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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Analysts Focus on Iranian Missile Threat

Amid continued defiance by Iran in its nuclear standoff with the West, and renewed Chinese calls for diplomacy and a peaceful resolution of the issue, a handful of American analysts are increasingly concerned that the Islamist regime is not only moving closer to developing a nuclear weapon--it could have one or two bombs in a year or so and may already possess radioactive dirty bombs--but to developing long-range missiles that could hit the United States.

The key to this strategic achievement is North Korea. As the director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Michael Maples, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday, the Stalinist/Kimist regime is technically capable of building a long-range missile that can strik the continental US.

The senior intelligence official said North Korea has likely learned from the apparent failure of its provocative Taepodong-2 missile launch in July, and made changes to its other missiles.

"I believe they have the technical capability, as we saw by the Taepodong, but they have not successfully tested it yet," Maples said, adding that "it's not a matter of years" before North Korea has a missile capable of reaching the US.

US and Israeli analysts have long focused on suspect connections between North Korea's Taepodong-2 program and Iran's Shahab program. The conventional wisdom is that Tehran is several years away from having a missile capable of accurately targeting European cities. An Iranian missile that could hit the US is not even on the radar.

Comment: Perils of a Plunging Chinese Market

What has globalization wrought? Will China ... or, rather, the international system that has made possible China's meteoric ascent ... wreck the world economy?

That could happen. Never before in human history has the world been so deeply and dangerously intertwined.

Today's crash suggests the sort of nightmarish scenario that could be in the making. Joining a global stock slump, Wall Street reacted sharply to the nine percent drop in Chinese stocks--the biggest plunge in Chinese shares in a decade. As of this writing, the Dow Jones Industrials had fallen more than 200 points. [UPDATE: The market closed with the Dow down more than 400 points. It was the worst day of trading since 9/11.]

Emerging markets were also hit hard. Their stocks, which had soared to record highs largely on the theory that China's growth would fuel seemingly limitless demand for commodities, dropped the most since last June, when a sharp downturn in Chinese stocks shook investor confidence in third world equities. Today, Russian stocks fell from all-time highs; Turkey's stock index had its biggest decline since June; Brazil's Bovespa index dropped 4.3 percent, erasing this year's gains for Latin American shares, and Mexico's Bolsa fell the most since July.

Scary stuff, supporting fears that the US economy could be headed for a recession, contrary to rosy forecasts by television pundits and stock pushers.

Perhaps the most frighening aspect of the slide: the Chinese sell-off was unexpected, apparently influenced, or manipulated, by government officials seeking to cool the Chinese economy.

Given China's rampant corruption and inherent instability--companies typically keep three sets of books, the legal system is still a joke, ruling Communist Party officials are on the make and on the take, the astronomical real estate debt can't be serviced, bloated state owned enterprises owe staggering sums to insolvent state owned banks--the idea that the fate of ordinary Americans and people the world over hinges on happenings in the Middle Kingdom, that events in Beijing and Shanghai can wreak havoc on Wall Street ... and destroy what remains of Main Street ... is more than frightening. It is truly terrifying--and downright scandalous.

What kind of world are our so-called leaders fashioning for us in the name of free trade?

Monday, February 26, 2007

China Planning Projects to Save and Recycle Water

Water, water everywhere--except in booming China, where pollution and wasteful consumption of the precious resource threaten to end the most dramatic economic expansion in human history.

As many as 400 Chinese cities are facing water shortages; at least 70 percent of the country's rivers and lakes are severely polluted; and the dry northern part of the country often faces serious water shortages. Per-capita availability of water is expected to shrink to alarming levels by 2030.

Enter the Ministry of Water Resources. It says 100 pilot water-saving projects will be launched before the end of 2010. The projects have the potential of saving the country billions of cubic meters of water.

The initiative is long overdue. China only recycles 60 to 65 percent of its industrial wastewater, compared with 80 to 85 percent in developed nations. Much of the leftover wastewater is dumped untreated into rivers and lakes, adding to pollution.

In related news, Beijing plans to quench the thirst of northern China by moving water there from the Yangtze River in the wet south, through a multi-billion dollar water diversion project.

The controversial project is already over budget, and critics worry about the environmental impact. They say the money could be better spent cleaning up existing pollution.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

China Exploring Africa's Biodiesel Crop Potential

Energy-starved China is expanding its African oil safari to include oil from plants--the kind that can be used as feedstock for biodiesel production.

Across the continent, representatives of China's state-owned energy companies are exploring the feasibility and cost of leasing or buying large tracts of land for growing palm oil trees and also non-edible, higher-yield jatropha. The latter is actually native to the American tropics but has spread throughout most of the tropical and subtropical regions of the world because of its hardiness, rapid growth and easy propagation, and wide-ranging usefulness.

Over half the land in Africa is considered suitable for jatropha cultivation. The crop, which may have the highest energy payback of any biofuel, is a perennial, and thus capable of yielding oil seed for decades after planting. Jatropha can grow without irrigation in arid conditions.

Some experts estimate that if 25 percent of Africa's land deemed suitable to grow jatropha were used for that purpose, the yearly output would match current total oil consumption in the United States--and put an end to African porverty, while also slowing, if not reversing, desertification by storing moisture and stablizing soil.

The crop's biodiesel potential is attracting attention. China Confidential has learned that Israeli investors are looking into starting Jatropha plantations in Ghana and have appealed to local tribal chiefs to release large parcels of land for their venture, which could supply biodiesel producers in the Jewish state.

Meanwhile, the worldwide market for palm oil-based biodiesel is booming, as the industry takes off in the United States, and demand skyrockets in Europe. Canola and soybean crops alone can't supply countries comprising the European Union, which wants biofuels to make up 5.75 percent of transport fuel by 2010 and 10 percent by 2020.

The palm oil tree originated in West Africa and spread to Central Africa. After the slave trade was outlawed, palm oil became a highly sought-after commodity by British merchants and traders. The oil was used as industrial lubricant for the machines of Britain's Industrial Revolution, and also formed the basis for several brands of soap, such as Palmolive.

The palm tree was transplanted at the beginning of the 20th century in South Asia. In 1920, the first industrial plantations were implemented on the island of Sumatra, in Indonesia, which was then a Dutch colony. Today, Indonesia is the world's second largest palm oil producer after Malaysia, which accounts for nearly half the global output. Both countries are expanding production as a result of the international biodiesel boom.

China, the world's second largest oil importer after the US, is showing significant interest in biodiesel as an alternative fuel. China has become the fourth largest--and the fastest growing--motor vehicle market. Under pressure from its own citizens and the international community to seriously address the worsening air polution problem, the government recently set a goal that that by the year 2020, 20 percent of Chinese energy is to be derived from renewable resources. Hence, the interest in securing supplies of feedstock.

Togo and the Congo are two countries of focus. In competing for commodities and land, Beijing's energy behemoths, which answer to the Chinese government (controlled by the Communist Party) and not to stockholders, have important competitive advantages over their European and US rivals. Chinese firms can offer African leaders an array of incentives--from presidential palaces and sports stadiums to guns and cash gifts--to achieve company aims and advance the national interest.

Much of biodiesel's appeal stems from the fuel's ability to perform as well as--or even better than--petroleum diesel while emitting fewer exhaust materials that cause smog, particulate pollution and global warming.

Biodiesel is created in a relatively simple process known as transesterification. Producers start with clean or waste vegetable oil, then add methanol and a catalyst, such as sodium hydroxide or methyl hydroxide. A chemical reaction produces biodiesel and glycerine, which can be separated and used in soap and further refined and used in food, cosmetics, toothpaste, and other products.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Foreigners Warming to Fiji Government

Tiny Fiji may be bouncing back faster than analysts expected.

The Pacific island nation's interim administration has been invited to take part in its first high level international meeting since it took office last month. Minister of Foreign Affairs and External trade Ratu Epeli Nailatikau will travel to Brussels next week to attend a meeting of trade ministers from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of countries. Ratu Epeli will then attend a joint meeting of the ACP and European Union trade ministers. He will also engage in talks with senior European Commission officials to discuss what development aid will be available to Fiji under the EU's Economic Partnership Agreement.

Ministers and senior government officials from more than 70 countries are expected to be present at the ACP/EC meeting.

Before returning home, the interim minister will visit several Asian countries as part of Fiji's Look North Policy of engaging nations beyond Australia and New Zealand. The policy has led to increased economic assistance from China and to closer ties with India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, and South Korea.

Meanwhile, negative publicity resulting from Fiji's recent coup--which overthrew what is increasingly seen as having been a corrupt, anti-business regime--does not seem to be scaring away Australian investors. A delegation representing five Australian companies expected to pump an estimated $800 million into the Fiji economy is scheduled to visit Fiji from February 26 to March 2. The investors will meet with government ministers and officials to discuss implementation of their projects, including film and television production, hotel and resort development, manufacturing, a water bottling plant, and pearl farming.

