discarded lies: monday, april 23, 2018 12:28 pm zst
carving reality at the joints
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India Discouraging Chinese Investment
This is a brilliant move. India does not need Chinese meddling. What I find most interesting is the Indian insight that Taiwan is not to be trusted. Indeed, it isn't. Taiwan is deeply fiscally invested in Communist China, and I've long had an intuition that Taiwan is a kind of trap for the United States. I'm reluctant to accept sales of advanced weaponry to Taiwan because there are plenty of Taiwanese traitors who will immediately sell secrets to China.
NEW DELHI: India is planning to enact a law to discourage foreign investment from China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Macua, Taiwan and North Korea.

It has also classified Jammu and Kashmir, Chhattisgarh state, northeastern states and areas near nuclear, space and defence installations and border areas as sensitive locations, empowering the government to suspend any foreign investment in telecom, airports and information technology in these areas.

The National Security Council (NSC), which met here recently under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, took note of Chinese investments in the telecom sector and also the intelligence reports suggesting a curb on the flow of capital and technology from Beijing. Intelligence agencies have also warned that foreign investment from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and North Korea could threaten security interests, as these countries’ entities could be manipulated.

The NSC proposed the enactment of a ‘national security exception act’ to empower the “government to suspend or prohibit any foreign acquisition, merger or takeover of an Indian company that is considered prejudicial to national interests”.

Sources said the NSC had suggested security screening of foreigners entering sensitive locations and sectors like seaports, airports, telecom, Internet service providers, international long distance telecom services, oil refining, gas pipelines, oil and gas exploration, shipping, metallurgy, defence, data processing and pharmaceuticals.
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Japan's Next Prime Minister: Shinzo Abe?
Much like Koizumi, Abe is a strong nationalist with clear vision who wants his country to take a leading role in the world, and become a self-sufficient military power capable of deterring Russian and Chinese aggression on its own. I wish him the best. It's time to get over Japan's Imperial follies and let it assume a rightful place among the nations (and in the UN Security Council).
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe has formally announced his candidacy to succeed Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Mr Abe pledged a robust foreign policy and restated his aim of holding a referendum on constitutional revision.

Mr Abe, 51, is the clear front-runner to win the 20 September contest to become president of the ruling party.

The holder of this post is almost certain to be made prime minister when Mr Koizumi steps down on 30 September.

Mr Abe made his announcement at a news conference in Hiroshima.

"I have decided to run as a candidate to respond to and accept the warm and strong hopes of many Japanese people," he said.

Mr Abe is not expected to make major changes in policy if he becomes prime minister.

Like Mr Koizumi, he favours strengthening an alliance with the United States, and taking a tough stand against North Korea.

In fact he is seen as even more hawkish than the current prime minister on some foreign policy issues, raising fears that Japan's relations with China and South Korea - which have deteriorated markedly under Mr Koizumi - could worsen still further.

"Japan will follow a foreign policy that makes firm demands based on national interests," Mr Abe said in his speech.

He was keen to improve ties with China and South Korea, he said, but stressed that such a step required "efforts from each country".

He also spoke of the need to revise Japan's pacifist constitution, which bans the use of military force. "We need a new constitution that fits better for how Japan should be in the 21st century," he said.
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Creep claims to have been "in love" with JonBenet Ramsey
BANGKOK (Reuters) - An American suspected over the murder of six-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey during Christmas 1996 has said her death was an accident, a senior Thai policeman said on Thursday.

"He killed the girl by accident," Immigration Police chief Lieutenant-General Suwat Tumroungsiskul told reporters after primary school teacher John Mark Karr, 41, was interrogated a day after his arrest in Bangkok.

"They fell in love with each other. She was very beautiful. So he kidnapped her and killed her by accident," Suwat said.
What. The. Heck...

UPDATE: Not so hard on the copper. As Jourdan and Matt point out in the comments, an extended reading of his comments in context shows that he was simply characterizing the suspect's account of himself, and this is not his personal view.
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North Korea building missile bases against Japan
China's instrument of plausible deniability is building up a strategic force of ballistic missile bases targeted at the US forces in Japan. I'm sure they will conveniently attack us at the same time that China invades Taiwan-culminating the longest, slowest unanswered open buildup to a war of aggression that I have ever seen.
North Korea has been building new underground missile bases along its east coast, targeting Japan and US military facilities in Japan, a report said.

