Category Archives: Hypocrisy

Quote of the day: The tragic plight of journalism

From Thomas Frank, writing at Salon about the tragic state of the Fourth Estate:

Between the crumbling of a landmark Rolling Stone story and the dynamiting of The New Republic, these have been a bad couple of weeks for journalism. But with the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s torture program on Tuesday, the whole doleful parade took a turn toward the comical.

 Chapter IV of that report describes the CIA’s efforts to twist public perceptions of its torture program by revealing certain classified information to journalists—information that was wrong, per the report, because its object was to claim great successes for the torture program where few really existed. But said information, regardless of its truth value, was still classified. That, in turn, set up an awkward dilemma for all parties: certain CIA officials wondered whether to do something about the journalists in question for reporting these great dollops of bogusness; other spooks gently suggested that they shouldn’t, since, er, the Agency leaked that stuff to them.

Behind this Keystone Cops farce was something deadly serious: Writers from some of the most reputable institutions in America were being conned into propagandizing for torture. One of the journalists named in the Senate Committee report, David Johnston of The New York Times, told the International Business Times how it worked: “Another way of saying it is they basically lied to journalists and the journalists didn’t have a lot of alternatives but to reflect their point of view in stories.”

Tis ever thus with journalistic scandals. The thing of value that we writers possess is our independence, our trustworthiness; those with power, meanwhile, scheme endlessly to utilize these things for their own ends. David Johnston implies that he was led astray by the impulse to let each side say its piece. On other occasions, straight-up financial considerations do the trick, as in the case of the op-ed writers who did favors for Jack Abramoff. Sometimes the journalists’ motives are more complicated, as in the case of New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who used information provided by a Bush Administration favorite in order to persuade the world that Saddam Hussein possessed scads of WMDs.

Read the rest.

EbolaWatch: Broken systems, numbers, fear

First some good news from Berkeley for a had-pressed Liberian newspaper via the paper in question, FrontPageAfrica:

Berkeley Professor Donates Anti-Ebola Gears, Cameras to FPA

Rachel Mercy Simpson, Department Chair of Multimedia Arts, at  Berkeley City College, knew she had to step in when she heard the Publisher of FrontPageAfrica describe to NPR’s “On the Media” the  challenges he and his team of reporters are going through on the front line of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia.

“As an award-winning newspaper, FrontPageAfrica is in a powerful position to communicate with people across West Africa, to encourage safer practices and to reduce the spread of Ebola. FPA reporters put their lives on the line to cover the stories even though they lack rudimentary safety gear. I want to help them out,” wrote Mercy-Simpson to her family and colleagues. Mercy-Simpson, who is married to a Tanzanian and whose father is from South Africa, says while neither countries are neighbors to Ebola-hit Liberia, she felt a need to reach out. “We care about what’s going on in Africa. The devastation to families and the economy in Liberia is terrible. And no one wants to see Ebola spread any further.”

When she learned from the NPR interview that FrontPageAfrica reporters lacked safety gear, Mercy-Simpson immediately contacted the FrontPageAfrica publisher and asked how she could help. “As a filmmaker, I grasped the danger of their not having a telephoto lens and how FPA reporters needed to get close to people who were very sick in order to photograph them.”

The accompanying photo:


From Deutsche Welle, numbers:

WHO releases latest Ebola figures

  • The latest figures from the World Health Organization show another increase in the Ebola death toll. Nearly 6,600 people have died from the virus since the worst outbreak on record began early this year.

The latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) show 6,583 people have died out of 18,188 recorded Ebola cases.

The Geneva-based UN health agency reported that the majority of infections and deaths were in the West African states of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The WHO said earlier in the week that the death toll had remained the same in other countries also affected by the disease: six in Mali, one in the US and eight in Nigeria, which was declared Ebola free in October. Spain and Senegal have also counted one case of infection each, but were declared free of the virus in recent weeks.

