Archive for the US foreign occupation Category

News analysis: Japan gov’t ignoring Okinawans’ feelings could see history of clashes repeat itself [Xinhua]

Posted in Anti-USA protest, Japan, Obama, Okinawa, Pentagon, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA on April 6, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Jon Day

TOKYO, April 1 (Xinhua) — A rift is widening dramatically between Japan’s central government and local officials and citizens in Okinawa Prefecture following an order by its governor for the defense bureau to halt drilling at the site of a planned new U.S. military base in a coastal region on the island being overturned and sparking protests in the region.

Japan’s Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said Tuesday he hopes the central government will begin work involved with reclaiming land from the sea in the coastal region of Henoko, in Nago City on Okinawa island, with drilling work concluded by June so the main reclamation work can begin in the middle 2015 and the new U.S. base’s construction expedited.

Reclaiming land from the sea is an integral part of a joint Japan-U.S. plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station from the densely populated district of Ginowan on the island, to the coastal region of Henoko. But the four-year bilateral plan has drawn a great deal of resistance from Okinawa’s prefectural officials and citizens, who are staunchly opposed to the relocation and feel overburdened by their decades-long U.S. base hosting duties.

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, an opponent to the base’s relocation, on March 23 ordered the regional defense bureau to halt its drilling operations off Henoko and threatened to rescind a permit granted to the defense ministry by his predecessor.

Onaga, who became governor due to local support for his ardent opposition to the planned construction of the new U.S. base, previously said that the defense ministry’s underwater operations have damaged a coral reef in the area by sinking concrete blocks weighing up to 45 tons into the sea, to tether floating “no entry” signs around the controversial drilling zone.

The blocks, outside the demarkation [sic] zone, it was subsequently found, had crushed an endangered coral reef and officials are concerned that more damage may have been caused within the “no entry” zone, which the U.S. military refuses to grant local officials access to, to inspect.

But despite Onaga’s order, ultimately, the construction of the base entirely, saying the drilling operations by the defense ministry will cause irrevocable damage to the local environment and describing the actions of the defense ministry as “utterly deplorable,” the central government has overturned Onaga’s demands, with Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi on Monday nullifying Onaga’s instruction and permitting the defense bureau to continue with their drilling work.

Hayashi’s reversal of Onaga’s order angered local residents, who, once again took to the streets near to the planned site of the new base and voiced their anger and dismay at the central government, with local media quoting protestors describing the situation as an, “outrageous act that ignores the sentiments of prefectural residents.”

The central government, as Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has consistently stated, plans to move forward with the drilling and construction plans regardless of the local opposition in support of its governor. Onaga himself, however, may now look to nullify Hayashi’s verdict and revoke the defense bureau’s permit as originally threatened, which would see the case go to court, the rift widen and the impasse rumble on, and local sentiment towards the central government worsen.

As the rift continues to widen between local prefectural officials, its citizens and the central government, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will likely be scratching his head for a solution, albeit a short-term one, as a keenly-eyed visit to the United States and talks with U.S. President Barack Obama loom.

The Okinawa issue has been a consistent source of irritation for Washington due to Tokyo’s inability to move forward with plans to relocate the base, as part of the U.S. broader realignment of its troops here. Washington has instructed Tokyo to work harder to gain the support of the local citizens of Okinawa for the construction of the new base, but four administrations, thus far, including Abe’s, have failed, causing the project to become severely delayed and tensions on the island to rise to a fever pitch.

And while Nakatani has made it clear that the local chapter of his defense ministry will soldier on with the original plans to relocate the base to the pristine coastal region of Henoko, and, in doing so, has once again, somewhat autocratically, brushed aside the local citizens’ and officials’ feelings on the matter, Abe himself said he wants to try and garner more local support.

Abe, who is increasingly under the international media spotlight ahead of his visit to the U.S., said that as well as moving forward with the base relocation, he wants to return other military facilities and land to the people of Okinawa.

In an Upper House session Monday, Abe said it would be efficacious for his government to talk to officials on the island, including Onaga, and aim to build more trust. But political watchers here, however, have said that Abe’s new-found congenial remarks on the matter run completely contrary to actual moves by the central government, as evidenced in the words of Suga, Nakatani and the moves by the regional defense bureau.

Observers have stated that it may be the case that Abe needs to be seen to be actively improving the ever-worsening relationship between his government and prefectural officials and citizens in Okinawa, ahead of his trip to the U.S. or deal with the wrath of Washington on the issue, which under former administrations, had negatively impacted bilateral relations between the two allies each time Tokyo failed.

