the doomsayers logic ends. Their belief is that because money’s value is only as good as the economy’s belief in it, the value can disappear because there is no gold backing the paper money. Once confidence in the dollar is lost, many doomsayers say that the U.S. economy will completely collapse.

A few popular predictions are being made across the internet and in the media by doomsayers:

1.) The U.S. will end up like Zimbabwe where the government printed so much money so quickly that inflation rose by thousands of percentage points. Soon there were currency bills that red “One billion dollars.” Eventually no one could afford anything since something like a loaf of bread cost a few billion. The value of their currency vanished and now gold is the only accepted currency. The concept cited is “hyperinflation.”

2.) When the dollar collapses we will be thrown into a state of chaos and lawlessness. Money will be burned like in Germany a few decades ago due to lost value. People will steal and commit other crimes to stay alive and with no economy there will be no one working to maintain the infrastructure.

3.) Gold and silver will become the standard once again. Which is oddly suspicious, because when you Google anything about the dollar collapsing, you get a lot of sites trying to sell you gold and gold trading schemes.

4.) Since other countries are trying to move the World Reserve Currency away from the U.S. dollar due to decreasing value, the U.S. will be left high and dry by the other countries.

5.) Countries will stop lending to us and the interest on the existing loans will default.

What is likely to happen if the U.S. dollar collapses (based on something known as “logic”). Here are a few possible situations:

1.) The U.S. dollar collapses and there is a brief time of chaos. However the U.S. chief export is consumption, we consume the highest amount of resources and goods in the world. Countries that once sold to us can no longer sell if there is no money, so the dollar could in theory be propped up by another currency. Imagine a dollar backed by the yen, the Euro, or once again by gold.

2.) There are over 300 million “consumers” in the U.S. Other economies would suffer if U.S. citizens suddenly lost all of their money and their spending power. The U.S. could adopt another currency or begin consuming using multiple currencies and abandon the dollar. Financially, it makes little sense to let a huge consumer base collapse and vanish so global companies and countries that export often to us will step in.

3.) Like a repo man coming to collect his due, the countries that the U.S. government owes large amount of debt to will come in to collect their payment. Of course what happens if someone can’t pay? Things get taken away. China, a country who the U.S. owes billions to could technically lay claim to the U.S. So we would become a part of another country altogether.

As an interesting side note, some local towns in America have started to print their own currency that is traded and accepted among merchants within the town. This shows an extremely important concept in the debate of what happens if the dollar fails.

The townspeople in these towns aren’t backing their local money with gold or other currency, rather they back it with their confidence. The local money has zero actual value; the only reason it is useful for purchases in the town is because businesses and people that accept it agree that is has some value; they can accept it for a sale and take it to another accepting business to trade for goods and services.

This experiment is a microcosm of the national economy and even the global economy, paper money’s primary value exists only because the economy continues to believe in its value.

Technically you could pick up an orange and claim that oranges are equivilent to what was once $100. If a lot of people also believed it, you’d be buying and selling in oranges instead of dollars.

In the end one key concept came to mind when trying to dispel the doomsday predictions: As long as you have some currency that the economy sees as having value you can continue to make and spend money. Does it matter if that currency is the U.S. dollar, a Euro, gold, or an orange?


Digging Into Rare Earth Investments: Behind the Sudden Surge in Popularity

Google Trends are any indication, there’s been a surge of interest in rare earth elements lately.

Why? Probably because people came to realize China provides 97% of the world’s supply and they might have the US “over a barrel.”

click to enlarge

Most articles about rare earths include the obligatory assertion that “rare earths aren’t that rare,” sometimes pointing out that gold or platinum, for example, are 100 to 200 times less abundant than these rare earth elements.

But whether a substance is rare or common in mineral formations is only part of the economic picture. What does it cost to mine rare earth-rich ores and actually refine them into usable products? And if China loses its near monopoly, will rare earth prices fall?

Let’s take Molycorp (MCP) for example. This company recently went public with plans to reopen the Mountain Pass mine that once supplied most of the world’s supply for these elements.

But Chinese competition made it difficult for this mine to stay profitable – especially given the high costs to maintain environmentally friendly refining processes. In fact the Mountain Pass mine was the site of several leaks of radioactive wastewater.