Muslim Terrorists Target Australians in Thailand

The Australian, Canadian and British embassies in Thailand revised their warnings Friday about possible terrorism in Thailand after the country's defense minister said Muslim insurgents in the south could extend their attacks to Bangkok.

The Australian embassy warned its citizens to be on alert for possible bomb attacks in crowded places in the capital.

The warning posted on the "Travel Advice" section of the embassy website advises Australians to "exercise a high degree of caution because of the high threat of terrorist attack."

The embassy says: "Reports indicate possible bombing attacks Friday at crowded places such as department stores, and sky-train and subway stations in Bangkok."

A series of explosions in Bangkok on New Year's Eve killed three people and wounded 30, including six foreigners. The government blamed supporters of the exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. But analysts tell China Confidential that the bombings were most likely the work of Islamist terrorists from the south of the country seeking a separate state.

The updated embassy warnings follow an arson attack Wednesday in the south on a warehouse storing rubber, a cornerstone of the region's economy. Police said suspected Muslim separatists set fire to the largest rubber warehouse in Yala province, owned by the Southern Land Rubber Co., a joint venture between Thai and Malaysian businessmen.

Muslim violence in the south has left more than 1,800 people dead in the past three years. Historically, the region has been plagued by banditry and lawlessness, at times making it difficult for authorities to differentiate between criminal lawlessness and terrorist acts commissioned by domestic Thai terrorist or Muslim separatist groups.

The vast majority of the country's Muslims, predominantly Malay in origin, reside in the south. Some Pakistani immigrants also live in the urban centers.

In June 2003, Thai police broke up a cell of the southeast Asian Islamist terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah and foiled a plot to bomb embassies in Bangkok. Three Thai men, alleged to be members of Jemaah Islamiyah, the group suspected in the 2002 bombing on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, were arrested in raids on their homes in the Muslim dominated narrated province, 710 miles south of Bangkok. The development followed the May 16 arrest in Bangkok of a Singaporean alleged to be a senior member of the terror group.

Thai Muslim terrorists have forged operational links with Malaysian Kampulan Mujahedin, which hs ties to the al-Qaida terror network.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

No Fish Story: Colossal Squid Caught Off Antarctica

Holy cephalopod!

Turns out, the giant squid is not the world's largest squid. The top squid--as big as a double-decker bus--is a mysterious creature called the colossal squid.

It is an almost unknown animal. Living at depths in excess of 1,000 meters, and temperatures near freezing in Antarctic waters, the colossal squid is extremely rare.

Which brings us to today's totally non-political piece of news. A New Zealand government official says fishermen off Antarctica have caught a record-size colossal squid. It is said to be about 10 meters long and weighs about 450 kilograms-- roughly 150 kilograms heavier than the biggest specimen previously found. Colossal squid can grow up to 12 meters in length.

Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton says the squid was still alive--and eating a toothfish--when it was caught. He says the squid was frozen in the ship's hull and brought back to New Zealand for scientific examination.

A toothfish can grow to more than two meters in length and weigh about 120 kilograms. Until now, nobody knew one could be eaten by a colossal squid.

Anderton says the colossal squid caught off Antarctica is the first intact adult male of the species ever to be successfully landed.

Unlike the giant squid, whose tentacles are equipped with suckers lined with small teeth, the suckers at the tips of the colossal squid's tentacles have sharp swiveling hooks. Its body is wider and stouter, and therefore heavier, than that of the giant squid. Colossal squids are believed to have a longer mantle than giant squids, although their tentacles are shorter.

The colossal squid is also believed to have the largest eyes in the animal kingdom. The eyes of the one caught off Antarctica are described as being as big as dinner plates.

The squid's known range extends thousands of miles northward from Antarctica to southern South America, southern South Africa, and the southern tip of New Zealand.

About squid size: it matters. But there is some debate over the ways in which the size of a squid is reported (or mis-reported). Was the creature in question dead and relaxed or alive and outstretched? Clearly, squid measuring can be a murky business.

One thing is certain: the one that got away is usually the biggest one ever seen.

Report Embarrasses Bush Administration

A report by a Washington think tank, referenced below, is embarrassing the Bush administration. The Institute for Science and International Security says in a 14-page report,"North Korean Plutonium Stock, February 20007," that the secretive Stalinist/Kimist state has enough plutonium to have made a dozen or more nuclear warheads.

The report also doubts that North Korea will actually abandon nuclear weapons; instead, it is likely to remain committed to a first-use policy.

Analysts in Japan are concerned that their country could come under attack by the North Korean regime if it collapses or otherwise feels seriously threatened.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

NK Could be Developing Sea-Launch Missile System

North Korea may not yet be capable of striking the continental United States with its long-range missiles. But some analysts are concerned that the reclusive Communist state may be developing a new missile system that could be used to attack US coastal cities from a merchant ship.

There is also concern that Pyongyang may have already shared the know-how with its nuclearizing Islamist ally, Iran, which is developing sea-launch capabilities.

The US has no defense against this kind of ship-mounted missile attack, known as a Scud-in-a-bucket.

The new missile system could be based on the R-27 that was acquired from Russia in the 1990s. The rocket uses 40 year-old, liquid-fuelled technology and an engine similar to North Korean Scuds and No Dong rockets. The proven design of the R-27 could eliminate the need for extensive testing.

The sea-based version of the R-27--which could also be fired from a submarine--has an estimated range of at least 2,500 km. Russian versions of the missile can carry 200 kiloton nuclear weapons.

A new US report says North Korea is probably able to mount a nuclear weapon on missiles it already has. The Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington-based research organization, says Pyongyang probably has all the technology it needs to mount "a crude nuclear weapon" on its missiles.

North Korea has invested massively in missile technology over the past two decades, the staple of which is its Nodong line of missiles. The institute's report, released Wednesday, says Pyongyang probably received designs for placing a nuclear warhead on a missile from the network of Pakistani nuclear engineer A.Q. Khan during the 1990s.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Fiji PM Sets Date for New Elections

Fiji's interim prime minister said Tuesday that new elections in the South Pacific island nation will be held in 2010.

Military commander Frank Bainimarama said in a statement Tuesday he had set out a "road map" to democracy that includes a constitutional review, a national census and a revision of the voting system.

Foreign investors reacted favorably to his announcement.

In the United States, a State Department spokesman reiterated a demand by the US that democracy in Fiji be restored immediately, not one, two or three years from now.

Bainimarama toppled the elected government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase on December 5, accusing him of corruption and criticizing him for being too soft on the organizers of a 2000 coup. Since then, Bainimarama has reportedly uncovered proof of corrupt dealings, including election tampering.

Australia, New Zealand, Britain and the US have imposed sanctions on Fiji, saying the country should return to civilian rule.

Monday, February 19, 2007

NATO Responds to Russian General's Threat

Extreme language.

That's how a NATO spokesman described Monday's threatening comments by a Russian general during a news conference.

And not just any general, but the commander of Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces, General Nikolai Solovtsov.

Russia, Solovtsov said, is capable of targeting American missile defense sites if they are built in the Czech Republic and Poland. The general threatened possible action if the countries go ahead with the missile defense plan, and also warned that Russia has the ability to resume building intermediate and short-range missiles if the Kremlin drops out of an arms treaty with the United States.

"If the governments of Poland and the Czech Republic take such a decision, the strategic missile force will be able to aim at these installations," Solovtsov said.

The Russian commander was reacting to Polish and Czech prime ministers, Jaroslaw Kaczynski and Mirek Topolanek, who said they would likely accept Washington's proposal to build missile defense sites.

The US says the sites would defend against missile launches from Iran or North Korea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the presence of a missile defense system so close to Russia's border a threat to its security.

Solovtsov also told reporters that Iran does not have missiles capable of reaching the US.

"I very much doubt that Iran will have them [the missiles] in the near future," he said.

Russia, like China, is an ally of Islamist Iran; and Russian technicians are deeply involved in running Iran's suspect nuclear sites.

A NATO spokesman described the general's threatening comments as "extreme language" that is uncalled for and out of date.

Welcome to the new Cold War.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

China Snooping on German Companies

Germany's domestic intelligence service has warned the country's companies that China is increasingly using electronic espionage to get trade secrets.

Companies that develop or distribute high technology are especially vulnerable. Smaller and medium-sized firms that develop highly specialized products are also targets.

Espionage and counterfeiting contribute to China's huge export success, according to the German Office for Foreign Trade, a government agency.

China is expected to surpass Germany as the world's leading exporter next year. Germany was the world's biggest exporter in 2006, with a record foreign trade surplus of 162 billion euros ($209 billion).

China Welcomes Year of the Pig

China has celebrated the start of the Lunar New Year holiday with festive family meals and massive fireworks displays.

