14 December 2007

Foreign Direct Investment: U.S. and Global Concerns

Foreign direct investment (FDI) has been an increasingly contentious issue
since congressional opposition in 2006 forced a halt to the Dubai Ports
World acquisition of several U.S. ports. More recently, new concerns have
been raised over the rising number of high-profile investments by
government-controlled sovereign wealth funds. Outside the United States,
there are some growing signs of resistance to foreign investment, sometimes
on narrow national security grounds but also on broader economic security
grounds. A number of countries are considering creating their own versions
of the U.S. CFIUS process, which could have implications for U.S.
investments abroad. Is there a danger of a broader backlash that could
significantly restrict FDI in the United States, or curb U.S. investment
abroad? What are the Bush administration strategies for trying to prevent
new restrictions on FDI and how successful are these likely to be? Join
Edward Alden as he discusses these issues and more.

Edward Alden is the Bernard L. Schwartz senior fellow at the Council on
Foreign Relations, specializing in U.S. competitiveness. His expertise
includes U.S. immigration and visa policies, U.S. trade policy, and the
impact of homeland security policy on U.S. economic competitiveness. Before
joining the Council, Mr. Alden was the Washington bureau chief for the
Financial Times, writing on U.S. economic issues, trade policy, and homeland
security. He was previously the Canadian bureau chief for the Financial
Times based in Toronto, a senior reporter with the Vancouver Sun
specializing in labor and employment issues, and was the managing editor of
the newsletter Inside US Trade, widely recognized as the leading source of
reporting on U.S. trade policies. He has won several national and
international awards for his reporting. Mr. Alden holds a Master's degree in
international relations from the University of California, Berkeley, and
pursued doctoral studies before returning to a journalism career.

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.