Numbers contested, via StarAfrica:

S/Leone: Information Minister challenges WHO Ebola figures

Sierra Leone’s Information Minister said Thursday contrary to figures reported by the Western media and the World Health Organization (WHO), cases of infection by the Ebola epidemic were reducing in the country.Alhaji Alpha Kanu said, based on figures from the Ministry of Health and the National Ebola Response Center (NERC), the country was recorded an average of less than 40 new infections a day, “contrary to what you hear on BBC, courtesy of WHO,” he said.

He said what the media is reporting falls far behind the reality on the ground. “That’s patently not true,” he told reporters at the weekly government press conference.

At a separate engagement via an online press conference with the international media, Mr Kanu was cited disputing WHO`s report on the diamond-rich Kono which claimed 87 dead bodies were discovered with 123 sick people from “forgotten” part of the district.

Ebolaphobia strikes again, from AllAfrica:

Sudan Repatriates 26 Nigerians Over Ebola Fears

The Sudanese authorities have denied 26 Nigerians entry into their country over suspicion that they were possibly infected by the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease, one of those repatriated has told PREMIUM TIMES.

Hauwa’u Ibrahim Bakori, a second year student of Pharmacy at Al Ahfad University for Women, Omdurman, said she and 25 others were denied entry after arriving Khartoum Airport on Wednesday.

They were detained, and then deported to Nigeria on Thursday, Ms. Bakori said.

Ms Bakori is in her second year at the Sudanese university and had travelled to Nigeria on holidays.

From teleSUR, an aid effort praised:

UNICEF Recognizes Cuban Efforts in Fight Against Ebola

  • The children’s rights organisation is the latest body to highlight Cuba’s role.

The representative for the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) regional office in Central Africa recognized Cuba’s humanitarian efforts to fight Ebola on Saturday.

Cuba has sent more than 460 doctors and nurses to nations struck by Ebola such as Sierra Leone.

‘’We are carrying out a series of gatherings with nations that offer cooperation like the case of Cuba, we want to take those countries into account for next year’s Unicef aid programming in African nations,’‘ said UNICEF’s Brigitte Helali, from Equatorial Guinea where she is evaluating Unicef aid programs.

Helali also highlighted the progress Cuba has made in healthcare overall with special mention for their work with pregnant women and children under five years old.

From the Associated Press, that same effort stymied by Washington:

US embargo stalled payment to Cuban Ebola doctors

A World Health Organization official says Cuba had to cover food and lodging expenses for dozens of its doctors fighting Ebola in Sierra Leone after the U.S. embargo made it impossible for the global health group to pay them.

U.S. officials as high as Secretary of State John Kerry have praised the Cuban effort against Ebola. But the longstanding embargo affects virtually all dealings with Cubans, even for banks outside the U.S., because they depend on dollar transfers through U.S. institutions.

Jose Luis Di Fabio, the health agency’s representative for Cuba, said it had to request special licenses from the U.S. Treasury Department to transfer money to the doctors in Africa.

The government-employed doctors only recently received payments dating as far back as October, he said.

And from teleSUR English, what those doctors are doing in the country where the need is most great:

Sierra Leone: Cuban doctors reducing Ebola cases

Program notes:

While new cases of Ebola continue to arise in Sierra Leone, the Cuban medical teams on the scene, working alongside local health care workers, are confident that they can continue to contain and reduce the epidemic. Close collaboration and friendships have been forged with US medical workers who admire Cuba’s role and record in providing health care to all. Oskar Epelde reports from Porto Loko

A honcho named, via AllAfrica:

West Africa: UN Chief Appoints New Envoy for Ebola

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Friday appointed Ismail Ahmed of Mauritania as his new Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, UNMEER.

This was contained in a statement issued by Ban’s Spokesperson, Stephane DuJarric in New York.

According to the statement, as Special Representative, Mr. Ahmed will work closely with the Special Envoy on Ebola, David Nabarro and with the governments of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone and other partners.