Residents of Beijing set off thousands of firecrackers late Saturday to ring in the Year of the Pig, which, according to Chinese astrology, is said to bring good luck and prosperity.

Chinese traditionally set off firecrackers to scare away evil spirits from the previous year and welcome the new year in. Candles and incense are also lighted during prayers.

China's official Xinhua News Agency says 125 people in the capital were injured by the fireworks, three of them seriously. Two years ago, Beijing authorities lifted a ban on fireworks, 12 years after imposing it for safety reasons.

In what has become an annual ritual for the Chinese Communist leadership, President Hu Jintao spent New Year's Eve Saturday visiting villagers in the poor, northwestern province of Gansu. Hu said he was pleased to see more prosperity in the village of Daping, which he last visited in 1999.

The government is eager to show that it cares about the left-behind countryside, where incomes average only $400 a year.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Iran Could Sponsor Neo-Nazi Nuke Attack

Israeli intelligence analysts and counterterrorism experts are concerned that Islamist Iran could use its ties to expanding neo-Nazi groups to carry out terrorist attacks in Europe or the United States, or even in Israel itself.

Tehran has become a magnet for the international neo-Nazi movement. Given the regime's covert nuclear program and repeated vows to destroy Israel and drive the US out of the Middle East, an Iranian-sponsored, neo-Nazi nuclear or radioactive dirty bomb attack on the West could become a plausible scenario (if it has not already become one).

Iran is also developing biological and chemical weapons that could be handed over to neo-Nazi and Islamist terrorists.

Israeli analysts note that in addition to the Islamist infiltration of Europe, neo-Nazi organizations are growing in influence and acquiring an alarming degree of legitimacy across the continent. Iran, which has sponsored events aimed at denying and ridiculing the Holocaust, could use the groups for logistical support and actual assaults, exploiting their ability to blend into European society, or penetrate Israel by posing as tourists, more easily than Muslim forces--with which the Radical Right is increasingly allied. Many neo-Nazis see rightwing political Islam--and Iran, specifically--as their last best hope for destroying Western democracy.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is known to deeply resent what he regards as Europe's role in helping to establish Israel in the wake of the Holocaust (which he denies) and the Nazi defeat in the Second World War (which he laments). Some analysts believe he could be tempted to orchestrate devastating "revenge attacks" on European--and American--targets, including attacking coastal cities with nuclear-tipped rockets launched from specially constructed containers placed aboard civilian cargo ships.

US Free-Trade Champion Criticizes Lawmakers' Attempt to Rescind China's MFN Status

China's massive trade deficit with the United States--which Washington says has reached a staggering $232 billion--is dampening US enthusiasm for free-trade with China, and globalization in general. After years of benefiting from the race to the bottom, the pro-China trade champions are rallying against attempts to correct the imbalance.

For example, James Zimmerman, the recently elected chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, has criticized an attempt by three US senators to rescind China's permanent privileged trade status, calling their proposed legislation "simplistic" and asserting that it is, well, illegal--i.e. inconsistent with World Trade Organization rules.

[Zimmerman is no lightweight--and no stranger to rules and regulations. Recognized as one of Asia's leading business lawyers, he is the chief representative and a partner in the Beijing office of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, a multinational law firm. He has been involved with China-related matters for more than 17 years, has lived and worked permanently in Beijing for more than seven years, and is the author of several books, articles and chapters in books pertaining to Chinese law and dispute resolution.]

The bill, which was introduced to the Senate this week, would rescind China's status as a normal US trading partner. China would again be the subject of an annual review process to decide whether or not it deserves "most favored nation" status, which gives China reduced tariffs and trade barriers under WTO rules.

The sponsors of the bill--Senators Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Sherrod Brown of Ohio--say China has engaged in systematic labor abuses, intellectual property theft and piracy, currency manipulation and other unfair trading practices.

Zimmerman disagrees. "All countries that are members are entitled to MFN status," he says." So, for the US to pull that back into their own unilateral forum seems to be taking a step back in time, and it will create more tension with China."

Beijing contends that its ballooning trade deficit with the US is partly due to US restrictions on certain high-technology exports, which Washington bans because of security concerns. China also uses a different method of calculating the deficit, and says it was actually only $144 billion in 2006.

As if to suggest that there may be limits to even his free-trade boosterism, Zimmerman also disagrees with the Chinese position. He says allowing the kind of high-tech exports that China seeks (including sensitive dual-use items that could hurt US national security) would make only a small difference in the total.

The real key to reducing the trade deficit, Zimmerman says, is for the US to push for greater access to the Chinese market. He argues that emphasis should be placed on the service sectors, such as banking, accounting and legal services, in which the US excels.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

China Concerned Contemporary Version of Ancient Communication System Could Pose Security Threat

Fujitsu's China problem, about which we recently reported, may be getting worse. The giant Japanese company is promoting a controversial covert communication technology that can encode data into a picture that is invisible to the human eye but can be decoded by a mobile phone with a camera.

Fujitsu says the technology has widespread implications for the publishing industry.

But sources say Chinese officials see the technology as a potential security threat.

They have a point.

The Fujitsu technology is based on a practice called steganography, which dates back to ancient Greece and Rome. Military commanders sent warnings of attacks on wooden tablets and then covered them in wax; they also tattooed messages on soldiers' shaved heads that were then covered by the regrowth of hair.

Security experts and intelligence analysts suspect that Al Qaeda terrorists tied to the 9/11 attacks might have used steganography. The connection has not been proven; but the suspicion highlights the effectiveness of steganography as a means of hiding data--in plain sight.

Or plain text. Similar to cryptography, steganography is the art of writing in cipher, or in characters which are not intelligible except to persons who have the decoding key. It is a fundamental way of keeping data confidential--and communicating it covertly.

In contrast with cryptography, which scrambles messages, steganography camouflages a message to make it seem invisible.

Some modern-day examples: (1) during the Second World War, tiny dots of invisible ink were added directly above the letters of seemingly innocuous text; (2) prisoners of war are known to have used the dots in letters in such as i and j and the dash-like images in t and f to convey Morse code messages.

In terms of popular culture, in the best selling novel, The Da Vinci Code (China banned the movie), the interpretation of hidden messages inside Leonardo's famous works, including the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, figures prominently in the solution to the mystery.

In contemporary computer terms, steganography has evolved into a digital strategy of hiding a message within a larger one in such a way that others can't discern the presence or contents of the hidden message. The file is typically concealed in some form of multimedia, such as an image, or an audio or video file.

Proponents of steganography point out that it can be used for a variety of legitimate purposes, such as watermarking images for copyright protection.

But Communist Party-ruled China (which happens to be the global leader in intellectual property piracy) is said to be focused on the technology's illegitimate purposes--i.e. covert communication of secret or sensitive information.

Fujitsu's stego-based system reportedly exploits the sensitivities of the human eye, which has trouble seeing the color yellow. Any camera, however, even the kind found in a mobile phone, is sensitive to and thus perfectly capable of decoding the yellow hue.

Beijing Blasts Taiwan Name-Change Campaign

What's in a name? Enough to start a war of words--or a shooting war--if you're talking about Chinese policy toward the Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan. China is fully and officially committed to attacking Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a renegade province, if it moves toward declaring formal independence.

Given China's ominous missile buildup opposite Taiwan--Beijing has some 1,000 missiles aimed at the island and is adding about 100 a year to the arsenal--the threat is far from empty. Every disagreement or incident involving cross-Strait relations has the potential of escalating into a major confrontation leading to all-out conflict.

Against this backdrop, Taiwan's unpopular president, Chen Shui-bian, has decided to pick a fight with China--over its name. Or Taiwan's name, depending on one's point of view. With his ally, the United States, distracted by Iraq and Iran, Chen has launched a provocative name-change campaign that emphasizes Taiwan's identity--and hints at formal independence--by removing "China"--or "Chunghwa"--from government-run enterprises, including the island's central bank, and state oil and shipbuilding companies.

And post office. On Monday, the island's Chunghwa Post became Taiwan Post Co. The government said the change was necessary to distinguish it from the mainland's China Post; and "Taiwan" is also expected to appear on the island's stamps. The ROC name is still in force--for now.

But Beijing is concerned. In its view, one China can't have or selectively use two names. Speaking to reporters Wednesday, a government spokesman denounced Chen's move as a "plot."

"Chen Shui-bian's recent repeated efforts to separate the connection with China, this plot to create an atmosphere for a legal principle for Taiwan independence … has been strongly condemned and resisted by other Taiwanese political parties and the public," said Li Weiyi, spokesman for Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office.

