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BBC News reported World Bank’s report of slower economic growth in the year 2011. World Bank has predicted that global GDP growth will be 3.3% against 3.9% in 2010. It has also predicted a strong growth in the emerging economies with India and China leading from the front.

Well, let us try to take a closer look. Please note that I am not an expert. I am just a reader of news who have developed an interest into looking at different things and hope to share my thoughts. I have no doubt that the India and Chine are going to lead the world economic growth but at what cost. China is keeping its currency manipulated so that its exports benefits the country’s position. India, though not exactly an export-oriented country but definitely a service-providing company. Products are not generally produced here rather they are definitely serviced here.

Even though I, too bet on the Indian and Chinese economies, I have few concerns. Firstly, the population. There is no control over the population in these countries. And till date there is no solid system to measure unemployment or the population itself correctly. In such a scenario, would it safe to have its per-capita, GDP and other measures of economy to be absolutely correct. I doubt it. Secondly, I still don’t believe that the consumption power is good here. I would request someone to find out if the commodities and goods produced in China are really consumed within the country. I believe that the figures could be surprising for some. I still feel that majority of goods are consumed not here rather outside. So, I feel that the real consumer base is the developed countries. Having said that, i must say that we are improving but it is going to take quite a time to catch up. Thirdly, dependency on Oil. We all know all the emerging and developing countries rely heavily on Oil, whose price is hovering around $90. I feel that that Oil price should be around $120. One thing that China and India say in their defense in terms of their oil consumption is their per capita consumption is far less than the consumption of US. But boss, China and India has the largest and second largest population of the world. You guys take the call. Are the defensive statements justified? Lastly, Food Inflation. Inflation of food is at its peak. We have seen the effect of increase in the prices of Onion in India. People went crazy and made the hell out of the government. In the past, we have seen that the governments have lost power at the Central government in the past. Oppositions won over the ruling government just on the basis of high Onion price. Considering the current scenario, all the vegetables are at their record high. How it is going to affect the people and the economy, in general, would be interesting to watch closely but I am sure if the situation remains same as of now, India will definitely suffer.

Comparing the prevailing scenarios of developing and emerging countries’ scenarios, economies of developed countries will have to also tackle few obstacles. Among all of them, the most important and challenging thing will be “Unemployment” World Bank predicts that the unemployment scenario would remain dismal. So, I feel it is going to hurt more than anything else for them. Secondly, European scenario does look so good as of now.  I somehow feel that the European debt crisis is going to remain bad and it might not improve as quickly as we might have wanted it to. Thirdly, the government debt will continue to mount and may cause imbalances in their statements, not a good sign at all.

To conclude, I feel that the all the economies of the world will see some nice challenges and if they are tackled appropriately, I am sure that we will redefine how businesses will be done in future. Hope that the future brings more prosperity and happiness all around, equally 🙂

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US Holidays recorded a record sales in the holidays: a whooping $32.6 bn. It is a great news especially when the economy has been struggling a lot. So, it’s definitely a great news for the business.

I visited US in 2207 just after Thanksgiving and during the New Year. I must tell that the deals during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year were definitely very appealing. So, I almost returned from US in a bankrupt state. but I need to blame myself and that time. First I was fairly new in my job and had hardly any savings. But what is defining the sales today is ONLINE and that is what is more exciting than anything else. Consumers don’t fear to spend money online and trust the products deliver online. There are definitely few benefits of online buying: we save a lot of money by not driving to and fro to the store, we save a lot of time by not going on a shopping. Rather I feel it takes less time to buy something online. Moreover, it is easy to view the feedbacks and reviews of products online, which is easily searchable. So, with a right kind of research, one can almost snatch a great deal of his own and no other time can beat the price than the holiday season.

On the contrast, I feel that Indian consumers are yet to embrace the online buying system. There is still so much resistance among people to buy online. I don’t have the data but if anyone can start looking for it, I am quite confident that it would not much different. Why? First, Indian consumers don’t trust the online shopping. secondly, we are too emotional people that we believe that we do better deals when we are in front of another person. And by dealing I mean the power of bargaining. I will not be surprised if any survey could affirm this. We believe in relationships more. Third and most important thing, we believe in buying things at the cheapest price possible. I would really hope that some consultancy or some MBA students could do this study. Bring a same product (lets say a car) and show it to people in different countries. I cannot comment on the psychology of people of other countries but I can definitely say that the first question that an Indian might ask is: how much it would cost me? So, it is not surprising that why small cars are so popular in India. Basically, it is not that Indians are environment friendly, it is just that we are way too price-conscious. Therefore, one can see all products having small variants available in India: shampoo and soaps to cars and houses.

I believe that the future is going to belong to the online sales. There is no denying that companies like Google and Facebook (don’t forget speculations on recent Facebook’s valuation of $50 bn) are generating such huge revenues from online advertising only. But the question would be to build credibility and confidence in the minds of the consumer. And I also believe that there could not be any better medium to do so than social networking sites like twitter and Quora. Secondly, understanding the psychology of the consumer would go a long way in the pricing and positioning the product in the a country’s market.

