The Obama administration is pushing to leave more troops in the Persian Gulf and to create a regional equivalent of NATO in the Arabic Middle East, according to the New York Times.

"After unsuccessfully pressing both the Obama administration and the Iraqi government to permit as many as 20,000 American troops to remain in Iraq beyond 2011, the Pentagon is now drawing up an alternative," the New York Times reported October 30. Part of that plan may be to leave additional troops in Kuwait, for years a staging area for the Iraq war, or simply to float a larger naval fleet in the Persian Gulf.

But the Obama administration has another alternative they are floating to create "security" in the Islamic world, the New York Times reported: "The administration and the military are trying to foster a new 'security architecture' for the Persian Gulf that would integrate air and naval patrols and missile defense."

That "security architecture" may include boosting existing security alliances in the Arab world, especially the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a 30-year-old group of six Persian Gulf dictatorships led by Saudi Arabia. The GCC is both a NATO and European Common Market-style organization with a customs union agreement that was inked in 2003. The GCC's six nations on the Arabian peninsula together have one trillion dollars in GDP, and the GCC is considering membership requests from Jordan and Morocco. "Another part of the administration’s post-Iraq planning involves the Gulf Cooperation Council, dominated by Saudi Arabia," the New York Times reported. "It has increasingly sought to exert its diplomatic and military influence in the region and beyond. Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, for example, sent combat aircraft to the Mediterranean as part of the NATO-led intervention in Libya, while Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates each have forces in Afghanistan."

As Tea Party supporters cast about for an alternative to the flip-flopping Mitt Romney (and his long history of political liberalism), an increasing number are turning their eyes back to a face from the political past: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

But is Newt Gingrich the new "anti-Romney," or is he simply another Mitt Romney? Despite Gingrich's masterful performance of conservative rhetoric during presidential debates, Tea Party supporters may find Gingrich's record surprisingly liberal and comparable to Romney's record. Conservative opposition to Mitt Romney has focused upon two major issues, Romney's initiation of an individual health care mandate in Massachusetts — which served as the model for Obamacare — and Romney's support for the Wall Street bailouts under the Bush/Obama TARP program.

Gingrich's Support of the Individual Mandate and Federal Health Care

Newt Gingrich has campaigned on a pledge to repeal Obamacare, but he also has a long history of supporting the same government healthcare mandates in Romneycare and Obamacare. In campaign videos, Gingrich insists that “I am completely opposed to the Obamacare mandate on individuals. I fought it for two and a half years at the Center for Health Transformation."

But in a May 15, 2011 interview on NBC's Meet the Press with host David Gregory, Gingrich admitted he has long sought an individual mandate by government:
 

Are the days of the European Union coming to an end? The riots in Athens, the popularity of the True Finns Party in Helsinki, and the growing tension between Paris and Berlin all indicate that more and more Europeans are seeing themselves as citizens of nations, rather than members of an amorphous bureaucracy headquartered in Brussels. In fact, the folks in Brussels are looking at a nation unable to form a government at all and teetering on the brink of splitting into the two logical nationalities — Flemish and Walloon — which language, religion, and custom divide more than unite.

Prime Minister David Cameron has a reputation as a technocrat and policy wonk rather than the tough leader of a clear political position. His coalition government with the Liberal Party (which is really the middle-of-the-road party in Britain) only makes that inclination toward a nuanced response to euroskeptics more politically natural.

The problem for Cameron is that significant members within his Conservative Party are demanding a popular referendum on British membership in the European Union. In parliamentary governments such as the United Kingdom, the head of government (Prime Minister Cameron) needs to have the confidence of a majority of the members in the lower chamber of the national legislature, or the House of Commons in Britain.

In stealth succession on Wednesday evening, both the House and Senate approved three so-called free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia. The Obama administration claims that the three pacts will boost exports by $13 billion and result in the creation of tens of thousands of American jobs.

