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Showing posts from November, 2012

The Insourcing Boom - After years of offshore production, General Electric is moving much of its far-flung appliance-manufacturing operations back home. It is not alone. An exploration of the startling, sustainable, just-getting-started return of industry to the United States

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For much of the past decade, General Electric’s storied Appliance Park, in Louisville, Kentucky, appeared less like a monument to American manufacturing prowess than a memorial to it.
The very scale of the place seemed to underscore its irrelevance. Six factory buildings, each one the size of a large suburban shopping mall, line up neatly in a row. The parking lot in front of them measures a mile long and has its own traffic lights, built to control the chaos that once accompanied shift change. But in 2011, Appliance Park employed not even a tenth of the people it did in its heyday. The vast majority of the lot’s spaces were empty; the traffic lights looked forlorn.
In 1951, when General Electric designed the industrial park, the company’s ambition was as big as the place itself; GE didn’t build an appliance factory so much as an appliance city. Five of the six factory buildings were part of the original plan, and early on Appliance Park had a dedicate…

America's Immigration Reform Is Not A Zero Sum Game

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Tomorrow, the House of Representatives will vote on Republicans’ first post-election attempt at pro-immigration reform. But their bill, the STEM Jobs Act (H.R. 6429), sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, eliminates as many visas as it creates. Worse, it uses the illusion of immigration reform to actually decrease immigration. If the GOP wants to rehabilitate its immigration image, it should not begin by creating winners and losers — and this bill creates many more losers than winners.
The bill grants 55,000 green cards to college graduates of U.S. universities with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — the STEM fields. But it simultaneously eliminates the same number of green cards under the Diversity Visa Program, which awards visas mainly to low-skilled immigrants from underrepresented countries — mostly in Africa.
If this bill passes, it would create a dangerous precedent that GOP-sponsored immigration reform means eliminating visas for the …

At Last, the World Recognizes Palestine

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The Palestinian bid for state recognition at the United Nations came exactly 65 years since the General Assembly voted on a two-state solution in Palestine that Ban Ki-moon Thursday noted was “tragically unfulfilled.”
This empty anniversary belies the attitude of Israel and the U.S. that the bid was somehow premature.
It is, rather, very much overdue. The patience of the Palestinians has worn out. For two years whatever once existed of the peace process has been at a standstill. The waiting game that has since gone on has been nothing but destructive to the Palestinians.
The more time passed and the Palestinians waited on promises made by the U.S. and the West to come true, the more land slipped from underneath them, as Israelis built homes on illegal settlements and tried to create a new reality for the Palestinians to accept.
The United States said the bid should occur in tandem with negotiations, but the Palestinians must rightly question whether talks so we…

Can Ambassador Rice Make Peace with Republicans?

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During the brouhaha over George W. Bush’s nomination of John Bolton to serve as UN ambassador, I felt that the president ought to be represented by the person he had selected in the job. At Via Meadia we feel the same way in the debate over UN Ambassador Susan Rice’s possible promotion to be secretary of state. If the president on full reflection sends in her name, and there are no obvious, fatal deficiencies in her credentials or record, then the Senate should confirm the president’s choice.
But as a practical matter, the next secretary of state is going to have to have good relations, or at least decent relations, with opposition senators. She is going to need their support for a whole range of measures, and since a two-thirds majority of the Senate is required for the ratification of treaties, she will not be able to advance key parts of the president’s agenda without a good working relationship with the opposition.
Both Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton worked …

Vote for peace - Palestine In The United Nations

It might seem stating the obvious that Palestinians and Israelis find solutions only through negotiation, until you look at the record. It is a story in which one side makes proposals for nothing in return; one side makes agreements that the other side breaks; and one side keeps commitments that the other side ignores.
Take a recent decision by Israel to approve 100 new homes for its Jewish citizens in the illegal settlement of Gilo, when the Israeli army was bombarding and shelling Gaza. This (along with numerous other settlement decisions by Israel) constitutes a clear breach of signed agreements and of international humanitarian law.
Today, we return to the UN General Assembly, the world’s largest multinational arena, where each of the 193 states has a vote of equal value and none has a veto. Supporting our bid for enhanced status at the UN is a vote for the universal values of human rights embodied in the UN charter. Opposing it would make the Palestinian pe…