Source: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/01/07/BUQS1H5C84.DTL

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Recently, with the recession knocking at the doors and the global financial meltdown, Warren Buffet seems to be unaffected as he bought shares of Goldman Sachs and commented that if the market continues its run like no, he may have 100% equity in the US market. So, I present an article from rediff.com of Warren’s tactics:

Back in 1999, Robert G Hagstrom wrote a book about the legendary investor Warren Buffett, entitled The Warren Buffett Portfolio. What’s so great about the book, and what makes it different from the countless other books and articles written about the “Oracle of Omaha” is that it offers the reader valuable insight into how Buffett actually thinks about investments. In other words, the book delves into the psychological mindset that has made Buffett so fabulously wealthy.

Although investors could benefit from reading the entire book, we’ve selected a bite-sized sampling of the tips and suggestions regarding the investor mindset and ways that an investor can improve their stock selection that will help you get inside Buffett’s head.

Think of stocks as a business
Many investors think of stocks and the stock market in general as nothing more than little pieces of paper being traded back and forth among investors, which might help prevent investors from becoming too emotional over a given position but it doesn’t necessarily allow them to make the best possible investment decisions.

That’s why Buffett has stated he believes stockholders should think of themselves as “part owners” of the business in which they are investing. By thinking that way, both Hagstrom and Buffett argue that investors will tend to avoid making off-the-cuff investment decisions, and become more focused on the longer term.

Furthermore, longer-term “owners” also tend to analyze situations in greater detail and then put a great eal of thought into buy and sell decisions. Hagstrom says this increased thought and analysis tends to lead to improved investment returns.

Increase the size of your investment
While it rarely – if ever – makes sense for investors to “put all of their eggs in one basket,” putting all your eggs in too many baskets may not be a good thing either. Buffett contends that over-diversification can hamper returns as much as a lack of diversification. That’s why he doesn’t invest in mutual funds. It’s also why he prefers to make significant investments in just a handful of companies.

Buffett is a firm believer that an investor must first do his or her homework before investing in any security. But after that due diligence process is completed, an investor should feel comfortable enough to dedicate a sizable portion of assets to that stock. They should also feel comfortable in winnowing down their overall investment portfolio to a handful of good companies with excellent growth prospects.

Buffett’s stance on taking time to properly allocate your funds is furthered with his comment that it’s not just about the best company, but how you feel about the company. If the best business you own presents the least financial risk and has the most favorable long-term prospects, why would you put money into your 20th favorite business rather than add money to the top choices?

Reduce portfolio turnover
Rapidly trading in and out of stocks can potentially make an individual a lot of money, but according to Buffett this trader is actually hampering his or her investment returns. That’s because portfolio turnover increases the amount of taxes that must be paid on capital gains and boosts the total amount of commission dollars that must be paid in a given year.

The “Oracle” contends that what makes sense in business also makes sense in stocks: An investor should ordinarily hold a small piece of an outstanding business with the same tenacity that an owner would exhibit if he owned all of that business.

Investors must think long term. By having that mindset, they can avoid paying huge commission fees and lofty short-term capital gains taxes. They’ll also be more apt to ride out any short-term fluctuations in the business, and to ultimately reap the rewards of increased earnings and/or dividends over time.

Develop alternative benchmarks
While stock prices may be the ultimate barometer of the success or failure of a given investment choice, Buffett does not focus on this metric. Instead, he analyzes and pores over the underlying economics of a given business or group of businesses. If a company is doing what it takes to grow itself on a profitable basis, then the share price will ultimately take care of itself.

Successful investors must look at the companies they own and study their true earnings potential. If the fundamentals are solid and the company is enhancing shareholder value by generating consistent bottom-line growth, the share price, in the long term, should reflect that.

Learn to think in probabilities
Bridge is a card game in which the most successful players are able to judge mathematical probabilities to beat their opponents. Perhaps not surprisingly, Buffett loves and actively plays the game, and he takes the strategies beyond the game into the investing world.

Buffett suggests that investors focus on the economics of the companies they own (in other words the underlying businesses), and then try to weigh the probability that certain events will or will not transpire, much like a Bridge player checking the probabilities of his opponents’ hands. He adds that by focusing on the economic aspect of the equation and not the stock price, an investor will be more accurate in his or her ability to judge probability.

Thinking in probabilities has its advantages. For example, an investor that ponders the probability that a company will report a certain rate of earnings growth over a period of five or 10 years is much more apt to ride out short-term fluctuations in the share price. By extension, this means that his investment returns are likely to be superior and that he will also realize fewer transaction and/or capital gains costs.

Recognise the psychological aspects of investing
Very simply, this means that individuals must understand that there is a psychological mindset that the successful investor tends to have. More specifically, the successful investor will focus on probabilities and economic issues and let decisions be ruled by rational, as opposed to emotional, thinking.

More than anything, investors’ own emotions can be their worst enemy. Buffett contends that the key to overcoming emotions is being able to “retain your belief in the real fundamentals of the business and to not get too concerned about the stock market.”

Investors should realise that there is a certain psychological mindset that they should have if they want to be successful and try to implement that mindset.

Ignore market forecasts
There is an old saying that the Dow “climbs a wall of worry”. In other words, in spite of the negativity in the marketplace, and those who perpetually contend that a recession is “just around the corner”, the markets have fared quite well over time. Therefore, doomsayers should be ignored.

