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From TomDispatch this morning: An unprecedented picture of China on one of history's great spending binges in search of access to, and control over, the world's key future energy and other resources -- "China's Global Shopping Spree: Is the World's Future Resource Map Tilting East?"
"Think of it as a tale of two countries," begins energy expert and author of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet Michael Klare. "When it comes to procuring the resources that make industrial societies run, China is now the shopaholic of planet Earth, while the United States is staying at home. Hard-hit by the global recession, the United States has experienced a marked decline in the consumption of oil and other key industrial materials. Not so China. With the recession’s crippling effects expected to linger in the U.S. for many years, analysts foresee a slow recovery when it comes to resource consumption. Not so China."
TomDispatch regular Klare offers a picture of state-owned or state-backed Chinese companies ranging the world gobbling up the key future energy and other resources crucial to an industrial society, and at recession-induced bargain-basement prices. Backed with endless streams of cash, these companies are, in the field of oil alone, making deals from Kazakhistan in Central Asia to Ecuador in Latin America, Iraq to Venezuela, Burma to the African country of Guinea.
It's a remarkable, even shopaholic burst of buying of a sort we haven't seen in our lifetimes. As Klare concludes in this must-read piece: "Perhaps more than any other recent developments, China’s global shopping spree reveals how the world’s balance of power is shifting from West to East." Read it now.
Statement by Japan Lawyers' International Solidarity Association on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa
According to newspaper reports, the government maintains that Japan must provide a replacement facility for Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, which is used by the US Marines, that it has given up on finding a candidate site outside of Okinawa, and that the base will very likely be relocated within Okinawa.
From our stance of seeking to implement the spirit of the United Nations Charter and the ideals of Japan’s Constitution, we of the Japan Lawyers International Solidarity Association believe that the government’s judgment invites criticism on two points, and we strongly urge the government to reconsider.
1) Japan is not obligated to provide the US Marines with bases.
In the first place, US military bases in Okinawa were illegally expanded and built. Even before acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration on August 14, 1945 land was expropriated while Okinawans were detained in prison camps, and by means of “bayonets and bulldozers” with the start of the Cold War. Such acts are not justifiable even by the law of war, and therefore violate international law. And the Japan-US Security Treaty, which is invoked to paper over these illegalities, establishes that bases are provided to US forces under the conditions that provision is based on the will of the Japanese government, and that it contributes to the security of Japan and the Far East, but the US Marines, owing to the nature of the force, does not help to achieve such purposes, and as such their stationing in Japan lacks justification under the treaty. Further, 75% of US military bases and facilities are concentrated in this one prefecture of Okinawa, and all Okinawans want US bases to be downsized and removed. The principles of democracy, which are recognized universally the world over, do not tolerate troop stationing which goes against the will of the people.
2) In Japan the Constitution’s Preamble and Articles 9 and 98 provide the right to seek removal of US military bases.
The Japanese Constitution provides that “never again shall we be visited with the horrors of war through the action of government” and recognizes that “all peoples of the world have the right to live in peace, free from fear and want.” It says that the Japanese renounce war, do not maintain “land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential,” and it pledges to faithfully observe “established laws of nations,” which include the law of war and international humanitarian law. From the perspective of this extensive peace design, when at least part of the US forces stationed in Japan are highly problematic to bringing about peace and eliminating “fear and want,” it is possible to exercise one’s legitimate rights, including appeals to the international community, to resolve the matter which is the cause. In view of the situation with US military bases, which is a never-ending stream of aircraft crashes, traffic accidents, crimes, and pollution, it stands to reason that the people of Okinawa Prefecture seek the return of Futenma Air Station, and, with respect for their will, the Japanese government indeed has the right to take the initiative and ask the US government to immediately remove Futenma Air Station.