Mr. Ahmed succeeds Anthony Banbury of the U.S., who would return to New York in early January 2015.

And from the U.S. News Center, an urgent plea:

UN meeting urges critical improvements to health systems of Ebola-affected countries

The international community must help Ebola-affected countries reboot their health systems so that they emerge from the current crisis more resilient and more focused on prevention efforts than ever before, a high-level meeting coordinated by the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva heard today.

“People in Ebola-affected countries are dying – not only from Ebola but also from other causes – because the majority of health facilities in these countries are either not functional or people are not using them for fear of contracting Ebola,” said Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, the WHO’s Assistant Director-General of Health Systems and Innovation, in a news release.

“A health system has to be able to both absorb the shock of an emergency like Ebola, and to continue to provide regular health services such as immunization and maternal and child care.”

At the meeting, participants – which included Ministers of Health and Finance from countries at the epicentre of the Ebola epidemic as well as international organizations and development partners – discussed methods of integration for health services spanning clinical care to surveillance, health promotion, disease prevention and management and palliative care.

In particular, noted the WHO news release, areas of improvement included “significantly strengthening” the health workforce; enhancing community trust, engagement and ownership; and ensuring the development of resilient sub-national health systems. In addition, the movement of people across the borders of the Ebola-affected countries spotlighted the “important” need for a greater coordination of trans-national health plans and an alignment of surveillance systems.

Another expanded effort, via Voice of America:

UNICEF Expanding Fight Against Ebola

The U.N. Children’s Fund is appealing for an additional $300 million to expand its fight against Ebola in the three heavily affected West African countries over the next six months. UNICEF said gaining the confidence of community members, increasing their awareness and knowledge of modes of transmission and prevention are key to winning the battle against this deadly disease.

UNICEF officials said money from the appeal would be used to tackle two major drivers of Ebola transmission: lack of early isolation of patients and unsafe burials.  Both of these issues are wound up with traditional cultural practices, which often have stymied aid agencies’ efforts to prevent people from getting infected with the disease and spreading it to others.

Community involvement is absolutely essential to ending this epidemic.  UNICEF’s crisis communications chief, Sarah Crowe, said recent surveys indicate people gradually have been changing their behavior for the better.

And from the New York Times, contesting the Ebola fight:

Contest Seeks Novel Tools For the Fight Against Ebola

The well-prepared Ebola fighter in West Africa may soon have some new options: protective gear that zips off like a wet suit, ice-cold underwear to make life inside the sweltering suits more bearable, or lotions that go on like bug spray and kill or repel the lethal virus.

Those ideas are among the contenders to win the Ebola “Grand Challenges” contest announced in October by the United States Agency for International Development, or among those being considered by the agency without having formally entered the contest.

All still need to undergo testing, and some may prove impractical, but the 1,500 contest submissions “blew the roof off the number of responses we’ve ever had,” said Wendy Taylor, director of U.S.A.I.D.’s Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact.

The agency’s Grand Challenges, modeled on those begun a decade ago by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have produced some nifty inventions, the best known of which is a device for helping women in obstructed labor that was invented by an Argentine auto mechanic after he saw a YouTube video on using a plastic bag to get a cork out of a wine bottle.

After the jump it’s on to Sierra Leone with doctors sounding the alarm, how a single case triggered a chain reaction of death, the U.N.’s Ebola emissary calls for an anti-epidemic surge, Freetown charges chiefs with containing the epidemic, Christmas and New Year’s gatherings banned, and the capital sends a strong anti-graft warning, then on to Liberia and the debilitating impacts of two viral epidemics on the economy, why the U.N. is maintaining a Liberian arms embargo, motorcycle transport riders join the Ebola fight, 1,300 volunteer case trackers recruited by the UN, healed patients head home, and an education system left in shambles. . . Continue reading

The Democrats: Plutocratic since ’92, gettin’ worse

Bill Moyers and journalist and Harper’s Magazine publisher John R. MacArthur conduct a devastating dissection of the Democratic Party and the plutocratic alliance that has devastating America’s dwindling class of well paid blue collar workers to satisfy the demands of the plutocrats who now control both major parties in the U.S.

