Friday, July 18, 2008

US imposes arms sales freeze on Taiwan

The United States has frozen on arms sales to Taiwan following concerns expressed by China, top US military commander in Asia Admiral Timothy Keating said Wednesday.

He said Washington made the decision after having "reconciled Taiwan's military posture, China's current military posture and strategy that indicates there is no pressing, compelling need for, at this moment, arms sales to Taiwan.

"There have been no significant arms sales from the United States to Taiwan in relatively recent times," he acknowledged at a forum of the Washington based Heritage Foundation. "It is administration policy."

Keating said while Washington was committed to the defense of Taiwan, as enshrined in US law, "We want to do nothing to destabilize the (Taiwan) strait," which separates the Taiwan and the mainland.

"The Chinese have made clear to me their concern over any arms sales to Taiwan," he said.

Reports have said that senior US officials were holding up an 11-billion-dollar arms package and a delivery of dozens of F-16 jets for Taiwan, possibly until President George W. Bush leaves office.

The Bush administration must give Congress formal notification for the approval of weapons sales to foreign governments, but the Washington Post recently cited unnamed sources saying Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley have frozen the deal.

The reports appeared as China and Taiwan began last month their first formal talks in a decade, the latest step in a rapprochement that is likely to see the long-time rivals quickly deepen trade and tourism ties.

Taiwan has been governed separately since the end of a 1949 civil war, but Beijing has repeatedly threatened to invade should the island declare formal independence.

Washington has been the island's leading arms supplier, despite switching diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.

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85% of US Unhappy with Economy

You would expect Americans, in a period of falling home prices, a wobbly stock market and an ongoing war, to be less than satisfied with the direction of the country. It's natural. But Americans are not simply dissatisfied. They are very unhappy. O.K., deeply, pessimistically unhappy. Un–American Dreamy unhappy: 85% of respondents in an exclusive TIME/Rockefeller Foundation poll believe that the country is on the wrong track.

It's an unprecedented downer from an optimistic nation, and depending on whom you talk to, the numbers simply get worse. Among blacks and Latinos, the dissatisfaction levels are 96% and 88%, respectively. And fewer than half of Generation Y believes that the country's best days are ahead.

The kids are not all right. Nearly half of those between ages 18 and 29 say America was a better place to live in the 1990s and will continue to decline. Some of them are living that decline already: 58% of Gen Yers said they have had to borrow money to make ends meet in the past year.

A majority of Americans still believe that their kids will live better lives than they did, which means the American Dream isn't exactly dead. (Although America's kids aren't so sure.) But most also believe that the social contract — the benefits corporations and government once guaranteed — is busted and needs to be rewritten to reflect the realities of economic life in a global marketplace. A majority (78%) say there is more risk to their and their family's financial future than in the past, and rely more on their friends and family for financial support. More than a fifth (22%) have had to borrow money from a friend or relative to meet their expenses.

Most intriguing, a majority of those surveyed believe in the power of Big Government to solve the biggest problems of our time. They support major government investments that create jobs — 82% favor public works projects — and they remain sympathetic to the economy's victims: 70% say more government programs should help those now struggling. It is a shocking shift in sentiment, a counterreformation of sorts in a Republican-led era that emphasizes deregulation and self-reliance. Do Americans really want more government? The answer to that question may be provided in the November election. But history has shown that when the going gets tough, even the tough expect their Uncle Sam to
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