Category Archives: Asia

Headline of the day: Well pardon me all to hell


From United Press International:

Philippines’ likely next president would pardon self for 1,700 deaths

Rodrigo Duterte, the front-runner in the Philippines’ presidential election, said he would pardon himself and the death squads he led that allegedly killed 1,700 people.

Air strike at Doctors Without Borders hospital


For the second time in less than a year, a hospital staffed by Doctors Without Borders has fallen prey to an aerial bombing attack.

This time the hospital hit was in Syria, just which country’s planes were responsible for the attack is, as yet, unknown.

From the Washington Post:

Airstrikes on rebel-held areas in the Syrian city of Aleppo destroyed a hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders, the aid group said Thursday, killing at least 14 patients and staff in the latest attacks that have all but unraveled a cease-fire accord.

>snip<

The overnight raids — including a direct hit on Aleppo’s al-Quds hospital — killed at least 27 people, rights monitors and rescue volunteers said. At least 14 patients and medical staffers were killed at the hospital, Doctors Without Borders said on its Twitter account.

The group, also known by the French name Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF, said at least three doctors, including one of the last pediatricians in the city, were among the dead.

But in an attack on another hospital staffed by Doctors Without Borders nine months earlier, the identity of the attackers is known.

The bombs and the planes carrying them were American.

But if you expect those responsible to be jailed for their killing 42 innocent people, like, say a reckless driver who fatally struck another motorist on an American city street, well, fuggedaboudit.

From the Los Angeles Times:

The Pentagon has disciplined 16 service members for mistakes that led to the deadly airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in northern Afghanistan last fall, but no one will face criminal charges, The Times has learned.

The punishments follow a six-month Pentagon investigation into the disastrous Oct. 3 attack, which killed 42 medical staff, patients and other Afghans, and wounded dozens more at the international humanitarian aid group’s trauma center in Kunduz.

The 16 found at fault include a two-star general, the crew of an Air Force AC-130 attack aircraft, and Army special forces personnel, according to U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the internal investigation.

One officer was suspended from command and ordered out of Afghanistan. The other 15 were given lesser punishments: Six were sent to counseling, seven were issued letters of reprimand, and two were ordered to retraining courses.

Reckless driving? A crime, and you got to jail, losing your job and a whole lot more.

Reckless bombing? Hey, no jail time and you get to keep drawing the old paycheck.

By way of contrast, from a 4 September 2015 NBC News Los Angeles story:

A Southern California woman who was texting and chatting on her cellphone before she slammed her Toyota Prius into the back of an idling car on an Orange County freeway, killing the 23-year-old driver, was sentenced Friday to six years in prison.

Jorene Ypano Nicolas, of San Diego, tearfully apologized to Deanna Mauer’s family.

“The thought of you not being with your daughter is absolutely killing me every day,” she said. “From the bottom of my heart, from the bottom of my pain, I’m sorry you can’t physically be with your daughter anymore.”

Orange County Superior Court Judge Steven Bromberg wasn’t swayed by the apology. He imposed the maximum term under the law on the 32-year-old defendant, saying that her lack of remorse was “deafening.”

Obama’s arrogance and bin Laden’s murder


We can’t say we have been disappointed by Barack Obama because we never had any great expectations of him, in part because he was a product of the Chicago Democratic Party political machine, one of the most corrupt institutions we’ve ever investigated.

Chicago’s organized crime syndicate was not, like the more traditional Sicilian crime families, a monolithically ethnic operation. Al Capone was of Neopolitan heritage, not Sicilian, and the Outfit, as syndicate was known, included Jews [the Korshak brothers], a Welshman [Murray Humphreys], a Japanese [Ken Eto], and even a Greek [Gus Alex] — though none of African descent.

To the more traditional La Cosa Nostra families, the Outfit was like a crazy half-brother who had fallen in with some bad, though dangerous, friends..

The Outfit was on life support when Obama was on the rise, and we’ve never heard anything to link him to the enfeebled syndicate. But the political milieu nurtured by the Outfit remains alive and well, and corruption is still endemic, though the beneficiaries are more like to meet in Wall Street boardrooms and country clubs than in suites in mob-run hotels.

So when Obama was elected, we were mostly by the fact that this country had finally elected a person of color, while recognizing that Obama’s color would also useful to Republican strategists as a tool to play on the nation’s never-healed racial divides.

And given his close ties to Rahm Emanuel, a man of violent instincts with a terrorist for a father, and his corporate connections. we figured Obama would offer little change from business as usual on Pennsylvania Avenue.

We were confirmed in our suspicions when he named Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State, a violent interventionist by nature and a tool of Wall Street, as demonstrated by her record in the Senate.

Nowhere were Obama’s failures more evident than in his handling of events in the Mideast, southwestern Asia, and North Africa, where he seemed convinced that more violence would somehow lead to peace.

