Doom and Gloom or Economic Boom? The Myth of the “North Korean Collapse” [Asia-Pacific Journal / Sweet & Sour Socialism Essential Archives]

Posted in Anti-communism, Black propaganda, Capitalist media double standard, Corporate Media Critique, DPR Korea, Kim Il Sung, Media smear campaign, Photos, Pyongyang, Seoul, south Korea, Sweet and Sour Socialism Essential Archives on August 11, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

If you read one article about North (sic) Korea this year — or perhaps this decade — this is the one to provide the antidote to capitalist media’s endless disinformation and vilification of that dynamic and resolute nation – Zuo Shou

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 18, No. 3, May 5, 2014.
Doom and Gloom or Economic Boom? The Myth of the “North Korean Collapse” 破綻か好況か 「北朝鮮崩壊」という神話

Henri Feron

Abstract: The DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] is said to be an economist’s nightmare. There are almost no reliable statistics available, making any analysis speculative at best. The few useable figures that we have, though, fly in the face of the media’s curious insistence on a looming collapse. Food production and trade volumes indicate that the DPRK has largely recovered from the economic catastrophe of the 1990s. Indeed, Pyongyang’s reported rising budget figures appear more plausible than Seoul’s pessimistic politicized estimates. Obviously, sanctions, while damaging, have failed to nail the country down. There are signs that it is now beginning to open up and prepare to exploit its substantial mineral wealth. Could we soon be witnessing the rise of Asia’s next economic tiger?

There is hardly an economy in the world that is as little understood as the economy of the Democractic [sic] People’s Republic of Korea (aka “North Korea”). Comprehensive government statistics have not been made public since the 1960s. Even if production figures were available, the non-convertibility of the domestic currency and the distortion of commodity prices in the DPRK’s planned economy would still prevent us from computing something as basic as a GDP or GDP growth figure. In the end, this dearth of public or useable primary data means that outside analysis is generally based more on speculation or politicized conslusions than on actual information. Unfortunately, the greater the province of speculation, the greater also the possibility of distortion, and hence of misinformation, or even disinformation.

The dominant narrative in the Western press is that the DPRK is on the verge of collapse. What commentators lack in hard data to prove this, they often try to invent…

Excerpted; full article link with footnotes: http://www.japanfocus.org/-Henri-Feron/4113

Recent report confirms: US depleted uranium weapons targeted civilian areas in Iraq war [World Socialist Website]

Posted in DU Depleted Uranium weapons, Genocide, Iraq, U.K., U.K. War Crimes, US foreign occupation, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, War crimes on June 29, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Barry Mason

26 June 2014

“Laid to Waste”, a report by the Dutch Catholic NGO Pax Christi International, confirms that US forces in Iraq used depleted uranium (DU) weapons in civilian areas during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. More than a decade later, DU is still harming people’s health. The impact of the use of DU in 2003 added to that resulting from the Gulf War of 1991…

Excerpted; full article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/06/26/uran-j26.html

People’s Daily warns against “trap” of Western-style democracy [People's Daily]

Posted in Africa, Bourgeois parliamentary democracy, China, CPC, Thailand, Ukraine, USA on June 17, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

BEIJING, June 9 (Xinhua) — The flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China (CPC) carried a signed article on Monday, calling on people to guard against “the trap of Western-style democracy.”

“Copying Western-style democracy would probably lead to disaster” and “‘street politics’ usually leads to domestic turmoil and even civil war,” according to the article by Mi Bohua.

The article acknowledged that democracy is good, but said it should be realized in different forms in different countries.

There is actually no objective standard concerning democracy hailed by the United States and other Western countries, it said.

For the United States and other Western countries, anything that accords with their interests and accepts their manipulation is democracy, while those that do not fit the norm are not, said the article.

Some countries in western Asia and northern Africa have fallen into the craze for Western-style democracy, which has led to irretrievable secession and endless domestic struggles instead of happiness and stability, it said.