Turkey & Erdogan, the Not-So Magnificent

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Istanbul — “The Magnificent Century,” a Turkish-made soap opera depicting harum-scarum adventures in the imperial household of Suleyman, the eponymous Magnificent, reaches farther than the Ottoman Empire did in the mid-16th century. Its domains extend from France to the Ukraine, the Czech Republic to Japan, with 150 million viewers in its thrall. In Turkey, the series brings Wednesday nights to a halt, claiming one third of the country’s entire television audience.
Yet it faces one small pocket of resistance that could prove its undoing: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hates it.
Erdogan took time off at a ribbon-snipping ceremony for a provincial airport recently to describe the series as a travesty. It was wrong, he suggested, to reduce an illustrious history to a saga of household intrigues.

Suleyman spent “30 years on a horse,” he said, implying that the sultan would have had little time left to rip off so many bodices.
“We alerted the authorities,” Erdogan added. “…

China’s Misguided Hugo Chávez Love Affair

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The reelection of Hugo Chávez last month for another six-year term as president of Venezuela elicited almost universal praise from Chinese media and foreign policy analysts. Their general consensus was that his reelection was not only good for the people of Venezuela themselves, but also for economic and political ties between the two countries. However, Chinese government and business leaders who have assumed smooth relations for the foreseeable future are at risk of being unnerved because ties are only as healthy as Chávez himself. Recent reports that Chávez is back in Cuba for further cancer treatment serve to highlight that the new Chinese leadership may have therefore inherited a foreign policy time bomb from their predecessors.
China’s blithe optimism about the impact of continued Chávez dominance of Venezuelan politics sits uncomfortably with a growing anxiety about the effectiveness of the country’s political risk analysis This anxiety is directly related to the …

How the U.S. can help Kenya

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As Kenya’s presidential election looms, the Senate nomination hearing this week for Robert Godec to be U.S. ambassador to Kenya is an important step toward furthering the vital role the United States can play in helping to avert another election-related meltdown. Kenya remains an important partner for the United States. Washington and Nairobi have long shared mutual goals – although not always in the same order – to achieve regional peace, stability, democracy, and prosperity. With Kenya the anchor state of eastern Africa, it is important for the United States to actively engage its historical partner.
Kenya’s 2007 hotly contested elections were marked by controversy and violence, resulting in more than 1,100 deaths countrywide and causing more than 600,000 people to flee their homes. In part, the violence was due to flaws in the integrity of the electoral process, which undermined confidence in the results. But much of it also due to deep rifts within Kenyan society, in…

China’s Oil Quest Comes to Iraq - While China's oil dealings with countries like Iran and Sudan receive global attention, its budding relationship with Iraq may turn out to be the most important

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A lot of attention has been paid in recent years to energy-hungry China’s billion-dollar bids on oil fields in Canada and the Asian giant’s reliance on oil from countries like Iran and Sudan to fuel its growing economy. But its growing interest in another major oil producer has gone largely unnoticed, and if current trends continue, that Middle Eastern country could become the world’s next “oil superpower,” with China, not the West, acting as both Iraq’s main partner and top beneficiary of its rich resources in what some now call the B&B trade axis (Beijing and Baghdad). In the past decade or so, China waited patiently on the sidelines while the U.S. and its allies coped with Iraq’s new, and often times messy internal dynamics that followed the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein by a U.S.-led coalition. China reemerged in 2008, however, to sign post-Saddam Iraq’s first major oil deal with a foreign country. While the majority of Iraqi oil deals in the post-Saddam era w…

Bibi Can't Lose It's - Benjamin Netanyahu's Israel, All of his rivals just live in it.

It's one of Washington's worst kept secrets: President Barack Obama's administration would prefer Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lose the Israeli elections in January 2013. Netanyahu is not only too hawkish on the Palestinian issue and Iran for the White House's comfort, he has the added burden of a fraught personal relationship with Obama -- cemented by his perceived public endorsement of Mitt Romney in the U.S. presidential election.
In theory, a Netanyahu defeat is not beyond the realm of possibility. He is popular in Israel but not loved, trusted as prime minister but not revered. His command in the polls is steady -- essentially undisturbed since he took office in 2009 -- but not overwhelming. He appears to have suffered somewhat from the inconclusive outcome of the recent military operation in Gaza -- though if he lost any votes, they were to the right rather than the center, meaning that his electoral bloc remains intact. Among his biggest assets…