Archive for August, 2010

Another Still-Birth of an Election in Burma?

28/08/2010

CROSS-POSTED AT HARRY’S PLACE.

A member of the National League for Democracy uses a laptop with an image of Aung San Suu Kyi at NLD’s head office in Rangoon. (Photo: Reuters)

The cards are stacked against the pro-democracy movement in Burma ahead of the General Election on 7 November as reported by The Irrawaddy.

The date of the 1990 General Election had been announced six months in advance, following a preceding six months to comprehend electoral law and another full year to register and recruit political parties. Twenty years on, there are less than three months to compete with the entrenched proxy parties for the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) which has ruled Burma with neither peace nor development since effecting the cot-death of Aung San Suu Kyi’s victory in 1990.

The principal of these is the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) which was formed more than four months ago, and received considerable Short money in July following the dissolution of the Union Solidarity and Development Association; the enforcers of the SPDC.

The Irrawaddy had charted the brewing of Cyclone Than Shwe, as senior SPDC officials were blown-away by their leader, Senior General Than Shwe. Although, as now confirmed, much of this was in anticipation of their walking through the revolving doors into USDP positions, Shwe is almost 80 years old and in ill-health.

His sudden demise would leave uncertainty, especially as he already has created discord with thoughts of a monarchic succession through his favored grandson, Nay Shwe Thway Aung.

Notable Opposition figures, however, face restrictions based on tortuous justification; not least Aung Sang Suu Kyi who was banned from participation due to retrospective legislation following a barely credible conviction.

The disgust at such ballot-fixing has reached such a crescendo that The Irrawaddy reports many see no option but passive resistance in boycotting the 7 November poll.

The Best and the Worst of Korean Christianity

27/08/2010

CROSS-POSTED AT HARRY’S PLACE.

In Your Country, Girls My Age Are This High.

Faced with reports that Jimmy Carter was en route in his country, Kim Jong-il took an eminently understandable decision: and decamped to China.

Carter had been in Pyongyang in an attempt to secure the release of an imprisoned American citizen, Aijalon Gomes. This, marking a break with tradition for Carter, has succeeded.

Gomes, originally from Massachusetts, is a member of the Every Nation Church in Korea. On 25 January 2010, he had crossed into North Korea from China on a self-professed peace mission to intercede directly with Kim Jong-il on behalf of the poor wretches of the country. In April, he was sentenced to eight years hard labour.

This followed similar actions by Robert Park, a Korean Christian missionary who on Christmas Day 2009. Park was held captive for almost six weeks, during which time he was subjected to various forms of torture.

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Rare Public Admission of the Protocols of the Elders of Capel Seion

26/08/2010

Even the Welsh Corgis Are Laughing

Having been activated as a sleeper agent, Julia Gillard has succeeded in what every Seionyst wishes in their dark hearts: to make their respective political systems unmanageable.

Perhaps giddy from this excitement, she appears to have made a grievous but telling slip of the tongue:

Ms Gillard ordered public servants and ministers to prepare to brief the independents and sought advice on what she could offer about policy costings without breaching the caretaker provisions. Ms Gillard also said she had discussed with the independents the possibility of gaining access to “wise elders in the public domain” […]

Which wise elders are these, Julia?  Or should I say Gwadlys?

Llongyfarchiadau, ewe mwst bw hvwwrhy prywd.

Israel-Boycotters Have Their Sperm in the Gutter

26/08/2010

I do not think everyone in support of a full boycott of Israel are complete and utter nutters with the slenderest grip on reality, but a lot of them are.

The US Campaign for Judenrein Cultural Boycott of Israel has averred that “the next Israeli attack on Gaza is in the name of Jethro Tull” (the prog-rock band, not the 17th Century agricultural reformer).

Genuinely insane.

This relates to a statement by Ian Anderson on the Jethro Tull website in the response to such attempts by the screaming-at-mice brigade.

Having performed concerts in the Middle East region many times over the last few years, I am well aware of the ethnic and religious tensions existing, not only in the countries concerned, but in the broader international diasporas representing the various groups and their interests.

