Wednesday, May 26, 2004


Last night 64 million people voted for American Idol on Fox (self reported).

In November 2000 99 million voted for members of the House of Representatives; 105 million voted for President (give or take a few hundred votes in Florida).

Friday, May 21, 2004


Thanks to MaxSpeak:

The political split in the US over outsourcing notwithstanding, till very recently the fund-raising and vote-seeking campaign for the Republican Party was done partly out of India. And this was handled by two call centres located in our own friendly neighbourhood in Noida and Gurgaon.

For 14 months between May 16, 2002 and July 22, 2003, HCL BPO Services — the 100 per cent-owned subsidiary of Shiv Nadar-promoted HCL Technologies — had some 125 agents working in seven teams soliciting financial contributions for the Republican Party. US presidential elections are slated for November 2004.

Earlier, we heard that Republicans were outsourcing campaign merchandise to slave-labor sweatshops in Burma. Now, they are outsourcing fundraising phonebanking to India.

Wake up American workers! The Republicans DO NOT have your best interest at heart.

I'm no campaign finance expert, but might this sort of thing be illegal? Makes one wonder how rigorous a paper trail these contractors are keeping on the Republican donors. Are they up to FEC standards?

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


Had 4 wisdom teeth wrested from my jaw this afternoon. So, no other posting today. Now excuse me while I kiss the sky.


Monday, May 17, 2004


Ottawa said on Monday it would slap provisional anti-dumping duties of 39.4 percent on imports of frozen self-rising pizzas made in, or exported from, the United States.

Sunday, May 16, 2004


"When four longtime supporters of George W. Bush in 1998 developed a name and a structure for the elite cadre that the then-Texas governor would rely on in his campaign for president, the goal was simple. They wanted to escape the restraints of the public financing system that Congress had hoped would mitigate the influence of money in electing a president."

WaPo also provides here a handy little search engine for exploring the world of Bush Pioneers.

Saturday, May 15, 2004


Those of you driven to see the gruesomest of gruesome set a new Globalize This! traffic record yesterday. Those who came searching for the video of Nick Berg parting with his melon must have been sorely disappointed.

I must admit that I, too, went searching for the video to no avail. It seems to have been purged down the memory hole. Still photos remain, and can be viewed at Drudge, for one, here. Brace yourself.

It's the same sensation, be it curiousity, disbelief or morbidity--I think--which drove me to watch again and again the footage of those poor souls who threw themselves from the heights of the trade center towers, rather than perish in the 9/11 inferno.

P.S. I would like to extend special warm greetings to my military guests from

UPDATE: George informs me that the video is still available here. BE FOREWAREND. This is VERY GRUESOME footage. I had to shut it off before it got to the critical moment. Horrifying. No one should suffer such a fate.

UPDATE II: PRNewswire is reporting that "Nick Berg" was the most searched term on internet search engines last week. It succeeded in edging out Britney Spears, Clay Aiken and Paris Hilton.

Friday, May 14, 2004


From a correspondent of mine in Accra:

Hi [Globalize This!],
Its long time since I heard from you.
How are you and how is work?
In Ghana the political season is approaching and there is so much politics
in the air.
Ultimately, the IMF and the World Bank decide where we should
go so no matter who is in power there would be no change in
economic policy.
How is US? Any hope for President Bush in the next election?

Warm regards,


Thursday, May 13, 2004


Here is what I wrote back at the end of February about Larry Diamond, a leading democracy development theoretician and Bush administration advisor to USAID and the Iraqi CPA:


Larry Diamond is a leading theoretician of democracy development, and--as I learned today--he is senior fellow at the right-wing Hoover Institution and advisor to the CPA in Baghdad.

On the prospect for democracy in Iraq, he avers:

"A democracy can be built in Iraq. No one who engages the new panoply of associations and parties can fail to recognize the democratic pulse and possibilities."

It is statements like these that make me think Prof. Diamond should remain a theoretician and leave the democracy building to political hacks who really know how a democracy works. It also reminds me that democracy has almost nothing to do with the myths ingrained in the American psyche by years of high school social studies curricula.

Now, Dan Drezner reports, Diamond has lust his luster for Iraqi democratic aspirations:

"We just bungled this so badly," said Diamond, a 52-year-old senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. "We just weren't honest with ourselves or with the American people about what was going to be needed to secure the country...You can't develop democracy without security," he said. "In Iraq, it's really a security nightmare that did not have to be. If you don't get that right, nothing else is possible. Everything else is connected to that."