March 24, 2010
Japan Lawyers International Solidarity Association, Executive Committee
Osamu Niikura, President. Jun Sasamoto, Secretary-General
Finally a Congressman Takes Look at Expanding Empire of Bases, But Apparently He Was Drugged or Is Just an Idiot
Mongolia: Pentagon Trojan Horse Wedged Between China And Russia
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site | March 31, 2010
Because of its history, its location and the nations which surround it, Mongolia would seem the last country in the world to host annual Pentagon-led military exercises and to be the third Asian nation to offer NATO troops for the war in Afghanistan.
From the early 1920s until the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 Mongolia was the latter nation's longest-standing and in many ways closest political and military ally, its armed forces fighting alongside those of the USSR against the Japanese in World War II. It was not a member of the Warsaw Pact as that alliance was formed in Europe six years after and in response to the creation of NATO in 1949, but Mongolia was a military buffer between the Soviet Union and the Japanese army in China in the Second World War and between it and China during the decades of the Sino-Soviet conflict.
Mongolia is also buried deep within the Asian continent and is the world's second-largest landlocked nation next to Kazakhstan, which is only 21 miles from its western border. Those two countries along with North Korea, impenetrable in most every sense of the word, are the only three that border both China and Russia.
Russia abuts Mongolia along its entire northern frontier and China along its eastern, southern and western borders. There is no way to enter the country except by passing through or over Russia and China.
As such Mongolia would have appeared to be a refuge of non-alignment in a world of rapidly expanding U.S. and NATO penetration of increasingly vast tracts of the earth's surface.
But in the post-Cold War period no country is beyond the Pentagon's reach, either inside or on its borders.
In the last decade alone the U.S. has acquired bases and other military installations and stationed its armed forces throughout parts of the world that it had never penetrated during the Cold War era, including:
Africa: Approximately 2,000 troops and the Pentagon's Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
Indonesia's National Armed Forces (TNI), especially its thuggish Kopassus Special Forces Command, has a long, sordid human rights record, including political killings and massacres of hundreds of thousands of civilians in East Timor, Aceh, Papua, and elsewhere in the country.
In response to the November 12, 1991 Santa Cruz cemetery massacre of over 270 demonstrators in Dili, East Timor's capital, Congress restricted Indonesia's TNI from receiving International Military Education and Training (IMET). It brings foreign military officers to America for what's taught at the infamous School of the Americas (SOA, renamed WHINSEC ) - namely, the latest ways to kill, maim, torture, oppress, exterminate poor and indigenous people, overthrown democratically elected governments, suppress popular resistance movements, assassinate targeted leaders, and work cooperatively with Washington to solidify hard-right rule, intolerant of democratic rights, social justice, and progressive change.
The 1976 Arms Export Control Act requires US military hardware sales use only for defense or to maintain internal security.
GUAM TAXPAYERS PAY $1,019/HR FOR PORT NEGOTIATOR!
Since former GM of the Port Authority of Guam, Ken Takagawa, became the Port’s Chief Negotiator, there has been no forward progress with the contract negotiations for our workers.
He refuses to negotiate on items that have been negotiable for Public Employees under the Public Employees Management Relations Act for 40 years. Mr. Takagawa works 6 hrs a week and receives $20,000 per month plus per diem of $215 per day which comes out to $1,019 per hour to basically delay the process of getting our Port workers a contract!
It appears that Mr. Takagawa is deliberately delaying the process to maximize his salary.
In an effort to rectify the situation, President Matt Rector sent a letter to the Office of Attorney General Chief Prosecutor, Diane Corbett, to investigate the situation and ensure protection of the people of Guam from Government corruption, theft and waste of thousands of public dollars to this private contractor. Read Letter.
Brazil, Russia, India, and China—otherwise known as the BRIC nations—are enjoying a new and, in ways, unprecedented role on the international stage. The four emerging markets maintained an average growth rate of 10.7 percent from 2006 to 2008, according to the International Monetary Fund. With this outstanding performance, they are creating a new economic miracle.
In an article recently published in the Beijing-based newspaper Guangming Daily, experts in a research team of the Hunan Provincial Planning Office of Philosophy and Social Science pointed to a trend known as the "big country effect" as a determining factor in their rapid, sustainable growth.
