Sunday, January 13, 2008

US economy facing 'recession'

Fri, 11 Jan 2008 11:31:16

US Central Bank
Vacancy rates at US regional malls rose and rents fell during the fourth quarter due to concerns about consumer spending and a potential slowdown in the national economy, real estate research firm Reis said.

A slowdown in both the growth of consumer spending and the hesitancy of retailers to sign leases in such uncertain times has contributed to a change in trajectory for regional malls, Reis chief economist Sam Chandran said.

”Those sources of consumer cash, such as re-financings and home equity loans have dried up in the housing downturn," he added.

US Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke said "that the baseline for real activity in 2008 has worsened and the downside risks to growth have become more pronounced".

The US is facing the twin threats of how to tackle a slowing housing market and lower consumer spending while at the same time addressing inflation as oil and food prices rise.

His comments in Washington come after leading investment banks warned that the US was heading for a recession.

UK falls to sixth in world economy

Sat, 12 Jan 2008 22:39:39

The US, Japan, Germany, China and France had the largest economies in the third quarter of 2007, according to the Financial Times.

Sterling dropped to its weakest against the euro, which in turn, resulted in Britain's economy slipping below France for the first time since the single currency was introduced in 1999.

The UK economy is now four percent smaller than its ancient rival France and it is expected that the pound will weaken as interest rates fall and the British economy slows.

Britain was the fourth largest economy in the world until 2005 when China took its place.

Iran: Persian Gulf scenario made US laughingstock

Sat, 12 Jan 2008 21:36:47

"The US' ridiculous charade in the Strait of Hormuz was a provocative act; hawkish White House officials wanted to test public opinion with their bogus scenario," Brigadier General Seyyed Masoud Jazayeri, the Deputy Head of the Armed Forces Headquarters said Saturday in a statement.

The statement, a copy of which was obtained by Press TV, added that the unsuccessful propaganda war against Iran has made the US a laughingstock.

It said the move by the US indicated that the White House is run by warmongering neoconservatives.

The Iranian commander went on to say that public opinion considers the fake footage of the incident released by the Pentagon as 'a joke'.

He called on Washington to withdraw its fleet from the region, saying the presence of the US in the Persian Gulf destabilizes the Middle East.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Malaysia Takes God’s Name in Vain

Asia Sentinel, 24 December 2007

On the eve of the Christmas holidays, Malaysia’s authorities mistakenly decide Allah’s name isn’t God’s

Allah script in Edirne, Turkey

The Malaysian authorities’ refusal to renew the publication of the weekly Catholic newspaper The Herald unless it stops using the word Allah as the word for God in the Malay language is a demonstration of racism and linguistic ignorance, not religious purity.

According to Deputy Internal Security Minister Johari Baharum, “Only Muslims can use ‘Allah’. It’s a Muslim word, you see. It’s from (the Arabic language). We cannot let other religions use it because it will confuse people,” he was reported as saying. “We cannot allow this use of ‘Allah’ in non-Muslim publications, nobody except Muslims. The word ‘Allah’ is published by the Catholics. It’s not right.”

But what Johari revealed was his ignorance of his own professed religion, of the Arabic language in which the Koran is written, and of the history and culture of Muslims throughout most of the world. God and Allah mean the same in different languages.

Muslims, like Christians, do not worship a person called Allah. They worship a single supreme being, which the Arabic language denotes as Allah. The very word Allah derives from the singular nature of the monotheistic deity. In the Arab world Allah has always been used by Christians (a significant minority) and Jews (a smaller but important minority until the creation of Israel) to denote the one God which the religions share. Ditto in Farsi.

In Indonesia 100 million Muslims have no problem with their Christian brothers using Allah to denote the supreme being in Bahasa Indonesia, the Indonesian version of the Malay language. So why should a United Malays National Organisation politician object to this, unless for some reason to ramp up prejudice against non-Muslims and reinforce the notion that all Malays are and always will be Muslim?

Likewise among the (Roman) Catholics, the word in Latin for God is Deus and is used without discrimination between Christians, Muslims and Jews.

The Johari version of the world displays the same kind of ignorance as is found among Christian fundamentalists in the United States and elsewhere who insist on saying that Muslims worship Allah rather than the God (an English word) that the two religions share. An English Koran uses the words “In the name of God the compassionate and merciful,” not “In the name of Allah the compassionate and merciful.”

If Malaysian Malays are confused about the distinction between Islam and Christianity because they use the same word to describe the one God, clearly there is a lot wrong with the educational system. But if a minister is so ignorant, how can the rakyat – Malaysia’s citizenry ­­- be expected to know better?

For Muslims, Jesus was a prophet of Islam, and the Koran represents the continuation of God's revelation begun in the Old Testament. For Johari to make this astonishing decision on the eve of the birthday of Jesus is an insult both to his own religion and to Christianity.