Some 200 Rodong missiles with a range of up to 2,200 kilometers (1,360 miles) and 50 SSN-6 missiles with ranges of 2,500 to 4,000 kilometers are at the new bases, the state-run Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security (IFANS) said in the report carried by Yonhap news agency.

"The new bases clustered along the east coastal line are for medium- and long-range missiles targeting Japan and US military bases in Japan," read the report by Yun Deok-Min, an IFANS arms control expert.

"Combined with its nuclear weapons, North Korea's ballistic missiles provides it with a powerful deterrent."

North Korea has also constructed new underground missile bases deep in mountains near its border with China, to avoid outside attacks, it said.

The communist nation set off new alarm bells in the region with its July 5 test-firing of seven ballistic missiles which splashed in the Sea of Japan (East Sea). In 1998, it test-launched a missile over Japan.
Best line:
Pyongyang's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper on Thursday warned against Japan's recent US-backed military buildup which it said "is aimed to mount a preemptive attack" on North Korea.

"The Japanese reactionaries had better behave with discretion, bearing in mind that reinvasion of Korea is as foolish an act as jumping into fire with (a) faggot on one's back," Rodong said.
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Okinawa to host Patriot IIIs
This is a good move versus North Korea and its patron. However, Okinawa's governor disagrees, dishonestly. It's one thing to say "we don't want any more Americans because they rape the local girls" (and regrettably, they do seem to cause a furor by raping an Okinawan something like once every couple of years or so). A few years ago it was a 12-year old girl, kidnapped and raped by three Americans; they dishonored our nation terribly. In a country as racist and insular as Japan, where thousands of establishments display "Japanese only" signs, the powerful reaction to the levels of rape by US troops (which is out of proportion to their percentage of the Japanese population, and the annual Japanese rape rate, by something like 20 times!) is perfectly understandable. To Okinawan eyes, we're not very good guests, and they didn't want us there in the first place. What is less understandable is the governor claiming there is no threat that justifies deploying the Patriot missiles. Uh, Inamine, dude...look at a map sometime, and draw a circle around each country that hates Japan and hates America. Draw the circles around China and North Korea in red. You will have a lot of circles.
Protesters angered by the announcement stormed a local government building in Okinawa, where residents have expressed a strong desire for a large reduction in U.S. forces. The U.S. already has about 50,000 troops in Japan under a mutual security pact.

Defense Facilities Administration Agency chief Iwao Kitahara called on Okinawa Gov. Keiichi Inamine to support the plan, but the governor denounced it, saying no threat required the move.

"The planned deployment is extremely regrettable, when there is no activity that requires one," Inamine said.
I wonder how many Okinawans participated in the Rape of Nanking.
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Double ghost month
Ghosts are everywhere in Taiwan: Dead parents visit their children in dreams and demand money, evil spirits corrupt government officials and make them take bribes, and according to police, ghosts may even be responsible for unsolved murders. Not to mention the bad habit they have of sleeping on people.
Chen Jun-jie, 18, a high school student, says he keeps his windows and doors shut tight year-round so the spirits can't peek in at him. "I'm quite careful about ghosts," he says, dressed in Nike sneakers and a matching basketball outfit. "I once had one sleep on me, and I couldn't move for a long time."
And the ghosts don't just stop there...
Ghosts don't just attack people's psyches, they might even be threatening Taiwan's military security. Ghost experts say some Taiwanese soldiers believe that certain vehicles, weapons and flags of military units, particularly units that suffered horrific casualties during the war against the Communists in the 1930s and '40s, have ghosts attached to them.

The military brass grew concerned several years ago after learning that some soldiers were afraid of the dark and were trying to appease the spirits of their broken weapons and disabled vehicles with prayers before ordering up repairs, says Chen Wei-min, host of the popular TV ghost show "Passing Through Yin and Yang."
So, who's got a good ghost story to tell?

P.S. The article may require registration, use bugmenot.
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As it turns out, Vietnamese Food Sucks; Or: A Moral Dilemma
This post is so frivolous and self-indulgent. I mean, Israel is in the middle of a war. And yet, inane things keep happening to me regardless of the Apocalypse's timetable, and being inane myself, I must share.

