Thursday, April 30, 2009

China Cracks Down on Rights Activists

Chinese authorities have intensified the crackdown on human rights activists across the country in the lead-up to the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests.

Amnesty International has documented at least 100 cases of activists who have been detained or faced violence from authorities. Several of these cases are related to the surveillance of activists ahead of the anniversary.

In the first four months of 2009, Amnesty International has documented at least four cases of lawyers who were threatened with violence by the authorities as they defended their clients, at least ten cases where lawyers were hindered from meeting or representing clients, and at least one case in which a lawyer has been detained for doing his work.

“If anything, the crackdown on human rights activists is escalating as we approach the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Beijing pro-democracy protests,” said Roseann Rife, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific deputy director. “Most worrying is the complete disregard for national laws and the obstructions thrown in front of lawyers trying to do their jobs.”

Detentions and Violence

Activists across the country have been arbitrarily detained and have faced violence when defending land rights, housing rights, and labor rights. Signatories to Charter 08, a petition calling for legal and political reform, continue to face questioning across the country. Liu Shasha, a young woman signatory and an oil plant worker in Henan, was detained for four days for printing and disseminating the charter on the street.

Qi Zhiyong, who was left disabled by a gunshot injury during the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, told reporters in a recent text message that he had been detained by the police. He has previously been threatened with arrest if he did not leave Beijing prior to the start of the Olympic Games. It’s believed Qi’s treatment and detention were associated with the 20th anniversary of the death of Hu Yaobang, a reformist leader. Hu’s death marked the beginning of the pro-democracy protests twenty years ago.

Beijing lawyers Cheng Hai and Zhou Peng were recently attacked by at least four individuals who claimed to be from a government agency charged with coordinating the offices of the police and courts. The lawyers were on the way to meet their client’s family when they were attacked.

Police Surveillance

On the same day, another two lawyers, Wu Jiangtao and Li Renbin, were also blocked from meeting the family of their client, Falun Gong detainee Wei Cheng, when they arrived at northern Changchun city in Jilin province. Police put Wei Cheng’s family and relatives under surveillance and threatened them with imprisonment if they hired a lawyer.

Activist Chen Yunfei, based in Chengdu city, Sichuan province was questioned for six hours, and warned not to try to organize activists during the June 4 anniversary. Police have had his living compound under surveillance since April 20, 2009.

“Authorities must stop this harassment of people trying to address legitimate human rights issues in China,” said Rife. “Issues like environmental rights, the right to participate, the right to a fair trial and rights of the person, which were all reaffirmed in the recently released National Human Rights Action Plan.”

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

Could China's Black Book Put Bankers Behind Bars?

According to China Confidential sources in Asia, a unit of China's Ministry of State Security has assembled a "black book" of financial crimes that could put some Wall Street bankers behind bars in the United States. The database supposedly documents alleged complicity by U.S. investment bankers in fraud and corruption involving Chinese companies that sought to raise capital in the United States during the boom years that preceded the global economic bust.

Knowledge of phantom profits and phantom or suspect assets (e.g. large sums of cash kept in company safes), multiple sets of books, and use of front, dummy, and offshore shell companies to hide beneficial ownership interests and funnel profits and payoffs to Communist Party officials are all detailed, sources say.

The information, if accurate, could constitute violations of U.S. securities laws and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits American citizens and companies from bribing foreign officials.

Henan Workers Block Major Road, Demand Money

Workers have staged demonstrations for money they say their factory owes them, vowing to take their protest to Beijing. Radio Free Asia reports:

Hundreds of workers, including former soldiers, drafted to work at a factory in the central Chinese province of Henan have brought traffic to a standstill after they staged a sit-in outside the factory gates to demand payments and benefits they say they were owed after being laid off.

Continue here.