A “bubble occuring”?

Higher prices, however – plus the possibility that China might crack down on its own poor environmental practices – means that Molycorp and many other companies could conceivably compete effectively as an alternative supplier, even with added costs needed to make these mines as safe as possible.

So the question about rare earth mining centers less on the mineral assets themselves and more on refining, processing, and profitability – the same as for any other mineral.

Except for one thing: Rare earths are way more complex because while many investors seem to focus on these elements as a group, the individual elements themselves vary widely in price, availability, and how they’re used.

And even Molycorp CEO Mark Smith appeared on CNBC last week to say “I don’t think short-term prices in rare earth (minerals) are prices people ought to be counting on … they are really spiked right now and there may be a bubble occurring because of all of the news and the frenzy.”


China's neighbours look to US to rein in rising superpower

HANOI: China's military expansion and assertive trade policies have set off jitters across Asia, prompting many of its neighbours to rekindle old alliances and cultivate new ones to better defend their interests against the rising superpower.

A whirl of deal-making and diplomacy from Tokyo to Delhi is giving the US an opportunity to reassert itself in a region where its eclipse by China has been viewed as inevitable.

The trip to the region this week by Barack Obama, his most extensive as US president, will take him to the area's big democracies, India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan, skirting authoritarian China. Those countries and others have taken steps - with varying degrees of candour - to blunt China's assertiveness in the region.
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Obama and the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, are expected to sign a landmark deal for US military transport aircraft and are discussing the possible sale of jet fighters, which would escalate the Pentagon's defence partnership with India to new heights; Japan and India are courting south-east Asian nations with trade agreements and talk of a ''circle of democracy''; Vietnam has a rapidly warming rapport with its old foe, the US, in large part because its old friend, China, makes broad territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The deals and alliances are not intended to contain China, but they suggest a palpable shift in the diplomatic landscape, on vivid display as leaders from 18 countries gathered at the weekend in Hanoi for a meeting suffused by tensions between China and its neighbours.

China's escalating feud with Japan over islands in the East China Sea stole the meeting's headlines on Saturday, and the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, proposed three-way negotiations to resolve the issue.

Most Asian countries, even as they argue that China will inevitably replace the US as the top regional power, have grown concerned at how quickly that shift is occurring, and what China the superpower may look like.

China's big trading partners are complaining more loudly that it intervenes too aggressively to keep its currency undervalued. And its rapid naval expansion, combined with a more strident defence of its claims to disputed territories far off its shores, has persuaded Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Singapore to reaffirm their enthusiasm for the US security umbrella.

''The most common thing that Asian leaders have said to me in my travels over this last 20 months is, 'Thank you, we're so glad that you're playing an active role in Asia again','' Clinton said in Hawaii, before her seven-country tour of Asia, which includes a last-minute stop in China.


Rare earths supply deal between Japan and Vietnam

Vietnam has agreed to help supply Japan with rare earths, as Tokyo tries to reduce its dependence on China.

The two countries have also agreed on greater nuclear cooperation, with Hanoi virtually awarding Japan contracts to build two reactors in Vietnam.

China currently dominates the market in rare earth minerals, which are vital in the manufacture of high-tech goods.

But it has blocked shipments to Japan because of a row over the ownership of islands in the East China Sea.

Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan met his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung in Hanoi on Sunday, after a series of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meetings.A joint statement read: "Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung announced that Vietnam has decided to have Japan as a partner for exploration, mining, development, and separation and production of rare earth minerals in the country."
'Strategic partners'

The Japanese government believes it will win exploitation rights for rare earth minerals in Vietnam's northwestern Lai Chau province.

The statement said Tokyo would provide financial and technical support for the rare earths development.

Prime Minister Kan told reporters: "These projects symbolise the start of a close relationship that sees (the two nations) as strategic partners over the long run."

China produces around 97% of the so-called rare earths used around the world to make goods such as mobile phones, computers, lasers, televisions and cars.

But China has been restricting exports of some products in recent years.