Excerpts from this article follow:
Some scholars say the rapid economic growth of the BRIC countries stemmed from their wise choices in comparative advantage strategies—which have allowed them considerable room to maneuver with regards to their resources.
Others say their brilliant performance emanated from their advantages in terms of being latecomers. In other words, having been so economically dormant for so long, the BRIC countries have enjoyed advances in development via technological improvements, human resource development, as well as economic restructuring.
None of these arguments are fully convincing. Read more.
Your Calls on Jeju Island are Working Already - Keep Making Them
Jeju is the island inside the red circle. To the left is mainland China. To the right is Japan. China imports 80% of its oil along the seaway beside Jeju Island. The U.S. Navy obviously relishes the idea of one more Navy base in the region that would enable it to choke off China's importation oil thus giving the U.S. the "key" to China's economic engine. You can see that this Navy base will dramatically widen already dangerous tensions in the region.
Bruce K. Gagnon, Coordinator of Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, just wrote to AfterDowningStreet:
Since my earlier email this morning (read it below) asking people to call the South Korean Embassy in Washington DC I've already heard from two different people who both told me the person they spoke to at the embassy said it was the U.S. Navy that wants the base.
One of our supporters emailed me the following message after her call to the embassy:
I just spoke with the aide to the attaché at the Korean Embassy (202-939-5600) and she asked that we contact the U.S. Navy to complain. She understood our motivation is to support the resistance of the people on Jeju but she said "you have to talk to your government because they are the ones who want to do this." She asked me to relay this message to others.
This is very important information and confirms the worst suspicions of many of us that the U.S. has been pushing the South Korean government to build the Navy base on Jeju Island in order for the U.S. Navy to deploy Aegis destroyers at the base. But we never had confirmation of that theory until now!
We need to keep calling the South Korean Embassy and tell them not to do what the U.S. Pentagon tells them. South Korea is a sovereign nation and should not allow the U.S. to push them into building a provocative Navy base on what is known as the "Peace Island".
China’s currency manipulation fuels continued trade imbalance | Press Release
The growing trade deficit between the U.S. and China eliminated or displaced an estimated 2.4 million jobs in the U.S. between 2001 and 2008, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute.
The new report, Unfair China Trade Costs Local Jobs, shows that every state in the country, as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, suffered jobs lost or displaced because of the trade imbalance. The deficit grew by an average of $26.6 billion each year between 2001 and 2008; Chinese exports to the United States in 2008 were more than five times greater than U.S. exports to China.
A surge in imports of Chinese computer and electronic products accounted for more than 40% of the $186 billion increase in the U.S. trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2008, with these industries experiencing the largest trade-related job losses of any sector – 627,700 jobs, or 26% of all jobs lost or displaced between 2001 and 2008.
China Friday retorted US criticism by publishing its own report on the US human rights record.
"As in previous years, the (US) reports are full of accusations of the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China, but turn a blind eye to, or dodge and even cover up rampant human rights abuses on its own territory," said the Information Office of the State Council in its report on the US human rights record.
The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2009 was in retaliation to the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2009 issued by the US Department of State on March 11.
The report is "prepared to help people around the world understand the real situation of human rights in the United States," said the report.
The report reviewed the human rights record of the United States in 2009 from six perspectives: life, property and personal security; civil and political rights; economic, social and cultural rights; racial discrimination; rights of women and children; and the US' violation of human rights against other countries.
It criticized the United States for taking human rights as "a political instrument to interfere in other countries' internal affairs, defame other nations' image and seek its own strategic interests."
China advised the US government to draw lessons from the history, put itself in a correct position, strive to improve its own human rights conditions and rectify its acts in the human rights field.
This is the 11th consecutive year that the Information Office of China's State Council has issued a human rights record of the United States to answer the US State Department's annual report.
"At a time when the world is suffering a serious human rights disaster caused by the US subprime crisis-induced global financial crisis, the US government still ignores its own serious human rights problems but revels in accusing other countries. It is really a pity," the report said.
