Archive for September 18th, 2012

St. Petersburg, Russia – China and Russia have decided to renounce the US dollar and resort to using their own currencies for bilateral trade, Premier Wen Jiabao and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin announced late on Tuesday.

Chinese experts said the move reflected closer relations between Beijing and Moscow and is not aimed at challenging the dollar, but to protect their domestic economies.

“About trade settlement, we have decided to use our own currencies,” Putin said at a joint news conference with Wen in St. Petersburg.

The two countries were accustomed to using other currencies, especially the dollar, for bilateral trade. Since the financial crisis, however, high-ranking officials on both sides began to explore other possibilities.

The yuan has now started trading against the Russian rouble in the Chinese interbank market, while the renminbi will soon be allowed to trade against the rouble in Russia, Putin said.

“That has forged an important step in bilateral trade and it is a result of the consolidated financial systems of world countries,” he said.

Putin made his remarks after a meeting with Wen. They also officiated at a signing ceremony for 12 documents, including energy cooperation.

The documents covered cooperation on aviation, railroad construction, customs, protecting intellectual property, culture and a joint communiqu. Details of the documents have yet to be released.

Putin said one of the pacts between the two countries is about the purchase of two nuclear reactors from Russia by China’s Tianwan nuclear power plant, the most advanced nuclear power complex in China.

Putin has called for boosting sales of natural resources – Russia’s main export – to China, but price has proven to be a sticking point.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who holds sway over Russia’s energy sector, said following a meeting with Chinese representatives that Moscow and Beijing are unlikely to agree on the price of Russian gas supplies to China before the middle of next year.

Russia is looking for China to pay prices similar to those Russian gas giant Gazprom charges its European customers, but Beijing wants a discount. The two sides were about $100 per 1,000 cubic meters apart, according to Chinese officials last week.

Wen’s trip follows Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s three-day visit to China in September, during which he and President Hu Jintao launched a cross-border pipeline linking the world’s biggest energy producer with the largest energy consumer.

Wen said at the press conference that the partnership between Beijing and Moscow has “reached an unprecedented level” and pledged the two countries will “never become each other’s enemy”.

Over the past year, “our strategic cooperative partnership endured strenuous tests and reached an unprecedented level,” Wen said, adding the two nations are now more confident and determined to defend their mutual interests.

“China will firmly follow the path of peaceful development and support the renaissance of Russia as a great power,” he said.

“The modernization of China will not affect other countries’ interests, while a solid and strong Sino-Russian relationship is in line with the fundamental interests of both countries.”

Wen said Beijing is willing to boost cooperation with Moscow in Northeast Asia, Central Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, as well as in major international organizations and on mechanisms in pursuit of a “fair and reasonable new order” in international politics and the economy.

Sun Zhuangzhi, a senior researcher in Central Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the new mode of trade settlement between China and Russia follows a global trend after the financial crisis exposed the faults of a dollar-dominated world financial system.

Pang Zhongying, who specializes in international politics at Renmin University of China, said the proposal is not challenging the dollar, but aimed at avoiding the risks the dollar represents.

Wen arrived in the northern Russian city on Monday evening for a regular meeting between Chinese and Russian heads of government.

He left St. Petersburg for Moscow late on Tuesday and is set to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday.



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“Some quarters accuse the Republican Social Movement of being a racist party for its anti-immigration stance.

The MSR, as a National Revolutionary movement, defends the identity of people facing globalization, and accuses the capitalist system of encouraging immigration in order to turn people into objects for the benefit of economic interests.

No one leaves his country, its culture and its people at will. No one can be considered racist for defending and fighting for their country, its culture and its people. Economic supremacy is the cancer of the people, and our main enemy.”

–Juan Antonio Llopart Senent, Republican Social Movement (MSR) of Spain

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laboratory-manufactured “goodness”

The (un)natural history of Kraft Dinner — a dish that has shaped not only what we eat, but also who we are…

True, Canada is just one outpost in Kraft’s globalized food system. The company’s iconic brands are on the rise in emerging markets, which is to say in the ancient cultures beyond the borders of North America, Europe, and Australia. In China, another Kraft product, the Oreo, has been re-engineered for the Asian market, with such success that it is now the country’s number one cookie. But this is history repeating itself: our own food system was colonized long ago by Kraft, a company that has always striven to give us (or at least our consumer, magpie selves) what we want: cheaper food that is faster to prepare. We have been only too happy to drink the Kool-Aid, another Kraft brand.

KD’s popularity is a symptom of a world that spins distressingly faster and faster. We devote a total of forty-two minutes to cooking and cleaning up three meals a day — six fewer minutes than we spent in 1992. Over half the dinners we consume at home involve a prepared or semi-prepared food. As the clock ticks, we spend more of every food dollar on these shortcuts.

But what does it mean if a national dish is manufactured, formulated by scientists in a laboratory in Glenview, Illinois, and sold back to us by the second-largest food company in the world? […]

Big American companies signed contracts with local dairies, effectively binding the suppliers to sell most if not all of their production to them. This squeezed out the smaller cheese factories, and more dairy went to making processed cheese instead of artisanal types. At the height of its influence, in 1971, Kraft controlled more than 50 percent of cheese production in Canada. […]

Today KD Original probably contains more whey than cheese. Kraft won’t say how much cheese is in the foil packet, but you can read between the lines on the label and make an educated guess. One scientist, who asked not to be quoted, estimates that cheese would account for no more than 29 percent of the sauce’s solids. Driven by the commodity markets rather than taste, processed food formulas often change according to the going rates of their ingredients: when whey powder is cheap, for example, a cheese sauce might include more of it. […]

Differences — whether in people, cultures, or even cheese — are Canada’s greatest strength, and life would be exceedingly dull without them. They shape and define who we are. But differences can never be manufactured in any meaningful way by a large food conglomerate, which always seeks to standardize. So the question is: are we content to have our national dish come from a laboratory in Illinois, or do we want to have a hand in its (and our) creation? If we can’t be the authors of our own meals, who are we? To cook and live life to the fullest, Lee tells me, “I need a good foundation. I have to know who I am.”


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From an interview with economic historian Michael Hudson:

Athens News: Why so much emphasis on austerity and internal devaluation?

Michael Hudson: This is because financialisation brings the class war back, in a new way. For the last 100 years the social divide was between employers and employees fighting for workplace rights, higher wages and so on, but once you bring in the financial sector, this adds a new dimension to their struggle. Once creditors take control of governments and unions, they push austerity and unemployment that drives down wages on a macroeconomic “financial” level to a degree that could not occur before. In the US, workers are in debt and afraid to go on strike, afraid even to complain about working conditions, because if they are fired and miss a payment in their electricity or mortgage bills, they are one paycheque away from homelessness. So what’s happening in Greece is happening in America too. We have government-sponsored wage cuts and abolition of labour rights in ways 19th-century industrialists never dreamed of.

Full interview here.

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