On the other side of the coin, there are just as many eternal optimists who argue that the stock market is headed perpetually higher. These should be ignored as well.

In all this confusion, Buffett suggests that investors should focus their efforts of isolating and investing in shares that are not currently being accurately valued by the market. The logic here is that as the stock market begins to realize the company’s intrinsic value (through higher prices and greater demand), the investor will stand to make a lot of money.

Wait for the fat pitch
Hagstrom’s book uses the model of legendary baseball player Ted Williams as an example of a wise investor. Williams would wait for a specific pitch (in an area of the plate where he knew he had a high probability of making contact with the ball) before swinging. It is said that this discipline enabled Williams to have a higher lifetime batting average than the average player.

Buffett, in the same way, suggests that all investors act as if they owned a lifetime decision card with only 20 investment choice punches in it. The logic is that this should prevent them from making mediocre investment choices and hopefully, by extension, enhance the overall returns of their respective portfolios.

Bottom Line
“The Warren Buffett Portfolio” is a timeless book that offers valuable insight into the psychological mindset of the legendary investor Warren Buffett. Of course, if learning how to invest like Warren Buffett were as easy as reading a book, everyone would be rich! But if you take that time and effort to implement some of Buffett’s proven strategies, you could be on your way to better stock selection and greater returns.

 

Courtesy: Rediff

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I am going to remember this Nov 4 and Nov 5 (India time) for some time to come, atleast. I got freaked out on one of the important days of my life. Probably, it wanted me to work more harder and have patience with believe in GOD to sail through some the toughest time of my life. At almost the same time, America created a history by having the first black President. I always believed, no matter what, USA is just a dreamland for people like me who dreams to make it big in such a short period of their life. Just keeping my fingers crossed with good things in mind for the future, here I present you the speech given by Obama at Chicago after winning the Presidential Election, Come On Obama, I want to witness the CHANGE eagerly that you talk about:

OBAMA:  Hello, Chicago. If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It’s the answer that led those who’ve been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Senator McCain. Senator McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he’s fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.

I congratulate him; I congratulate Governor Palin for all that they’ve achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton … and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years … the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation’s next first lady … Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia … I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us …to the new White House.

And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother’s watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you’ve given me. I am grateful to them.

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe … the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best _ the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.

To my chief strategist David Axelrod … who’s been a partner with me every step of the way. To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics … you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy … who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

“I know you didn’t do this just to win an election and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime, two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.

“Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor’s bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you, we as a people will get there.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!

OBAMA : There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years _ block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers. In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let’s remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity. Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

To those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

For that’s the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we’ve already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight’s about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons _ because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America _ the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE : Yes we can.

OBAMA: When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that We Shall Overcome. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA : America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves _ if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

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I am trying to extend my last post on the strengths and weaknesses of Obama nd McCain with theirt standings on the different topics:

Abortion: http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/president/issues/abortion.html

Climate Change: http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/president/issues/climate.html

Economy/Taxes: http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/president/issues/economy.html

Energy: http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/president/issues/energy.html

Healthcare: http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/president/issues/health.html

Housing: http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/president/issues/housing.html

Immigration: http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/president/issues/immigration.html

Iran: http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/president/issues/iran.html

Iraq: http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/president/issues/iraq.html

Judges: http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/president/issues/judges.html

 

Courtesy: New York Times

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Here is a good comparison of Joe Biden and Sarah Palin on their stands on the most-talked and important issues of USA:

http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/president/issues/vice-presidents/index.html

 

Courtesy: New York Times.

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Well, now that the set is set for the final two months countdown for the much-awaited US Presidential Elections. Now, both Republicans and Democrats ready with their Presidential and Vice-Presidential Candidates, the stage is set for the ultimate battle.

Earlier last week, Obama accepted his candidacy for the Presidential Post. His speech was basically target to “CHANGE”. No doubt, with the current economic conditions CHANGE is the only thing that can keep the mighty  United States of America as the undisputed champions. All his policies seem to be on the correct path with the democratic touch of its ideologies. It was a historic moment for America, as the first black american, who moved to USA at the age of around 6  with his family looking for better prospects, is today running for the most powerful position of the world.

One week later, after the Hurricane Gustav spared the Mexican Gulfs, McCain humbly accepted the candidacy on behalf of the Republican Party. Earlier, McCain gave the most surprised package of the Presidential Election campaign by nominating the Lady Governor of Alska, Sarah Palin, as his running mate for the Vice-Presidential post. Clearly, it was the sign to woo the supporters of Hillary Clinton, especially the female ones. Moreover, Alaska, being one of the oil-rich states of America, can try to help to make the people believe that their energy concerns can be better taken care of, at least till the alternatives clean energy resources develop to a major extent to remove the complete dependence on the Gulf and middle-east countries. The another surprise was the tone of the speech give by McCain, who took few words from the Democrats by saying that he represents the PEOPLE of United States and not any individual or any party.

I feel, the contest is going to be really interesting this time. Let me put some points for each of them.