Abe said that on Tuesday the U.S. Camp Zukeran, which is spread over a large area in the central part of the main island and more than 1,000 hectares in the densely populated regions will be returned to the island over the next 15 years.

But local citizens have heard it all before and, according to local sources, there is a growing mistrust of anything the central government says on such issues, due to the current administration’ s plans to bulldoze through Onaga’s orders and previous administrations flip-flopping over the Futenma relocation issue.

Such mistrust is leading to increasing frustration from the local citizens, who have been seen taking to the streets with placards and megaphones, and, in a number of instances recently, taking to the water in small boats to show their opposition to the central government’s moves.

Anti-U.S. sentiment has been steadily growing on the island as base-related pollution and accidents threatens the environment and safety of the locals and crimes committed by U.S. military personnel, in particular, continue to spark fury among the locals.

Political analysts have said the central government needs to remain cognizant of the feelings of the people of Okinawa and the history of their base-hosting suffering, which, among other heinous crimes, includes the brutal rape of an elementary schoolgirl in Okinawa by three U.S. servicemen in 1995 and other incidents such as in 2004 when a Marine CH-53D Sea Stallion heavy assault transport helicopter plowed into the Okinawa International University in Ginowan.

The situation in Okinawa has been described as something of a powder keg at the moment, as Okinawan locals shoulder the burden of hosting 75 percent of Japan’s U.S. bases and around half of all the Japan-based U.S. military personnel, with the tiny island only accounting for just one percent of Japan’s total land area.

In 1970, following an unpunished drunk driving incident by a U. S. soldier, more than 3,000 local residents took to the streets of Okinawa and attacked U.S. service people, their vehicles and successfully entered military premises and burned buildings…

…the message from analysts close to the matter is that Abe’s government must stop regarding the local population of Okinawa as pushovers, or lesser citizens than those residing on mainland Japan, or history could indeed repeat itself.

Edited by Zuo Shou

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Military contractor pleads guilty in US Navy corruption scandal [World Socialist Website]

Posted in China, Encirclement of China, Malaysia, Obama, Pentagon, Thailand, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA on March 14, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Nick Barrickman
19 January 2015

On Thursday, military contractor Leonard Glenn Francis pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of fraud and bribery for his role in a scheme intended to fleece the US Navy out of tens millions [sic] of dollars. Francis must forfeit $35 million in funds obtained by the firm and faces up to 25 years imprisonment for his role. Including Francis, five naval officials and two other contractors have been indicted for their part in the affair.

The guilty plea is connected to a federal investigation into military defense contractor Glenn Marine Defense Asia (GMDA) over a ten-year period beginning in 2004. Throughout this time, GMDA officials bribed naval officials with “top-shelf” luxury goods, paid vacations, hotel and spa visits, prostitutes, and other items so that the naval brass would give the firm preferential treatment and steer ships to its private ports.

At these locations, naval officials were paid to “drive the big decks [aircraft carriers]” into “fat revenue” ports, according to Francis’s memos presented by the prosecution. GMDA, which won a US government contract worth $200 million despite numerous complaints stemming from the firm’s exorbitant fees, would then conspire with naval officials and subcontractors in order to vastly inflate the costs of services rendered. Despite a clause in its contract that fixed the prices the firm was allowed to charge the government, the company was able to exploit loopholes by bribing a number of officials in charge of processing appeals for so-called “incidental services.”

The federal investigation found that the firm registered 282 false quotes for services rendered at three Thailand-based ports during a nine-month period in 2011-2012 alone, resulting in an overcharge of nearly $2.3 million. At two of the ports, the firm utilized shell companies posing as local government officials to impose fictitious tariffs on passing vessels, raking in additional millions.

“Francis maintained corrupt relations with scores of Navy officials,” stated Assistant US Attorney Mark Pletcher to Reuters. A contractor speaking under conditions of anonymity told the Washington Post of GMDA’s practices that “[t]here is no way that anybody who’s been there for five minutes can’t have smelled something.” The contractor continued, “But the Navy routinely decided to look the other way. It was just constantly outrageous.”

Six others have pled guilty to charges stemming from the scandal, including Navy Capt. Daniel Dusek, who also pleaded guilty Thursday to one charge of conspiracy to commit bribery and is the highest-ranking military official to be indicted. Others involved include US Navy Commander Jose Luis Sanchez, who pled guilty last month of accepting $100,000 in cash, entertainment, and other items; retired Lt. Commander Edmund A. Aruffo; and GMDA manager Alex Wisidagama.

Two senior military officials, Vice Admiral Ted Branch and Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless, directors of Naval Intelligence and Intelligence Operations, respectively, have had their access to classified material halted pending further investigation. Navy Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz has pled not guilty to charges against him in the affair.

