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Archive | October, 2011

Chinese suspicion over US intentions

Recently, a number of Chinese analysts have argued United States diplomatic and military actions in the region – including Washington’s efforts to assure allies in response to North Korean attacks, its engagement with Vietnam and other countries in Southeast Asia, and its statements about resolving competing claims in the South China Sea – reflect what they see as a desire to ensure that China’s emergence will not challenge US interests.

According to Shen Dingli of Fudan University, Washington is exploiting regional tensions and urging some countries to “hedge against China’s rise”. Such comments appear to reflect growing concern about US intentions, at least among some Chinese scholars and security analysts.

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US behind ‘secession’ plot in Hong Kong?

Responding to WikiLeaks’ release of nearly 1,000 unedited US State Department cables about Hong Kong, an office spokesman accused American diplomats of contravening international law through their brazen interference in Hong Kong affairs.

“The conduct of the US has gone beyond the functions that are stated in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and other international laws,” the official China Daily quoted the unidentified spokesman as saying. “We have justification to be concerned and discontented. We demand that the US stop erring.”

A China Daily commentary, written by staff writer Bob Lee and published in the paper’s Hong Kong edition, added fuel to the fire.

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Saudi Arabia Vows ‘Iron Fist’ After Shiite Unrest

Saudi Arabia vowed to use “an iron fist” after 11 members of the security forces were attacked and injured during unrest in a Shiite Muslim town in the east, the official Saudi Press Agency said.

The government accused an unidentified foreign country of seeking to undermine the stability of the kingdom as a result of the violence in Awwamiya, in which the assailants, some on motorcycles, used machine guns and Molotov cocktails, the Riyadh-based news service reported late yesterday. A man and two women were also injured, it said.

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Spy games come to New York for UN General Assembly

When Iran’s president accused the U.S. at the United Nations General Assembly last year of orchestrating the 9/11 attacks, American diplomats were not caught flat-footed by the tirade.

Even before President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad finished his incendiary rant, U.S. diplomats marched out of the cavernous U.N. hall in protest and were ready with a written statement condemning his comments.

It was as if the U.S. knew exactly what Ahmadinejad intended to say.

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Russia’s Putin says wants to build Eurasian Union

Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he wants to bring ex-Soviet states into a “Eurasian Union” in an article which outlined his first foreign policy initiative as he prepares to return to the Kremlin as the country’s next president.

Putin said the new union would build on an existing Customs Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan which from next year will remove all barriers to trade, capital and labor movement between the three countries.

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Watch out for Putin, and Russia

The news itself was hardly startling. It has been increasingly clear during the last year that the Regent (Vladimir Putin) would recover the throne from the Dauphin (Dmitry Medvedev). But now that it seems a certainty that Russia is headed for (at least) 12 more years of Putinism, alarm bells ought to be sounding. Why? Because by every indicator — macroeconomic, political, social — the system that Putin forged in the early 2000s is all but exhausted and is driving the country toward a dead end. It must be radically reformed, or better yet, discarded. But how can it be gotten rid of with its creator back in control?

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Ethiopia: Dictatorship is State Terrorism

Lately, Meles Zenawi, the dictator in Ethiopia, has been rounding up dissidents, journalists, opposition party political leaders and members under a diktat known as “Anti-Terrorism Proclamation No. 652/2009”.

The “anti-terrorism law” is a masterpiece of ambiguity, unintelligibility, obscurity, superficiality, unclarity, uncertainty, inanity and vacuity. It defines “terrorism” with such vagueness and overbreadth that any act, speech, statement, and even thought, could be punished under its sweeping provisions.

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Manmohan urged to address Kashmir mass graves issue

The letter criticizes the government for “apathy and indifference” which has created “tremendous anger and alienation amongst the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who are traumatized over the denial of justice”.

Thousands of Kashmiris have “disappeared” over the years, with most remaining untraced till date.

The letter asks the prime minister to take concrete steps to address the issue, that includes fast and immediate identification of the bodies found in the mass graves.

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EU CFR’s Prognosis: Marching towards disintegration

The politician in search of reading material on European integration has shelves of books from which to choose. On European disintegration, by contrast, the literature is scant. Yet with Europe’s leaders embarked on a “march of folly,” to borrow Barbara Tuchman’s phrase, this could well be the future we now face. Tuchman described how leaders throughout human history have acted “contrary to the way reason points and enlightened self-interest suggests”[1– a description that all too neatly fits the recent behaviour of the EU’s senior politicians. The ultimate destination of their particular march of folly could well be disintegration. It is important, therefore, that we examine what that might look like.

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Spain’s stolen baby scandal

Antonio Barroso cried himself to sleep every night until he was 12, haunted, he says, by a taunt from other children: “Your mother isn’t your real mother.”

He asked his mother repeatedly, and even secretly checked his official birth certificate. But she insisted, and the documents confirmed, he was her son.

It wasn’t until 2008, when he was 38, that he discovered the lie: He was stolen from his biological parents and sold into adoption.

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Shell funded warring militias in the Niger Delta — report

In Counting the Cost: corporations and human rights abuses in the Niger Delta, Platform and a coalition of NGOs accuse Shell Oil of funding vicious conflicts between rival gangs in the Niger Delta, bribing local militias to gain access to oil, and contributing to terrible human rights abuses in the region, including devastation in the town of Rumuekpe and the slaughter of 60 people there.