Maritime Confrontation Focuses Attention on Troubled State of US-China Defense Diplomacy

Writing for the Jamestown Foundation, Richard Weitz of the Hudson Institute says a recent maritime incident highlights the "troubled state of China-U.S. defense diplomacy." Dr. Weitz:

The recriminations that flared between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the United States over the latest Sino-American maritime confrontation makes evident how little progress has been made in Sino-U.S. defense dialogue during the past two decades. Clashes between U.S. and Chinese military units operating in the sea and air near China have become a recurring disruption in the bilateral relations. They will burden the Obama administration as it seeks to develop Sino-American security relations in the coming years.

Click here to continue.

China-Kuwait Petro-Project Plagued by Politics

China's largest joint venture with a foreign company is plagued by politics and environmental concerns.

The proposed $9 billion Sino-Kuwaiti oil refinery and petrochemical complex in Guangdong province has been held up by mounting concerns over the environmental impact on the area, which is home to 95 million people. The proposed site in Nansha, a suburb of Guangzhou, is close to state protected wetlands and the densely populated and already polluted Pearl River Delta region, including Hong Kong and Macao.

Kuwait Petroleum International has teamed up with China’s biggest oil refiner Sinopec Corp. to develop the project. But powerful Communist Party officials have turned it into a political football, according to China Confidential sources in Hong Kong. They say one official wants the site moved again--it was already forced out of Huangpu, another Guangzhou suburb--to benefit a group of well-connected investors.

Another party official is said to be using the project, which has been mired in controversy since its inception in 2005, to press for the ouster of some Sinopec senior managers.

The planned refinery will be capable of processing 300,000 barrels per day of Kuwaiti crude. An ethylene cracker unit will have an annual production capacity of 1 million tons.

Kuwait’s crude oil exports to China increased 43% in March from a year earlier to 177,000 bpd, providing 4.6% of China’s total crude oil, according to government data.

Women Fleeing Hell-on-Earth Enslaved in China

During the Holocaust, many Jews who managed to escape the death camps and the ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe were hunted, killed, and betrayed by anti-Semitic members of the local populations, including, even, non-Jewish partisan groups. A similar nightmare appears to have unfolded in China with respect to refugee women from North Korea's Hitlerian hell-on-earth.

AFP reports:

North Korean women who escaped the sex trade in China have appealed for global action, saying the Chinese treat them like "livestock" and they face brutal treatment if they return home.

The women traveled to Washington as part of a week of activism to raise attention about human rights abuses in North Korea, which is embroiled in a standoff with the United States over its nuclear and missile programs.

Bang Mi-Sun, who was an actress with a propaganda troupe in her impoverished homeland, said she fled to China with her two children after her husband, a miner, starved to death in 2002.

She said a broker sold her for 4,000 yuan (585 dollars) to an older disabled man, the first of a number of Chinese "husbands."

"The Chinese would even refer to North Korean women as pigs. We are forced to do farmwork and household chores by day and at night we were subjected to subhuman experiences," she said tearfully at a news conference.

"The world needs to know what is happening. If I had a chance to meet President Obama, I would tell him that North Korean women are being sold like livestock in China," said Bang, who escaped to South Korea in 2004.

China, fearful of a long-term economic burden or shift in ethnic makeup, considers North Korean defectors to be economic migrants and routinely deports them.

Click here to read the entire article.

Frightening Forecast: US Appeasement Will Make War With North Korea and Islamist Iran Inevitable

After his first 100 days in office, it is clear that with regard to foreign policy, President Barack Hussein Obama is neither a Wilsonian idealist nor a Nixonian realist. He is, rather, a Carterite appeaser; and he is clearly taking appeasement to a wholly new and unprecedented level in the annals of American (and Western) policymaking.

Obama not only aims to accommodate America's worst enemies--Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, North Korea, and Venezuella. With the possible exception of North Korea, he is bent on trying to turn America's enemies into allies ... by betraying America's best friend, Israel, a thriving nation that happens to be the only democracy in the Middle East.