SPYING ON CITIZENS Read more.
Daytona Beach, Tomorrow Night! Milestone: 1,000 Americans KIA In Afghanisan Action: "Stop The Wars Now!"
We've reached a sad milestone in Afghanistan. Today, Monday, February 22, 2010, it was reported that 1,000 U.S. Troops have now been killed in action (KIA) in Afghanistan. The name of the soldier and other details, other than being killed by an improvised explosive devise (IED), have yet to be released. For more information about troops killed in both Afghanistan and Iraq, go to www.icasualties.org on line.
To recognize the 1,000th KIA in Afghanistan and to say "enough" to continued killing there due to the 9-year U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, there will be an Emergency Antiwar Protest in Daytona Beach tomorrow evening, Tuesday February 23rd, beginning at 6:00 PM and ending at 8:00 PM on the Northwest corner of Nova Road and International Speedway Boulevard in front of the Steak N Shake. The street address is 1000 W. International Speedway Blvd, Daytona Beach, FL 32114 and directions can be found on line here.
This event is being billed as "Afghanistan - 1,000 KIA - Enough Already, Bring Them Home Now!".
There will be TV and Print News Media on site reporting on the event.
This event will not be a vigil, but rather a spirited demand that our government Stop The Wars Now!
Attendees are asked to bring signs such as those suggested in the notice.
For more information click "Read more." Click "File attachment" for flyer.
For more details, please see the Media Alert in the attached flyer or contact Phil Restino of Central Florida Veterans For Peace (VFP Chapter 136), cell: (386) 235-3268, hm: (386) 788-2918, email: CentralFlaVFP@aol.com. Thank you.
"Chinese leaders are deploying their reserves to try and pressure the US to stop haranguing China about its currency and trade policies and to back off from interference in its domestic political and human rights issues,"..."While China may reduce its holdings of US debt in order to send a signal to Washington - though this is not necessarily the only reason it would do so - it has no intention of selling debt to the point that it wrecks the US economic recovery, since doing so would destroy China's own economic and socio-political stability,"...
China sold a record amount of its US Treasury holdings in December, ceding its place as the world's biggest foreign holder of US debt to Japan.
According to Treasury figures released on Tuesday, Beijing sold off more than $34bn of its holdings in the final month of 2009, cutting its holding of US debt by just over 4 per cent to $755.4bn.
Japan now holds almost $11bn more US debt than China, with a total of nearly $769bn.
Japan had been the largest holder of US Treasury bonds until September 2008, when it was overtaken by China. Read more.
Afghanistan: Charlie Wilson And America's 30-Year War
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site | February 15, 2010
The extraordinary American patriot and cinema hero Wilson said of his efforts in the 1980s, “This is the one chance to send the Soviet young men home in body bags like they sent our boys back in body bags. Let’s make this a Vietnam for the Soviets.”
On February 13 the United States and NATO led an assault with 15,000 Western and Afghan government troops against Marjah, a town in Helmand province with a population of 75,000. One soldier for every five civilians. The NATO contingent involved in the offensive includes troops from Britain, Canada, Denmark, Estonia and the U.S.
In the opening hours of the massive attack, "the biggest air[borne] assault ever undertaken by coalition forces in the country,"  two rockets fired from a NATO High Mobility Artillery Rocket System slammed into a house outside Marjah and killed twelve civilians. General Stanley McChrystal, commander of all U.S. and NATO Forces in the country, described the incident as "regrettable."
An account from a British newspaper described the situation in the town after the assault began: "The populous Taliban stronghold of Marjah has, say residents, become a ghost town. Shops are shuttered, streets deserted and most inhabitants are hiding inside their mud-brick houses wondering when their 'day of doom' will come." 
The operation is the largest staged by the U.S. and its NATO allies since the war in Afghanistan was launched in early October of 2001. It is the opening salvo in the plan for escalation of the counterinsurgency war in that nation announced by U.S. President Barack Obama at the West Point Military Academy last December 3. 
