Archive for July, 2012

Amnesty International’s latest arms trade campaign is colonialism with a kindly face [Telegraph]

Posted in US imperialism, USA on July 31, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

July 25, 2012

Brendan O’Neill

If you needed any further proof that Amnesty International is to the 21st century what rum-swigging bearers of the White Man’s Burden were to the 19th, look no further than its current campaign for a global arms trade treaty. Amnesty is basically agitating for the West, which it considers civilised and responsible, to prevent the rest, or what Amnesty euphemistically refers to as the "wrong" people, from getting their hands on guns and bombs. It is a call for a colonial-style carve-up of the world, between those judged decent and grown-up enough not only to own guns but also to determine who else may own them (us), and those judged too infantile and brutal to be let anywhere near a gun lest they unleash "the worst kind of atrocities" (them).

Given that America has used its vast armoury to cause more destruction around the world than any other nation over the past 10 years, it is bizarre that Amnesty should be pleading with it to lead the way on restricting the flow of guns to the "wrong" countries. Amnesty wants Washington to give its blessing to a treaty that would restrict the global sale of weapons if there is a "substantial risk" that those weapons will be "used to commit serious human rights violations". (I’m not being funny, but what else would the weapons be use for? To tickle people?) Amnesty says Washington should "demonstrate true leadership" on the issue of arms trading and "send a clear message to other world leaders" that it will not tolerate weapons falling into "the hands of human rights violators".

This is a bit like asking Rose West to look after runaway girls and ensure they come to no harm. Why ask a nation that has committed numerous "atrocities" and "human rights violations" to authorise a treaty that will allegedly prevent those kind of things from happening elsewhere by taking guns out of the "wrong hands"? It is because, like its moral forebears in the colonial movements of the nineteenth century, Amnesty believes that the fundamentally decent West, whose wars are but an aberration of its normal character, has a moral responsibility to disarm and pacify and by extension to civilise the gun-toting hordes over there, whose wars are an expression of their innate warped character…

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Bo Xilai’s wife prosecuted for murder []

Posted in China on July 31, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

July 26, 2012

Former Chongqing Party chief Bo Xilai’s wife Bogu Kailai and a family aide Zhang Xiaojun were recently charged with intentional homicide by the Hefei Municipal Procuratorate in Anhui province, Xinhua learned from authorities Thursday.

The municipal prosecuting body filed the charges with the Hefei Municipal Intermediate People’s Court.

The prosecuting body informed the two defendants and the family members of the victim of their litigation rights during the investigation period.

The prosecuting body also interrogated the two defendants and heard the opinions of the defense team.

Investigation results show that Bogu Kailai, one of the defendants, and her son surnamed Bo had conflicts with the British citizen Neil Heywood over economic interests. Worrying about Neil Heywood’s threat to her son’s personal security, Bogu Kailai along with Zhang Xiaojun, the other defendant, poisoned Neil Heywood to death.

The facts of the two defendants’ crime are clear, and the evidence is irrefutable and substantial. Therefore, the two defendants should be charged with intentional homicide.

The Hefei Intermediate People’s Court has received the case according to law, and will hold a trial on a day to be decided.

Article link here

A New Kind of Spectacle: How China Changed the Olympics [The Atlantic]

Posted in Beijing, Capitalist media double standard, China, China-bashing, U.K. on July 30, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

“…There were riots and mass evictions in London, but when I emailed a journalist friend to ask why these were not getting the attention that they got in Beijing, he replied that these are "normal games" and that East London really needed regeneration.  Much of the critical media coverage of China was the product of a mutual production cycle in which advocacy groups released reports at regular intervals, which were then covered in the media.  The "news" was the release of the report and not necessarily a concrete event.  The two major news generators, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have been less active on Olympics-related issues this time around, and the media has given them less coverage.  Just to give one example, in the week after the resignation of the LOCOG sustainability chairperson, there were 21 articles about it in major Anglophone media, but in the same week, there were 17 articles that mentioned the Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei although there was no new "news" about him (figures from Lexis/Nexis).  Apparently, criticizing the Chinese government is more popular than criticizing multinational corporations… “

by Jeffrey Wasserstrom

Jul 27 2012

The world went into the 2008 games asking whether the Olympics would change China, but maybe it was the other way around…

Full article link here

China drops controversial pipeline after violent protest in Qidong (PHOTOS) [RT]

Posted in China, Corruption, Environmental protection on July 29, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

CHINA, Qidong : A group of protesters overturn a car near the local government office compound in the coastal city of Qidong, near Shanghai, in the eastern China province of Jiangsu on July 28, 2012. (AFP photo / Peter Parks)

CHINA, Qidong : A group of protesters overturn a car near the local government office compound in the coastal city of Qidong, near Shanghai, in the eastern China province of Jiangsu on July 28, 2012. (AFP photo / Peter Parks)

China’s government has bowed down to public pressure and abandoned an unpopular industrial waste pipeline project, just hours after a street protest against it, which turned violent.

