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Monday, November 16, 2009


The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation gathering, held this past week in Singapore, will in 2010 meet in Japan (Yokohama), followed by Hawaii in 2011. These leaders traditionally dress up in goofy shirts, this year linen shirts with Mandarin collars:


President Barack Obama hinted at flowery shirts and grass skirts in his "home state" of Hawaii. Any guess on the height of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo?

How important will this be to Hawaii? To begin with, there will be 10,000 participants in the November 12 to 20, 2011 summit. But more than that, this event might help to shed our reputation as a boondoggle site. Hawaii needs to totally change our visitor demographics, and attracting high level discussions, workshops and conferences will minimize the increasing pain to come from the high cost of jet travel. Conversely, the carbon footprint label will only more and more hurt us.

If tourism is to continue, and, unfortunately, it must, as there is nothing much else, then a substitute has to be found for jet fuel. In the meantime, geospas, volcano treks, underwater resorts and the like to expand ecotourism opportunities will be essential. This is something that should have started many decades ago.

The official sessions are not unlike papers presented at conferences. Mildly interesting, but hardly important enough to justify traveling thousands of miles. The side discussions, as for example, between President Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev, taking another step towards agreeing on the STrategic Arms Limitation Treaty (START) and general consensus pressuring Iran's nuclear policy (straight from the Tehran Times, no less), are what matters.

There is a particularly interesting sidebar to all this. In Japan, Obama was pressured to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and agreed to do so on a future trip. While no American president has done so, this he probably will, in keeping with his anti-nuclear proclivities. However, will he wait until Prime Minister Hatoyama first comes to Pearl Harbor and provides at least a mildly remorseful statement? Emperor Akihito in 1994 adjusted his tour of Hawaii by substituting the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific for Pearl Harbor, and in his recent stopover, again only went to the Punchbowl cemetery. A good part of politics is posturing and avoidance, and the leaders of both countries have shied away from these possible site sensitivities.

APEC has a membership of 21 countries, essentially all the major nations that border the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii is a symbol of those peoples.


The Dow Jones Industrials climbed again, 136 to 10,407, with world markets all up, except for Sweden. This is about the fifth time Sweden has been the lone exception. Anyone know why? Crude Oil is close to $79/barrel, while gold is up $21/toz to $1140, another all time high, and actually edged up to $1143 in after hours trading. The reason continues to be the weak dollar.


The first named storm of the Southern Hemisphere, Tropical Cyclone Anja, now at 120 MPH, seems to be heading south in the Indian Ocean, but is not threatening any major population base, and should begin to weaken. It should turn east more than west, but if Anja moves southwest, Mauritius could be threatened.

Note the clockwise motion of this cyclone. Northern hemisphere storms turn counterclockwise.


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Native Kazakhs, a mix of Turkic and Mongol nomadic tribes who migrated into the region in the 13th century, were rarely united as a single nation. The area was conquered by Russia in the 18th century, and Kazakhstan became a Soviet Republic in 1936. During the 1950s and 1960s agricultural "Virgin Lands" program, Soviet citizens were encouraged to help cultivate Kazakhstan's northern pastures. This influx of immigrants (mostly Russians, but also some other deported nationalities) skewed the ethnic mixture and enabled non-Kazakhs to outnumber natives. Independence in 1991 caused many of these newcomers to emigrate. Kazakhstan's economy is larger than those of all the other Central Asian states combined, largely due to the country's vast natural resources and a recent history of political stability. Current issues include: developing a cohesive national identity; expanding the development of the country's vast energy resources and exporting them to world markets; achieving a sustainable economic growth; diversifying the economy outside the oil, gas, and mining sectors; enhancing Kazakhstan's competitiveness; and strengthening relations with neighboring states and other foreign powers.

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