The Conversation

Foreign Affairs: What's going on around the world.

John Kerry: Greatest Challenge To US Foreign Policy is Congress

Feb 20, 2013 12:45 PM PT

Joining Obama in pressuring Republicans to cave (again) on taxes,  John Kerry, in his very first appearance as Secretary of State, said the greatest challenge to U.S. foreign policy is not emerging China or Middle East instability. It's Congress.

In prepared remarks for a speech at the University of Virginia, Kerry cites the adage that "we can't be strong in the world unless we are strong at home." He calls the budget impasse a threat.

The State Department has said automatic spending cuts would jeopardize $2.6 billion in aid, security assistance and other international programs.

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Awesome: American CEO Blasts French Communists' Work Ethic

Feb 20, 2013 12:06 PM PT

Last month Goodyear announced it would close a manufacturing plant in Amiens, France after five years spent haggling with a "communist-backed" union. French Minister of Industrial Renewal Arnaud Montebourg then sent a letter to Titan industries encouraging the company to consider an investment to save the plant. The response from Titan CEO Maurice Taylor is probably not what the Minister was expecting:

Dear Mr. Montebourg:

I have just returned to the United States from Australia where I have been for the past few weeks on business; therefore, my apologies for answering your letter dated 31 January 2013.

I appreciate your thinking that your Ministry is protecting industrial activities and jobs in France.  I and Titan have a 40-year history of buying closed factories and companies, losing millions of dollars and turning them around to create a good business, paying good wages. Goodyear tried for over four years to save part of the Amiens jobs that are some of the highest paid, but the French unions and French government did nothing but talk.

I have visited the factory a couple of times. The French workforce gets paid high wages but works only three hours. They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three, and work for three. I told this to the French union workers to their faces. They told me that’s the French way!

The Chinese are shipping tires into France - really all over Europe - and yet you do nothing. In five years, Michelin won’t be able to produce tire in France. France will lose its industrial business because government is more government.

Sir, your letter states you want Titan to start a discussion. How stupid do you think we are? Titan is the one with money and talent to produce tires. What does the crazy union have? It has the French government. The French farmer wants cheap tire. He does not care if the tires are from China or India and governments are subsidizing them. Your government doesn’t care either. “We’re French!”

The US government is not much better than the French. Titan had to pay millions to Washington lawyers to sue the Chinese tire companies because of their subsidizing. Titan won. The government collects the duties. We don’t get the duties, the government does.

Titan is going to buy a Chinese tire company or an Indian one, pay less than one Euro per hour and ship all the tires France needs. You can keep the so-called workers. Titan has no interest in the Amien North factory.

Best regards, 
Maurice M. Taylor, Jr.
Chairman and CEO

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Britain's Dim Energy Future

Feb 20, 2013 9:50 AM PT

A story that appeared in Tuesday's Telegraph suggests electricity prices in Britain are on the verge of skyrocketing over the next five years. The problem is that the government was in a rush to shut down "the dirtiest coal-fired stations" in order to comply with EU pollution laws.

Ministers admitted that Britain faced a “looming energy gap” but blamed the previous government for agreeing to shut coal plants too quickly.

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, admitted that consumers could feel a “pinch” starting within two years. The Government was fighting to “keep the lights on”, he insisted.

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The Return of A Dictator

Feb 18, 2013 7:52 AM PT

Venezuelan socialist strongman, Hugo Chavez has returned to his native Venezuela after be laid up in Cuba for two months, recovering  from cancer surgery. Chavez’s not-so-triumphant return ends the speculation that he was on his death bed, for now, and according to some of his recent tweets, Chavez believes its “onwards to victory forever! We will live and we will conquer!” 

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Let the Strange New Liberal Respect for Al Jazeera begin!

Feb 14, 2013 9:30 PM PT

In response to Naomi Wolf, Author of "Vagina: A Biography," In Talks with Al Jazeera:

Not to toot my own horn, but I knew this was coming, on the day of Suziparkerpalooza:

At some point, Al Jazeera America is going to hire some on-air talent, right?  I think they're supposed to launch sometime this summer.  They'll probably have a bit of trouble securing commentators - especially now - but if they throw around enough of the sweet, sweet oil money they stuffed in Al Gore's pocket, they'll get somebody.

If those hires include liberal stars, are we going to hear about how they're just desperate to stay relevant?  Come to think of it, is Al Gore desperate to stay relevant?  (Or just content to be irrelevant and filthy rich?)

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Korean Nuclear Test Angers Rubio and Many Others

Feb 12, 2013 1:03 PM PT

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, the incoming Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, is a bit perturbed with North Korea's recent nuclear test. According to Reuters, "Pyongyang said the test was an act of self-defense against "U.S. hostility" and threatened stronger steps if necessary."

“Today’s action should serve as a reminder that we live in a dangerous world and that American leadership is vital to addressing challenges such as the threat posed to the United States and our allies by North Korea.- Sen. Marco Rubio

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