McChrystal, NATO and U.S. commander in Afghanistan, admits that the Afghan national army and the Afghan national police are not sufficiently effective to take ownership of Afghanistan's security. He has recommended that the ANA accelerate growth to a new level of 134,000 by fall 2010, with required additional growth to 240,000. McChrystal has also requested ANP growth to a total strength of at least 160,000.
According to McCaffrey, the United States and its allies are unlikely to achieve the political and military goals in the 18 months as set out by President Barack Obama when he announced his troop surge of 30,000 additional U.S. forces. McCaffrey noted that "this will inevitably become a 3-to-10 year strategy to build a viable Afghan state with their own security force that can allow us to withdraw. It may well cost us an additional $300 billion and we are likely to suffer thousands more U.S. casualties."
Ten years after NIE 53-63 was published, the United States finally left South Vietnam.
According to a strategic assessment of security operations in Afghanistan prepared by U.S. Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey (Ret.) on Dec 9, 2009, the Taliban believe they are winning.
Additionally, the Afghan people do not know whether the current government or the Taliban will prevail. The population, particularly the majority Pashtuns, are hedging their bets. Most Afghans are dismayed by the injustice and corruption of the central government, in particular, the Afghan National Police, McCaffrey said.
Such observations follow closely those of U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal in his Aug. 30, 2009, report: "Many indicators suggest the overall situation is deteriorating. We face not only a resilient and growing insurgency; there is also a crisis of confidence among Afghans -- in both their government -- and the international community -- that undermines our credibility and emboldens the insurgents. Further, a perception that our resolve is uncertain makes Afghans reluctant to align with us against the insurgents." Read more.
U.S. Extends Missile Buildup From Poland And Taiwan To Persian Gulf
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site | February 3, 2010
On January 20 Poland's Defense Ministry revealed that a U.S. Patriot missile battery previously scheduled to be stationed near the nation's capital will instead be deployed to a Baltic Sea location 35 miles from Russian territory; on January 29 the White House approved the transfer of 114 Patriot missiles to Taiwan as part of a $6.5 billion arms package that also includes eight warships the receiving nation plans to upgrade for the Aegis Combat System with the capacity for carrying Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) ship-based anti-ballistic missiles.
On January 22 head of the Pentagon's Central Command General David Petraeus told an audience at the private Institute for the Study of War that two warships equipped with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System "are in the Gulf at all times now."  A news report on the same day remarked "That statement - along with the stationing of other U.S. air defense assets in the region - sends a strong signal to Iran...." 
The New York Times reported on January 30 that the U.S. was expediting the deployment of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptor missiles to four Persian Gulf nations - Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates - thereby paralleling the combination of sea-based Aegis and land-based Patriot missiles intended for the Taiwan Strait aimed at China and in the Baltic Sea targeting Russia. The Gulf deployments are intended for use against Iran.
"One senior military officer said that General Petraeus had started talking openly about the Patriot deployments about a month ago, when it became increasingly clear that international efforts toward imposing sanctions against Iran faced hurdles...." 
On February 1 The Times of London commented on the coordinated interceptor missile plans: "Tensions in the Gulf between the US and Iran are set to rise further after it emerged that American-made anti-missile systems are to be deployed to Washington's Arab allies in the region.
"The Obama Administration said yesterday that it was speeding up arms sales to a number of states and that it had also deployed warships in the Gulf...."
As in the Baltic Sea and Taiwan, PAC-3 missiles - "dedicated almost entirely to the anti-ballistic missile mission"  and which soon will have their capability increased by 50% with an upgrade called Missile Segment Enhancement - will be used for short- to medium-range and Aegis class warships for medium to long-range missile interceptions. The basic ingredients of a multilayered theater missile shield.
This we know.
It has been speculated upon in open-source intelligence circles for years. So, there is little surprise for the rest of the world when it hears of China’s first major foray in its new role as a Superpower.
Although Americans might be surprised. That is, if they even hear about it before the Juarez, Mexico base goes live.