1. Presidential Path: Amazing to see Obama beating Hillary Clinton, who was termed as the next likely President. (Obama); Was always the front contender. (McCain)

2. Energy: Giving priorites to clean-fuel. (Obama); For the first time, McCain favored clean technology apart from drilling. (McCain)

3. Running Mates: Biden is Experienced and young. (Obama); Sarah Palin is a Lady, from Alaska, young and smart.

4. Economic Policies: Cut taxes, create job at USA and against outsourcing. (Obama); Cut taxes but not against outsourcing. (McCain)

5. Age factor: Young and raring to take challenges. (Obama); Experienced but very old. (McCain)

6. Health benefits: More tight controlled and monitored. (Obama); Private but hassle-free. (McCain)

7. Schools: Public-monitored. (Obama); Parent-oriented. (McCain).

8. Others: First minority presidential candidate. (Obama); Served the USA in military. (McCain)

9. Iraq and War Against Terrorism: End to Iraq war and bring Laden to terms. (Obama); No strict deadline proposals yet. (McCain)

10. Technology: Strongly in favor of development and research. (Obama); Bit hesitant to its use. (McCain) 

11. Physical Status: Young, energetic and perfectly fit. (Obama); Old, war-torn, sometimes showing a bit of imbalance with opposite views on the same topics. (McCain)

These are just a few to just bring a picture in front but I expect to see more of them getting clearer and clearer once we start watching coming both of them face-face for more debates.

Well, with Indian Parliamentary Elections scheduled next year, I assure you all to bring a sharp critical analysis of the whole process with that of the current USA elections, so that the voters of India could make more intelligent decisions.

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Today I went through one of the finest article of my life here. And immediately I wanted the same to post it at my blog to keep preserve the pearls.

It’s funny how most people believe the late Abraham Lincoln is one of the best examples of perseverance. It’s true, he’s an incredible success story. A kid born in backwoods Kentucky worked hard, became educated and eventually became the President of the United States. Pretty incredible.

However, most people think that the most fascinating aspect of Lincoln’s was that he constantly failed at life, but kept pushing on despite his circumstances. This is partly true, Lincoln did face many challenges in his life that he overcame. However, Americans have somewhat glorified the image of Lincoln as a symbol of perseverance. It turns out Lincoln didn’t have as many disastrous failures as folklore would let us believe.

The most compelling part of Lincoln’s life isn’t that he was constantly persevering. There are tons of examples of people who overcame obstacles to find success.  No, the most fascinating aspect of Lincoln was how he consistently put himself in a position to succeed.

Many people overlook this trait when it comes to success. They attribute Lincoln’s being elected as President as circumstance, that he was in the “right place at the right time”. This is 100% true. However, how did he get to that place? Successful people do things every day to put themselves into a successful position.

“I will prepare and some day my chance will come.” – Abraham Lincoln

So in order to learn from the master, lets look at ways Lincoln lived that put himself into a successful position.

1. Carry your notes with you

Lincoln was famous for his large top hat, perched on top of his towering 6′ 4″ frame. His top hat was also famous for another thing: keeping notes inside of it. Lincoln was constantly scribbling notes to himself and stowing the notes in his top hat, so as not to forget his thoughts.

Ideas never seem to come at the most opportune time, and Mr. Lincoln must have known this well. Keeping track of ideas and managing idea capture is essential to any entrepreneur. Take Mr. Lincoln’s advice and always keep some device handy for capturing ideas: a scrap of paper, an iPhone, or a moleskine. Anything that allows you to save the idea long enough to revisit it later.

2. Learn the value of hard work

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” – Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln was an incredibly hard worker throughout his life. Not only did he understand the value of hard work, he also realized that it’s not necessarily the best part of life. “My father taught me to work; he did not teach me to love it.” Many times entrepreneurs look to find the quickest way to make a buck. This kind of success only happens 99.9% of the time. It takes working hard at something for a long time before you start to see success.

3. Didn’t fret about formalities

The President had a hard time with formalities, especially when it came to fashion. He despised dressing up in things like suits and gloves, and was much more comfortable walking barefoot around the White House (a social no-no). For this behavior Abe was constantly called names like “ogre” from the more genteel folk of the time.

So many times we’re worried about the formalities of creating a startup: hiring lawyers, moving to The Valley, thinking about scaling, getting staff in place… the list could go on. Instead of worrying about what everyone expects you to, just start creating. All of the formalities and will fall into place later.

4. Live fearlessly

Directly after the Union had taken the Confederate capitol of Richmond Virgina at the end of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln marched with a handful of men into the capitol city, the heart of the enemies territory. The night of his assassination at Ford’s Theatre, Lincoln denied a large security detail to accompany him to play. Even though he knew he would probably be assassinated at some point, he wasn’t about to live his life in fear because of it. It was this same attitude that allowed a relatively unknown politician to run and win the office of the President.

Fear is a crippling thing, especially to the entrepreneur. There are always a billion things that could go wrong. You just might fail. But you’ll never know until you try.

5. Don’t be afraid to laugh and play

If Lincoln knew how to work hard, he knew how to play even harder. Abe always made time to play with his children, even while commanding the most stressful and gut-wrenching war the U.S. has ever seen. There are many tales of the President playing with his children on the White House lawn or chasing the children through the White House.

If you can’t have fun working on your own ideas, then why bother? Many times entrepreneurs take themselves way too seriously. It is, after all, just work.