Speaking on the occasion, Obama urged lawmakers to approve the trade deals as they were critical to building open, free, transparent, and fair economic platforms in the Asia-Pacific area and South America. After both Houses of the Congress approved the deals on Wednesday, the President issued a statement hailing the development as a "major win for American workers and businesses."

“Tonight's vote, with bipartisan support, will significantly boost exports that bear the proud label 'Made in America,' support tens of thousands of good-paying American jobs and protect labor rights, the environment and intellectual property," he added.

Final approval of the agreements represents a victory for the Obama administration and congressional leaders in both parties, who have touted the trade pacts as a means to jump-start the flagging economy without additional government spending. Ratification of the agreements holds particular importance for the President, who has set a goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015 and is facing a tough bid for reelection with unemployment stuck at 9.1 percent.

In his speech on the economy on September 8, President Barack Obama tied our nation's fiscal recovery to the passage of three free trade agreements (FTA) currently awaiting approval. Said the president:

Now it’s time to clear the way for a series of trade agreements that would make it easier for American companies to sell their products in Panama and Colombia and South Korea — while also helping the workers whose jobs have been affected by global competition.  (Applause.)  If Americans can buy Kias and Hyundais, I want to see folks in South Korea driving Fords and Chevys and Chryslers.  (Applause.)  I want to see more products sold around the world stamped with the three proud words:  “Made in America.”  That’s what we need to get done.

While the Republicans may disagree with much of what the president proposed, their leadership is adamantly and enthusiastically behind the trade agreements. Evidence of the bipartisan support for the agreements is found everywhere. Last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kent.) wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post lamenting the languishing of the trade agreements on President Obama’s desk and imploring him to pass them along to Congress.

When one studies international economics, one will inevitably encounter the topic of “free trade.” As always, it is a good idea to start with a definition, to avoid any possible confusion. Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines the expression “free trade,” whose earliest recorded use in the English language dates back to 1606, as “trade based on the unrestricted international exchange of goods with tariffs used only as a source of revenue.” Nowadays, free trade has come to mean the conduct of international business without any governmental interference, such as tariffs, quotas, subsidies, etc. Such a policy allows prices to be the result of nothing but pure supply and demand, without any artificial distortions entering into the process.

The term “free trade” is often used these days in multinational agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), although such arrangements do not eliminate government involvement in trade but create multinational entities to regulate it.

Mexican trucks may begin hauling freight throughout the United States by the end of this month or early September under a bilateral trade agreement that resolves a long-standing trade dispute, but not the controversy over driving goods across the U.S.-Mexican border.  

Under the pilot program, announced last month by the U.S. Department of Transportation, about 900 Mexican trucks will be hauling goods throughout the United States within the next three years. USA Today reported Wednesday that the pact continues to draw fire in the United States from the nation's largest transportation union, a national association of independent truckers, and some members of Congress.

"We think it's unsafe, unfair and wrong for America," Jim Hoffa, president of the Teamsters union, told the nationwide daily. "It's a danger to highway safety. ... It will cost thousands of trucking and warehouse jobs."

The National Governors Association Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, July 15-17, was a smashing success — at least from the viewpoint of China's Communist Party officials and its state-controlled mega-corporations.

The National Governors Association Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, July 15-17, was a smashing success — at least from the viewpoint of China's Communist Party officials and its state-controlled mega-corporations. A major component of this year's annual NGA confab was the first-ever U.S.-China Governors Forum, which brought the U.S. governors together with four of their Chinese counterparts, the governors of Zhejiang, Anhui, Yunnan, and Qinghai  provinces. Leading the official Chinese delegation was Zhao Hongzhu, Communist Party Secretary of Zhejiang Province.

Secretary Hongzhu told China Daily that the summit exchange was "direct, practical and effective." According to China Daily, billions of dollars in trade deals were signed:

JBS CEO Art Thompson's topics this week -- Norwegian Mad Bomber a Christian? Think not! China continues to buy America as we buy Chinese; Latin America continues its march into communism.

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