Well, why not?
China already pays for our military imperialism by loaning us the money to play soldier. So, why shouldn't the world's new Superpower just cut to the chase and open their own bases? Read more. Click "Read more" below to see the Economist magazine cover "How China Sees the World."
"European security is, not only to the individual nations, but to the world. It is, after all, more than a collection of countries linked by history and geography. It is a model for the transformative power of reconciliation, cooperation, and community"....However, "much important work remains unfinished. The transition to democracy is incomplete in parts of Europe and Eurasia."...
To elite trans-Atlantic policy makers the above paragraphs' meaning is indisputable: The use of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization military bloc - the true foundation of the "transatlantic partnership" - in waging war in and effectively colonizing the Balkans and in expanding into Eastern Europe, incorporating twelve new nations including former Warsaw Pact members and Soviet republics, is the worldwide paradigm for the West in the 21st century.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was busy in London and Paris last week advancing the new Euro-Atlantic agenda for the world.
As the top foreign policy official of what her commander-in-chief Barack Obama touted as being the world's sole military superpower on December 10, she is no ordinary foreign minister. Her position is rather some composite of several ones from previous historical epochs: Viceroy, proconsul, imperial nuncio.
When a U.S. secretary of state speaks the world pays heed. Any nation that doesn't will suffer the consequences of that inattention, that disrespect toward the imperatrix mundi.
On January 27 she was in London for a conference on Yemen and the following day she attended the International Conference on Afghanistan in the same city.
Also on the 28th she and two-thirds of her NATO quad counterparts, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner (along with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton), pronounced a joint verdict on the state of democracy in Nigeria, Britain's former colonial possession.
Afterwards she crossed the English channel and delivered an address called Remarks on the Future of European Security at L'Ecole Militaire in Paris on January 29. That presentation was the most substantive component of her three-day European junket and the only one that dealt mainly with the continent itself, her previous comments relating to what are viewed by the United States and its Western European NATO partners as backwards, "ungovernable" international badlands. That is, the rest of the world.
China may punish US war contractors
US Companies, Workers At Risk of Losing Chinese Business Because of US-Taiwan Weapons Deal
Michael Munk wrote:
Responding to Obama's provocation, China may impose sanction on US companies who sell military weapons to Taiwan. Ignorant reporters write that since US companies are banned from selling arms to China, they would not be hurt.
Nonsense: Most of the military-industrial complex members listed below are not only merchants of death. United Technologies sells elevators and air conditioning to China; Boeing sells civilian aircraft and manufactures sub-assemblies in China.
When US companies lose a market in China, eager competitors, usually from Europe, rush to replace them.
Here's a partial list of US companies expected to sell $6.4B in arms to Taiwan.
- 60 Black Hawk helicopters ($3.1bn) Sikorsky aircraft division of United Technologies Corporation (CT)
- 114 Patriot missiles ($2.81bn) Raytheon (MA) and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control (FL)
- Communication equipment ($340m)
- 2 Osprey mine-hunting ships ($105m) Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (MS) and Intermarine (GA)
- 12 Harpoon missiles ($37m) Boeing (MO)
Clinton Threatens China With Isolation Over Iran Sanctions
China's Latest Call for Talks Enrages US
by Jason Ditz | AntiWar
Chinese officials again stressed their support for additional talks with Iran and objection to sanctions, sparking a surprising condemnation from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In a long diatribe against both Iran and China, Clinton declared that it was time to “move away from the engagement track” and apply more sanctions against Iran. She warned that China would face diplomatic isolation and disruptions to its energy supply. Read more.
Yesterday the Senate approved legislation to increase the national borrowing limit to $1.9 Trillion. The vote was along party lines, raising the debt ceiling to $14.3 Trillion dollars. Watch Dylan Ratigan explain the ominous implications of that debt load for our national security.
Japan's prime minister said Monday he may nix a key military deal with Washington on relocating U.S. troops, after a local election in Okinawa showed that residents oppose any new Marine base in their region.