At the core of the agenda mandated by the Chicago Democratic machine [a point we’ve made here countless times] is the demand for an end to all remaining barriers to corporate and bankster profiteering [read looting], a push begun by Bill and Hillary back when Bubba signed NAFTA and continuing through today as Barack Obama, a product of that Chicago machine, rams through “free trade” agreements across both the Pacific and the Atlantic, sounding the death knell for organized labor and the aspirational working class.

From Moyers and Company:

Democrats Bow Down to Wall Street

From the transcript:

BILL MOYERS: In 2008, Obama, he used NAFTA against Hilary Clinton, as you said, because Bill Clinton had sponsored it in 1993. And he promised that he would reform NAFTA.



JOHN R. MACARTHUR: No. As soon as he got into office, he announced, we really don’t need to reform NAFTA. We’ll find other ways to help people who’ve been hurt by NAFTA, which they, and of course, they’ve done nothing. In fact, he’s pushed more free trade deals, Korea, Colombia, et cetera, you know, he keeps pushing, and now, the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, which will make things even worse.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah. You say if he wins the Trans-Pacific Partnership, he’ll be giving away big chunks of our remaining manufacturing base to Japan and Vietnam and other Pacific Rim countries. Why does he want to do that?

JOHN R. MACARTHUR: Because he’s the fundraiser in chief. And again, this goes back to Bill Clinton. Because Obama’s really just imitating Bill Clinton. Clinton made an alliance with the Daley machine in Chicago, which Obama, he’s inherited that alliance with the two Daley brothers. The people who were thriving are the people in power. Rahm Emanuel is now mayor of Chicago. Bill Daley and Rahm Emanuel were the chief lobbyists for passing NAFTA under Clinton. They’re the ones who rounded up the votes. They’re the ones who made the deals with the recalcitrant Democrats and Republicans who didn’t want to vote for it. These people are in the saddle. They succeeded each other as–

BILL MOYERS: They’re Democrats, too.

JOHN R. MACARTHUR: Democrats. But Daley succeeded Rahm Emanuel as Obama’s chief of staff. These are the people Obama talks to all the time. And they’re saying, free trade, great. We don’t know about factories closing. But it’s a great way to raise money.

BILL MOYERS: Senator Mitch McConnell, who will soon be the Senate majority leader, said that new trade agreements are one of his top priorities. Are we about to see some bipartisan cooperation between the Republicans in the Senate and Obama in the White House on passing this new trade agreement?

JOHN R. MACARTHUR: Absolutely. They’ve already announced that they’re going to try to work together. And if history is repeated, you will see fast track passed.

BILL MOYERS: Which means…

JOHN R. MACARTHUR: Which means you give the president, you give the executive branch, the authority to negotiate the trade agreement in secret. That’s what Congress gives away, which I think is unconstitutional. Because the Senate is supposed to advise and consent, right? But so far, nobody has challenged it on constitutional grounds. You give fast track authority to the president. They negotiate the deal. At the end of it, a gigantic bill, very complex, because I’ve read the NAFTA agreement, it’s very complex language. You give it to Congress. And you say, okay, vote for it, yes or no, up or down.

No amendments allowed, no amendments allowed. And so that’s when the heavy lobbying starts. And most times, at least in the past with PNTR, that’s permanent normal trade relations with China, and NAFTA, the big money wins. And this is what’s going to happen again with TPP if people don’t stop it before it gets to the fast track stage. And I guarantee you, this is a way to send more jobs, particularly to Vietnam and Malaysia. What’s happening now is that labor rates are going up slightly in China. This panics the corporations. They want other places to go. Vietnam’s an even cheaper labor platform than China. And so it’s cheap labor coupled with really minimal environmental protection. You can do just about anything you want to.