Evidence was already clear that forcing regime change only lead to more violence, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, yet the Obama/Clinton team pushed for just that in Libya, Egypt, and Syria. While Egyptian violence was quickly contained by another round of regime change restoring the status quo ante of a military dictatorship, the tragedies that are Libya and Syria continue unabated, with the violence extending to the streets of Paris and San Bernardino.

All of which is a very long preamble to a fascinating interview of a journalist who rose to fame for his investigation of another tragedy of another failed American military intervention, the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War.

A Pulitzer Prize winner and the dean of American investigative journalists, Seymour Hersch is still going strong at 79, and in this interview with Thom Hartmann he describes an act of extrajudicial murder ordered by Obama himself, a killing that epitomizes all that’s wrong with American foreign policy and yet another reminder of what to expect should Hillary Clinton claim the White House.

From The Big Picture:

Great Minds/Seymour Hersh – Bin Laden- A Prisoner of War. It Was a Hit…

Program notes:

Seymour Hersh, The Killing of Osama bin Laden, joins Thom. Seymour Hersh, The Killing of Osama bin Laden, joins Thom. For tonight’s Conversations with Great Minds I’m joined by one of America’s most importatn journalists – legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. Mr. Hersh has broken some of the most important stories of the past half century – and his revelations abou the My Lai Massacre and Abu Ghraib prison quite literally changed the course of American and world history. He’s also won numerous awards for his work – including the Pulitzer Prize – and is also the author of a number of books – including his latest “The Killing of Osama Bin Laden” – a deep dive into the real story of the Obama years.

It’s not just American youth growing fatter


Following up on today’s earlier post about the soaring obesity of youth in the United States comes another student, this time revealing a similar somatic inflation on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

From BBC News:

Obesity has rapidly increased in young rural Chinese, a study has warned, because of socioeconomic changes.

Researchers found 17% of boys and 9% of girls under the age of 19 were obese in 2014, up from 1% for each in 1985.

The 29-year study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, involved nearly 28,000 students in Shandong province.

>snip<

“It is the worst explosion of childhood and adolescent obesity that I have ever seen,” Joep Perk from the European Society of Cardiology told AFP news agency.

Drones, deaths, and the toxic legacy of Vietnam


The Vietnam war was America’s first and last experiment in allowing journalists unrestricted access to one of this country’s imperial wars.

Because journalists were able to hitch rides on helicopters and air transport planes, they saw death in the raw, and the images and stories they produced led directly to a militant antiwar movement and massive demonstrations, often violently repressed.

Journalists in subsequent wars to consolidate the global reach of the United States were tightly controlled, leading to the concept of embedding, where journalists were assigned to particular units and obligated to remain with them for the duration — the noxious notion of “embedding.”

Why noxious? Because living constantly with the same group for an extended period leads to identification with the group. Rather than cultivating the detachment so prized by journalists during the Vietnam War, reporters in America’s Iraqi invasions ate, drank, slept, partied with and depended on the same small group, invariably leading to an experience of war as us against them.

Couple with the ongoing downsizing of the increasingly consolidated mainstream media, journalism became less about questioning and much more about cheerleading.

Meanwhile, war itself was undergoing a transformation, epitomized in that radical new weapon of American war-making, the pilotless drone, operated from afar with joysticks by technosavvy geeks who grew up on videogames.

But that brave, new warfare exacted a price on both sides of the video screen, and digital warfare became a force for mobilizing its victims, a lesson the military failed to learn from World War II, where mass bombings of German cities failed to destroy civilian morale and even helped in prolonging German resistance.

In this, the latest edition of RT’s Going Underground, host Afshin Rattansi interviews Cian Westmoreland, an Air Force veteran who built the communications infrastructure of the drone program.

What he experienced there led him to become an antiwar activist and a leading opponent of drone warfare:

‘It Feels Like Murder’ – Obama Drone Program Whistleblower

Program notes:

Afshin Rattansi goes underground on drones. Cian Westmoreland, whistleblower and former drone technician for Obama’s top secret drone program talks about the indiscriminate targeting that means that civilians are dying when they are searching for terrorists. Plus how responsible are drones in the radicalisation of civilians?

Chart of the day: Granted asylum in Europe


From Eurostat [PDF]:

BLOG Euro asylum

Japanese public rejects TPP, reactor restarts


And they also have great doubts about Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Obama-pushed plan to turn their country into a regional military power.

Those are among the findings in a new poll reported by the government’s NHK television network, as reported by NHK WORLD.

When asked if they favored laws backing Abe’s security agenda, 48 percent disapproved and 42 percent approved.

Asked about restarting the reactors that had been producing about a third of the nation’s electricity, 18 percent of poll respondents said yes, 43 percent said no, and 33 percent said they’re uncertain.

But the lowest numbers came when they were asked if they supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade agreement pushed by Washington, Abe, and the governments of ten other Pacific Rim nations, only one if twenty five gave it a thumbs up.