Around town …

  • On the resignation of DNI Blair, Frank Gaffney  penend this week, Don’t Stop with the DNI.  Gaffney says, “[w]hile the exact reasons for Admiral Blair’s departure have yet to be fully explained, chances are they involved frustrations he and others felt with the office of DNI and its dysfunctional relationship to the rest of the intelligence community (IC). This was the predictable and predicted consequence of needlessly adding yet another layer of bureaucracy to the IC at the insistence of the 9/11 Commission.”  Indeed.  Maybe they’ll call it day and place the duties (and $$) back with the DCI – on this issue, the 1947 organization statute was clear and to the point.
  • Mexican President Calderon raised a few eyebrows this week with his speech before a joint session of Congress where he took a jab at Arizona’s immigration laws and U.S. immigration policy. One wonders if in Mexico President Obama could have said the same about Mexico’s (lack of a) border control policy given Article 33 of the Mexican Constitution: “Foreigners may not in any way participate in the political affairs of the country”?
  • A lot of folks in town keep clamoring for export control reforms.  So does the Chinese government.  As do Chinese students.  How is this for a confidence-building measure:  this week a jury finds Chinese nationals guilty of conspiring to violate US export control laws.
  • Last week a group of leading electronics firms announced that they would track the provenance of minerals exported from the Democratic Republic of Congo in an effort to stem conflict mineral trading.
  • The Obama Administration relaxed telecommunications sanctions on Cuba recently but the more than $160 million of Cuba telecommunications assets seized by U.S. courts remain a stumbling block for U.S. telecommunications companies wishing to do business in Cuba. There are scores of individuals, and family members of victims, who have claims against the Castro regime and they will continue to file suits against the regime in absentia.  If licensed money flows from any U.S-Cuba telecom deal, it will likely be seized and held for compensation.   Expect this pattern to continue for some time to come – even when there is a transition (as defined by current U.S. law).
  • Rosoboronexport, the Russian export control agency was removed from the U.S. bad apples list.
  • Another Cuban regime illusion, a workable China-like model.   They have tried this before, now they seem to be trying with the sugar industry.   Investors in Cuba should be wary of these arrangements.  They will not only fail and lose money, but they will be setting the tone as to how they will be treated by a future free Cuban government.  If you were helping the current system, you will likely be out of luck – and business – in the future.
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