The gang became locked in competition witha rival group over access to oil money, with payments to one faction provoking a violent reaction from the other. “The [rival gang] will come and fight, some will die, just to enable them to also get [a] share. So the place now becomes a contest ground for warring factions. Who takes over the community has the attention of the company.”

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Japan’s government agencies used propaganda to skew public opinion in favor of nuclear energy

Officials of two government agencies were found to have taken inappropriate action in seven instances in an attempt to influence public opinion on nuclear energy, according to the results of an investigation released on Sept. 30.

The investigating panel found that officials of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) as well as the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy instructed electric power companies to have their employees attend symposiums and other events related to nuclear energy. They also encouraged local residents to state opinions in favor of nuclear energy at such gatherings.

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Seoul psyop campaign could provoke military clash, says N.Korea

SEOUL: North Korea on Saturday blasted South Korea for propaganda broadcasts into its territory, saying the “despicable psychological campaign” could provoke a serious military clash.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Post and Communications threatened “merciless punishment” by the army against broadcasters if the campaign persisted.

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Leaked document reveals plans to ‘eliminate’ Russia’s enemies overseas

The objectives, the directive says, are “observation, identification, possible return to the Russian Federation” of their targets.

But it also allows for “under special directives” the “elimination outside of the Russian Federation in the countries of Near Abroad [former Soviet states] and in the European Union, of the leaders of unlawful terrorist groups and organisations, extremist formations and associations, of individuals who have left Russia illegally [and are] wanted by federal law enforcement”.

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‘Latest PKK attacks aim to drag Turkey to brink of civil war’

Turkey is preparing to launch cross-border military operations against the PKK. Yet, for the first time, despite terrorist attacks, a government seems to be determined to take further steps towards democratization, while also taking security precautions against terrorism. So why is all of this occurring now in Turkey, a country living between hope and fear?

Orhan Miroğlu is a Kurdish intellectual and politician. He was tortured at Diyarbakır Prison, where he was imprisoned for eight years after being convicted in the aftermath of the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup. He later survived serious wounds sustained during an assassination targeting Kurdish intellectual Musa Anter.

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Ruthless squad hunts CIA informers in Pak

A blindfolded man stands on explosives, trembling as he confesses to spying for the CIA in Pakistan. Armed men in black balaclavas slowly back away. Then he is blown up.

One of his executioners —members of an elite militant hit squad — zooms a camera in on his severed head and body parts for a video later distributed in street markets as a warning.

Al Qaida, the Pakistani Taliban and the Haqqani network — blamed for the September 13 attack on the US embassy in Kabul — picked the most ruthless fighters from their ranks in 2009 to form the Khurasan unit, for a special mission.

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Pakistan elite talk up imminent US invasion

ISLAMABAD: The United States might still be weighing its options about how to deal with Pakistan, but many politicians, retired army generals and television personalities here have already made up their minds that America is on the warpath with their country.

Such is the media frenzy and warmongering that popular talk show hosts have begun discussing possible scenarios of how Pakistan should react if the US attacks the country. One television news channel has even aired a war anthem.

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Plutonium found 40km from Fukushima plant

Small amounts of plutonium believed to have escaped from Japan’s tsunami-crippled nuclear plant have been detected in soil more than 40km away, say government researchers, a finding that will fuel already widespread fears about radiation risk.

The discovery came as authorities lifted evacuation advisories on other towns near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power station in the north-east prefecture of Fukushima, saying radiation readings showed they were safe for residents.

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South Asia’s Nuclear Arms Racing

Efforts to negotiate direct limits on the two countries’ nuclear forces are probably premature, so the United States and other countries have instead tried to constrain the racing indirectly, by limiting the amount of fissile material they manufacture.

Fissile material, typically in the form of highly-enriched uranium and plutonium separated from the spent reactor fuel, is used to power a nuclear chain reaction explosion. Most of the established nuclear weapons states have excess fissile material left over from their Cold War build-ups

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Why Are Pakistan’s Militant Groups Splintering?

The plethora of new groups is not only a change from the previous tendency among Pakistani militant groups to form large umbrella organizations like the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP). It also has been accompanied by a breakdown of these larger structures, making it uncertain what kind of command structure the new groups share.

“Over the last two years, splinter groups have been emerging with different new names, like al-Mukhtar, Punjabi Taliban, and Badar Mansoor, and there are a dozen other names,” journalist Zia ur-Rehman, who specializes in militant groups, tells Radio Mashaal. “Whenever there is raid by the Criminal Investigation Department, a new group is discovered. Basically these are the splinter groups of [once larger organizations like the] TTP, or Lashkar Jangvi, or other jihadist groups.”

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Poverty-stricken families join a lengthening queue for food handouts

Boxes of fresh vegetables sit alongside bags of freshly baked bread; jars of seafood pasta sauce, still under plastic wrap, are tucked in alongside sacks of rice. Each one of these heaps, obtained by the Leicester branch of the food waste charityFareShare, is a marker for chronic hunger; a profound hunger that, as the economic forecasts worsen and the Conservative party meets in Manchester this weekend to argue over what can be done about it, is only deepening.

“There’s a big increase in demand,” says John Russell of the Centre Project, a drop-in project in the heart of Leicester supporting people in need. “We used to feed 30 or 40 people a week. Now it’s 70 or 80.”

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