InSecurityWatch: War, hacks, drones, threats

We begin by droning on with RT:

Spy with it & Kill with it: New drone era undermines privacy & security concepts

Program notes:

Drone technology has become so accessible these days that some people have resorted to making their own remote-controlled machines and are having fun with it.

Another drone, another casualty, via United Press International:

Important al-Qaida member Umar Farooq believed dead after drone strike in Pakistan

  • At least five people were killed in the suspected U.S. drone strike

A drone strike was reported in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan on Sunday, and it is believed an important al-Qaida member was killed.

The strike was aimed at a hideout for soldiers in the village of Khara Tanga, according to local media, and two missiles killed at least five and injured at least two.

Pakistani intelligence officials have informed CNN Umar Farooq was killed, who has been an al Qaeda spokesman and was believed to be an integral leader in the group, possibly running al Qaeda’s operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The U.S. military has claimed no drone strikes occurred in Pakistan on Sunday.

An interesting claim, via the Guardian:

Israeli jets bomb Syria, says Damascus

  • Syrian state TV claims Israel has bombed two installations, one near Damascus and one near the Lebanese border

Syria accused Israeli jets of bombing two installations inside the country on Sunday, one near the capital, Damascus, and the second in a town near the Lebanese border.

The report by Syrian state television described the attack as “an aggression”. It said the air raids occurred near Damascus’s international airport and in the town of Dimas.

The state news agency Sana said: “The Israeli enemy attacked Syria by targeting two safe areas in Damascus province, namely the Dimas area and the area of Damascus international airport.” It said no casualties were reported.

There was no immediate comment from Israeli officials.

The Guardian again, with a handover:

US military hands over senior Taliban commander to Pakistan

  • Latif Mehsud among three detainees transferred to Pakistan
  • Move highlights improving relations between US, Pakistan and Afghanistan

The US military in Afghanistan says it has handed over three Pakistani detainees to Islamabad, including one who Pakistan intelligence officers say is a senior Taliban commander.

The US did not name the prisoners but two Pakistani intelligence officials say Latif Mehsud was among them. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The US said in a statement Sunday that the transfer happened Saturday.

CBC News covers Canadian incitement:

John Maguire, Ottawa man fighting for ISIS, urges attacks on Canadian targets in video

  • Identified as Abu Anwar al-Canadi, Maguire calls for lone-wolf attacks

ISIS has released a video featuring an Ottawa man calling on his fellow Muslim countrymen to carry out lone-wolf attacks on Canadian targets.

John Maguire, who was already reportedly under investigation by the RCMP after travelling to Syria to join ISIS as a foreign fighter in January 2013, appears in the slickly produced six-minute, 13-second video. The 23-year-old is identified in the video as Abu Anwar al-Canadi and speaks in English.

Standing in the ruins of an unidentified area, Abu Anwar warns Canadians that the country’s participation in the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group will lead to revenge attacks.

Another lone wolf via the Guardian:

Dubai stabbing suspect inspired by ‘terrorist ideology’ found on the internet

  • Crimes are ‘the result of a personal instigation and a lone terrorist act’
  • Investigation shows woman planned to attack a foreigner at random

A United Arab Emirates woman who killed an American teacher was inspired by “terrorist ideology” acquired through the internet but investigators have found no links to militant groups, a state news agency reported on Sunday.

Attacks on westerners are rare in the UAE, a wealthy western-allied oil exporter and tourism hub, but concern has been rising following a spate of attacks in neighbouring Saudi Arabia and after a warning in October about a jihadist web forum calling for attacks on American teachers in the region.

Police on Thursday said they had arrested the UAE national last week after the kindergarten teacher, identified as Romanian-born Ibolya Ryan, a mother of 11-year-old twins, was stabbed and killed in a toilet at an Abu Dhabi shopping mall.

The unidentified woman also placed a makeshift bomb outside the front door of an apartment of an Egyptian-American doctor living in the UAE less than two hours after Monday’s killing, police said, adding that the bomb was safely dismantled.