As it turns out, Vietnamese food and me myself & I do not get along. I feel kind of bad about this story, but I want to know if others would agree with my reasoning here. Please forgive the frivolity of this story.

I was out running some errands yesterday, and I ended up driving around this one neighborhood where I drove past four Vietnamese restaurants.


I was pretty hungry. In fact, I had left the house in order to eat, and while I was out, I remembered all these things I had to do, and I did them. I thought, "hmm, maybe I should try this out". I've had Vietnamese food, but it was just some Americanized Vietnamese barbecue. I have never had authentic Vietnamese food. After I'd passed the 4th Vietnamese restaurant, I decided that this was some kind of heavenly message, so I parked (far away, since parking was scarce). I parked in this creepy, weedy little parking lot with a bunch of young Asians in it, smoking and loitering and malingering with their slitty eyes. I did not quite believe that my car would still be there when I got back, but I was hungry, goddamnit!

I parked and wrote off my car. I walked around and found a Chinese ethnic grocery store. I went in and bought an ashtray that I don't need, in order to butter the Chinaman up, and I asked him which of the four vietnamese restaurants I had spotted was the best. He said Restaurant X was the best. He was a very friendly guy and shook my hand enthusiastically. I get the impression that he is desperate for business. Anyway. I went to Restaurant X (I'm not trying to be mysterious! I just can't remember the damn name. It was very forgettable, something like Nguyen Thoi or something).

I went to Restaurant X, as instructed by my Chinese grocer-ashtray-vendor-informant. It was packed, and they didn't have the air conditioning on.

It was FUCKING HOT in there. People, it was like 95 degrees out. And it was packed with people.

It took 30 minutes for the solitary waiter to acknowledge my existence. Here's what he said when he finally showed up at my table: "Can I get you anything to drink?"

I've been sitting here turning into a giant puddle of sweat for thirty minutes. You know it's hot just as well as I do. Why do you come to me, empty-handed, asking me if I want a drink? Why? Why? Why?

I was polite. I said "I'd like a glass of water and a menu, please". Yes, he actually came to my table 30 minutes after I sat down in the sweltering heat of his restaurant, without water and without a menu. I guess you need to be fucking psychic and a camel to eat at this restaurant.

I lied to my friendly waiter that I'd never had Vietnamese food, since I in fact had not had anything other than grilled meat on a stick, and I asked him what I should have. With gusto, he recommended I get some Vietnamese Egg Rolls and some Sour Fish Soup. Sounds good, right? Authentic and shit. I'll go with that. I told the waiter to go for it.

Well, guess what. The Vietnamese Egg Rolls had this weird stringy brown thing in them that looked like Eel but did not taste good at all, and it had a disgusting texture besides. I could only eat half of an egg roll before giving up on the whole thing. Vietnamese Egg Rolls are not the food for me. Guess what else isn't the food for me? Vietnamese Sour Fish Soup.

It was not sour. No sir. It was not soup! It was not soup! It had nothing to do with soup. It was this thin disgusting gruel that tasted like crappy water, and it had fuckin' sprouts and pieces of raw tomato and some kind of gross Vietnamese celery in it. It tasted like nothing! Nothing at all, goddamnit. This "Sour Fish Soup" wasn't even sour! It was watery! But that's not the worst of it.

The worst of it is that the "Fish" part of the "Sour Fish Soup" was a tail. A fucking tail. A tail, man! A TAIL! And it wasn't scaled very well, so I could see the scales on some of it. And it had that terrifying silvery look which very bad, "You Will Spend The Next Week Shitting Blood" fish has. And it wasn't boned, so there were BONES in my sonofabitching FISH TAIL. And little bits of GELATINOUS FISH FAT were floating around. It was so goddamn GROSS! It was basically "weed broth", man. Sprouts, water...that was 95% of the ingredients. Sprouts, water, and fish fat.

Basically, I ate five bites total. Two bites of one of the Vietnamese eggrolls, and three bites of the terrible fish soup. For these five bites, I had to suffer an entire hour in 95 degrees indoor weather without air conditioning, the first half hour of which was spent sitting there waiting for a goddamn glass of water.