In conjunction with a vast network of bribes, the firm was able to reap increasingly high profits as a component of the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia,” in which vast military resources have been deployed to areas surrounding the Asian continent in preparation for a confrontation with the US’s global competitor, China. A 2013 Washington Post article notes that in 2009, four of the firm’s ports in Thailand and Malaysia received seven visits from US forces. One year later, the number grew to 48 visits, a sevenfold increase…

Edited/excerpted by Zuo Shou

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DPRK calls attack on U.S. ambassador to S. Korea “deserved punishment” [Xinhua]

Posted in Anti-USA protest, Diplomat, DPR Korea, Korean Central News Agency of DPRK, Protest action, south Korea, State Department, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA on March 8, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

PYONGYANG, March 5 (Xinhua) — The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Thursday called the razor-wielding attack on the U.S. ambassador to South Korea earlier in the day a “deserved punishment”, the official KCNA news agency reported.

“The recent case amid mounting anti-Americanism reflects the mindset of South Korean people censuring the U.S. for bringing the danger of a war to the Korean Peninsula through the madcap saber-rattling,” the report said…

…Pyongyang on Monday blasted the U.S.-S.Korea joint annual military drills that run from March 2 to April 24, calling the exercises codenamed “Key Resolve” and “Foal Eagle” “intolerable aggression moves.”

On the same day, an unnamed spokesman for the DPRK’s General Staff of the Korean People’s Army issued a statement, threatening to retaliate the military exercises with the “toughest measures” and saying the DPRK’s armed forces “are fully ready” to strike their designated targets.

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US ambassador to South Korea slashed in face by assailant [China Daily]

Posted in Diplomat, south Korea, US foreign occupation, USA on March 5, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

US OUT of Korea! Is this part of the rebellion against US imperialism called for by Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro? – Zuo Shou

(Agencies) Updated: 2015-03-05

SEOUL – The US ambassador to South Korea was slashed in the face by an unidentified assailant at a public forum in the capital early on Thursday, police and a witness said.

Ambassador Mark Lippert was attending a breakfast forum in central Seoul when a man attacked him, slashing him in the face, a witness at the event told Reuters.

Lippert, 42, was bleeding from a facial wound but was walking after the attack as he was taken to the hospital, the witness and news reports said.

A police officer said the suspected attacker was being investigated and could not immediately comment further.

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Page with photo of blood-spattered Ambassador Lippert:

It’s going to be hard to get those bloodstains out of that pink tie…

French, European imperialists escalate Islamophobia [Workers World]

Posted in Afghanistan, Anti-Arab / Antisemitism, Anti-Islam hysteria, Belgium, CIA, Economic crisis & decline, Fascism, France, Genocide, Germany, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Iraq, Obama, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Spain, Syria, Torture, Turkey, U.K., Ukraine, US "War on Terror", US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA, Yemen on January 26, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Fred Goldstein January 19, 2015

French, U.S. and British imperialism and their partners, each in their own way and for their own aims, are determined to escalate wars abroad and repression at home.

The French ruling class has imposed an undeclared state of siege on its own Muslim population and has used troops in North and West Africa to repress rebellions protesting the publication of Islamophobic cartoons in the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

French President Francois Hollande, of the misnamed “Socialist Party,” has declared that France is “at war,” echoing a previous statement by Prime Minister Manuel Valls. France has deployed 122,000 heavily armed troops and police throughout the country and has declared a “high alert.” Soldiers and police with heavy weapons patrol the streets, train stations and other public places. Raids have been carried out and dozens of people arrested.

In neighboring Belgium, the authorities deployed 300 troops to Antwerp and Brussels, carried out sweeps and shot two people dead in a raid in the town of Verviers. In Germany, Interior Ministry spokesperson Tobias Plate spoke of an “abstract high danger” as the authorities deployed 250 police in pre-dawn raids. The racist frenzy in France led to the stabbing death in a village outside Avignon of a Moroccan man, Mohamed El Makouli, by an Islamophobic neighbor.

Imperialists step up international aggression

The European imperialists are doubling down on their attacks abroad as well. The French government is flying Mirage jets over Iraq in a joint operation with the U.S. Instead of addressing the crushing poverty and racism suffered by the millions of French youth and workers of African or Middle Eastern ancestry, the answer of the regime is to deploy troops and step up surveillance in the oppressed communities and at airports.

Instead of pulling back from war on Muslim people in Iraq, Syria and North and West Africa, the Hollande regime is pressing ahead with the policies that led to the attacks against the unspeakable racism and chauvinism expressed by the cartoons of Charlie Hebdo.