Residents of Nago elected a mayor who is staunchly against moving a base there from a larger city nearby -- plans which Washington considers fundamental to its troop realignment in the region. An agreement on the relocation was made under the previous government that lost power last year.
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said the results of Sunday's election reflected the will of the people, and that Japan would completely re-examine its accord with the U.S.
''The country will start from scratch on this issue and take responsibility to reach a conclusion by the end of May,'' he told reporters.
His government has repeatedly put off making a decision, risking a rift with the U.S., its main military ally, in the face of security concerns like North Korea's nuclear program and China's rising strength. Read more.
Looking for parallels to Haiti's catastrophe, many point to China. In May 2008, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck the southwestern province of Sichuan, pancaking schoolhouses, buildings and homes and killing at least 68,000 people. But the ferocity of the tremor and a huge death toll may be the only parallels between the two quake-stricken nations.
I went back to Sichuan six months after the catastrophe and was amazed at the speed of physical and economic recovery. In Dujiangyan, the largest city in the quake zone, the rubble and the tent cities had disappeared. The jumble of debris was replaced by piles of new bricks, lumber and other construction materials. There was a building boom across the region, and dozens of temporary villages were erected to house the five million people rendered homeless by the quake. The prefab housing was made out of blue aluminum siding lined with styrofoam insulation. They had cement floors and were arranged in neat rows in flat spots at the bases of the mountains. Conditions weren't luxurious, but the camps were clean and the housing dry and fairly warm. Read more.
Even though the U.S. military budget is almost ten times that of China's (with a population more than four times as large) and Washington plans a record $708 billion defense budget for next year compared to Russia spending less than $40 billion last year for the same, China and Russia are portrayed as threats to the U.S. and its allies. China has no troops outside its borders; Russia has a small handful in its former territories in Abkhazia, Armenia, South Ossetia and Transdniester. The U.S. has hundreds of thousands of troops stationed in six continents.
While Gates was in charge of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and responsible for almost half of international military spending he was offended that the world's most populous nation might desire to "deny others countries the ability to threaten it."
On December 23 of last year Raytheon Company announced that it had received a $1.1 billion contact with Taiwan for the purchase of 200 Patriot anti-ballistic missiles. In early January the U.S. Defense Department cleared the transaction "despite opposition from rival China, where a military official proposed sanctioning U.S. firms that sell arms to the island." 
The sale completes a $6.5 billion weapons package approved by the previous George W. Bush administration at the end of 2008. In the words of the Asia bureau chief of Defense News, "This is the last piece that Taiwan has been waiting on." 
We, the undersigned global organizations and individuals, call upon the South Korean and US governments to cancel all plans to build a Navy base on Jeju Island. The base will destroy coral reefs that have been listed as world heritage environmental sites by the UNESCO Pand will destroy the fishing and way of life of the people.
The deployment of naval Aegis destroyers, outfitted with missile defense systems, will be used to surround and provoke China and will make Jeju Island a prime target.
Jeju is called the peace island and must remain free of provocative military bases.
To sign please reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Several Iranian state websites have been taken down by Chinese hackers in retaliation for Iranian attacks on China’s biggest search engine.
The websites of Iran’s supreme leader and president along with those of the ministries of defense and foreign affairs were all brought down by Chinese hackers, referring to themselves as the Honker Union, in revenge for an attack on China’s Baidu site earlier this week.
An Iranian group, the Iranian Cyber Army, claimed responsibility for the sabotage of Baidu in response to Chinese web users’ support for Iran’s opposition movement.
“The solidarity and support for the people in Iran has been limited to statements,” Iranian opposition blogger Potkin Azarmehr told The Media Line. “But this is the first cyberspace help from outside Iran on behalf of those who support the green movement.”
“It’s just more evidence to show how important cyberspace is to what’s going on in Iran,” he said. “This is probably the first revolution where it’s not just a struggle on the streets but also across cyberspace.” Read more.