At one point during this ordeal, I realized that I needed something to read. I wandered around the neighborhood looking for a newspaper for sale, something! Nothing to be found. Inside the restaurant itself, nothing avsilable to read except Vietnamese-language newspapers and some Spanish-language thing that was really excited about how Bush didn't want to deport illegals. Since I speak neither Vietnamish nor Spanish this was useless to me. I was in such bad shape that I would willingly read the Chicago Tribune, OK? By the way everyone in that packed restaurant was a white American, so you'd think the Chicago Reader would deliver there or something since it was popular with the fucking yuppies. No such luck.

When I came back they had turned CNN on the bigscreen TV. My waiter stopped by and wanted to know if I needed anything. I wanted the closed-caption turned on so I could see what was happening in the War, since Dan Gillerman was on CNN. He went to the cashier lady and they negotiated for about ten minutes, then they both approached me, the lady holding out the remote. They had no idea how to turn the closed caption on and they were offering me the opportunity to turn it on myself. I did this.

After the Five Bites Of Horror, I was fed up and I went up to the cash register to pay the lady.

She asked me how I liked my food. Big mistake. I said it was totally terrible and I'm never coming back here. It took half an hour to get a cup of water and the waiter didn't even bring me a menu. The food was terrible. Did this disturb her? This did not disturb her. 95% of my food was still sitting there on my table, quivering gelatinously. She was not perturbed by these terrible revelations. Not one bit, no sir. Do you know what horrified her? I'll tell you what horrified her.

I pulled out my credit card.

She looked like I had just shot her baby.

"Oh No Cash Only."

CASH ONLY! Goddamn. Was there a sign that said this? No. Was there a notice in the menu? No. You're just supposed to know that this is one of the three restaurants in North America that does not accept fucking credit cards. Bitch, I'm a whup yo' monkey ass. I wasn't carrying any cash yesterday, because I'd used it all up in the course of my errands.

She ordered me to go to the grocery store and buy something so I can get cash back. I swear to God! Worse, I intended to do it! I walked back to my car, drove to the grocery story, and walked around trying to find something to buy that I needed. It was a pretty crappy store and I didn't need anything anyway, and at some point, I realized that I don't want to buy anything just for the privilege of paying this horrible restaurant for their food, one-twentieth of which I actually ate, and none of which I enjoyed in the least.

Fuck them, man. They treated me with disrespect. They were totally incompetent. They ruined my day. Their food was terrible. Their service was terrible. They were unrepentant about this. I mean, I am not a complainer, but when I've complained in a restaurant they've always been apologetic, and they've always tried to make it right. This woman made it my job to go to this seedy weird grocery store and buy something so I can get cash back and pay them. What the hell, man? It's not my fault that they don't have a credit card machine, and it's not my fault that they have terrible service and terrible food. In any other circumstance, I would not only have an apology, I would have some free food on top of that. All I got was ordered to go fetch cash for them from the grocery store, further inconveniencing myself! And not being compensated for the horrible experience.

Here is what I did, my friends.

I left the grocery store. I got in my car. I drove home, and I cackled while driving on the interstate.

I felt a little bit guilty but not very.

Here is my question: should I go back and pay for the food I didn't eat? Am I stealing? I feel very righteous about my actions, but my conscience does not allow me to pretend to possess total righteousness. I know I intended to pay, and I know the woman was waiting for me to come back and pay. I feel bad about this because it's as if I did it deliberately, as if I just ran out on my bill. But honestly, no reputable restaurant would have charged me, seeing that I left 19 20ths of my food untouched and had a terrible experience and was angry and dissatisfied. Should I take the law into my own hands and just "get away with it", or should I go back and pay for my meal that I didn't eat or enjoy?
26 commentsAlvina left a comment at 1:34 pm 04/18
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3 JI killers for the firing squad
They won't be missed. Of course, they are by no means certain to be executed; the Indonesian judicial system's treatment of Abu Bakar Bashir leaves much to be desired.
JAKARTA (Bloomberg): Indonesia is preparing to execute three men convicted in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, as their lawyers plan to lodge appeals next month.

Imam Samudra, Amrozi and Ali Gufron have been on death row for more than two years since being convicted of playing key roles in Indonesia's worst terrorist attack.