6. Brush off criticism

Even compared to the current President, Lincoln was criticized considerably more. It seemed like everyone had problems with his policy. Yet Lincoln still managed to brush off criticism like a seasoned pro. For example, once Lincoln was accused of being two-faced. In response, he simply stated “If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”

Entrepreneurs get plenty of criticism for their ideas. Yet we can’t take it personally. Sometimes the best way to handle of criticism is to either ignore it orbrush it off with a quick joke. At the same time, we have to be open to constructive criticism. These criticisms will help us shape and fine-tune our ideas into something better.

7. Spend time with friends and family

Often we entrepreneurs get so caught up in our own little worlds that we forget to spend time with those closest to us. So many entrepreneurs do anything (yes, even drugs) to stay awake and work hours Chuck Norris himself couldn’t live up to. Lincoln was one of the busiest men in the country during his presidency, yet he still made friends and family a priority. Lincoln knew the importance of disconnecting and interacting with the people who care most about us. Hanging with friends and family helps refill your tank and keeps us grounded.

8. Don’t be afraid to fail

While this may be one of the most trumpeted aspects of Lincoln’s life, he still did fail quite a bit.    “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.Failure is essential to any entrepreneur. It builds character and allows you to see what won’t work. Another famous president Teddy Roosevelt once said that “There is no effort without error and shortcoming”. It’s not until you fail that you show your true colors.

9. Keep Reading and Learning

Everyone knows the story of Lincoln doing his schoolwork by candlelight in his boyhood home, taking his schoolwork into his own hands. Yet many may not know that Lincoln was an avid reader and took time out his stressful day to read Shakespeare and other classic literature. During the Summer of the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates, Abe could be found with the Iliad in his hand. He knew that staying sharp meant learning about things unrelated to politics.

10. Simple is almost always best

The Gettysburg Address is one of the best examples of simplicity in politics. Given at a dedication to the Soldier’s National Cemetery, Lincoln followed a 2-hour speech by orator Edward Everett. The Gettysburg Address clocked in at just over 2 minutes, yet became the most quoted speeches in U.S. history.

More often than not, the simplest solution is the best solution. Don’t spend13,000 words on a speech, when you can say it more effectively in 271 (in the case of Lincoln and Everett).

11. Don’t fear adversity

Lincoln never shied away from controversy. He was once quoted as saying “No matter how much the cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens.” And he was exactly right.  You’ll never please everyone. There will always be critics to what you do. Sticking to your guns and following your heart is what defines who you are and will shape your success in the future.

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.” – Abraham Lincoln

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Here is th elist of the world’s top 10 companies and trust me, one day they are all going to look for me and then I am going to have the final say….

1. HSBC Holdings

“We have a clear strategy, it is focused on investing and developing our powerful emerging markets franchises. We will continue to do that,” Stephen Green, chairman, HSBC.

The ‘world’s local bank’ is HSBC’s tag line. Headquartered in London, HSBC is one of the largest banking and financial services organizations in the world. It comprises of over 10,000 offices in 83 countries across Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa. HSBC is listed on the London, Hong Kong, New York, Paris and Bermuda stock exchanges.

Shares in HSBC Holdings plc are held by around 200,000 shareholders. HSBC offers a range of financial services: personal financial services, commercial banking, corporate, investment banking and markets and private banking. HSBC Holdings has reported sales to the tune of $146.50 billion and profits of $19.13 billion in 2007.

History: The HSBC Group is named after its founding member, The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, which was established in 1865 to finance the growing trade between Europe, India and China. The inspiration behind the founding of the bank was Thomas Sutherland, who was then working for the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. Seeing the potential of local banking facilities in Hong Kong and on the China coast and he helped to establish the bank which opened in Hong Kong in March 1865 and in Shanghai a month later.

2. General Electric

“We are going to solve tough customer and global problems and make money solving it,” Jeff Immelt, CEO, GE.

Imagination at work, says the GE tag line. Innovation and research are the strongholds of GE. In 1969, Neil Armstrong landed on the moon wearing boots made of GE’s silicone rubber. GE has four strong businesses in the financial services, infrastructure, and media markets.

GE Capital offers an astonishing array of products and services aimed at enabling commercial businesses and consumers worldwide. The company prides helps build the health care, transportation, and technology infrastructure across the globe. General Electric’s sales stand at $172.74 billion and profits at $22.21 billion in 2007.

History of research

GE’s research started in a barn in 1900 when General Electric Company completed eight years. The barn saw company’s major breakthrough technologies. One of the earliest projects of the new lab was incandescent lighting. GE scientists have thousands of patents, and two Nobel prizes: Irving Langmuir won the Nobel prize in Chemistry in 1932 and Ivar Giaever won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1973.

3. Bank of America

“Bank of America helps build strong communities by creating opportunities for people – including customers, shareholders and associates – to fulfill their dreams.” Kenneth D. Lewis, chairman, CEO and president.

Bank of America is the largest commercial bank in the United States in terms of deposits and second largest by market capitalization. The bank also offers talking ATMs which help customers who are visually impaired. The Bank of America sales is at $119.9 billion and profits are at 14.98 billion in 2007.

History

Before 1998, Bank of America organization was known as NationsBank. In 1998, NationsBank acquired San Francisco-based BankAmerica and renamed the corporation “Bank of America”.