Having long maintained the position that culture and the arts should be free of political and religious censorship and a distance kept between them, I took a decision in February of 2009 that any future concerts in Israel by me or Jethro Tull would result in charitable donations to bodies representing the development of peaceful co-existence between Muslims, Jews and Christians, and the fostering of better Palestinian/Israeli relations. A number of potential charitable beneficiaries have now been identified and are under consideration.

I speak only for my own share of concert profits here – I am not about to tell the rest of the musicians or crew what views they should hold or what to do with their remuneration. Nor do I feel pressured by human rights groups, national interests or any individuals to perform or not to perform in Israel or anywhere else. I make up my own mind in light of available facts, with my own experience and a sense of personal ethics.

To those who tell me I should “boycott” Israel (or, for that matter, Turkey or Lebanon), I can only point out that on my travels around the world I am continually reminded of atrocities carried out historically by many nations who are now our friends, and it serves to strengthen my resolve that some degree of peace and better understanding may result from my and other artists’ professional and humble efforts in such places. If I had the opportunity to perform today in Iran or North Korea, hell – I’d be there if I thought it would make a tiny positive net contribution to better relations.

It’s a long time since Pearl Harbor, Auschwitz, Hiroshima and the firestorm of Dresden and I hope that, one bright day sometime in the future, it will seem a long time since the blockading of the supply flotilla to Gaza and the bombing of Israeli citizens by Hamas and Hizbolla.

So, I decided many months ago not to profit from my work in this troubled region and hope that interested parties on all sides will understand and respect my decision and resolve. The details of recipients of my charitable donation will be posted for the benefit of the doubters, as usual, on this website later in the year.

I do not know which charities Anderson has in mind, but I would dearly love them to include OneVoice Movement and Children of Peace (and have said so on the official Facebook page; currently besieged by a bunch of monomaniacal, delusional paranoid loonies trying to shift Anderson’s heavy horses).

Jethro Tull has now played in Israel, with guest keyboardist, Shlomo Gronich who incorporates the Hatikva into his riffs (at 4 min and 5 min 10 sec).

HAT-TIP Engage Online.

Roaring Trade in Semen in Vietnam

26/08/2010

Get it while it is still liquid!

Pseudo-Malthusianism

26/08/2010

Two Carbon Producing Units

The man from family planning liked to prowl around the mountaintop village, looking for diapers on clotheslines and listening for the cry of a hungry newborn. One day in the spring of 2004, he presented himself at Yang Shuiying’s doorstep and commanded: “Bring out the baby.”

Yang wept and argued, but, alone with her 4-month-old daughter, she was in no position to resist the man every parent in Tianxi feared.

“I’m going to sell the baby for foreign adoption. I can get a lot of money for her,” he told the sobbing mother as he drove her with the baby to an orphanage in Zhenyuan, a nearby city in the southern province of Guizhou. In return, he promised that the family wouldn’t have to pay fines for violating one-child policy.

I have woken-up recently with thoughts of my 11 month old nephew being tossed on a fire, so I can comprehend the sense of sheer horror felt by Yang Shuiying (pictured above with two remaining daughters) and described by Barbara Demick, a journalist with an especial interest in China and Korea.

Then he warned her: “Don’t tell anyone about it.”

Yeah, that is because you had no authority to do so.

Hefty fines, as large as three years the annual salary of both parents, are imposed, but with humans having a natural inclination towards their children, Chinese couples are prepared to pay (although, those more ostentatious about it are likely to be wealthy).

But, that is not right, surely? As Demick wrote, convention wisdom was that callous Asiatic-types were routinely dumping units which result in a net loss (“baby girls” to you and me). The lucky ones were placed in orphanages where kind Westerners would be able to adopt them; the unlucky ones tossed into slop-buckets. Whilst both undoubtedly occur (the second was reported by Xue Xinran in an Economist article on gendercide, reproduced here), Yang Shuiying’s account of a dark moment of soul-eroding terror adds a new facet.

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American Warships Return to Vietnam

25/08/2010

CROSS-POSTED AT HARRY’S PLACE.

USS John S. Mccain in Da Nang harbour, Vietnam. Copyright Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jessica Bidwell (US Navy).