"The execution plan is in process, but the timeframe is a secret according to the law," I Wayan Pasek Suartha, spokesman at Indonesia's attorney general's office , said in a phone interviewWednesday.

The men were moved to Nusakambangan in central Java from Bali late last year after a second attack in October 2005 sparked anger in the resort island. The second attack killed 20 people and the three suicide bombers.

"It has been permitted that the execution will take place in Nusakambangan," Suartha said.

Execution is usually carried out by firing squad. Under Indonesian law, death row convicts are executed in the place where they have been sentenced.

Wirawan Adnan, a lawyer representing the convicted men, said they plan to lodge a judicial review to the Supreme Court early next month. The appeals may delay the execution.

"We will stick to the execution plan of the three convicts if they failed to lodge the appeal," Suartha said.

Authorities have blamed the al-Qaeda-linked group Jemaah Islamiyah for a series of attacks in Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest economy.
no comments yetAlvina left a comment at 1:34 pm 04/18
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guest author: airforceguy
The U.S. is the only power which must keep an eye on everything around the globe all the time. This is because our interests are truly world-wide. We are the only superpower, and if we are to stay as such, we must have an opinion on every topic. Sadly, in this 21st century parade of failed and failing states, the U.S. has failed to realize that you can’t be everywhere at once, and that often all sides in a conflict are partially or wholey at fault for political problems.

This is the case with Nepal. I’m sure those of you who are interested in politics in the eastern, central, kind-of south-eastern part of Asia will note that King GYANENDRA Bir Birkam Shah (formal name capitalized) has been suffering the predations of a large-scale Maoist rebellion since 1996. Added to his troubles with the Maoists, three weeks ago, the seven populist political parties of Nepal (ranging from Leftist to Far-Leftist) declared a nation-wide work stoppage and blockade of Katmandu, the capital of Nepal.

GYANENDRA folded. He offered to lift the state emergency he declared in early 2005 and entertain the choice of Prime Minister (PM) from the 7 Parties. He considered this a major consession. It was forced on him as much by international pressure from his major trading partners and aid donors, India, Japan, and the U.S. as by the chaos in the streets. His concession mollified the international community, but did nothing to stop the rioting. In his haste the King overlooked the two issues that the political elites and every day Nepalese wanted him to address -- free elections and the Maoist rebellion. Even had the 7 Parties accepted the King’s concession, the people would have continued rioting and the political future for mid-level party members would have been in jeopardy.

The Nepalese political problem is such -- there are three separate groups trying to cling to power in a political system rife with corruption (patronage) and violence.

The most powerful group consists of the King and his hand-selected Cabinet. They have been largely ineffectual in controlling the country and have flushed away the legitimacy the position once held. But if any one person can be blamed for destroying any chance of the success of constitutional monarchy, it would be Crown Prince DIPENDRA. In 2001, unhappy with his family’s disapproval of his choice of bride, and unwilling to wait until his father, King BIRENDRA passed away, DIPENDRA acted. In an alcohol and methampetamine-fueled rage DIPENDRA killed 10 members of the royal family. Then he turned the gun on himself. He went into a coma and didn’t die right away. So GYANENDRA, BIRENDRA’s brother, had DIPENDRA crowned. Wow. I killed mom and dad, and all I got was a lousy tshirt. This guy got a Kingdom. Luckily he died without coming out of the coma and GYANENDRA took over. So the monarchy has very little legitimacy.

The 7 Parties are a different story. They aren’t crazy, but they are corrupt. Under British rule Nepal was officially a Constitutional Monarchy. In the early 1900’s the RANA dynasty allied themselves with the Brits, and in a brilliant move upstaged the King and made the PM post hereditary. In the 1950’s a newly-independent India punished the RANA dynasty by restoring the power of the King. By that time pro-democracy movements saw the writing on the wall and backed India. To reward both the King and the Nepalese Congress Party, India allowed the democratic experiment in Nepal to flourish. By 1959, it failed due to political squabbling between a myriad of new parties. The King declared an end to parties and instituted a party-less system of panchayats (or professional classes). This was a thinly-veiled attempt to decrease political participation and it failed miserably. The parties went underground and populist pressure forced a multi-party election in 1991, with all the corruption inherent to such a system. The leader of the Nepalese Congress (the largest and most influential party) is former PM DEUBA. He is the former PM because he defied the King in 2002 and desolved Parliament (probably in response to the whole Prince-Kills-Everyone issue). Then he was tried and convicted on gross corruption charges, probably because he was grossly corrupt. Now he’s the best they’ve got.