4. JPMorgan Chase

“Our expectation is for the economic environment to continue to be weak � in spite of the environment, we are confident that we are building an increasingly strong and profitable company.” James Dimon

JPMorgan Chase is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $1.8 trillion. With an employee strength of 1,80,000, the company operates in more than 60 countries.

It is a leading player in investment banking, financial services for consumers, small business and commercial banking, financial transaction processing, asset management and private equity. JPMorgan Chase reported sales to the tune of $116.35 billion and profits stood at $15.37 billion in 2007. Jamie Dimon is the CEO of JPMorgan Chase.

History

JPMorgan Chase & Co., was founded in New York in 1799. The firm is built on the foundation of nearly 1,000 institutions that have come together over the years to form todays company. JPMorgan Chase traces its beginnings to the Bank of The Manhattan Company, which was founded by Aaron Burr in 1799 and became one of the leading banking institutions in the nation.

In the 1800s, many new banks were formed across America. JPMorgan Chase has links to many of these early institutions, including the Western Reserve Bank, one of the first banks in Ohio and a predecessor of Bank One, which merged with JPMorgan Chase in 2004.

5. ExxonMobil

Exxon Mobil Corporation is an American oil and gas corporation and a descendant of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil company. The company was formed on November 31, 1999, by the merger of Exxon and Mobil.

It is also the largest publicly held corporation by market capitalization, at $501.17 billion on April 18, 2008. Exxon’s reserves were 72 billion oil-equivalent barrels at the end of 2007 and are expected to last over 14 years.

While it is the largest of the six oil giants with daily production of 4.18 million BOE (barrels of oil equivalent) in 2007, ExxonMobil is 14th in the world when ranked by held oil and gas reserves. Rex W. Tillerson is the chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil. ExxonMobil reported sales to the tune of $358.60 billion and profits stood at $40.61 billion in 2007.

History

Exxon Mobil Corporation was formed in 1999 by the merger of two major oil companies, Exxon and Mobil. Both Exxon and Mobil were descendants of the John D. Rockefeller corporation, Standard Oil which was established in 1870.

In 1911, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Standard Oil must be dissolved and split into 34 companies. Two of these companies were Jersey Standard (Standard Oil Company of New Jersey), which eventually became Exxon, and Socony (Standard Oil Company of New York), which eventually became Mobil.

6. Royal Dutch Shell

“This is a very exciting – though daunting – time for our industry. The world is racing ahead with ever-increasing energy needs. We are under pressure to keep up. But this race does not have only one winner. This is a race all of us must win.” Linda Cook, Executive Director of Royal Dutch Shell.

Royal Dutch Shell is an MNC oil company with Dutch and British origins. It is the second largest private sector energy corporation in the world, and one of the six oil super majors. The company’s headquarters are in The Hague, Netherlands, with its registered office in London (Shell Centre).

Oil giant Shell has over 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) resources under construction. Shell has been exploring and producing oil and gas for more than a century.

The exploration and production work is going on in nearly 40 countries and the company employs around 35,000 people. Royal Dutch Shell reported sales to the tune of $355.78 billion and profits stood at $31.33 billion in 2007.

History

The Royal Dutch/Shell Group of companies was created in February 1907 when the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and the “Shell” Transport and Trading Company Ltd of the United Kingdom merged their operations.

After the merger, 60 per cent of the new Group went to the Dutch arm and 40 per cent to the British. In 1833, the company founder’s father, Marcus Samuel, founded an import business to sell seashells to collectors in London.

When collecting seashell specimens in the Caspian Sea area in 1892, Samuel realised the potential of exporting oil from the region and commissioned the world’s first purpose-built oil tanker, the Murex to foray into this market.

7. BP

BP has transformed itself from a local oil company into a global energy group employing over 96,000 people and operating in over 100 countries worldwide. BP has reported sales to the tune of $281.03 billion and profits stood at $20.60 billion in 2007.

Tony Hayward is the group chief executive of BP, earlier known as British Petroleum. With headquarters in London, the company is among the largest private sector energy corporations in the world.

History

British Petroleum merged with Amoco (formerly Standard Oil of Indiana) in December 1998, becoming BPAmoco until 2000 when it was renamed BP and adopted the tagline ‘Beyond Petroleum’. Most Amoco gas stations in the United States have changed the look and name to the BP brand. The highest grade of BP gasoline available in the United States is still called Amoco Ultimate.

8. Toyota Motor Co

Toyota Motors is 70-years old. Headquartered in Japan, it is one of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers. The company was founded in 1937 by Kiichiro Toyoda as a spin off from his father’s company Toyota Industries to manufacture automobiles.

Fujio Cho, is the chairman of the company. Toyota also owns and operates Lexus and Scion brands. Toyota’s management philosophy is ‘lean manufacturing’ and ‘just in time production’. Toyota continues to promote localization, based on the principle of producing vehicles in those countries or regions where demand exists.

In Japan, Toyota has equipped Takaoka plant with the company’s most-advanced technologies. In R&D, Toyota is continuing to focus its efforts in the three key areas of the environment, safety and energy. Toyota has positioned hybrid technologies as core technologies that can contribute to resolving environmental issues. Toyota Motor Co reported sales to the tune of $203.80 billion and profits stood at $13.99 billion in 2007.