Hollande and his fellow imperialists organized a mass march in Paris on Jan. 11 allegedly for “free speech,” which defended and celebrated the magazine that insulted the religion of nearly 2 billion oppressed people worldwide. In fact, you do not have to be religious at all to be revolted by the arrogant, insensitive depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in sexual poses and other objectionable images.

Hollande is partly motivated by the fact that his popularity in France was at a dismally low point before the crisis. And he is struggling to fend off challenges from the fascist National Front Party, led by Marine le Pen, who got a quarter of the vote in the 2014 election for the European Parliament. It is characteristic of social democrats such as Hollande that the way they fight the right is to move to the right themselves and occupy the political territory of the National Front.

President Obama and his administration have been trying to bob and weave through the crisis. The Obama administration stayed away from the Paris demonstration. Attorney General Eric Holder, who was in Paris just blocks away at a conference, stayed away from the march.

Washington is universally hated by Muslims

This is for purely imperialist purposes. Washington is the most universally hated power by Muslims — from the Middle East to Pakistan, to Afghanistan to Yemen and Somalia, and other parts of the world — for its wars of aggression, its drone strikes, its torture policies, its massacres of civilians, its prisons from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo, and more.

The recent exposure of the CIA torturers in the Senate Intelligence Committee report is filled with graphic descriptions of U.S. torture. These have been read around the world. Washington is trying to placate Muslim public opinion and has even banned references to “Islamic extremism.” In addition to the fact that the neocons and militarists in Washington despise French imperialism and do not want to increase its prestige, they certainly did not want to be identified with defense of the insult to the Prophet Muhammad at a time when they are escalating their attacks on Muslims in Iraq and Syria and at home.

Washington and the Pentagon have no intention of pulling back on their aggression. Obama held a joint press conference on Jan. 16 with his junior partner, British Prime Minister David Cameron, to announce common measures to “fight terrorism.” Cameron announced new cooperation in the war in Iraq and in Ukraine, among other gestures of imperialist subordination.

But Washington intends to keep leadership of the imperialist assault against the oppressed. While in Paris during the march, Eric Holder announced that the administration will host a summit in Washington on Feb. 18 on preventing violent extremism.

Washington recently announced a new deployment of 1,000 U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. They will be used to train carefully vetted, Pentagon-approved Syrian counterrevolutionaries in order to build up a 5,000-person force to continue the war against Syria and the Islamic State.

Washington is also behind the counterrevolutionary government of Petro Poroshenko in Ukraine, which is planning a new offensive to try to recapture the east from anti-fascist forces of resistance to a U.S.-Europe takeover.

Rise of Islamophobia

The background on the rise of Islamophobia is the growing economic crisis that is engulfing Europe. Islamophobia has become the battle cry of the ultra-right and fascist forces in Europe, just as racism, sexism and homophobia make up the battle cry of right-wing extremists and fascists in the U.S.

Fascist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic parties exist in France, Germany, Britain, Belgium, Sweden, Greece and other countries in Europe. Prior to the most recent publication of cartoons defaming the Prophet Muhammad, there were demonstrations throughout Europe demanding crackdowns on immigration and immigrants.

In recent days specific Islamophobic demonstrations have taken place in Germany and France. It is an illusion that Islamophobia can be stopped by a government ban of right-wing demonstrations.

The social soil for political reaction exists in France, for example, where the official unemployment rate is 10 percent and youth unemployment is 20 percent. At the same time, unemployment rates have reached 40 percent in the oppressed neighborhoods.

French capitalism, and European capitalism in general, has been unable to lift itself out of the global capitalist crisis which began in 2007. There has been no recovery for the European working class. Unemployment in the eurozone, as in France, is above 10 percent, and youth unemployment is double that. In some countries such as Greece and Spain unemployment is between 15 and 20 percent.

This is part of a general crisis of overproduction that has plagued the global profit system and which is intensifying every month. Right now the right wing has seized the advantage and is feeding on the discontent of the masses to garner support for divisive, racist ideology. This is aggravated by the inability of the capitalist governments to turn the economic situation around.

Persistent and growing unemployment should be a signal for a revival of the working-class movement. It is high time for the communists and progressive, anti-racist, anti-imperialist and pro-working class forces to unite to defend the Muslim population and push back the fascists.