China’s coastal city of Qidong saw a thousands-strong march of angry protesters clash with police and rampage in a city government building. They were opposing an industrial construction project, which they fear would poison region’s water supply.

Saturday morning’s demonstration is the latest in a series of environmental protests sparked by plans to construct a pipeline from a paper mill located some 110 kilometer from the city, which would carry industrial waste into the sea.

The protest involved more than 1,000 activists, according to Reuters estimates. AFP cites the eco-protesters themselves, who claimed they were numbered in the tens of thousands. The demonstrators clashed with police forces trying to maintain order, injuring at least several of the officers. They also overthrew several cars in their way.

A group of demonstrators broke into the Qidong government building and ransacked it. The angry mob smashed computers, damaged furniture and threw out documents from the windows. They also reportedly looted items of value, including bottles of liquor and cartons of cigarettes – which Chinese officials often receive as bribes.

The rioting comes just a day after city government announced it would put on hold the project for further environment impact research. The Japanese owner of the paper plant earlier assured that it does not pose any danger.

But many Qidong residents are convinced otherwise. They fear the pipeline would cause poisoning of local groundwater and fishing resources. The announced suspension of the project and warnings from the local government that the gathering would be breaking the law did not deter the demonstrators.

The Qidong pipeline conflict is the latest case of Chinese people strongly opposing industrial development plans over environmental issues. This month authorities decided to scrap a US$1.6 billion project for a copper plant in Shifang province, which local residents were protesting against.

A police car lies overturned as protesters occupy a government building during a protest against an industrial waste pipeline under construction in Qidong. (Reuters / Carlos Barria)
A police car lies overturned as protesters occupy a government building during a protest against an industrial waste pipeline under construction in Qidong. (Reuters / Carlos Barria)
Protesters shouted slogans and held placards outside the local government offices. AFP photo / Peter Parks
Protesters shouted slogans and held placards outside the local government offices.  (AFP photo / Peter Parks)…more photos…

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Fireworks Display Marks War Victory Anniversary in DPR Korea – PHOTOS [KCNA]

Posted in DPR Korea, Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, Korean Central News Agency of DPRK, Photos, Pyongyang, Songun policy on July 29, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Pyongyang, July 27 (KCNA) — A fireworks display took place on the banks of the Pothong River on the evening of July 27, the 59th anniversary of the victory of the Korean people in the Fatherland Liberation War.

Various places of Pyongyang including Jonsung Square, Ponghwa Street, An Sang Thaek Street and Moran Hill along the banks of the Pothong River, around the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Memorial Tower, were crowded with spectators.

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London’s Militarised Olympic Games Conjures Up Orwell’s ‘1984’ []

Posted in Afghanistan, U.K., US "War on Terror", USA on July 26, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Writer mentions that the U.K. is named “Airstrip One” in the novel “1984”; however he fails to indicate the fact that not only is the U.K. a hyper-militarized police state for the Olympics, it harbors several (at least) US military bases, making it an occupied US satellite / puppet state  –  even more like the “Airstrip One” of Orwell’s novel than the writer relates.  This particular topic will never be broached by the media – Zuo Shou

by Finian Cunningham

July 15, 2012

The London Olympics are fast taking on the appearance and tone of a full-scale land, sea and air military operation rather than an international sporting event.

With surface-to-air missiles stationed on top of residential apartment blocks, Royal Navy battleships on alert and Royal Air Force fighter jets and helicopters patrolling the skies over Britain’s capital there is a foreboding sense of a nation at war instead of an occasion of internationalist fraternity that the ancient Games are supposed to embody.

The Games begin in just under two weeks. The latest development is the announcement by Britain’s Ministry of Defence that 3,500 extra troops are to be deployed to ensure security at the 30 venues hosting sporting events. This is in addition to the 13,500 military personnel already assigned to protect members of the public and sports teams from the risk of terrorist attack.

British General Sir Nick Parker, overseeing the security arrangements, has said that one of the contingencies being planned for is dealing with a “9/11 type event”.

The total troop deployment in and around London represents 7,000 more personnel than is currently on British operations in Afghanistan.

This figure is in addition to the 10,000 extra police officers and a division of 10,000 private security guards. It was the disclosure that G45, the private security firm with the Olympics contract, could not fulfill its manpower requirements to cover the Games that prompted the latest enlisting of additional soldiers.

The militarization of the Olympics was conveyed inadvertently by a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence when he said: “Many of the people whom the public will meet at the point of entry to any Olympic event will now be a serving member of the armed forces.”

Boris Johnson, the maverick Mayor of London, said in a statement: “The mayor takes the issue of Olympics security extremely seriously, and having the finest and bravest service men and woman in the world at our disposal during the Games should be a source of great comfort.”

The Royal Navy’s largest battleship, HMS Ocean, will be moored on the Thames at Greenwich, providing a logistical command centre during the event. It will  also provide a base for Lynx helicopters manned with snipers to make round-the-clock sorties over the capital.