By 1996 the Maoist rebellion begain in ernest. Led by DAHAL (aka “The Fierce One”), an unpopular leader who rules by fear, it is unable to lead anywhere, but it is powerful enough to create problems anywhere. To show how crazy DAHAL really is, he arrested his second-in-command, BHATTARI, and his wife, for being insufficiently loyal to DAHAL, and therefore the Maoist cause. A few weeks later he declared them rehabilitated, and reinstated their positions.. A BBC correspondent declared DAHAL has no charisma. If the Brits say you have no charisma, you might as well pack up your rifle and sleeping bag and come out of the mountains. Revolution is not for you. The only blessing in the current conflict is that the Maoists are sitting this one out. They are tainted because their war on the government has killed about 15,000 Nepalese and they regularly enforce “work-stoppages” by killing anyone who goes to work. Ironically, the government forces try to break the stoppages by killing anyone who doesn’t go to work, but that is another issue.

The most likely scenario goes thus -- the current unrest will continue until the 7 Parties win more consessions. Then, after a short honeymoon period of multi-party rule, the Maoists will be unsatisfied with the Parties’ insufficiently-Leftist orientation and will start their revolution anew. Que sera, sera.

no comments yetAlvina left a comment at 1:34 pm 04/18
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Chinese for lunch, Indian for dinner
From the multitude of gaffes that marked Chinese leader Hu's visit to Washington, I'm inclined to think that the entire episode was ginned up to make him lose a little face back home, as well as sending China a strong signal of disapproval. A compare-and-contrast with the treatment India's Singh got on his own recent visit here is instructive:
Last July I attended the White House welcome ceremony for Singh. The Indian journalists -- who tend to be skeptical of all things Bush -- were in awe. The arrangements were elaborate. The ceremony was flawless. Indian flags were everywhere. The warm dynamic between Bush and Singh was palpable. Dubya's light blue tie even matched Singh's turban. Each remarked on how big a no-brainer a U.S.-India alliance is, as the common democratic values that seemed irrelevant during the Cold War were today more important than ever.

Then they held a state dinner -- one of only 5 under this president. They hammered out the contours of a deal on civilian nuclear technology that was a big shock to Washington's policy elite -- the conventional wisdom had a deal materializing later in the year, away from the glare of television cameras. The visit was a huge breakthrough in U.S.-India relations, and will be remembered in New Delhi for a long time, if not in Washington.

Cut to April 2006.

Hu Jintao is about to visit. It's China, so everyone knows the drill: tiptoe around human rights, figure out something nice to say about trade and freedom, do the statesmen stuff, and let's be on our way. Oh, and make sure the ceremonial stuff is taken care of, because the Chinese put a premium on pomp, ceremony, and pride. They eat it up. Hu wants to show his people that he's being greeted as an equal in Washington. They turned down the White House's offer of 2 days with the president in Crawford because they wanted all the protocol and ceremony that comes with a Washington visit.

And then, the protocol backfired in a big way. A protester yelled at Hu. We announced China as Taiwan. Bush tugged at Hu's sleeve because Hu was leaving the podium too early. There was no state dinner, just a big lunch. There was no breakthrough on anything, just bland restatements of each country's position. This was a visit memorable for entirely different reasons.

I roll my eyes at every magazine feature I read on India vs. China. To the extent that there's a contest, China is winning bigtime. But I can't help but notice the sharp contrast between last year's visit by Indian PM Manmohan Singh and last week's visit by Hu Jintao.