Let us hope it is not a repeat of King Carlos’ intemperate remarks.

In events guaranteed to cause moments of extreme cognitive dissonance for anti-war activists up and down the country, this month alone has seen two American warships docking at Da Nang port in Vietnam – site of the largest American airbase during the War, and that of the final ground combat operation on 13 August 1972 – with the full welcome of the local authorities as part of commemorations of the 15th anniversary of normalization of relations between the two countries.

On 8 August, the Nimitz-class nuclear powered aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington arrived with as many crew as the population of Thurso.

Two days later, the USS John S. McCain docked at Da Nang port. Doubly significant was that it is named after the grandfather and father of noted American captive during the War.

There is no doubt that American interest is related to subduing Chinese foreign influence, especially as the George Washington previously had been holding joint exercises in the Sea of Japan with the South Korean Navy and may soon enter the Yellow Sea.

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When Even the Daily Mail Thinks You Are a Bunch of Knuckle-Scraping Racists…

24/08/2010

… it may be time to reconsider your position.

This is the terrifying moment a man is verbally abused because a crowd demonstrating against plans to build a mosque near New York’s Ground Zero believe he is a Muslim.

The powerfully built black man who is wearing a type of hat similar to that worn by Muslim men is called a ‘coward’ and verbally abused by some opponents to the mosque.

Telling them that he does not practice Islam and that they ‘don’t know why I’m here’, the man – identified as a carpenter called Kenny – is eventually saved by the intervention of two men.

Burma: Open for Business

24/08/2010

CROSS-POSTED AT HARRY’S PLACE.

Friends of Kim eagerly have adopted Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (although it is not recommended that Koreans under the yoke of American occupation befriend them), but as of yet none of Than’s friends have follow suit.

Maybe the astrologists for the aspic-addled State Peace and Development Council have decreed that the chicken entrails do not recommend social networking.

After all, Shwe has relied on their advice when selecting the date of the upcoming General Election, now scheduled for 7 November. Combining his own lucky number, 11, with the auspicious seven (he will have been born on one of the seven days of the week), iterative addition directs to nine: 7+11=18 […] 8+1=9. Nine had been the lucky number of his predecessor, U Ne Win who un-valued the national currency to base-9 for this reason.

This follows the annulment of the 1990 General Election, and exclusion of the previous winner, Aung San Suu Kyi.

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Kim Jong-Il: Edging Towards Apotheosis

20/08/2010

CROSS-POSTED AT HARRY’S PLACE.

Although, like the returning Hide and Seek champion from 1906, Fidel Castro has returned to the public eye, Kim Jong-il shuffles ever-closer to the status of immortal god along with his father. The Telegraph reports that, earlier this month French doctors examined Kim Jong-il for complications following a stroke in 2008.

His presumed successor is to be his youngest son, Kim Jong-eun with whom he has been seen attending factory inspections and other photo-shoots with increasing frequency. Since returning from studying a throat-condition of a language at university, Kim Jong-eun has shown himself a more earnest son than his older brother, Kim Jong-nam who wanted only to visit Disneyland.

Most sons buy their fathers after-shave to win their affection: Kim Jong-eun appears to have engineered an assassination attempt against Kim Jong-nam.

Most fathers kick a football at their sons to test their mettle: Kim Jong-il appears to have orchestrated the sinking of a RoK warship to allow Kim Jong-eun to manage a crisis, just as he exiled his own father’s favourite son, Kim Pyong-il to win daddy’s love.

Kim Jong-eun is altering the Book of Common Prayer to place his living father on equal standing with his ever-living grandfather in advance of the first Party conference in 30 years (in 1980, Kim Jong-il effectively was confirmed as successor for Kim Song-il).  For his part, Kim Jong-il has appointed Chang Sung-taek as Grand Vizier Vice-Chairman of the National Defence Commission to guide his son.

Chang had previously faced down stiff opposition from Kim Jong-il and Kim Song-il to marry their sister/daughter, Kim Hyong-hui. His new appointment doubtless came as a pleasant surprise as it had been ear-marked for Ri Je-gang, who accidentially, tragically died in a car accident.

It must be getting dangerous to look over a baby’s cot in the Kim household.