Countries in western Asia and northern Africa, Ukraine and Thailand, which have experienced street protests and even armed conflicts, have been led astray to the wrong path of Western-style democracy, that is, ‘street politics,’ according to the article.

In most of the cases, the United States and some Western forces have been involved in the street politics in these countries, either on stage or behind the scenes, it said…

Excerpted; full article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2014-06/09/c_133393632.htm

Americans’ confidence in big business is low: Gallup [Xinhua / Sweet & Sour Socialism Essential Archives]

Posted in Sweet and Sour Socialism Essential Archives, USA on June 16, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

WASHINGTON, May 27 (Xinhua) — A majority of Americans say large U.S. companies do a poor job in helping the U.S. economy, with 43 percent saying the companies are weak in creating jobs for Americans, Gallup found in a poll released Tuesday.

The poll comes amid a still flagging U.S. economy in terms of jobs growth, with continuing high U.S. unemployment nationwide…

…Americans in general have a less-than-stellar image of big business, with a mere 22 percent in previous Gallup polls saying they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in big business — one of the lowest confidence ratings of any of the institutions Gallup has tested, Gallup said…

Excerpted; full article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2014-05/28/c_133366249.htm

D-Day anniversary: Commemorating the Second World War and preparing the Third [World Socialist Website]

Posted in 9/11, Afghanistan, Anti-communism, Black propaganda, China, Encirclement of China, Fascism, France, Genocide, Germany, Historical myths of the US, Iraq, Obama, Pentagon, Psychological warfare, Russia, Ukraine, US - Nazi connection, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, USSR on June 15, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

7 June 2014

Few will remain unmoved by the appearance Friday on the beaches of Normandy of 90-year-old veterans marking — in many cases for the last time — the slaughter of D-Day in which nearly 20,000 troops — both Allied and German — lost their lives. Those present for the 70th anniversary commemoration were among the lucky who survived that day in 1944, but surely they have remained haunted by the memory of those who did not and marked for their entire lives by this terrible experience of their youth.

The presence of this dwindling band of survivors of World War II — the greatest exercise in mass killing in the history of the planet — only underscored the boundless hypocrisy of the official ceremonies in which President Barack Obama played the leading role.

Historic ironies abounded at Normandy’s 70th anniversary. In the run-up to a ceremony ostensibly marking a decisive defeat for fascism, the US president toured Europe to drum up support for a Ukrainian regime that came to power in a US-backed coup spearheaded by neo-Nazis. These same ultra-right forces are now being employed with Washington’s support to carry out war crimes against the people of eastern Ukraine.

The principal foes of the US and its allies in World War II — Germany and Japan—are today being prodded by Washington to re-militarize for the purpose of assisting US imperialism in the encirclement of Russia and China. In both Germany and Japan, historians are reworking the portrayal of World War II to justify the crimes carried out by German and Japanese imperialism.

Obama’s speech at Omaha beach was typical for the US president, filled with empty rhetoric, historical references stripped of any real content, and personal anecdotes that managed to be both exploitative and insincere.

Obama had next to nothing to say about the cause for which the sacrifices of 70 years ago were made, outside of a brief reference to “Nazi guns” and “Hitler’s wall.” He demonstratively excluded from his potted history any reference to the Soviet Union, which by the time of the Normandy invasion had already inflicted a strategic defeat on the Wehrmacht at Stalingrad. The Red Army was responsible for 80 percent of the casualties inflicted on German forces, and the Soviet people suffered 26 million dead in the war.

Perhaps the most bizarre part of Obama’s speech was his attempt to equate the war fought by the aged veterans brought together in Normandy with the “post-9/11” US military and its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He predicted that someday “future generations… will gather at places like this to honor them — and to say that these were generations of men and women who proved once again that the United States of America is and will remain the greatest force for freedom the world has ever known.”