History

Sakichi Toyoda invented the wooden Toyoda handloom in 1890. In 1894, Kiichiro Toyoda born. In 1924, Sakichi Toyoda completed the non-stop shuttle change type Toyoda automatic loom (Type G). In 1929, Kiichiro Toyoda traveled to Europe and the United States to investigate automobiles. The British company, Platt Brothers, gained the automatic loom patent rights. In 1931, Kiichiro Toyoda started research into gasoline-powered engines.

9. ING Group

ING is a global financial services company providing banking, investments, life insurance and retirement services. The company serves more than 75 million customers in Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia and Australia.

Based on market capitalization (31 March 2008), ING is one of the 20 largest financial institutions worldwide. The ING Group reported sales to the tune of $197.93 billion and profits stood at $12.65 billion in 2007. The group is led by Michel Tilmant.

History

ING was founded in 1991 by a merger between Nationale-Nederlanden and NMB Postbank Group. During the past 15 years ING has become a multinational with very diverse international activities. ING’s history can be traced to the insurers De Nationale Levensverzekering Bank and De Nederlanden van in 1845. The oldest legal predecessor is the Kooger Doodenbos from Koog, Noord Holland, founded in 1743.

10. Berkshire Hathaway

“When a management team with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains intact. ” Warren Buffett

Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway is based in Omaha, US. Berkshire Hathaway manages a number of subsidiary companies. Its core business is insurance, including property and casualty insurance, reinsurance and specialty nonstandard insurance.

The company averaged an annual return in excess of 21 per cent to its shareholders for the last 42 years while employing large amounts of capital and minimal debt. Warren Buffett is the company’s chairman and CEO. Earlier, he used to focus on long-term investments in publicly quoted stocks.

Berkshire now owns a diverse range of businesses including candy production; retail, home furnishings, encyclopedias, vacuum cleaners, jewellery, newspaper publishing and even makes and distributes uniforms and footwear.Berkshire Hathaway reported sales to the tune of $118.25 billion and profits stood at $13.21 in 2007.

History

Berkshire Hathaway traces its roots to a textile manufacturing company established by Oliver Chace in 1839. In 1929 the Valley Falls Company merged with the Berkshire Cotton Manufacturing Company established in 1889. The combined company was known as Berkshire Fine Spinning Associates. In 1962, Warren Buffett began buying stock in Berkshire Hathaway.

After some clashes with the Stanton family, he bought up enough shares to change the management and soon controlled the company. Buffett initially maintained Berkshire’s core business of textiles, but by 1967, he forayed into the insurance industry. Berkshire first ventured into the insurance business with the purchase of National Indemnity Company.

Courtesy: Rediff.com

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June 17, 2008

Is McCain Like Bush? It Depends on the Issue

WASHINGTON — The Democrats like to say that electing Senator John McCain would usher in the third term of George W. Bush, and they do not mean it as a compliment. The Republicans counter that calling the senator “McBush” is political spin and that Mr. McCain is his own man.

A look at Mr. McCain’s 25-year record in the House and Senate, his 2008 campaign positions and his major speeches over the last three months indicates that on big-ticket issues — the economy, support for continuing the Iraq war, health care — his stances are indeed similar to Mr. Bush’s brand of conservatism. Mr. McCain’s positions are nearly identical to the president’s on abortion and the types of judges he says he would appoint to the courts.

On the environment, American diplomacy and nuclear proliferation, Mr. McCain has strikingly different views from Mr. Bush, and while he shares the president’s goals in Iraq, he was at times an outspoken critic of the way the war was managed.

The disparities between the two are murkier on other issues. On immigration, Mr. McCain started out with Mr. Bush — at odds with the Republican mainstream — by favoring a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants, then backed off and emphasized the border-security-first approach favored by a majority of his party.

When it comes to dealing with terrorism suspects, Mr. McCain has supported imposing tighter rules than favored by the administration on the use of harsh interrogation techniques, but has consistently been with the president on limiting the legal rights of Guantánamo detainees. In one indicator that his view of executive power is moving closer to that of Mr. Bush, his campaign has recently signaled that he believes it was constitutional for the president to authorize wiretaps without warrants to monitor Americans’ international phone calls and e-mail.

Mr. McCain has reversed himself on some issues — most notably, embracing the Bush tax cuts now after deriding them initially as fiscally risky and excessively skewed to the wealthy — and continues to adjust his positions on others. On Monday, he said he continued to oppose opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, leaving him at odds with the White House and most of his party, but said he favored giving states more flexibility to decide whether to explore for oil off their coasts.

On balance, the McCain campaign has sought to emphasize the differences between Mr. McCain and the unpopular Mr. Bush rather than the similarities.

“In the last 10 years, he’s been an independent voice for what he thinks is in his country’s best interest,” said Mark Salter, one of Mr. McCain’s closest advisers. “Sometimes it’s brought him into conflict with members of his party and with the president. The Democrats know that.”

Yet while it would be hard to categorize him as a doctrinaire Republican or conservative, Mr. McCain appears to have ceded some of his carefully cultivated reputation as a maverick.

