Geopolitical - Jan 11
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Venezuela to nationalise key industries
Chris Kraul, The Age (Australia)
VENEZUELAN President Hugo Chavez will nationalise his country's telecommunications and electricity industries and take over four major oil production plants controlled by foreign oil companies.
The moves will accelerate the pace of his pledged socialist transformation of Venezuela, the world's eighth-largest exporter of crude oil and the fourth-largest foreign supplier to the US.
"We are in an existential moment of Venezuelan life," Mr Chavez said in a speech. "We're heading towards socialism, and nothing and no one can prevent it."
The announcements took many by surprise on Monday and led to speculation about how soon the nationalisations would be carried out and whether the Government would reimburse owners for their stakes.
(10 Jan 2007)
Contributor SP writes:Axis of evil #4?
Iran leader woos Latin America
Jeremy McDermott, The Age
IRAN'S President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will fly to Latin America this weekend in search of new allies as three of the region's most anti-American leaders are sworn into power.
On a four-day trip, Mr Ahmadinejad will call on the presidents of Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua - who are being sworn in within days of each other after recent election victories.
He will also meet Evo Morales, the left-wing President of Bolivia who took office a year ago.
The visit is certain to alarm the Bush Administration, which will look on as one of its biggest global foes - who is suspected of wanting nuclear weapons - courts Washington's regional opponents in its own backyard.
President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, the region's most outspoken left-wing leader, was inaugurated for a third term on Wednesday, and promised Cuban-style reforms to complete his socialist revolution.
(12 Jan 2007)
Contributor SP writes:
What to say? Chavez, Morales and Ortega were democratically re-elected as far as we know. After all the other "reasons" failed isn't that the one for the invasion of Iraq? Why is the "anti-US" meme so pumped and primed in this article? Maybe Chavez, Morales and Ortega are pro their own countries? Is that such an inconceivable angle?
The Plan for Economic Strangulation of Iran
Abbas Bakhtiar, OpEdNews
It is said that there is more than one way to skin a cat. It seems that United States is trying to skin this cat �Iran- in anyway that it can, including economic strangulation. While people are concerned with Iraq and the gathering armada in the Persian Gulf, United States has been quietly carrying out a not so covert economic war against Iran.
Since the 1979 revolution in Iran, the country has been under constant US unilateral sanctions. "The first U.S. sanctions against Iran were formalized in November of 1979, and during the hostage crisis, many sanctions were leveled against the Iranian government. By 1987 the import of Iranian goods into the United States had been banned. In 1995, President Clinton issued Executive Order 12957, banning U.S. investment in Iran's energy sector, followed a few weeks later by Executive Order 12959 of May 6, 2000, eliminating all trade and investment and virtually all interaction between the United States and Iran." 
Despite the sanctions Iran continued to attract foreign investment and technical cooperation for its energy sector. Countries such as France, Italy and others took advantage of absence of the American competition and tried to fill the gap. However, the threat of American retaliation kept the investment way bellow the desired levels. It only allowed Iran to continue to keep its oil export at its OPEC determined quota level.
(10 Jan 2007)
Putin stands firm on oil blockade
Tony Halpin et al., Times Online
European leaders criticised President Putin yesterday as he stepped up his battle of wills with President Lukashenko of Belarus over the future of Russian oil supplies to Europe.
Russia threatened to bypass Belarus and seek alternative routes for delivering oil to the European Union unless Mr Lukashenko scrapped a tax on supplies delivered through the Druzhba, or Friendship, pipeline. Russia closed the pipeline on Monday in retaliation.
(10 Jan 2007)