What “freedom” did the US bring in wars that killed over a million Iraqis and Afghans? And at what places will future generations gather to mark these wars — Fallujah, Abu Ghraib, Haditha, Bagram prison or the scenes of countless drone strikes, bombings and night raids against civilian populations?

Even as Obama was speaking, his European tour was overshadowed by a right-wing furor in the US media over the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who apparently walked away from the war in Afghanistan after writing that he was “sorry for everything here” and describing the US military as “an army of liars, backstabbers, fools, and bullies.”

In World War II, the American ruling class was largely able to conceal its own militarism and global appetites behind a broader democratic appeal, thanks to the intense hostility of working people in the US and internationally to Hitlerite fascism. Today, it cannot credibly make any such appeal. The American establishment confronts a population that is largely in sync with the sentiments of Sergeant Bergdahl and hostile to foreign military interventions.

World War II, nonetheless, was no more a war for democracy or crusade against fascism than World War I was the “war to end all wars,” or, for that matter, the invasion of Iraq was a struggle against terrorism. In the period leading up to the war, major capitalist interests in Western Europe and the US lauded both Hitler and Mussolini, seeing their fascist dictatorships as bulwarks against socialist revolution…

Excerpted; full article link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/06/07/pers-j07.html
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Also see related article: “The Lies Grow More Audacious” by Paul Craig Roberts [on D-day and Normandy landing] – http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/06/06/lies-grow-audacious-paul-craig-roberts/

Writing Unions Out of the Story on Fighting Poverty [FAIR]

Posted in Capitalism crisis early 21st century, Corporate Media Critique, Economic crisis & decline, Media cover-up, New York Times lie, Psychological warfare, USA on June 14, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

June 6, 2014

by Peter Hart

The New York Times (6/4/14) took a look at one of the economic puzzles of the last few decades: If growth has been strong, why aren’t we seeing a greater reduction in poverty? Interestingly, the research the Times is relying on offers some explanations–ones the paper doesn’t see fit to mention.

The story by Neil Irwin – “Growth Has Been Good for Decades. So Why Hasn’t Poverty Declined?” – notes that it’s considered conventional wisdom that the “surest way to fight poverty is to achieve stronger economic growth.” But since the mid-’70s, the US economy has grown, but the benefits of that growth have not been shared. He writes: “The mystery of why–and how to change that – is one of the most fundamental challenges in the nation’s fight against poverty.”

The piece is based on research from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. As Irwin sums it up:

If the old relationship between growth and poverty had held up, the EPI researchers find, the poverty rate in the United States would have fallen to zero by 1986 and stayed there ever since.

So what has happened to explain this? Irwin gives only a hint, writing that “liberal-leaning group’s policy prescriptions are open to debate.” Click on the EPI link in the Times piece, though, and you’ll see the researchers offer some pretty clear ideas about why they think this has happened:

Direct evidence highlights the key roles of the two most-visible and well-documented changes in labor market policy and practice over the past generation in driving wage trends: the erosion of the inflation-adjusted value of the federal minimum wage and the sharp decline in the share of the American workforce represented by a union.

Most specifically, EPI notes:

Between the 1970s and the late 2000s, the eroded minimum wage explains roughly two-thirds of the growing wage gap between low- and middle-wage workers, and weakened unions explain a fifth to a third of the entire rise of wage inequality.

The point of the piece is to think about what happened from the late 1970s onward. And Irwin does a good job of explaining how Paul Ryan-esque rhetoric about the need to get poor people to work misses the point, since “the reality is that low-income workers are putting in more hours on the job than they did a generation ago – and the financial rewards for doing so just haven’t increased.”

So why didn’t Irwin talk about the minimum wage or unions–the factors EPI singles out as being especially important to understanding this story?…

In this case, there does seem to be an explanation for the story it’s trying to tell. And for some reason, the Times doesn’t want to talk about it.