The Obama administration’s Iran policy is a riddle wrapped inside a conundrum folded into a pickle. So many signals are being sent in so many directions that it’s a wonder the Iranians (or other involved parties) have any idea what’s going on. Barack Obama came into office pledging to reach out diplomatically to Iran. In fact, the administration did so in only a half-hearted way, even as the president quickly began setting deadlines for the Iranians to respond (on their nuclear program) in a way Washington considered satisfactory -- or face further “crippling” sanctions. Now, the latest of these deadlines, January 1, 2010, has passed and a move towards new sanctions, especially against companies associated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, which controls significant parts of the country's economy, is evidently being prepared. But China, which holds the presidency of the Security Council for the month of January, recently rejected even a debate on the subject. Like the Russians, the Chinese are deeply involved in developing long-term energy relations with Iran, which means that no sanctions which might “cripple” that country’s economy are likely to make it through the Security Council, no matter which country has the presidency....
Two Movements, Two Moments
Don’t Bet on It...Yet
By Dilip Hiro
A short review of Iran’s 31-year-old revolution is in order. In February 1979, the autocratic monarchy of the Shah collapsed when the country’s economy ground to a halt due to strikes not only by the religiously observant merchants of the bazaar, but also by civil servants, factory employees, and (crucially) leftist oil workers. At the same time, the foundations of the modern state -- the armed forces, special forces, armed police, and intelligence agencies, as well as the state-controlled media -- cracked.
The street demonstrations, launched in October 1977 by Iranian intellectuals and professionals to protest human rights violations by SAVAK, the Shah’s brutal secret police, lacked both focus and an overarching set of coherent demands articulated by a towering personality. That changed when Khomeini, a virulently anti-Shah ayatollah exiled to neighboring Iraq for 14 years, was drawn into the process in January 1978. From then on, the ranks of the protestors swelled exponentially.
By Bruce K. Gagnon, Coordinator
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
I try not to visit a place and then forget about the people and the struggle they are engaged in. Since my visit to Jeju Island, and the Gangjeong village last October, I have been closely following developments about the South Korean government's plan to build a Navy base where pristine coral reefs, fishing, and tangerine groves are now integral to the people's way of life.
In parallel with the escalation of the war in South Asia - counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan and drone missile attacks in Pakistan - the United States and its NATO allies have laid the groundwork for increased naval, air and ground operations in the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden.
During the past month the U.S. has carried out deadly military strikes in Yemen: Bombing raids in the north and cruise missile attacks in the south of the nation. Washington has been accused of killing scores of civilians in the attacks in both parts of the country, executed before the December 25 Northwest Airlines incident that has been used to justify the earlier U.S. actions ex post facto. And, ominously, that has been exploited to pound a steady drumbeat of demands for expanded and even more direct military intervention.
The Pentagon's publicly disclosed military and security program for Yemen grew from $4.6 million in 2006 to $67 million last year. "That figure does not include covert, classified assistance that the United States has provided." 
In addition, "Under a new classified cooperation agreement, the U.S. would be able to fly cruise missiles, fighter jets or unmanned armed drones against targets in the country, but would remain publicly silent on its role in the airstrikes." 
Thousands of poor farmers in India have committed suicide over the past decade as changes in India's agricultural policy set off a widening spiral of debt and despair, one environmental activist said Tuesday.
"The farmer suicides started in 1997. That's when the corporate seed control started," Vandana Shiva told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. "And it's directly related to indebtedness, and indebtedness created by two factors linked to globalization."
For Shiva, who works with farming communities across India, those two factors were the ceding of control of the seed supply to the corporate chemical industry -- leading to increased production costs for already-struggling farmers -- as well as falling food prices in a global agricultural economy.
An estimated 200,000 farmers have taken their own lives in India over the past 13 years, according to Indian government statistics.
"The combination is unpayable debt, and it's the day the farmer is going to lose his land for chemicals and seeds, that is the day the farmer drinks pesticide," Shiva said. "And it's totally related to a negative economy, of an agriculture that costs more in production than the farmer can ever earn." Read more.