My how things can change in just a month and a half.


The latest fad sweeping the punditry: pig pile on Bush. Even the Financial Times' Martin Wolf, for sure no left-wing crank, is joining the charge. Yesterday, Wolf had this to say:

If I find the Bush administration's foreign policy disturbing, so must the vast majority of humanity...So what is wrong with this administration? Put simply, it fails to understand the basis of US power, mis-specifies US objectives and is incompetent in executing its intentions. As a result, the position of the US - and so of the west - is worse, in significant respects, than it was the day after September 11 2001.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004


Senator James Inhofe (R-OK):
I'm probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment. The idea that these prisoners -- you know, they're not there for traffic violations. If they're in cell block 1-A or 1-B, these prisoners, they're murderers, they're terrorists, they're insurgents. Many of them probably have American blood on their hands. And here we're so concerned about the treatment of those individuals.

Random Muslim Indonesian:
Even hostages, under the teachings of Islam, must be treated humanely. If others did otherwise, it doesn't mean we should do the same.

Random Muslim in Qatar:
As a Muslim I can only say, we are not allowed to touch an innocent civilian!

Scott McClellan, White House Spokesman:
[The decapitation of Nick Berg] shows the true nature of terrorists. They have no regard for innocent life...There is no justification for the taking of innocent human life.

International Committee of the Red Cross:
Certain military intelligence officers told the ICRC that in their estimate between 70% and 90% of the persons deprived of their liberty in Iraq had been arrested by mistake.

Where is Elizabeth Dole now?

Libby Dole: "Public servant, charming perfectionist."


In a 40 page report released on its website today, Gap Inc. lays it out for all to see in its social responsibility performance.

The WSJ reports on the report. Note that even with the multinational parent company establishing codes of conduct, a normal work week in a Gap-producing factory is 60 hours. Ugh.

In the report's introduction, Gap CEO Paul Pressler described some of the challenges companies face in monitoring working conditions in overseas factories, particularly in those of sub-contractors:

"In many countries, governments simply don't have the resources or the will to enforce laws and regulations."

This points to a fundamental problem with the way enforcement mechanisms (when they even exist) are constructed to address protection of worker and human rights. Governments, particularly non- and/or marginally-democratic ones, have little incentive to enforce labor rights. Universal rights to free association and collective bargaining (i.e. the right to form unions), create new centers of democratic political power outside prevailing non-democratic power structures, which threatens to disrupt the ruling political balance.

Multinational companies provide direct investment which is the life blood of economic growth (and balance in the international accounts) for most developing countries, and what MNCs are looking for in developing countries is low-cost production centers for labor-intensive manufactured goods. So no one wants to rock the boat. It's a classic prisoner's dilemma problem: if all countries cooperate on enforcing labor standards, then everyone will be best off; but if a country cheats on labor standards, it will attract more investment and be better off relative to countries who enforce labor standards.

While developing country governments may very well be lacking in technical expertise and financial resources to monitor and enforce labor rights, there are also clear disincentives for governments to do so. This paradox begs the question, why place the onus of enforcement on governments where there are structural incentives for governments not to enforce labor standards? As it is the MNCs who largely are benefitting from access to low-cost labor in developing countries, MNCs should bear the onus of enforcement, including sanctions assessed for labor rights violations. If Nike or the Gap are violating labor rights in their overseas factories (or in factories where goods are produced for their label under contract), why sanction the government of China or Vietnam or Myanmar or whomever? Sanction Nike and the Gap!

Gap Inc.'s Social Responsibility Report indicates that adherence to labor standards does create value for MNCs. However, industry-wide compliance would require that all companies are as benevolently enlightened as the Gap--as evidenced by this report--appears to be. In other words, self-regulation--the image which the Gap is trying to promote--is not a viable option. What is needed is independent monitoring of overseas facilities, backed by the weight of sanctions from the United States.

I know, it's a pipe dream. But this is how we might reconcile the demands for trade and economic development that respects human rights, if the powers that be were so interested.

Monday, May 10, 2004


The President pro-tem:

"Mr. Secretary, thank you for your hospitality, and thank you for your leadership. You are courageously leading our nation in the war against terror. You are doing a superb job. You are a strong secretary of defense. And our nation owes you a debt of gratitude."

And in other news:

During the first two weeks of this month, the American army committed war crimes in Falluja on a scale unprecedented for this war. According to the relatively few media reports of what took place there, some 600 Iraqis were killed during these two weeks, among them some 450 elderly people, women and children.