HMS Ocean

Royal Marines on patrol boats and inflatable dinghies are also assigned on the iconic river that snakes its way through London’s historic landmarks.

The RAF will also be patrolling the skies over the capital with Puma helicopters and Typhoon fighter jets operating out of RAF Northolt in West London and Ilford in East London.

But the most controversial deployment has been the installation of surface-to-air missile batteries in residential apartment blocks in the impoverished, rundown East End of London. Residents recently lost a court battle to prevent the Rapier SAM batteries being installed.

Puma Helicopters

Typhoon fighter Jet

Rapier SAM Battery to be installed on residential apartment blocks in London’s East End 

The mainly working-class local communities objected to the militarization of their neighbourhoods. They also questioned the safety for residents in the event of the weapons being used to bring down aircraft suspected of carrying out terror attacks. One local man said: “What’s going to happen if our houses get showered with debris?”

The military invasion of poor neighbourhoods for the four-week duration of Olympics has served to rankle already ill feeling towards the colossal spectacle. East London areas such as Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest lie in the shadow of some of the purpose-built venues. The staging of the Olympics, including the massive security operation, is reckoned to come to a total cost between $20 and $40 billion, much of which will be footed by the taxpayer. This is at time of swingeing austerity cuts by the British government amounting to a total of $140 billion axed from public spending.

Socially deprived communities in London’s East End have borne the brunt of government cutbacks required to balance Treasury books thrown into disarray from lavishing billions of dollars on bailing out corrupt private banks.

With unemployment and deprivation being felt keenly in areas like London’s East End, not many of the residents there will be able to afford the admission to the Olympics, with tickets fetching as much as $3,000.

Given the juxtaposition of this glitzy event and its garish corporate sponsorship alongside the sprawling grim poverty for many Londoners – amid the backdrop of full-scale military operations and surveillance – there is an eerie sense of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984.

Orwell’s classic story of an authoritarian police state was set mainly in London, which had become the capital of Airstrip One, a province of the American super-state, Oceania. The impoverished majority of the populace, the “proles”, had to content themselves with seedy pubs and the faint hope of winning a weekly lottery, while the “inner circle” lorded over the masses. The proles were kept in their place of servitude by emergency powers and a permanent state of war. There is also more than a suspicion in Orwell’s 1984 that the supposed state of war and incoming attacks from anonymous enemies were a contrivance by the elite to instill fear in the masses.

With the British government’s lead participation in America’s "global  war on terror” (commonly referred to as GWOT) and evidence that British intelligence colluded in the so-called 7/7 London underground terror bombings in 2005, Orwell’s 1984 looks increasingly like life imitating art.

The novel was published in 1949, one year after the last Olympics were staged in London. Those Games were held in the aftermath of World War II when much of London’s skyline would have still shown the devastation of the German Luftwaffe’s Blitzkrieg.

In 2012, London will also resemble a war zone, owing to the spurious “war on terror” that the British government and its American allies have embarked on in the pursuit of domestic and foreign dominance.

Finian Cunningham is Global Research’s Middle East and East Africa Correspondent

Article link here

DPRK state media confirm Kim Jong Un married [Xinhua]

Posted in DPR Korea, Kim Jong Un, Korean Central News Agency of DPRK on July 26, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

This photo released on July 25, 2012 by KCNA, State media of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), shows Kim Jong Un, accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju, inspects an amusement park in Pyongyang, capital of DPRK. The official KCNA news agency confirmed Wednesday that top leader Kim Jong Un has been married. (Xinhua/KCNA) 

PYONGYANG, July 25 (Xinhua) — State media of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) confirmed Wednesday that top leader Kim Jong Un has been married.

"Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju were present at the ceremony" marking the completion of an amusement park in Pyongyang, the official KCNA news agency said.

"All the participants enthusiastically welcomed them, loudly shouting ‘Hurrah!’" the report added.

"Kim Jong Un and Ri Sol Ju toured the pleasure ground together with senior party, state and army officials, diplomatic envoys, representatives of international organizations and charge d’affaires ad interims of foreign missions here and their wives," it said.

The report marks the first reference by DPRK state media to Kim’s marital status, which has been under speculation since he took power after his father, Kim Jong Il, died last December.

Earlier this month, Ri, about whom official information is scarce, was pictured accompanying Kim at a performance and during a visit to a local kindergarten, generating rumors regarding her status.

South Korean observers say that the recent appearances of the two were meant to cultivate a new image of the DPRK leader and demonstrate the stability of the country.

Last week, Kim was awarded the title of marshal of the DPRK, and Hyon Yong Chol, a newly promoted vice marshal of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), replaced Ri Yong Ho as chief of the general staff of the KPA.

The replacement came days after the KCNA announced that Ri Yong Ho, who was also a vice marshal, had been "relieved of all posts due to his illness."

Before the announcement, Ri Yong Ho was also a member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and vice chairman of the WPK Central Military Commission.

More photos at article here

Also, see Xinhua photo article with more shots of the happy couple:  “DPRK top leader, his wife visit Rungna People’s Pleasure Ground