The issue has an odd and complex history. When the Chinese Nationalist government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a long civil war with the Communists, it maintained its claim as the government of all of China. The word China, or Chunghwa, was kept in many official names. The Communists, while rejecting and ridiculing their foe's claim to represent China, favored continued use of the name by the ROC because it ironically implied support for the idea that the territory it (temporarily) ruled, Taiwan, and the mainland were indeed inseparable. Hence, China's sensitivity to anything that suggests the opposite.

Li said that people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait were against the name change campaign.

He's right. A majority of Taiwan's people oppose formal independence, and Chen's renaming campaign has sparked protests on the island.

Taiwan's president is battered by a financial scandal and low approval ratings. He clearly hopes to use the name-change issue to rally voter support for his proindependencee Democratic Progressive Party in advance of the 2008 presidential election.

The US, which has pledged to help Taiwan to defend itself against a possible Chinese attack (though it is not clear if the obligation under the Taiwan Relations Act includes intervention), opposes any change in the cross-Strait status quo, including, as a State Department spokesman recently put it, "changes in terminlogy for entities administered by the Taiwan authorities."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

IN MEMORIAM

China Confidential just learned that a wonderfully gifted, Ukrainian-American blogger, Helen, known to her many readers around the world as Aussiegirl, recently passed away after losing a battle with cancer. She often republished, referenced, and linked to China Confidential articles; and we occasionally corresponded.

She was an exceptionally talented writer--and a great lover of freedom--with a passion for literature, arts, and science.

May she rest in peace.

Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband and family during this trying time.

NK Nuke Deal: Betrayal or Breakthrough?

Did the United States betray Japan at the six-party talks in Beijing?

Apparently so, which explains the somber mood in Japan. Important officials and influential political personalities feel let down, abandoned, used and abused by the phony phased denuclearization deal--which rewards North Korean aggression and defiance and serves Chinese interests at Japan's expense.

The February 13 agreement is also counter to US security interests; but an embattled Bush administration, bogged down in Iraq and desperate for a diplomatic breakthrough on the Korean peninsula amid escalating tensions with nuclearizing Iran, does not see it that way.

The US State Department has won the day. The Nobel Prize-seeking Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her appeasement-minded assistant and North Korean point man, Christopher ("Kim-Jong") Hill, are celebrating their so-called achievement, doing their level best to misinform the media about their deal with the Stalinist/Kimist devil. Contrary to the party line--eagerly lapped up by a fawning liberal press corps--the US has given up on genuine North Korean nuclear disarmament and instead settled for faux nuclear arms control, or pseudo-disarmament, which will allow Pyongyang to keep its illegal highly enriched uranium program.

A program that North Korea does not even admit exists--like the not-so-secret tunnels and bases capable of hiding nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

Back to Japan. America's ally understandably feels isolated by a fuel-for-nukes accord that seems to set the stage for US diplomatic recognition of North Korea, followed by withdrawal of US troops from South Korea, and, incredibly, the eventual reunification of the peninsula on the North's terms. Aside from serving Chinese interests--Beijing does not want US troops anywhere near its borders--a staged US withdrawal would certainly undermine Japanese national security.

Already, the Beijing agreement shreds Tokyo's confidence in the so-called US nuclear umbrella, under which postwar Japan has been able to build one of the world's great democracies--and the world's second largest economy--while North Korea has dedicated itself to constructing a hell on earth.

As such, the deal is certain to strengthen the arguments of those in Japan who want their nation to develop its own nuclear deterrent.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

China, Russia Clash with US over Space Arms; Expert Says January Anti-Satellite Test Not China's First

China and Russia clashed with the United States Tuesday over a proposal to the United Nations Conference on Disarmament to create a treaty on space weapons.

During a meeting of the conference in Geneva Tuesday, Beijing and Moscow voiced their opposition to the US refusal to sign a treaty banning space weapons, and warned that it could lead to an arms race in space.

In January, China secretly tested a satellite-destroying missile, shooting down one of its aging weather satellites. It later publicly confirmed the test, arguing that other countries should not view the test as a threat.

Last October, President Bush signed an order asserting the US right to space weapons, and Washington's opposition to the development of treaties or other measures restricting them.

Speaking at the meeting in Geneva today, US Ambassador Christina Rocca voiced Washington's commitment to the peaceful use of space. However, she stressed that the US would also pursue programs to protect its satellites and spacecraft.

Rocca said Washington was very concerned about emerging threats to US space assets.

She criticized China's recent test of its satellite missile, noting that it had created hundreds of pieces of large orbital debris that will stay in orbit for more than 100 years.

The Conference on Disarmament was established in 1979 and focuses on the prevention of nuclear war, the use or threat of nuclear weapons and other disarmament issues.

The organization is comprised of around 60 member countries and meets several times a year.

Meanwhile, John Pike, director of the security research company Global Security, says China's destruction of a satellite last month was not the first time the Chinese military had tested its anti-satellite capabilities.

"It appears that the test in January was the fourth time it had been tested, the first time that it successfully conducted an intercept," he says. "They fire the thing up, it runs into the satellite, the satellite's destroyed, and that's the end of it."

Pike views China's test as a challenge to the US, which relies heavily on information gathered from reconnaissance satellites to help project US power around the world.

"We need communications satellites and we need navigation satellites and we need weather satellites and we need signals intelligence satellites," he says.

John J. Tkacik, Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, says the Chinese are developing another type of weapon that demonstrates a "broad and sophisticated" anti-satellite program.

"US space planners are most concerned about the launching of small Chinese satellites into orbits that are very close to key US intelligence, reconnaissance and communications satellites," he says. "Such parasite micro-satellites are presumed to be time bombs that could blind or cripple American military operations, not to mention communications and even US financial communications, any communications, civilian communications."

Pike says the US is not the only nation that should be worried about China's efforts to develop its ability to destroy satellites.

"They are going to be destroying the satellites of any other country that the Chinese might fear would be sharing reconnaissance data with the United States," he says. "Certainly, Japan. Certainly, Israel. Certainly, Western Europe. And almost certainly, India. So, it's not just going to be the [just] United States."

Nuke Deal Fallout: Japan Feels Abandoned by US

As nuclear arming Iran plays for time to build its bombs, America's domestic and foreign critics can use the Beijing Agreement with nuclear armed North Korea as evidence that diplomacy can work ... assuming, of course, that one is satisfied with phony deals that actually reward rogue states for defiantly developing atomic arms.

Meanwhile, always polite Japan said that it would not supply energy aid to North Korea, thank you, because of past abductions of its nationals by Pyongyang's intelligence officers. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe explained his government's position Tuesday, but said Tokyo's could help in surveying Pyongyang's energy needs.

Japan clearly feels abandoned by the United States as a result of the phony fuel-for-nukes deal. America's ally based its participation in renewed six-party North Korean denuclearization talks on Pyongyang's prior commitment to disarm and argued that no energy assistance should be provided without resolution of the abductee issue. But zero-to-little progress is expected on the issue because it has been relegated to a bilateral North Korean–Japanese working group.

US Falls for Phony Fuel-for-Nukes Deal

Dear Leader did it.

With a little help from his Chinese friends, North Korea's lunatic-in-chief, Kim Jong-il, has outsmarted and successfully blackmailed an embattled Bush administration.

The phased denuclearization deal is a cruel joke--on the United States. In return for shutting down and sealing its main nuclear reactor and related facilities at Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang, within 60 days, the secretive Stalinist/Kimist regime will receive initial aid equal to 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil. For permanently disabling the reactor and declaring all nuclear programs dead, the North will eventually receive another 950,000 tons in aid. The total is worth $250 million.

Not too shabby. The US gets to claim a victory for the cause of nuclear disarmament, as opposed to mere nuclear arms control; and North Korea gets desperately needed aid in order to survive--Kim's paramount goal--and time to hedge its bets. The phony-fuel-for-nukes deal lends itself to cheating as North Korea boasts a multitude of tunnels and secret facilities for hiding weapons.

At the end of the day, the agreement again proves that notwithstanding its huffing and puffing, the US can be played and tricked and eventually worn down--and beaten--at the bargaining table.

Iran must be encouraged. Its nuclear tag-team partner has shown the way--with Chinese guidance and support. (And China's ally, Iran, also has Russian backing in its nuclear standoff!)

Experts agree that North Korea has refined enough plutonium to make from four to 13 nuclear bombs. There is still no reason to believe that the regime intends to relinquish all its nuclear weapons, especially in light of its success in using them as leverage to extract aid and respect.

On the contrary, we expect that Pyongyang will exploit the agreement in order to advance toward its main, long-term foreign policy aims: ending the US military presence on the Korean peninsula and reunifying with South Korea--on North Korean terms.

The agreement is a feather in the cap for the lead US negotiator, the appeasement oriented Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, who can be congratulated for never once deviating from his studied and annoying practice of always referring to the monstrous North Korean regime by its formal initials, DPRK. Not for nothing do critics call him "Kim Jong-Hill."