The sight of decapitated children, the rows of dead women and the shocking pictures of the soccer stadium that was turned into a temporary grave for hundreds of the slain - all were broadcast to the world only by the Al Jazeera network. During the operation in Falluja, according to the organization Doctors Without Borders, U.S. Marines even occupied the hospitals and prevented hundreds of the wounded from receiving medical treatment. Snipers fired from the rooftops at anyone who tried to approach.
(via Maxspeak).

Indeed, truly superb.


Nelson Mandela, today before the South African Parliament:

"We live in a world where there is enough reason for cynicism and despair. We watch as two of the leading democracies, two leading nations of the free world, get involved in a war that the United Nations did not sanction. We look on with horror as reports surface of terrible abuses against the dignity of human beings held captive by invading forces in their own country. We see how powerful countries -- all of them so-called democracies -- manipulate multilateral bodies to the great disadvantage and suffering of the poorer developing nations."

Friday, May 07, 2004


Well, twenty-nine months after the end of the recession and trillions of dollars in inefficient tax cuts later, the jobs picture is starting to solidify. The nonfarm economy added 288,000 jobs in April. At April's rate, it will take a little over 5-1/2 months just to get back to the Clinton-boom employment Zenith in early 2001. That puts us somewhere in October, 2-3 weeks out from the election.

Lost in the employment level numbers is likely to be the fact that wage growth is failing to keep pace with inflation, meaning that even with the new jobs most people are still falling behind the economic curve. Wage levels are being depressed by a number of factors: rabid union busting on the part of the Bush administration, flaunting of labor laws by corporate America, the threat of offshoring, and the simple fact that after years of job losses under Bush, the labor market is glutted with a supply of desparate job-seekers.

While we welcome the new jobs, let's keep in mind that uncertainty about the short- to mid-term economic outlook abounds and clouds any prognostication that could validate our collective sighs of relief. Here are the potential pitfalls to watch for:

First, there is the question of oil prices. They're wicked high and wicked important for much of the rest of the economy. High summer oil prices mean that people fly and drive less, take shorter and less elaborate vacations, increase prices of consumer goods, etc. Oil prices are being driven up by growing uncertainty over the situation in Iraq, which seems more dire every day; the fact that multinational oli exploration companies have been exhibiting a proclivity to overexagerate their known reserves (there is less supply out there than we thought); and surging demand in Asia.

Second, is our twin but unrelated budget and current account deficits that threaten a major, major financial crisis in the US. More on this topic later today.

Thursday, May 06, 2004


Hearings Before the Senate Banking Committee on The Mexican Peso Crisis and the Administration's Proposed Loan Guarantee Packagfe to Mexico.

Senator Bill Frist, March 9, 1995:

"I am deeply concerned that the American taxpayer is going to be stuck with billion-dollar losses from an ill-conceived plan based on false assumptions."

American taxpayer? Deeply concerned? Okay. But where the hell has Frist been for the past three years?!?

Let's recap some of the current administration's ill-conceived plans based on false assumptions: Tax cut. Enron energy policy. Deficit-bloating tax cut. Iraq War. Tax cut for corporations and +$300k earners. Phrma-HMO Medicare Bill. Tax cut. Navy-Boeing lease deal. No-bid reconstruction contracts. Agriculture subsidies.

Yep, he really said it: "I am deeply concerned that the American taxpayer is going to be stuck with billion-dollar losses from an ill-conceived plan based on false assumptions."


A little over a year ago, Bush was mobilizing American war opinion to go rustle up Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.

Well, that was a bust.

Then, when the WMDs never showed up, Bush swung public opinion around, lining up America's collective consciousness behind the crusade to democracy to a land long abused by a brutal dictator.

Now America is the brutal dictator abusing Iraqis. First in Fallujah:

On Monday a United Nations human-rights official, Paul Hunt, called for an independent inquiry into whether American forces had used indiscriminate force in civilian areas during their month-long siege of Fallujah. American troops have been battling with Iraqi and foreign fighters in the central Iraqi city since the murder and mutilation of four American contractors there, in late March. However, Mr Hunt said that according to some reports, 90% of the 750 people thought to have died during the siege were non-combatants. While acknowledging that reliable information was hard to obtain, he said there were credible claims of “serious breaches of international humanitarian and human-rights law” by coalition forces in Fallujah.