In a CBS News poll two weeks ago, 43 percent of registered voters said they believed he would continue Mr. Bush’s policies, and 21 percent said he would be more conservative in his policies than Mr. Bush. Twenty-eight percent said he would be less conservative than Mr. Bush.

Presidencies are about more than policies, of course, and Mr. McCain would bring a different style, background and world view to the White House should he be elected in November.

Although he once held very different views, Mr. McCain’s biggest similarity to Mr. Bush now is on the economy. Not only does the senator now support making permanent the large Bush tax cuts he once opposed — the $1.35 trillion tax reduction of 2001 and the $320 billion tax cut of 2003 — but he has proposed four major new tax cuts of his own.

Democrats say that those four proposed cuts — a reduction in the corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent, immediate tax breaks for corporate investment, a repeal of the alternative minimum tax and doubling the value of exemptions for dependents to $7,000 from $3,500 — are more regressive than Mr. Bush’s tax cuts because they favor the rich more disproportionately than the president’s reductions did. Mr. McCain’s advisers said his plan would help stimulate job creation by reducing taxes on small businesses, especially those that pay taxes at the personal income tax rate, and would be part of a fiscal plan that would also emphasize reining in the growth of government spending far more than Mr. Bush did.

On health care, Mr. McCain has a market-oriented model similar to the one that Mr. Bush proposed to little effect in 2007. Like Mr. Bush, Mr. McCain would shift the emphasis from insurance provided by employers to insurance bought by individuals, and would offer a tax benefit for families to do so.

“In general, they’re much more similar than different,” said Drew Altman, the president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health research group. “In terms of their goals, they’re more focused on making the market more efficient than in expanding coverage.”

Mr. McCain’s proposal, however, is more progressive in that it offers a refundable credit of $5,000 to families to buy their own insurance, whether or not they pay taxes — in effect, cash. Although experts have questioned whether the $5,000 tax credit would cover the cost of private insurance, they generally say that Mr. Bush’s plan, which offered a $15,000 tax deduction for families buying their own insurance, was more valuable to higher-income people.

On the Iraq war, Mr. McCain has been one of the president’s biggest defenders of its stated rationale: saving the world from Saddam Hussein. Yet he was also an early advocate of increasing troop levels at a time when Mr. Bush was resistant, and was withering, from 2004 on, about Donald H. Rumsfeld, then defense secretary, and what Mr. McCain called Mr. Rumsfeld’s “whack a mole” strategy of moving American troops from one violence-plagued part of Iraq to another.

Like Mr. Bush, Mr. McCain has steadfastly refused to set dates for withdrawals of troops and envisions a long-term American presence in the country. But last month, in the general election battleground state of Ohio, Mr. McCain did a semantic dance and said he expected that most American troops would be home from Iraq by 2013.

On abortion, Mr. McCain has long been opposed, and is in fact more explicit than the president in his opposition to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. Although Mr. Bush has spoken about changing American “hearts and minds” to build a “culture of life,” Mr. McCain has said directly, in South Carolina in 2007, that Roe v. Wade “should be overturned.”

On judges, Mr. McCain has strongly embraced the judicial philosophy of Mr. Bush and vowed to appoint conservative judges in the mold of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.

On gay rights, Mr. McCain voted against a proposed constitutional amendment backed by Mr. Bush banning same-sex marriage, saying that it should be up to the states. Then in 2006, he made it clear how he thought his home state, Arizona, should decide: Mr. McCain appeared in a television commercial in support of a state amendment, which ultimately failed, to ban same-sex marriages.

Perhaps Mr. McCain’s biggest departure from the president is on climate change. Mr. McCain has called for mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions, unlike Mr. Bush, who says such limits would be bad for the economy. Mr. McCain also supports a “cap and trade” system in which power plants and other polluters could meet limits on heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide by either reducing emissions on their own or by buying credits from more efficient producers.

Mr. McCain, who has a mixed record on the environment in the Senate — he has missed votes on toughening fuel economy standards and has opposed tax breaks meant to encourage alternative energy — has nonetheless tried to highlight what he considers his stark environmental divide with Mr. Bush.

“There is a longstanding, significant, deep, strong difference on this issue between myself and the administration,” Mr. McCain said last month.

On diplomacy, Mr. McCain has regularly distanced himself from the go-it-alone unilateralism of the Bush administration.

“We cannot build an enduring peace based on freedom by ourselves, and we do not want to,” Mr. McCain said in a major foreign policy address in Los Angeles in late March. “We have to strengthen our global alliances as the core of a new compact.”

In the same vein, Mr. McCain has significantly broken with Mr. Bush on nuclear security policy. Unlike the president, he supports a legally binding accord between the United States and Russia on limiting nuclear weapons, the elimination of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, a strengthening of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, increased financing for the International Atomic Energy Agency and nuclear talks with China.

On Iran and North Korea, the two nations whose nuclear programs will present the next president with a tough set of options, Mr. McCain has allied himself with the Bush administration. He would refuse to engage in unconditional diplomacy with Iran and would continue to maintain contact with North Korea, primarily through multilateral talks. He has insisted, however, that the United States be able to verify effectively any agreement in which North Korea promises to abandon its nuclear weapons.

Courtesy: New York Times

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