And the Guardian again, with allegations:

Britain accused of complicity in Kenyan death squad terrorism suspect killings

  • Kenyan intelligence members also claim they receive training and intelligence from Britain’s military and officials

Britain is facing fresh allegations of complicity in the executions of terrorism suspects carried out by Kenyan death squads.

The claims come from members of Kenyan intelligence and special police units who say they carry out extrajudicial killings. They also say they have received training and intelligence from Britain’s military and other officials as part of their fight against terrorists.

The members of the so-called death squads are speaking out not as whistleblowers because they believe the killings are wrong, but because they believe Kenya faces little choice as it faces a vicious Islamist insurgency.

The claims come in an al-Jazeera investigation programme to be broadcast on Monday.

Sky News covers insecurity in Athens:

Hundreds Of Anarchists Held After Greek Riots

Police arrests nearly 300 people after a night of violent protests to mark the anniversary of the police shooting of a teenager.

Greek police have rounded up 296 anarchists in connection with violent riots that ripped through the Greek capital and five other cities across the country overnight.

The violence – among the worst witnessed in years – erupted from what initially looked like a peaceful protest march marking the sixth anniversary of the fatal police shooting of an unarmed teenager, Alexandros Grigoropoulos.

Black-clad anarchists penetrated the march, launching attacks against riot police and going on a rampage in the centre of Athens.

From the Guardian, an overseer:

Watchdog named for Australia’s new national security laws

  • Former judge Roger Gyles to fill the vacant role of independent national security legislation monitor, with his first task examining whether the laws with impact on journalists

A former judge with more than three decades’ legal experience has been named Australia’s new watchdog for national security legislation.

Roger Gyles will fill the vacant role of independent national security legislation monitor and begin examining the federal government’s new counter-terrorism legislation as soon as possible.

His first task will be to examine whether the first suite of laws – introduced in response to the rise of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria – will impact on journalists.

Pyongyang plays cute with the hack of the year, via the Japan Times:

North Korea denies ‘righteous’ hack of Sony but hints at ‘supporters’

North Korea denied involvement Sunday in the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, but praised it as a “righteous deed” potentially carried out by its supporters to protest a film featuring its leader Kim Jong Un.

“The hacking into the Sony Pictures might be a righteous deed of the supporters and sympathizers with the (North) in response to its appeal,” the North’s top military body, the National Defense Commission, told the state-run KCNA news agency.

“The Interview” — a comedy by Sony involving a fictional CIA plot to assassinate Kim — has infuriated Pyongyang, which has warned of “merciless retaliation”.

The NDC slammed Sony for producing the film and “abetting a terrorist act while hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the (North).”

On to Hong Kong as the Occupy eviction draws closer, via South China Morning Post:

CY Leung says authorities ready for ‘furious resistance’ ahead of Occupy clear-out

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying warned yesterday that “furious resistance” is expected from some protesters in the Admiralty Occupy camp when police help bailiffs execute a court order to clear part of the protest site.

He also rejected a student leader’s call to restart the political reform process, saying it would effectively mean overturning Beijing’s controversial framework for the 2017 election. But Joshua Wong Chi-fung, convenor of the student group Scholarism, insisted such a move would not violate the Basic Law.

A police source said the exact date for executing the injunction order and whether officers would clear areas not covered by the order are to be decided tomorrow in a joint meeting with the plaintiff and bailiffs, though it could take place as early as Wednesday.

Police recently estimated that the number of protesters remaining in Admiralty between 8am and 9am was just over 100. The source said 1,000 to 2,000 officers would be deployed to clear the site during the bailiffs’ working hours between 9am and 5pm.

Insular legality from Want China Times:

Retired PLA general urges soldiers to study international law

The scenario of a Chinese takeover of disputed islands in the East and South China seas was discussed in a new book written by retired Chinese general Zhu Wenquan, the former commander of the People’s Liberation Army’s Nanjing Military Region, according to our Chinese-language sister paper Want Daily.