Obama's conservative critics accuse him of not really believing in American exceptionalism--the idea that America (like Israel, one could argue) is an extraordinary nation, an exceptional entity, with a special role to play in human history. This reporter suspects Obama believes that America is exceptionally ... guilty ... of somehow creating the conditions ... the "root causes" ... of most of the world's problems, from the global recession and global warming to Muslim terrorism and piracy and nuclear proliferation. As was the case with President Jimmy Carter, who betrayed a modernizing monarch and American ally, the Shah of Iran, in a craven attempt to curry favor with Iran's Islamist revolutionaries, a critical observer can't help but feel that deep down Obama shares--or, at the very least, "understands" and appreciates--the Islamist idea that America is the "Great Satan" and Israel is the "Little Satan."

In this context, it is worth mentioning that unlike the peanut farming President Carter, a native of Plains, Georgia, Obama has strong Third World roots. On his father's side, in fact, he is America's first Third World-American President. Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., was a Kenyan socialist and a Muslim (which means that President Obama was born a Muslim according to islamic religious law, which traces religion through the father). BHO's stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, was an Indonesian government worker. Obama spent formative years in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, where intellectuals and NGO representatives commonly blamed the country's problems, including official corruption and poverty, on U.S. "imperialism" and meddling. Soetoro registered Obama to attend school in Indonesia under the name Barry Soetoro, listing his religion as Islam and his citizenship as Indonesian. Soetoro also attended mosque services with Barry/Barack and taught him to eat dog and snake and to respect indigenous religious beliefs and customs, as Obama recalled in his bestselling memoir, Dreams from My Father. As a Columbia University undergraduate student, Obama visited Pakistan (learning to pronounce it Pahkistahn), possibly traveling on an Indonesian passport.

In short, Obama is not only the most politically left-leaning candidate to have ever been elected President of the United States; he is also the most alien. His "story" actually has very little in common with the classic American immigrant narrative or the African-American experience that shaped the nation.

Third World Influence

The Third World influence is clearly evident in Obama's approach to foreign policy; on some levels, his language and reasoning remind this reporter of a developing nation academician or exchange student, or a United Nations civil servant. Anyone who has ever covered the U.N. or studied at Columbia or Harvard recognizes the type.

So much for Obama's mindset and style. In terms of substance, this reporter predicts, the outcome of Obama's appeasement of despotic, imperialist regimes will be even more catastrophic than the disasters that Carter produced. Just as European appeasement of Nazi Germany failed to prevent war and instead made it inevitable, on Germany's terms, U.S. appeasement will make war inevitable from the Korean Peninsula to the Middle East.

North Korea intends to take over South Korea and drive the U.S. from Asia; Iran intends to destroy Israel and drive the U.S. from the Middle East. It is no accident that the North is escalating its threat to the South as the U.S. proceeds to "engage" Iran. The Stalinist/Kimist sate isn't jealous of the attention that its Islamist ally and partner in nuclear/missile crime is receiving from the Obama administration, as liberal pundits are prone to insist. Instead, Pyongyang is providing a useful diversion for Tehran by creating a new foreign policy crisis for Washington. The North's nuclear and missile tests are meant to test the Obama administration.

Japan and South Korea could suffer horrible blows; they are in mortal danger of North Korean nuclear attacks owing to the fact that the North can equip its medium-range missiles with already built and deployed nuclear warheads. U.S. forces in South Korea and Japan are also in mortal danger; and in the event of an all-out war, the North is capable of shooting for the moon--meaning, of course, North America. Pyongyang could try to pulverize San Francisco or Anchorage with a nuclear-tipped Taepodong-2 missile. North Korea has that capability, contrary to what some experts would have you believe.

Israel will be OK. Its powerful military will defeat Iran and its Islamist proxies in spite of the Obama administration (the way the U.S. Navy, one could say, defeated the Somali pirates and rescued the American cargo ship captain in spite of Obama).