It then stopped shipments to Japan altogether, after a Chinese fishing boat captain was arrested near the contested islands in the East China Sea seven weeks ago.

The islands - known in Japan as Senkaku and in China as Diaoyu - are controlled by Japan, but claimed by China, in an on-going dispute.

The Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi gave assurances on Saturday that Beijing would remain a "reliable supplier" of the high-tech ores.
A worker at Jinyuan Company's smelting workshop, stokes the pots containing the rare earth metal Lanthanum, near Damao, in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, 31 October Lanthanum is one of the 17 elements which make up the 'rare earth' group

But Japan, the US and other countries have already started looking at ways to diversify their sources.

Japan and Vietnam have also agreed to work towards the early signing of a bilateral nuclear cooperation pact.

The joint statement released after the prime ministers met said: "The Vietnamese government chooses Japan as a cooperation partner to build two nuclear reactors".

A Japanese official said the move makes it highly likely that Japanese companies will get the contract.

Japan is the world's third-biggest nuclear power generator, and the government is keen to develop nuclear plants in fast-growing markets like Vietnam.


China Boost visionaries

This is not the first time that a closed political system has coexisted with a relatively open economy. But China is the only one to emerge as a leading capitalist power under dictatorship in a context not defined by the Cold War.

During that period, socialist countries that engaged the West economically tacitly served to validate Western freedoms; right-wing capitalist dictatorships also validated them because they embodied the economic success of free markets, while their political atrocities were offset by the horrors of communism.

The case of China poses a much greater dilemma for the West.

If China is going to define this century, the dominant paradigm might well be a system of one-party rule in which a man such as Liu can be sentenced to 11 years in prison for signing Charter 08, a manifesto calling for human rights, multi-party democracy, freedom of expression and an independent judiciary.
What a perfidious turn of events, after the triumph of Western liberal democracy over communism was supposed to have spelled the "end of history".

But awarding Liu the Nobel Peace Prize, among other gestures, could help strengthen the hand of those inside the communist bureaucracy pushing for reform. This is what Beijing's reaction to the prize, including declarations of political war against Norway, the arrest of critics and the harassment of Liu's wife seem to indicate.

This looks very much like a sign that the guardians of the status quo are feeling insecure.

In six decades of Chinese communism, the impossible has sometimes happened. During the Tiananmen crisis in 1989, premier Zhao Ziyang called for democratisation. He was purged and replaced by Jiang Zemin, but the world was given notice that a titanic ideological split had taken place at the very top of the system.

The more China opens its economy, and the larger the middle class grows, the more intense the pressure for a modern political environment from within will become. The Chinese leaders know it well - hence their desperate response to this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

With a little encouragement from outside, today's Chinese visionaries, including the 10,000 people who have already signed Charter 08, will deliver their people from authoritarianism.


Powerful China is no master of paranoia

World’s most populous nation is governed by a clique of unprincipled and frightened men.

So desperately insecure are China’s masters that the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to one of their subjects is construed as an “attack” by foreign powers and an insult to the Chinese people.

It borders on the ludicrous to suggest that the Norwegian Nobel Committee could further dishonor a Beijing dictatorship that has made the absence of honor its principal rule of governance.

True, the recipient of the prize, Liu Xiaobo, is in prison, serving a term of 11 years. His offense? Advocating judicial reform and respect for human rights.

Outrageous suggestions indeed!

For good measure, his wife is effectively under house arrest, allowed to venture out only when accompanied by police.

A courageous advocate for political reform, Liu was among the authors of a manifesto titled Charter 80, published in December 2008, on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The declaration was adopted in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly on a vote of 48-0, with eight nations abstaining. China’s was among the “yes” votes — for whatever little that has meant.

Among Charter 80’s demands: election of public officials; an independent judiciary; freedom of association and of assembly, expression and religion; and amendment of the constitution to establish and guarantee those rights.

Never mind that those are entitlements subscribed to — even if sometimes imperfectly enforced — by every other allegedly civilized country on the planet.

Or that some 10,000 people around the world, including many thoughtful individuals — even some prior communist officials inside China — have endorsed the charter.

It was way, way too much for the nervous bosses in Beijing and their judicial flunkies.