His nuclear deal with Pyongyang ignores its formidable biological, chemical, and missile programs, But those issues were never on the table.

They will instead be handed off to the next US administration.

And so it goes.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Six-Party Draft Ignores Key Questions

Arms control or disarmament?

The draft agreement among the six parties to talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear arms program fails to address key questions, including surrender of existing weapons.

The agreement also ignores the North Korean regime's biological and chemical arms program.

Neo-Nazis Seek Iranian Backing for Bizarre Mission

A band of neo-Nazis with ties to Iran's clerical fascist mullahocracy is believed to be seeking its support for a truly bizarre scheme--an archeological expedition in search of ancient lost cities in a remote region of Brazil. The neo-Nazis are said to claim that the area, in the state of Matto Grasso, was once home to an advanced "Aryan" race.

Their venture illuminates Nazism's occult roots--and neo-Nazi links to a present-day regime that many rightwing radicals increasingly regard as a center and symbol of anti-Western struggle.

The proposed expedition also serves as a disturbing reminder of the violent legacy and dangerous appeal of a tangled collection of quasi-spiritual and pseudo-academic theories and beliefs.

As if to further highlight historical parallels, the expedition reportedly plans to follow in the footsteps of Nazi archaeologists and SS officers who explored parts of Matto Grosso during the Second World War. That expedition is thought to have been inspired by earlier German expeditions, including one in the 1920s and one in the early 1900s that was organized and paid for by the Krupp armaments company.

The deranged German fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, is known to have been obsessed with occult theories concerning the purported existence of a vast, underground tunnel network reaching from the region and other Brazilian and South American areas to a mythical utopia thought to lie beneath the Himalayan mountains of Tibet.

Belief in the subterranean city-state, known as Agarta or Shambhala, is based on Tibetan Buddhist traditions that also inspired the 1933 novel "Lost Horizon" by British author James Hilton. The book and subsequent film adaptations described a hidden earthly paradise called Shangri-La.

Crazy as it seems, Hitler's Nazis supposedly sought to make contact with Agarta by finding an entrance to the tunnel system leading to it. In addition to the Brazilian expedition, they sent seven expeditions to Tibet, the most famous of which is now best known through the feature film Seven Years in Tibet that was particularly popular among followers of "New Age" philosophy.

Though it might not be hooked on lost tunnels or subterranean cities, the new Nazi expedition is apparently based on another lunatic fringe notion with disturbing New Age appeal--that a "master race" of Atlanteans once dominated the world and left evidence of their civilization in Tibet, Egypt, and South America. Hence, the neo-Nazi interest in lost cities.

The Atlantis theory comes from Ariosophy, a so-called Aryan centered philosophy that influenced Nazism. The founder of Ariosophy, Adolf Josef Lanz, who called himself Lanz von Liebenfels, was a professional Austrian anti-Semite and former monk who advocated forced sterilization of "inferior races." His doctrine, also known as Theozoology, or Ario-Christianity, was an offshoot of a kind of New Age religion of its day, called Theosophy.

A cult-like, 19th century mystical movement, Theosophy was founded by a notorious Russian-born adventuress, author, and phony medium, Helena Blavatsky, and her spiritualist lover, an American lawyer named Henry Olcott. A racist and an anti-Semite who incorporated the swastika in her movement's seal, Blavatsky argued that humanity had descended from a series of seven "Root Races," identifyng the fifth and supposedly superior one the Aryan race, which, she claimed, came from Atlantis. Some modern humans, such as indigenous Africans and Australians, she argued, were actually semi- or sub-human.

Her ideas influenced, among others, Savitri Devi (born Maximiani Portas), a French woman who emigrated to India during he 1930s, where she blended a philosophy of white supremacy and Hinduism and became a fanatic Hitler admirer, living out the war years in anticipation of a Nazi victory. In the 1960s, she emerged as a cult figure for neo-Nazis--"Hitler's guru," in the words of the German-Canadian Holocaust-denying publisher Ernest Zundel. Zundel, who republished and distributed Devi's out-of-print, 1958 book, "The Lightning and the Sun," is involved in the neo-Nazi-Iranian axis, which is itself the brainchild of an aging Nazi convert to Islam, the mysterious Swiss banker and ex-journalist, Ahmed Huber.

A quest for Shambhala (Agarta) led Blavatsky to South America. She claimed to have partially explored the secret, subterranean tunnels connecting the continent with Asia by entering the passages in Peru and Brazil. The story has become a staple of neo-Nazi Internet sites and books about so-called ancient mysteries, including works produced and published by Zundel and allegedly financed by Huber, whose home boasts portraits of Hitler and Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini.

Back to Iran. The Islamist regime of Iran's Hitler-admiring President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as previously reported, has supported, encouraged and provided safe haven for numerous neo-Nazi groups, while sponsoring international events aimed at denying and ridiculing the Holocaust, and threatening to destroy Israel and drive the United States from the Middle East.

The Iranian-neo-Nazi axis recalls the wartime penetration of Iran by Gestapo and German military intelligence officers and the pro-Nazi leanings of Iran's monarch at the time, Reza Pahlavi. (In contrast with Reza Shah, his son, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who was overthrown by Khomeini, was a US ally and friend of Israel and Iran's Jewish community.)

Persians have long used the term Aryan to describe the Indo-European origins of their language. Starting in the early 19th century, German romanticists popularized the notion of an "Aryan" Indo-Nordic race. They promoted study of Sanskrit, a classical language of India, and liturgical language of Hinduism and Buddhism, in opposition to Hebrew and other Semitic languages, and a theory of Asia, not the Middle East, as the cradle of civilization.

The idea for Persia's 1935 name change to Iran--"Land of the Aryans"--was supposedly suggested by Tehran's ambassador to Germany, who came under the influence of Hitler's trusted banker, Dr. Hjalmar Schacht.

Make or Break Time for Six-Party Talks

The end of a forum or the beginning of a way forward?

We should know tomorrow.

A South Korean official told reporters Monday the six-party nuclear talks were expected to enter an unexpected sixth day, amid signs of "more sincere" bargaining by North Korea.

Only a short time earlier, China had announced that Monday would be the final day of the talks. Delegates including South Korea's chief negotiator, Chun Yung-woo, said proposals had been made, the bargaining was over, and it was time for North Korea to say yes or no.

Speaking Monday morning, Chun said the five partner delegations agreed the talks had to come to a conclusion on Monday.

The five nations--South Korea, China, Russia, Japan and the United States--are pressuring North Korea to agree to a list of steps aimed at starting the North's nuclear disarmament. But delegates say Pyongyang's demands so far for energy aid in return for disarmament have been "excessive."

The delegations are working from a proposal of steps drawn up by China last week. Although details of the proposal have not been made public, delegates say the dispute centers around how much energy aid the five nations would give North Korea, the timing of that aid, and what the North would give in return.

South Korea has already promised to provide North Korea with huge amounts of electricity in return for the North abandoning its nuclear weapons programs.

The senior US negotiator, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, says Washington is also willing to provide economic and energy aid. However, he says North Korea should not be given so much energy that it loses its incentive to disarm fully.

Pyongyang conducted its first nuclear test in October, and it claims to have several nuclear weapons.

On Monday morning, Hill summed up the feeling of the five partner delegations, saying the bargaining process, which began last Thursday, was basically over.

"You just do as much as you can, and when you feel you've done as much as you can, I think you can kind of relax about it, and feel you've done everything you can do," he said. "And that's kind of where we are on this."

Hill said that if no deal is reached at this round of talks, it would be difficult to reconvene the six-party format. It was not long after those comments that signs of a possible softening of Pyongyang's position emerged.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Iran's Energy Industry Turning to China and Russia for Desperately Needed Investment and Technology

Islamist Iran is turning to its two main allies--China and Russia--for investment, technology and know-how to upgrade its aging oil and gas industries.

Analysts say the nuclear-mad mullahocracy needs nearly $100 billion by 2014 to maintain current production rates, without which the shaky Iranian economy could collapse. Iran is wholly dependent on its energy sector.

China has both the need and the motive to help Iran. The Middle Kingdom is the world's second largest oil consumer after the United States. If China's economic growth continues, it is estimated that by 2020 its energy needs will increase by 150 percent ... and our endangered planet, already experiencing the negative consequences of human-caused global warming, will be in far worse shape than it is today, regardless of what the US and other developed nations do.

But that's another story. This one is about China's dependence on Middle Eastern oil. Some 58 percent of China's oil imports presently come from the region. By 2015, that figure should approach 70 percent.

China has signed oil and gas agreements worth over $100 billion with Iran, and is involved in developing the huge Yadavaran oil field--a typically Chinese, preferential access deal that will allow Beijing to buy 150,000 barrels of Iranian crude a day at market rates for 25 years as well as 250 million tons of liquefied natural gas.