So what's the point? Well, if you wanted to read a lot into the contrasting visits, it can be a metaphor for what the future holds for U.S. policy in Asia. We may have reached the point where we are very close to India because we want to be and we are deeply engaged with China because we have to be. That probably needs more explanation, but someone smarter out there is probably writing a good piece on this. I'll just link to it when it comes out.
no comments yetAlvina left a comment at 1:34 pm 04/18
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Japan moving to a more robust military footprint
I think it's pretty clear by now that today's Japanese are far removed from the Japan that bombed us at Pearl Harbor and raped Nanking. That's why I welcome any and all signs that Japan is moving to a security posture that is commensurate with its economic position in the world. The Japanese could make great allies, if they would get over pacifism; unlike the Europeans, despite a similar history of war ravages, postwar pacifism, prosperity and an aging, declining population, they're well on their way.
Japan is considering whether it should, in 2009, buy the most advanced, stealthy fighter in the world, the American F-22, to replace its Vietnam-era F-4s and other old fighters. In some potential future conflict with China, the F-22 would allow Japan to penetrate Chinese air defenses undetected and, with air refueling, to reach Beijing and beyond.

Japan's consideration of the fighter comes on the heels of a January announcement that the Self-Defense Force is pushing ahead with joint U.S.-Japan theater missile defenses. Japan is to buy 36 missiles for its destroyers starting next year. The missile defenses would protect Japan from an attack by China's new ballistic missiles, and from a nuclear attack by neighboring North Korea.

Of course, it's North Korea's firing of a Taepo-dong missile across Japanese territory in 1998 that woke Tokyo to the changed environment. Add to that China's aggressive military buildup in recent years, and now, in 2006, Japanese officials' talk about foreign policy and defense sounds nothing like it did in the late 1990s. Back then, talking to Japanese officials about foreign and defense policy was like talking to, well, West Europeans: One would hear nothing but mouthfuls of white rice. But now, Japanese defense thinking has clarity, insight, and an impressive forward-view.

"Japan cannot afford a hostile China because we are next to China and we cannot move away from China. If you look at our life lines, the East China Sea, the South China Sea, through the Arabian Peninsula to the Gulf, we cannot afford a hostile China," says Major General Noboru Yamaguchi, vice president of Japan's National Institute of Defense Studies. Ideally, Japan, the U.S. and China will capitalize on the fact that they "share a common interest in a stable energy supply" and maintain peace. But if there is aggression, say, in the Taiwan Strait, then "China will lose, Taiwan will lose, Japan will lose and the U.S. might lose, so no one wants to see bloody things happen in Taiwan."

With such plain speaking coming from Japanese officials, it's no wonder that Japan and the U.S. have in recent months spelled out their common strategic objectives, and that their defense cooperation is expanding apace. Interestingly, Japan sees all this as American evolution, not just its own. "The U.S. seems to be willing to deal with possible contingencies in the (Asia-Pacific) region," Yamaguchi said. "That area is exactly where Japanese sea lines of commerce, communication, and energy are existing so in that sense securing those areas is in our interest. If the U.S. is going to do it... we recognize our own responsibility" to do the same, Yamaguchi said.
How refreshing...a responsible ally.
no comments yetAlvina left a comment at 1:34 pm 04/18
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Uppity Muslim Women: Bangladesh Edition
It's easy to think that the tribal social pathologies of honor/shame-dynamic-ridden Muslim nations can never be confronted successfully, but uppity Muslim women have been disproving that notion more and more lately. Like Rana Husseini, the Jordanian journalist who is crusading against "honor killings" and for stricter punishments for the murderers. And Mukhtar Mai, the amazing Pakistani village woman who was gang-raped on the orders of a tribal court, expected to commit suicide, but refused to do so and went on to found a school, campaign against the criminals who raped her, and see to it that cases like hers receive media attention and justice, so Pakistan can't hide from the light.

Like Mukhtar and Rana, Monira Rahman, a Bangladeshi woman, seems like an unlikely candidate to have an impact on her misogynistic, backwards, tribal society. Like them, she is defying the odds, defying her assigned station in life, and shining light into the darkness. Monira Rahman is an uppity Muslim lady who is fighting to rub Bangladesh's nose in the horrible problem of life-ruining acid attacks on women. She is also working with victims of this brutal, barbaric practice to try to give them some semblance of a life back. For this, Germany's Amnesty International has given her a medal. She deserves much more than that; she deserves the sincere thanks and admiration of all humane and decent people. She certainly has mine.
no comments yetAlvina left a comment at 1:34 pm 04/18
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