Article link: http://www.fair.org/blog/2014/06/06/writing-unions-out-of-the-story-on-fighting-poverty/

American hegemony cannot bring security to Asia [People's Daily]

Posted in Anti-China propaganda exposure, China, Diaoyu Islands, Encirclement of China, Japan, Pentagon, Philippines, South China Sea, US imperialism, USA on June 14, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

June 6, 2014

American defense secretary Chuck Hagel delivered a speech at the Shangri-La Defense Dialogue in Singapore on May 31st. In addition to defending America’s pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, he also declared that the Diaoyu islands fall under the mutual defense treaty with Japan and voiced support for Japan’s right to collective self-defense. Moreover, he placed emphasis on his criticism of China and made use of many threatening words.

In response to this irresponsible speech, the deputy chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Wang Guanzhong pointed out that Hagel’s speech was filled with terms that will incite unrest in Asia. China had not foreseen that Hagel would deliver such an offensive speech. His accusations against China were unreasonable.

In order to maintain its hegemony and enjoy an economic dividend from the rapid development of Asia, America has devised a series of new Asia-Pacific strategies such as “Back to Asia”, “Pivot to Asia” and “U.S. Asia-Pacific Re-balance Strategy” to expand its military presence in Asia. America’s so called “U.S. Asia-Pacific Re-balance Strategy” has increasingly aroused concern and anger among many of the countries affected on the one hand, and become the butt of criticism of influential strategists at home. We find ourselves in total disagreement with Hagel’s groundless accusations – he would do well to subject himself to similar critical analysis.

As is widely accepted, the Diaoyu Islands, Xisha, Zhongsha and the Nansha islands have formed an integral part of China’s territory since ancient times – there is no shortage of historical and legal evidence to support China’s claims. China has nevertheless shown great restraint and patience in its calls for regional peace and stability, even when confronted with unreasonable demands and provocation on the part of other countries. China has exercised military restraint over the issues concerning the Diaoyu Islands, Huangyan Island and even the Xisha islands. Meanwhile, Japan’s ‘Self-Defense Force’ jets have incessantly intruded into the East China Sea, far from the Diaoyu Islands to harass and threaten unarmed Chinese patrol aircraft.

Ships of the Philippine navy have harassed and threatened defenseless Chinese fishermen. Armed Vietnamese vessels have deliberately collided with Chinese government ships and fishing boats. China has never yet drilled a single oil well in the South China Sea, while countries such as Vietnam and Philippines have long been producing oil and gas in the area. We are curious about Hagel’s motives in directing his accusations against China, while ignoring the efforts and sacrifices made by China in the interests of regional peace and stability.

Hagel’s criticism of China as a ‘rule-breaker’ is a typical example of the hypocrisy of American politicians. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea has met with approval from more than 150 countries since it was passed some thirty years ago. In pursuit of its own interests America, the self-styled “world policeman” and “supreme power” did not join the convention. With its own history of double standards, America has no business agitating for international laws and rules and attacking other countries for not abiding by these international rules.

China is no longer the downtrodden victim that it may have been one hundred years ago. China has no intention of stirring up trouble, but it will not sacrifice core national interests. Even in the face of provocation from Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam, China remains tolerant and insists on peaceful settlement of disputes through bilateral negotiations. However, China is still forced to take counter-measures.

We hope the nations involved do not interpret our tolerance as a sign of weakness. We hope they will turn back to the path of solving disputes through negotiation. Moreover, we also wish that America would abide by its promise of not taking sides in sovereignty disputes in Asia. In this way regional peace and stability and the long-term interests of nations in the region can be secured.

The countries mentioned above would be considerably less presumptuous without the support of America. In this sense, America is the chief instigator of unrest in Asia. America’s insistence on its policy of hegemony offers nothing to Asian security and serves only to fuel disorder.

The article is edited and translated from《美国霸权带不来亚洲安全》, source: People’s Daily Overseas Edition, author: Zhang Junshe, a researcher with the Navy Military Academic Research Institute.

Article link: http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/n/2014/0606/c98649-8737769.html

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