So much for the rising but energy-starved dragon. Enter the resurgent bear.

With Iran providing China with 12 percent of its oil imports, one would expect it to be worried about the chances of a disruption in supplies and a spike in oil prices as a result of a possible conflict--i.e. an attack on Iran's nuclear and missile sites by Israel, a country that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly promised to destroy. But Chinese Middle East experts, including Sun Bigan, Beijing's special envoy to the region, and his team of Arabic and Farsi speaking advisers, are betting that Israel will not attack Iran, because (a) its nuclear facilities are in part run by Russian technicians, and (b) Israel imports 60 percent of its oil from Russia.

Moscow is increasing investing in Iran's oil industry. Russia's Lukoil, for example, is exploring for crude in Iran's Aadegan oil field--one of the world's largest and most promising pure exploration plays.

Tehran is also looking to Russia's Gazprom and Rosneft for cooperation in natural gas projects in Venezuela and Bolivia as well as the development of deposits in Iran itself.

Iran's oil reserves are second only to Saudi Arabia's. Only Russia has more gas.

What the Chinese call energy diplomacy--and a common desire to counter US power and influence--are driving Sino-Russian-Iranian cooperation. The non-Arab Islamist nation is an observer to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). India, Pakistan, and Mongolia also enjoy observer status, considered a step toward full membership with founders China, Russia, and several former Soviet states.

Ahmadinejad makes no secret of his desire for full Iranian membership in the SCO, which he praises as an organization seeking a multipolar--and "more fair"--world and a key component in the new "gas and oil arc" being built by Russia and Iran.

US diplomats once ridiculed the SCO as an irrelevant joke. That's no longer the case. Today, it is Iran and other SCO members and observers who ridicule, undercut--and threaten--the US.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Guest Comment: Iran's Nuclear Ambitions

Iran seeks a nuclear capability for more reasons than fulfilling its dream of destroying Israel (they know Israel can retaliate, so even if they fervently wanted to destroy it, they might just continue to arm Arab terrorist proxies and have them bear the consequences, as they have done with Hezbollah). Iran needs an atomic weapon to one day take control of the flow and the price of oil, a strategic goal it has pursued since the days of the Shah. Once it is in possession of an atomic weapon, it could control the Straits of Hormuz with impunity and dictate a constant, if gradual rise in the price of oil. No one will risk an atomic confrontation, let alone the threat of the Saudi oil fields being incinerated, to prevent a gradual rise in the price of oil.

The Iranians could then secure all the income they need to preserve--and even spread--their revolution. See what Arab petrodollars have done to the immune system of Europe, how they incapacitated it and made it impotent in dealing with growing Islamic radicalism in its midst. An Iranian-induced transfer of wealth caused by a steep rise in the price of oil will dwarf the already dramatic impact that Arab petrodollars have had on European politics and culture.

Pushing the hated West into economic decline will make it so weak politically and militarily that it will be in no position to resist when the time is ripe for the Iranian takeover of Saudi Arabia, its oil fields, and no less importantly in Tehran's eyes, Islam's holiest places. Shiite control of these Holy Places and of the Muslim jihad will finally bring the hated Sunnis, and especially the most hated Wahhabis, under Shiite domination, and fulfill another dream and strategic goal of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Shiite jihad will triumph "peacefully."

This is the strategic calculus we must weigh when assessing the risks and benefits of taking timely action to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear capability.

-Excerpted from "Yes, Iran Can be Stopped," by Daniel Doron, President of the Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress, a pro-market policy think tank. The essay appeared in the Feb. 7 daily edition of The Weekly Standard.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Hu Cancels Mozambique Debt

If it's Thursday, this must be Mozambique.

Chinese President Hu Jintao signed a series of bilateral agreements Thursday during a visit to Mozambique, cancelling about $20 million in public debt to China (on which no interest was being paid) and promising expanded bilateral trade.

Hu, who is on a 24-hour state visit to Mozambique as part of a tour of eight African countries, announced the agreements after official discussions with Mozambique President Armando Guebuza.

The two leaders signed a range of deals on agriculture and other trade initiatives. China also promised to help Mozambique build schools and a national stadium.

Hu told reporters that the number of export goods that can enter China from Mozambique duty free has risen from 190 to 442. However, no list of these goods is yet available.

Trade between China and Mozambique has been growing quite rapidly. Hu said it is now worth $210 million a year, which is six times the figure for 2001.

Mozambique reaffirmed its commitment to Beijing's sacrosanct one-China policy, and its opposition to "Taiwan independence" in any form, according to a joint communique.

It was Hu's second-to-last stop on his eight-nation African tour.

Over the past two weeks, the Chinese president has visited Cameroon, Liberia, Sudan, Zambia, Namibia and South Africa. In each of the nations, he has announced new aid from China or signed economic agreements.

Hu is scheduled to end his tour in Seychelles Saturday.

Speaking in South Africa Wednesday, Hu dismissed concerns that Beijing is developing a neocolonialist relationship with Africa in its drive to tap natural resources for its energy-hungry industries.

Which, as readers of this blog well know, is a lot of hooey.

Brzezinski Warns US Could Attack Itself

A crackpot Cold Warrior is hitting new lows, trading in anti-American and anti-Semitic conspiracy stories in an attempt to protect an enemy he himself helpled to create--Islamist Iran.

Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski is warning Washington insiders and reporters and sympathetic academicians that a so-called false-flag operation, or staged provocation--such as a terrorist attack in the United States or an attack on US forces in Iraq--could be used to justify starting a war with Iran.

The Polish-American political scientist, who served under President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981, says that the embattled Bush administration might resort to such a deed; but he strongly suggests that Israel could also be plotting an incident, with or without US approval.

The 79-year-old Brzezinski is a veteran and increasingly vocal Israel-basher. He has defended Carter's new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, which likens Israeli policies in the Palestinian territories to the former policy of apartheid in South Africa.

Brzezinski began floating his false-flag scenario more than a month ago, but he only took it public last week in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the mainstream media has largely ignored, partly out of embarrassment and partly in deference to Brzezinski's old boss, Carter, whom liberal pundits and editors nowadays adore.

Ironically, it was Brzezinski who was responsible for helping to topple Iran's pro-US Shah, whom the US had installed, with British assistance, in a 1953 coup that ousted the Soviet leaning Iranian prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh. While outwardly expressing support for the Shah, Brzezinski secretly worked to forge an alliance with the followers of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

The policy paralleled covert US arming and training of Afghanistan's mujahideen--before the Soviet invasion in 1980.

In a January 1998 interview with the Paris publication Le Nouvel Observateur, Brzezinski bragged: "According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention."

By the time Brzezinski sat for the interview, the Taliban has already taken power in Afghanistan and had allowed Al Qaeda to establish its terrorist base there.

Asked if he regretted aiding the Islamists in light of recent history, Brzezinski said: "Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire...

"What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?"

Editorial: Iranian Fuhrer's Threat to Attack US Confirms Need to End Nuclear-Mad Mullahocracy

Iran's clerical fascist fuhrer lashed out against the United States with ominous fury Thursday, warning Washington that if it were to attack Iran, the country would respond by striking US interests all over the world.

Speaking to a gathering of Iranian air force commanders, so-called Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said: "The enemy knows well that any invasion would be followed by a comprehensive reaction to the invaders and their interests all over the world."

As Leader, Khamenei can overrule any decision made by Iran's president (presently the Holocaust-denying and -ridiculing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad), the Majlis (also known as the Islamic Consultative Assembly), or the judiciary.

Khamenei's comments were accompanied by an Iranian naval commander's statement that the Revolutionary Guards had test fired missiles that could sink "big warships" in the Persian Gulf, where a second American aircraft carrier is now heading.

This is not the first time Iran's Leader has threatened the US. Last April, he vowed his country would "harm American interests" all over the world if an attack was launched against its nuclear installations, according to Iranian state television.

"The Americans should know that if they attack Iran, their interests will be harmed around the world," Khamenei reportedly said, adding: "The Iranian nation will respond to any attack twice as strongly."

Khamenei has buckets of blood on his hands. Sources say he personally approved the June 1996 truck bombing of the Khobar Towers military residence in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia that killed 19 US servicemen. US officials blame Iran for backing the group that carried out the attack.

Israeli intelligence says Khamenei also approved the decision to attack Argentina's Jewish community center at a meeting in August 1993 that he chaired. Participants included Iran's president at that time, Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani--whom many Americans and Europeans still consider a moderate. The 1994 Buenos Aires bombing killed 100 people and wounded 250.

Back to the present. Khameni's comments confirm the urgent need to attack Iran sooner rather than later--i.e. to use any and all available military means to destroy the mullahocracy's nuclear, missile, and biological and chemical warfare facilities and overall ability to effectively wage war. Mere bombing is not enough; the assault must be truly crushing, to use a favorite Iranian word. Iran must be utterly defeated, its suspect bases and installations reduced to rubble, the Revolutionary Guard wiped out.