They reacted to that demonstration of courage by the people they rule in the only fashion they know — vindictively.

And in denouncing the award of the Nobel as a plot against them by a hostile world, those in the Chinese regime only compound their shame and unwittingly confess their paranoia.

Their power in some matters is very great.

They’ve harnessed the atom. They’ve ventured to the edge of space. They can silence cell phones and block the Internet. They can lock up their critics and dominate competition in the export of defective goods.

But what it’s clear they cannot do is master their crippling fear of change.


China Miss World 2010 Pictures

Miss Puerto Rico, Yara Santiago, during the final for the 60th Miss World in Sanya, China's Hainan province, 30 October 2010. Alexandria Mills of the USA was crowned the new Miss World, Miss Botswana, Emma Wareus was crowned second runner up, and Miss Venezuela, Adriana Vasini was crowned third runner up.


China bids farewell to successful Shanghai World Expo

SHANGHAI, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- China staged a series of performances, parades and forums here Sunday to celebrate the end of the Shanghai World Expo, which International Exhibitions Bureau (BIE) President Jean-Pierre Lafon called an "astounding success."

The first of its kind staged in a developing country, the event attracted 246 participating countries and international organizations and 73 million visitors. Both figures are records in the history of expos, the first of which was held in London in 1851.

On an area of 5.28 square kilometers, the Expo Site has become a global village where people can not only see rare cultural treasures from around the world -- the bronze chariot and horse sculpture from China's Warring States period, the statue of Athena from Greece and French impressionist masterpieces, for example -- but also get a taste of the diversity of the world's cultures through more than 20,000 cultural events.

The gala is eyed in China as another event of national splendor after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games showcased China's status as an economic and political power to the world.

It is also a milestone in both economic and social terms, bringing attention to the future of the planet, which is battling with poverty, war, pollution and energy shortages.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao declared the closure of the Expo at a ceremony Sunday evening. Before that, he said at the Summit Forum on the sidelines of the Expo the success of the Expo has boosted China's confidence and resolve to pursue reform and opening up.

"The Expo has brought together the Chinese people wishing to learn more about the world and foreign friends wishing to know more about China. Thanks to the Expo, they have forged a strong bond of friendship," said the Premier.


China poses no threat to US national security

China poses no threat to US national security
The U.S. Defense Department has concluded that China’s monopoly on rare-earth materials, used in military hardware such as missile guidance and radar systems, poses no threat to national security, according to a person familiar with a year-long study by the Pentagon.

The report notes that rising prices and supply uncertainties are spurring private investment in new mining operations outside of China that will help meet American military needs, which require less than 5 percent of U.S. rare- earth consumption.
China now provides 97 percent of the world’s rare earths, a group of 17 metals that includes neodymium, samarium, and dysprosium.

China to invest extra $100 billion dollars a year in natural resources. Chinese Government for years have worked secretly by using most power-full people in the world to secure good deals in natural resources. China's new secret spending plan for 5 years is to invest extra $500 billion dollars on oil, natural gas, metals, minerals and all other commodities and row materials worldwide.

Top Leaders in China have listed 10 company executives and world leaders to partnership with Chinise companies and help with this investmant. 


China's World's Fastest,Tianhe-1A Supercomputer

Tianhe-1A supercomputer in China is world's fastest. China claims that the supercomputer has taken the title away from the U.S. A single-day task for Tianhe-1A might take a mainstream dual-core personal computer 160 years to complete -- if it worked nonstop.

The surprise Tianhe supercomputer could lead the official top 500 supercomputer list. The official top 500 supercomputer list isn't out yet, but China is already declaring victory. A Chinese scientific research center has built what appears to be the fastest-ever supercomputer, edging out the United States.

The National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) unveiled the machine on Thursday. The machine has 1.4 times the horsepower of the top supercomputer in the last ranking. Tianhe, meaning Milky Way, is able to do more than one quadrillion calculations per second at its peak.

"I was shocked at the milestone breakthrough, which was beyond expectation," said Zhang Yunquan, a researcher with the Institute of Software of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and an organizer of the China Top 100 list. "I previously forecast China's first petaFLOP computer no earlier than the end of 2010."

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