Copyright © 2015

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South Korea deports Korean-American woman accused of supporting the North [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Anti-communism, DPR Korea, Encirclement of China, Japan, Kim Jong Un, North wind campaign, Obama, Pentagon, Pyongyang, south Korea, south Korean human rights hypocrisy, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, Western nations' human rights distortions on January 17, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Ben McGrath
13 January 2015

South [sic] Korea deported Korean-American Shin Eun-mi on Saturday for supposedly making pro-North [sic] Korean comments. She arrived back in Los Angeles the same day, US time, and will be barred from returning to Korea for five years. Shin’s case is just the latest in Seoul’s attacks on democratic rights.

President Park Geun-hye’s government accused Shin of violating South Korea’s draconian National Security Act. Shin gave public talks around the country with Hwang Seon, the former deputy spokeswoman of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP), the forerunner of the Unified Progressive Party (UPP), which the government, via the Constitutional Court, forcibly disbanded in December. The government is considering issuing an arrest warrant for Hwang.

Shin said last Wednesday, as she appeared for questioning by prosecutors: “I can guarantee that I have done nothing that violates the National Security Act. I have made no pro-North Korea remarks in public. There are no such remarks in my book, either.” Shin was referring to her book, A Korean-American Ajumma Goes to North Korea, which detailed her trips to North Korea. “Ajumma” is a Korean word referring to a middle-aged or married woman. Shin visited the North six times from October 2011 and published the book in 2012.

Right-wing organizations filed a complaint against Shin and Hwang after a November 19 talk at Seoul’s Jogyesa Temple, claiming that the two women painted North Korea in a positive light. During the discussion, Shin said that in North Korea, “people seemed to be filled with expectation and hope about the young leader (Kim Jong-un).”

The complaints against the two women received more attention when a 17-year-old boy attacked Shin and Hwang with a homemade bomb at a lecture the women held in Iksan, North Jeolla Province, in December. No-one was seriously injured but two people received minor burns. The teenager, hailed as a hero by extreme-right groups, is currently awaiting trial.

The government’s claims that Shin undermined “national security” are farcical. Her book on North Korea was even selected as suggested reading by South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Shin said: “If I did (violate the National Security Act), why did the government select my book as a recommended one in the first place? I just gave lectures and filmed a documentary based on the book.”

Another comment by Shin points far more as to why she was targeted by the government. “Even though it is the 21st century, are we not seeing these pro-communist frame-ups, spy frame-ups?” she asked. “It is a ballad that I heard from when I attended kindergarten in the 60s.” Several UPP members were arrested last year and accused, on the basis of fabricated evidence, of plotting a rebellion in support of North Korea.

Seoul has whipped up these red scares not simply as a turn away from democracy. It is bound up with South Korea’s alignment with the United States and its “pivot to Asia,” which is aimed at economically undermining and militarily surrounding China. This includes ramping up tensions on the Korean Peninsula against China’s ally North Korea — and risking war with Pyongyang. The government fears that any anti-war sentiment could be used to oppose these growing war plans. Shin’s greatest crime, as far as the government is concerned, is that she presented North Koreans as human beings who have the same hopes and desires as average South Koreans…

Seoul deepened its military cooperation with the US over the past year. This included signing a trilateral intelligence sharing agreement with the US and Japan, expressing support for a Thermal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system in South Korea and postponing the handover to Seoul of US operational control over the South Korean military. In the event of war, the United States will take command of the South’s military.

Seoul also backed the Obama administration’s claims that North Korea was responsible for hacking at Sony Pictures Entertainment and supported new US sanctions, calling them “appropriate.” The South Korean media presented Washington’s accusations as fact despite a lack of evidence.

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki raised mild criticisms of South Korea over Shin’s deportation. While claiming at a daily press briefing on Friday that South Korea “has shown a consistent and longstanding commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights,” Psaki said the US is “concerned that the national security law, as interpreted and applied in some cases, limits freedom of expression and restricts access to the Internet.”

This “criticism” has nothing to do with a genuine concern for free speech. It is particularly hypocritical coming from a government that has been exposed as spying on and violating the democratic rights of its population and millions of others internationally on a daily basis. Instead, the US is using this issue to continue to pressure Seoul to work more closely with Japan in the US-directed war preparations against China.

Excerpted / edited by Zuo Shou

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South Korean court disbands opposition party [World Socialist Website]

Posted in DPR Korea, Lee Myung-bak, North wind campaign, south Korea, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA on January 4, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Ben McGrath

24 December 2014

South Korea’s Constitutional Court issued a ruling last Friday disbanding the small opposition Unified Progressive Party (UPP), citing government claims that the party supported North Korea. The court decision, instigated by President Park Geun-hye’s government, is an attack on basic democratic rights, aimed at silencing political criticism and opposition…

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