Surgical strikes will not suffice, though no US soldier need ever set foot on Iranian soil. The Western way of war is the only logical and appropriate answer to the Iranian strategic threat. Collateral damage? War is hell. Iranians have had nearly three decades to topple the Islamist regime; and we can't afford to wait any longer for them to act as the downside risk is unacceptably high. Forced to choose between mass death in Iran and mass death in America and Israel, most Americans and Israelis, we believe, will choose mass death in Iran. (More than five years after 9/11, our so-called leaders still don't get it: we want to win the war against Radical Islam, not prolong it. Nation building and democracy in the backward nations can follow their surrender and defeat.)

Diplomacy is dead, inapplicable to Iran. It cannot be accommodated and appeased. Its intentions are imperialist to the core: the regime aims to permanently change the power relations among nations. Like Nazi Germany, Iran believes it is destined for world dominance. It sees itself as the authentic representative and voice of radical Islam, or Islamism, capable of both bridging and exploiting the ancient Sunni-Shiite divide to achieve its paramount, historic objectives, which transcend narrow national interests and concerns.

Two nations stand in Iran's way: the United States, which Iran regards as the Great Satan, and Israel, the "Little Satan." Nuclear arming Iran seeks nothing less than the destruction of Israel and the defeat, if not physical destruction, of the US. An Iranian nuclear-tipped rocket attack against an American coastal city--a so-called Scud-in-a-bucket launch from atop a civilian cargo ship--is a real possibility. Also possible: detonation of radioactive dirty bombs in Israeli and American cities--or in Baghdad, home to Iranian-backed Shiite militias, death squads, and suicide bombers.

Enough! The time has come to end the madness before it ends us. The mass-murdering mullahs, who have ruled Iran since 1979, need to know that the US and Israel are ready, willing, and able to do what it takes, including using tactical nuclear weapons, to eradicate the Shiite threat--and the Islamist threat, in general--for once and all.

US Analysts See Strained Chinese-NK Ties

Is China embarrassed by North Korea? Is Beijing at last ready to pressure Pyongyang to end its nuclear arms program? Is the rogue state serious about trading nuclear disarmament for mountains of economic aid and diplomatic recognition?

Amid reports and hopes of a possible breakthrough in Beijing at the beginning of a new round of six-way North Korean nuclear disarmament talks, the Voice of America has published an in-depth analysis of the Chinese position that addresses the above questions. While we remain skeptical of North Korean--and Chinese--intentions, we believe the article deserves wider distribution, especially in China, where VOA is inaccessible.

One highlight: the difference between Chinese perceptions of "pressure" and "influence."

VOA Senior Correspondent Andre de Nesnera contributed the analysis, which appears below.


The conventional wisdom is that China is North Korea's staunchest ally and its greatest source of support in the international community.

Economically, Beijing is Pyongyang's major supplier of food and energy. Roughly 80 percent of consumer goods found in North Korea are made in China. Politically, for the past several years, China has been the host of the six-party talks bringing together, in addition to Beijing, the United States, Russia, Japan, South Korea and North Korea. The aim of these negotiations is to persuade Pyongyang to eliminate its nuclear weapons capabilities.

Jim Walsh, a security studies expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says China's role is crucial.

"They are the country closest to North Korea politically and otherwise, in terms of an ally in these talks," he says, "and frankly, the North Koreans need an ally. The North Koreans aren't going to agree to opening up their country to inspections or putting themselves at risk unless they've got someone to watch their back--and that's the role of the Chinese. The Chinese are both convener of these meetings and also gentle encourager --sometimes more gentle, sometimes less gentle encourager--of North Korea to make progress."

Experts say that despite North Korea's close political, economic and historical ties with China, Pyongyang has attempted to show some independence from Beijing.

"China has been embarrassed, just in the last year, by the North Koreans," asserts Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a national US group. "North Korea conducted missile tests in July 2006 in defiance of the Chinese, just days after a high-level visit from a Chinese diplomat to North Korea. North Korea conducted this October a [nuclear] test explosion in defiance of China's publicly stated wishes for it not to do so. So, China's influence is strong, but it does appear to have its limits."

Kimball says there is a lot of debate as to how much pressure China can exert on North Korea.

Walsh agrees--and disagrees. He says Beijing has a different view of what constitutes "pressure."

"When the US talks about pressure, it talks about cutting off fuel oil or economic sanctions, that sort of thing," says the MIT researcher. "The Chinese emphasize political pressure, not economic pressure. And they don't even use the word 'pressure', they say 'influence.'"

Pyongyang's missile launches last July prompted China to vote for a United Nations resolution condemning the tests. But China agreed to the text only after an original draft was watered down.

Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation, says both China and South Korea are in a difficult position, because they fear that putting too much pressure on North Korea would destabilize the region.

Says Bennett: "If the regime suddenly collapsed in North Korea, you would have a horrendous situation for both China and South Korea , and so both governments are very reluctant to put too much pressure on North Korea, fearing a mass of refugees, a collapsed economic system, a military that's out of control and so forth. So at this stage, China is doing some things in trying to put a little of pressure on, but they are afraid that if they go too far, they could wind up with an incredible mess that they don't want to have to deal with."

Analysts agree China has some leverage, especially in the economic sphere. But they also say the Chinese leadership must figure out how much pressure it can exert and how far it can go before it triggers instability in North Korea and, potentially, an even greater crisis.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Hu's Hooey: China is Africa's True Friend

Chinese President Hu Jintao has promised to reduce China's $3 billion trade imbalance with Africa by increasing imports and promoting Chinese investment in African industry. He claims to be sincerely committed to Africa's long-term development, a true friend of the African people.

That's a lot of hooey--and Hu knows it.

China's Africa policy is a model of modern-day mercantilism with Chinese characteristics. Chinese investment and trade--and China's flag and arms--are all wrapped up in a single package. One does not follow the other.

Economic aid, including grants, loans and credits, and various forms of technical assistance, go hand in hand with commitments to develop oil fields, build refineries, roads, and railroads ... and, as shown by China's deepening involvement in genocidal Sudan, supply weapons regardless of a nation's human rights record or lack of transparency.

Prestige projects--a presidential palace here, a football stadium there--are also offered, along with no-strings arms deals, except for supporting China's position on Taiwan. Human rights and transparency are simply irrelevant.

State owned companies are key to China's Africa policy. In contrast with Western firms, Chinese companies answer to China's ruling Communist Party, not stockholders, even if some of the firms have sold minority stakes to investors in order to float and list shares in Hong Kong or New York.

Like Chinese capitalism--or Chinese socialism, for that matter--the state-owned behemoths that have gone public only resemble the real thing. Commissar-style spies and executives are assigned to every company to watch over senior management; and the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council, which holds controlling interests in roughly 200 large Chinese companies, monitors performance.

In other words, China's state-owned companies are tools of the state. As such, they do not invest overseas simply to make money; rather, they invest to augment the power of the state and support state policies. In Africa, this mainly means investing (a) to lock in longterm access to oil and minerals, and (b) to open up and expand markets for cheap Chinese goods.

All told, Africa is now home to more than 1,000 Chinese investment projects.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

China: Rich Nations Responsible for Global Warming

Another inconvenient truth about China, whose rise, contrary to fawning Western opinion, is anything but peaceful: the country is poisoning the planet and has no intention of stopping.

China takes global warming seriously, alright--as a development issue.

Translation: it's up to the developed nations, which bear the historic responsibility for human-caused climate change, to fix the problem. Developing nations, led by booming China, can't let anything get in the way of their long awaited ascent.

China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters Tuesday that Beijing was willing to help reduce greenhouses gases from industry, agriculture and vehicles, which a United Nations scientific panel last week reported was almost certainly behind rising average temperatures threatening drastic climate change.

But Jiang added that rich countries bear primary responsibility for the problem and should "lead the way in assuming responsibility for emissions cuts."

The Chinese line, which will resonate with India and other developing nations, is that it has contributed no more than 10 percent of the world's emissions over the past half-century. True. But the argument conveniently ignores the fact that emissions from China and other fast-growing Asian economies are increasing faster than in other countries. The World Bank estimates that China boosted greenhouse gas emissions by 33 percent between 1992 and 2002, while India's emissions grew 57 percent over the same period.

China's ruling Communist Party has based its legitimacy on rapid development and rising living standards.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Nuclearizing Iran Forging Antisemitic Alliance

In the wake of its Holocaust denial conference and Holocaust cartoon contest, mass-murdering Islamist Iran is forming an antisemitic international, the likes of which the world has not seen since the Nazi era.

An international institute for Holocaust denial will be the centerpiece of this evil enterprise, highlighting a new level of cooperation between neo-Nazis and the nuclear-arming Iranian mullahocracy.