Facing rising tensions with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines, China needs to establish new strategies to successfully pull off a takeover, Zhu writes in The Theory of Island Warfare. He also said China’s military must know its enemy well before the outbreak of conflict, a common trope taken from the ancient Chinese military handbook The Art of War.

Zhu said China must change its traditional strategic thinking which favors fighting on the ground. He believes that it is time for China to establish an advanced information integration platform. This will improve the coordination between the PLA air and naval forces in battle. The retired general said that it is very important for landing forces to become familiar with the location of any amphibious assault it plans to launch.

And Global Times covers culture war:

China releases online videos documenting Nanjing Massacre

China’s State Archives Administration (SAA) released a 10 minute video on its website on Sunday documenting the Nanjing Massacre.

The video, which includes residents’ diaries and photos taken by foreign residents at the time, is the first of a seven-part video series scheduled to be released one per day. Sunday’s video also features photos taken by invading Japanese troops at the time.

The archives are valuable documents revealing Japanese troops’ crimes against humanity, which urge the world to permanently end anti-human atrocities, an accompanying statement said.

And it’s not just video, as CCTV America reports:

World’s first encyclopaedia on Nanjing massacre released

Program notes:

China will mark its first National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims on Dec.13. China’s State Archives Administration is releasing a series of seven-part videos one per day documenting the Nanjing Massacre from Dec.7 to to Dec.13.

More Chinese perspective from Global Times:

Abe’s denial of history panders to ultra-right

The issue of “comfort women” has caused quite a stir within Japan. In early August, the Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s biggest left-leaning newspapers, made a public statement that its past reports on “comfort women” were based on false testimony by Seiji Yoshida. Therefore, the paper retracted the articles and apologized publicly. Inevitably, it has encountered fierce attacks by other Japanese media outlets and right-wing groups. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also denounced this newspaper on many occasions.

In October, Japan required the amendment of a 1996 UN special rapporteur’s report on “comfort women.” This report described “comfort women” forced into prostitution in wartime Japanese military brothels as “sex slaves” and called on the Japanese government to apologize and pay compensation to victims. The Abe administration claimed part of the content was “false” and asked author Radhika Coomaraswamy to revoke it. But the request was denied.

It is Abe’s attitude toward the “comfort women” issue that has decided Tokyo’s frequent maneuvers in recent months. Abe believes the reports based on testimony by Yoshida solicited undue criticism from the rest of the world and therefore Japan must rehabilitate its reputation. To this end, he even tabled a plan to review the 1993 Kono Statement though he said previously he would not deny the landmark apology for sexual slavery before and during WWII.

And in Japan, insularity from Kyodo News:

Overseas experience viewed as negative for handling state secrets

The Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office warned government offices before a state secrecy law takes effect on Wednesday that people who have studied or worked abroad have a higher risk of leaking state secrets, government documents obtained by Kyodo News showed Sunday.

According to the 2011 documents released upon request by Kyodo News, the office of the Cabinet Secretariat, which supervises the controversial law to toughen penalties on leakers of state secrets, pointed to the need to check educational and employment records in examining which public servants are deemed eligible to handle sensitive information.

Under the secrecy law, which was enacted in December last year, civil servants and others who leak sensitive information on foreign policy, defense, counterterrorism and counterespionage face up to 10 years in prison.

To close, Furry terrorism? From the Guardian:

Furries convention interrupted by chlorine gas that sickens 19 people

  • Annual ‘Anthrocon’, where many attendees dress in costume to celebrate anthropomorphic animals, is evacuated as police suspect foul play

Chlorine gas sickened several people and forced the evacuation of thousands of guests from a suburban Chicago hotel early Sunday, including many dressed in cartoonish animal costumes for an annual furries convention who were ushered across the street to a convention center that was hosting a dog show.

Nineteen people who became nauseous or dizzy were treated at local hospitals, and at least 18 were released shortly thereafter.