And then the prison at Abu Ghraib:


That between October and December 2003, at the Abu Ghraib Confinement Facility (BCCF), numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees. This systemic and illegal abuse of detainees was intentionally perpetrated by several members of the military police guard force (372nd Military Police Company, 320thMilitary Police Battalion, 800th MP Brigade), in Tier (section) 1-A of the Abu Ghraib Prison (BCCF). The allegations of abuse were substantiated by detailed witness statements (ANNEX 26) and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence. Due to the extremely sensitive nature of these photographs and videos, the ongoing CID investigation, and the potential for the criminal prosecution of several suspects, the photographic evidence is not included in the body of my investigation. The pictures and videos are available from the Criminal Investigative Command and the CTJF-7 prosecution team. In addition to the aforementioned crimes, there were also abuses committed by members of the 325th MI Battalion, 205th MI Brigade, and Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center (JIDC). Specifically, on 24 November 2003, SPC Luciana Spencer, 205th MI Brigade, sought to degrade a detainee by having him strip and returned to cell naked. (ANNEXES 26 and 53)...and so on.

Now that these two objectives have failed, what will the Bush administration put forth next as a rational for invading Iraq?

If the war on terror is a war for the hearts and minds of the Muslim world, the Bush administration is losing the war decidedly, fertilizing terrorism, and making the whole world less safe.

Rumsfeld has got to go...for starters. Then the rest of these Bush administration loons.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


If Bush can do half as good at reassuring the Arab world as he did in reassuring Americans in his scintilating Meet the Press interview, then America's credibility in the eyes of the world has nothing to fear.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Kind of makes you wonder what's happening in Guantanamo Bay.

I guess this is one argument why American citizens detained by the Bush administration should still enjoy their constitutionally guaranteed rights:

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.


Conservative scion George Will sees the Bush administration floundering amid self-delusion and ignorance:

Appearing Friday in the Rose Garden with Canada's prime minister, President Bush was answering a reporter's question about Canada's role in Iraq when suddenly he swerved into this extraneous thought:

"There's a lot of people in the world who don't believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern. I reject that. I reject that strongly. I believe that people who practice the Muslim faith can self-govern. I believe that people whose skins aren't necessarily -- are a different color than white can self-govern."

What does such careless talk say about the mind of this administration? Note that the clearly implied antecedent of the pronoun "ours" is "Americans." So the president seemed to be saying that white is, and brown is not, the color of Americans' skin. He does not mean that. But that is the sort of swamp one wanders into when trying to deflect doubts about policy by caricaturing and discrediting the doubters.

...This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and, having thought, to have second thoughts.

Monday, May 03, 2004


It's sharing time at Globalize This! I wanted to take this opportunity to highlightGeneral Glut's Globblog. While the General has been around for more than a year, he's new to me...and i hope to you.

Globblog, as you might guess from the name, boasts a similar scope in subject matter as yours truly, also from a decidedly non-neoclassical bent:

glob-blog: abbr. of "globalization weblog", a web site of personal or non-commercial origin that uses a dated log format that is updated on a daily or very frequent basis with new information about contemporary processes of globalization, including but not limited to deflation, disorder, development (and its demise), democracy (ditto) and dystopia.

Saturday, May 01, 2004



"A final WTO decision on whether the EU and its seven co-complainants may retaliate against the US is expected in June. However, the European Commission has already told members that it plans to introduce punitive sanctions on the same list of goods it targeted in the trade row over US steel safeguards last year.

The list was designed specifically to hurt the economies of politically sensitive states such as Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia - some of which could prove crucial swing states in the presidential elections. It includes fruit, vegetables, rice and tobacco, textiles, clothes and shoes as well as a vast range of steel products."


From the FT:

"Libya? Absolutely we're interested," Pat Mulva, ExxonMobil vice-president of investor relations, responded to analysts on a conference call on Thursday. "We're getting actively involved." Previous comments by the Texas-based oil company about Libya had been far more muted.

ChevronTexaco, the second biggest US oil and gas group after ExxonMobil, is also keen to move in.

"As a company with a substantial prior history in Libya, we support the US government's decision to ease sanctions and now look forward to the full opening of Libya for all international investors," said Stan Luckoski, ChevronTexaco spokesman.

Indeed, the California-based company has been preparing for such a decision. "We have been involved in discussions with Libyan officials to understand what opportunities might exist there," Mr Luckoski said. "For business reasons, we cannot comment on the nature of those discussions, nor will we speculate about our future plans."