The usual suspects--such well-known neo-Nazis as Bernhard Schaub of Switzerland, Serge Thion of France, and Australia's Fredrick Toben--are expected to play important roles. Mohammad Ali Rahim, an advisor to Iranian monster-in-chief Mahmud Ahmadinejad, will act as general secretary of the institute, which will be based in Tehran.

Iran, since the fall of the pro-Western, modernizing Shah, has become a center for organized international Holocaust denial and has helped elevate the endeavor from fringe hate speech to a state-approved pseudo-intellectual debate. Iran has also become a refuge for the biggest names in European Holocaust denial, including: (1) Jurgen Graf, who was sentenced in Switzerland to 15 months in prison for Holocaust falsification, before fleeing to Tehran, and (2) Austrian Holocaust denier Wolfgang Frohlich, who testified as a so-called expert witness during Graf's 1998 trial. This saved Frohlich from Austria's severe anti-Holocaust denial statutes. Frohlich argued that evidence proved no Jews were killed by gassing.

The website of the United States-based, Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical Review (IHR) states that "Iran's official radio voice to the world, IRIB, has in recent years expressed support for Holocaust revisionism by broadcasting sympathetic interviews with leading revisionist scholars and activists (including) IHR Director Mark Weber ... and Ernst Zundel." The latter is a German Holocaust denier and pamphleteer who was jailed several times in Canada.

IHR further states that the "editorial, 'Myth of the Holocaust,' in the English-language Iranian paper Kayhan International, Dec. 6, 1999, commented sympathetically on Holocaust revisionism, and criticized German government persecution of Dr. Fredrick Toben and others who dispute Holocaust claims."

Iranian-Nazi ties are deep and disgusting. About 600 Iranian journalists and 160 members of the Iranian parliament have signed petitions supporting Roger Garaudy, who was fined $40,000 by French authorities for his book claiming the Holocaust was a myth. When Garaudy landed in Iran, the country's supreme spiritual leader, Ayatollah Sayyad Khamenei, granted him an audience and lauded his work.

Other neo-Nazis who have found Iran an especially welcoming and sheltering place include David Myatt, a founder of the British National Socialist Movement (NSM), who has been jailed for racist attacks, and has changed his name to Abdul Aziz ibn Myatt following his reported conversion to Islam. Myatt supports the killing of any Muslim who breaks his oath of loyalty to Islam, and the setting up of a Muslim superstate. He encourages Neo-Nazis to convert to Islam, arguing that Islam is the best hope for combating Zionism and the West.

A number of so-called traditionalist Catholics have also visited Iran and shown support for the regime in its nuclear impasse with the West. The Holocaust-denying Catholic splinter group--which includes actor Mel Gibson's father, Hutton Gibson--rejects many of the Vatican's core teachings and essentially views every Jew as an enemy of Christ. There is evidence of growing cooperation between the movement, which seems to be on the rise in the US and Europe, and white supremacist hate groups.

The brain behind the Islamist-neo-Nazi alliance is an elderly, mysterious Swiss-German financier straight out of central casting. His name is Ahmed Huber (nee Albert Huber). A former journalist who converted to Islam, Huber has been linked by US and European law enforcement and intelligence agencies to Al Qaeda, which he publicly praised after 9/11. He has also admitted meeting with Binladen followers.

Born in 1927, Huber remains highly active inside Europe's radical right elite. His Swiss home is said to boast a poster of Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a framed quote from Hitler denouncing modern art, and other Nazi memorabilia items.

Huber is a longtime leader of the Avalon Gemeinschaft, a secret fraternity whose members include aging former Waffen-SS volunteers and younger radicals, such as Germany's Horst Mahlet, Jurgen Graf, and and the Swedish-based Ahmad Rami, a former Moroccan military officer.

Huber's Muslim project dates to the late 1950s, when he publicly cast his lot with secular pan-Arabists, including Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, who offered Nazi war criminals safe haven and hefty salaries in exchange for their help on "Jewish affairs." In the wake of Egypt's military defeats in both the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli wars, and after Nasser's successor, Anwar Sadat, signed a peace accord with Israel, and Khomeini toppled the Shah, Huber embraced Islamist Iran. In 1982, he wrote an essay for a book entitled "Der Unbekannte Islam" ("The unknown Islam") that identified Zionism, Judaism, and America as Islam's implacable enemies. He often asserts that Hitler regarded Islam as the one true religion.

Huber's work recalls Iran's axis with the Third Reich, which began during the prewar years, when it welcomed Nazi Gestapo officers and other operatives to Tehran and allowed them to use the city as a base for Middle East agitation against the British and the region's Jews. The leading Tehran-based Nazi was Fritz Grobba, Berlin's envoy to the Middle East, who was often called "the German Lawrence," because he called for creation of a pan-Islamic state stretching from Casablanca to Tehran.

Relations between Berlin and Tehran strengthened when Hitler came to power in 1933. The then-Shah, Reza Pahlavi, sought the Reich's help in reducing British petro-political domination of Persia, which the Shah renamed Iran in 1935. Iran in Farsi means Land of the Aryans and refers to the Proto-Indo-European lineage that Nazi racial theorists cherished.

The abortive 1941 pro-Nazi coup in neighboring Iraq was planned in Iran. After the British booted the Nazis out of Baghdad in June 1941, German aircrews supporting Nazi bombers escaped across Iraq's northern border into Iran.

The pro-Nazi Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, a Sunni religious leader, was smuggled across the border to Tehran, where he continued to call for the destruction of the Jews and the defeat of the British--and for Jewish refugees to be shipped to the gas chambers of Nazi-occupied Poland.

The same gas chambers that the Mufti's spiritual heirs and their neo-Nazi allies would one day deny.

In October 1941, British, Soviet other allied forces invaded Iran to break up the Iran-Nazi alliance. Pro-Nazi generals and ministers were arrested, and the Shah's son was installed in power. (In contrast with his father, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi befriended Iran's Jewish community and covertly allied his country with Israel.)

The Mufti escaped to the Italian embassy, and was allowed to leave Iran along with the rest of the Italian delegation. He landed in Berlin, where he met with Hitler, established his own Reich-backed bureau and was given airtime on Radio Berlin in order to agitate for international Jewish destruction, as well as a pan-Islamic alliance with Nazi Germany.

The Mufti called upon all Muslims to "kill the Jews wherever you see them." He raised three divisions of Islamic Waffen SS, including Iranian Nazis, to massacre Jews in Bosnia.

After the war, the Mufti fled to Switzerland, was detained and put under house arrest in France, but escaped and was given asylum in Egypt, where he established a terrorist apparatus that was responsible for the assassination of jordanian King Abdullah in 1951.

The British declined to have the Mufti arrested and tried as a war criminal out of fear of antagonizing a hero of Arab and Muslim extremism. He died in Beirut, Lebanon in 1974.

Testimony presented at the Nuremberg trials accused the Mufti of not only having knowledge about the Holocaust but of also actively encouraging the initiation of extermination programs against European Jews.

Adolf Eichmann's deputy Dieter Wisliceny (who was subsequently executed) testified at his 1946 war crimes trial: "The Mufti was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and had been a collaborator and adviser of Eichmann and Himmler in the execution of this plan... He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and had constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures. I heard him say, accompanied by Eichmann, he had visited incognito the gas chambers of Auschwitz."

A postscript: The idea for the 1935 Iranian name change was supposedly suggested by Tehran's ambassador to Germany, who came under the influence of Hitler's trusted banker, Dr. Hjalmar Schacht. Similarly, there is reason to believe that the idea for Iran's Holocaust-denying initiative came from the neo-Nazi financier Ahmed Huber.

Iran Allies, Appeasers Warn of Terror Tsunami

Chinese, Russian, and European opponents of military action against Tehran's turbaned tyrants are intensifying efforts to isolate and weaken Washington as it struggles to deal with the nuclearzing nut-cases.

Military action against Iran would be disastrous, the line goes, because it would unleash a tsunami of terror likely to engulf the entire Middle East and nations around the world.

Which could hapen if the military action is tentative and half-baked. But chances of meaningful retaliation are de minimis if the action is swift, decisive and truly devastating, destroying all known and suspected Iranian nuclear and missile sites--while annihilating the mullahocracy's war-making capabilities for all time.

Air and naval action ... using any and all available weapons ... including tactical nuclear arms if necessary ... could and should end the Iranian regime ... before it ends Israel or an American city.

An Iranian nuclear attack against an American city? It's possible, as previously reported. Not for nothing has Iran been developing and testing so-called Scud-in-a-bucket attack scenarios that involve the firing of nuclear-tipped rockets from specially constructed launchers concealed atop civilian cargo ships (which could fly any number of non-Iranian foreign flags as they approach US coastal cities).