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NightWatch 20111109


For the Night of 8 November 2011

Administrative note: This edition was delayed in preparation.

South Korea-North Korea: On Tuesday the Seoul government authorized the World Health Organization to resume the distribution of medical aid to North Korea, financed by the South Korean government, apparently in response to calls for assistance for malnourished North Korean children. The decision 'was based upon our belief that purely humanitarian support for the young and vulnerable in North Korea should continue,' a senior South Korean Unification Ministry official told reporters on Tuesday during a briefing given on the condition of anonymity.

Comment: Every interaction between the Koreas involves politics at some level. This most likely is calculated to build support internal support for the ruling party after an independent and a leftist was elected mayor of Seoul last month.

Tunisia: An appeals court in Tunis has approved the extradition of Libya's former Prime Minister, al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, back to Libya.

"It's an unfair decision, a political decision," his lawyer, Mabrouk Korchid, told the press. The extradition request was made by Libya's new government, the National Transitional Council (NTC). Mahmoudi reportedly expressed fears for his safety if he is returned to Libya.

Comment: This extradition decision is the first of its kind in the Arab spring countries. That makes it another precedent originating from Tunisia, the first Arab spring country. It is likely to encourage other new governments and their courts to follow it. That means that officials from ousted regimes will find no refuge in neighboring countries that once were their friends.

It is a warning to regimes now under stress and spotlights the polarizing struggle among Arab states, primarily between the monarchies and the Arab spring movement, in which Syria and Yemen are in contest.

Greece: Comment. The new Greek prime minister is expected be Lucas Papademos, according to state run TV. Papademos was born in Athens but has a degree in physics from MIT plus degrees in electrical engineering and a doctorate in economics. He has taught at Columbia and Harvard. More recently, he is a former governor of the Bank of Greece and vice president of the European Central Bank. Most recently he was an advisor to Papandreou.

However, Greek opposition leader Antonis Samaras is hindering formation of a new interim government. The conservatives oppose the EU bailout's austerity measures. On 8 November, Samaras rejected EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn's demand that Greek politicians sign a written agreement to implement fully the EU bailout package. The written agreement was a precondition to receive the aid and must be signed by Samaras, outgoing Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, the new prime minister, the minister of finance and the governor of Bank of Greece, Rehn said.

The EU bankers are exercising power over Greece that the US Federal government could not use against US states, except the EU bankers rule money not a country. The EU is wary of past oral promises not have been kept. Greek leaders judge their sovereignty is being compromised plus they know their bondholders must take a 50% loss if Greece agrees to the austerity plan.

Papademos almost certainly will lead the new interim government, if only because he is acceptable to Brussels. This is a study in political science.

Italy: The Chamber of Deputies approved the new budget law but without an absolute majority, which has the effect of a vote of no confidence in the Berlusconi government. Berlusconi has offered to resign after the Senate completes passage of the law later in November.

Comment: The effect of the resignation, assuming it occurs, will be to add political maneuvering to lead a new government ahead of completing decisions on austerity. This looks like another slow roll.

End of NightWatch for 8 November.

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