The source of the gas was apparently chlorine powder left in a ninth-floor stairwell at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, according to the Rosemont public safety department. Investigators believe the gas was created intentionally and are treating it as a criminal matter.

Quote of the day II: Plutocratic privilege, w/ video

When you’re upbraided by Great Britain’s Lord Chief Justice, the highest of all British judges, it tends to get notice, especially when you’re worth just a bit less than a half billion dollars and you’ve refused to pay the $700,000 fine levied for causing major damage to some of the island’s most ancient woodlands, located adjacent to the site where the stones for Hadrian’s Wall were quarried, to make them more suitable for hunting pheasants and such.

Philip Edward Day’s obstinacy exercised under the pretense of a decision to wait to pay until his appeals were exhausted, was a bit too much for Sir John Thomas [really], the Lord Chief Justice.

His response was, well, a classic instance of truly high dudgeon and the recognition by the land’s judge of judges that. . .well, here’s his own words, reported by the London Telegraph:

“We send people to prison, we do not wait for the outcome of any appeal – why should this be any different?

“It seems to me there is one law for the rich and another for the poor. It is really of concern that a fine of this magnitude has not been paid, in light of the destruction of part of the common heritage of mankind.

“There is no reason why the exchequer should not have had these funds – if the appeal is successful, they would pay it back.”

One group of Britons might be somewhat reassured by his remarks, those who bear the burden of the neoconservative regime which has been of such benefit to such self-entitled raptors as the tree-uprooting Philip Edward Day.

From teleSUR English:

UK students occupy university offices to demand free education

Program notes:

Hundreds of students in the United Kingdom have occupied university offices to demand free higher education. More than twenty universities were taken over by students Thursday and Friday after tuition fees were increased. The student movement is growing and more protests are expected.

Quote of the day: Lies, damn lies, and statistics

From Jeff Cox of CNBC, taking a closer look at today’s glowing U.S. employment data, which claimed that the nation had added 321,ooo new jobs [emphasis added]:

A few figures to consider: That big headline number translated into just 4,000 more working Americans. There were, at the same time, another 115,000 on the unemployment line. That disparity can be explained through an expanding labor force, which grew 119,000, though the participation rate among that group remained at 62.8 percent, which is just off the year’s worst level and around a 36-year low.

But wait, there’s more: The jobs that were created skewed heavily toward lower quality. Full-time jobs declined by 150,000, while part-time positions increased by 77,000.

Analysts, though, mostly gushed over the report.

A more realistic take on the actual job picture in the U.S. factoring out the cosmetic political editing resulting from decades of political manipulations to weed out the harsher truth of life in post-industrial America can be found in the blue line in this chart at John Williams’ Shadow Government Statistics that includes both the long-term unemployed who’ve given up hope of landing work and the large number who work only part time for lack of full-time jobs:

BLOG Stats

Quote of the day: Class war, California style

From former Secretary of Labor and currect UC Berkeley Professor Robert Reich, writing at his blog:

In early November, school officials in Orinda, California, hired a private detective to determine whether a seven-year-old Latina named Vivian – whose single mother works as a live-in nanny for a family in Orinda — “resides” in the district and should therefore be allowed to attend the elementary school she’s already been attending there.

On the basis of that investigation they determined that Vivian’s legal residence is her grandmother’s home in Bay Point, California.

Never mind that Vivian and her mother live during the workweek at the Orinda home where Vivian’s mother is a nanny, that Vivian has her own bedroom in that home with her clothing and toys and even her own bathroom, that she and her mother stock their own shelves in the refrigerator and kitchen cupboard of that Orinda home, or that Vivian attends church with her mother in Orinda and takes gym and youth theater classes at the Orinda community center.

The point is Vivian is Latina and poor, and Orinda is white, Anglo, and wealthy.

And Orinda vigilantly protects itself from encroachments from the large and growing poor Latino and Hispanic populations living beyond its borders.