Thursday, July 15, 2004
As Brazil and Argentina fight over electrodomestic import taxes, the major alliance in Latin America is strained. Wouldn't it be good for the two governments to play by the same rules by which they have managed to make both the US and the EU abide? Why is Argentina straining relations by demanding that Brazilian electrodomestics have a high imports tax when entering Brazil?Article here:

THE AMERICAS: Brazil president urged to act on Argentine quotas
By Raymond Colitt in Sao Paulo
Financial Times; Jul 15, 2004

"Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, president of Brazil, came under increasing domestic pressure yesterday to take a tough stance against trade restrictions that Argentina adopted last week on selected Brazilian products.

Buenos Aires imposed a temporary 21 per cent tariff on television sets and an import licence for white goods, although it postponed their implementation pending bilateral negotiations.

Brazilian industry and labour leaders harshly criticised their southern neighbours this week, saying they were seeking unrealistic quotas on Brazilian imports.

São Paulo metal workers protested on Monday and demonstrated yesterday in front of the Argentine consulate, calling on Mr Lula da Silva to intervene.

The president, himself a former metalworker and union leader, is now caught between siding with Brazilian workers or giving in to Argentine demands as part of his aim to strengthen Mercosur, the South American trade block.

Mr Lula da Silva has been an adamant defender of regional integration and has been applauded by several neighbours for his consensus-building efforts."
Is this even a surprise?

The artickle is a bit older, but it drives home the point:Richest U.S. counties are largely white, suburban: "WASHINGTON — Very suburban and mostly white, some of the richest counties in the nation aren't very diverse.

For instance, of the 10 counties that boasted the biggest increases in median household income during the decade, seven had non-Hispanic white populations of 90 percent or more. Nationally, 69 percent of Americans are white."
Saturday, July 03, 2004
It has been very difficult to find the time to write so far since the start of the (northern hemisphere) summer, but here I am :)

A couple of weeks ago I was outraged at reading an article on The Economist that said that Americans are simply failing to see the wonderful economic recovery that is happenign right now, and that's what's keeping the country behind. I was very disappointed, as I've seen quite a few articles from the same magazine in the past that were quite objective and free of any center-right (or center-left, for that matter) slant.

I was also horrified when two days ago I read on the NYT that a man was put in solitary confinement for three months for mistakenly videotaping a building that (he didn't know) hosted some FBI is a part of the story:

In F.B.I., Innocent Detainee Found Unlikely Ally:

"He was a Buddhist from Nepal planning to return there after five years of odd jobs at places like a Queens pizzeria and a Manhattan flower shop. He was taping New York street scenes to take back to his wife and sons in Katmandu. And he had no clue that the tall building that had drifted into his viewfinder happened to include an office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Yet by the time Mr. Wynne filed his F.B.I. report a few days later, the Nepalese man, who spoke almost no English, had been placed in solitary confinement at a federal detention center in Brooklyn just because of his videotaping. He was swallowed up in the government's new maximum security system of secret detention and secret hearings, and his only friend was the same F.B.I. agent who had helped decide to put him there.

Except for the videotape — "a tourist kind of thing," in Mr. Wynne's estimation — no shred of suspicion attached to the man, Purna Raj Bajracharya, 47, who came from Nepal in 1996. His one offense — staying to work on a long-expired tourist visa — was an immigration violation punishable by deportation, not jail. But he wound up spending three months in solitary confinement before he was sent back to Katmandu in January 2002, and to release him from his shackles, even Mr. Wynne needed help.

The clearance process had become so byzantine that the officer who had set the procedure in motion could not hasten it. Unable to procure a release that officially required signatures from top antiterrorism officials in Washington, Mr. Wynne took an uncommon step for an F.B.I. agent: he called the Legal Aid Society for a lawyer to help the jailed man."

Or here you can read the article, "US economy generates fewer jobs than expected."