Israel's coming conflict with Islamist Iran will strain the Jewish State's relations with the U.S. to a once unimaginable extent; but Israel's survival and security will be assured by its military victory for decades to come. In fact, the destruction of Iran's nuclear and missile sites will result in regime change in Iran, the fall of Hezbollah, and a radical change in Palestinian--and Arab, as opposed to "Muslim"--thinking, with secular nationalists gradually reasserting themselves. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan could eventually fall (Abdullah II could find a new career as a U.S. cable TV news analyst), and Israel could end up negotiating the future of the disputed West Bank areas with a Palestinian government in Amman--a reflection of the fact that Jordan is part of historic Palestine and that a majority of its inhabitants are Palestinian Arabs.

At the end of the day, then, as the British like to say, the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Arab problem may finally be fully and formally implemented.

Israel Smashes Arab Terror Cell in North

Israel has smashed an Arab terror cell planning a wave of attacks.

Security forces arrested seven Israeli Arabs who allegedly planned to carry out bombings and kidnappings against Jews. Police seized nine bombs ready for detonation and materials and instructions for making explosives.

The cell included five Arab citizens of northern Israel from 19 to 21 years old, and two minors. They were charged with terrorism, weapons possession, contacting Palestinian agents, and aiding and abetting the enemy.

Police Commander Avi Argarissi said cell members underwent intensive training in a forest near their villages.

"They built bombs and tested them, and practiced abducting soldiers and civilians," Argarissi told Israel Radio.

The cell was allegedly funded and supplied by militant Palestinian groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Argarissi said the Israeli Arabs were motivated by Palestinian nationalism. "They wanted to kill people, they wanted to instill fear and prevent further Jewish settlement in the State of Israel," he said.

The cell members have pleaded not guilty. But the arrests will likely add to concerns among Israeli Jews that the Arab minority is growing more militant. Israeli Arabs make up about 20 percent of the population; although most are not involved in violence, they openly identify with the Palestinian cause.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

CNPC Eyes Petro-Canada's Syrian, Libyan Holdings

Petro-Canada yesterday denied rumors that the company has received an approach from China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) concerning the Canadian firm's oil and gas assets in Libya and Syria.

That may be technically true. But China Confidential has learned that the company that is acquiring Petro-Canada, Suncor Energy, is aware of CNPC's serious interest in buying Petro-Canada's natural gas properties in Syria and offshore oil holdings in Libya.

CNPC is China's largest integrated oil and gas company.

North Korea Threatens Uranium Enrichment

North Korea announced today that it is starting a second nuclear project--a uranium enrichment program--unless the United Nations apologizes for and lifts the sanctions against North Korea.

The Stalinist/Kimist state also threatened to test more ballistic missiles and another nuclear device.

China Confidential analysts say the uranium threat is meant to mask the fact that Pyongyang has already been pursuing a covert uranium-based nuclear program in parallel to its known plutonium-based program.

The next nuclear test could come as early as July 4--the North may attempt to overshadow U.S. Independence Day celebrations.

US Observes North Korea Freedom Week

The U.S. State Department today issued the following statement:

This week is North Korea Freedom Week, a time to welcome refugees from North Korea who are gathering in Washington to share their stories and advocate on behalf of their friends and families still living there. These brave souls help us all remember the importance of improving the human rights situation of the North Korean people. The United States welcomes to Washington the United Nations Special Rapporteur for North Korean Human Rights, Vitit Muntabhorn, who is an important international voice for the needs of the North Korean people.

The State Department’s Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices notes that conditions in North Korea are dire. North Korea continues to restrict religious and political freedom, control information and its citizens’ freedom of movement, exert widespread social controls, and allow trafficking in women and girls. The United States cares deeply about the plight of North Koreans who flee their homeland and will continue to work with international organizations and foreign governments to ensure their protection, including through resettlement in the United States.

North Korean Nuclear Test Threat Confirms China Confidential Exclusive, Spoils Obama's 100th Day

On Wednesday, April 22, China Confidential reported--exclusively--that North Korea was planning another nuclear test. Click here for our report, which said: "China Confidential analysts believe the North is moving toward an early July detonation--three years after the North's provocative launch of a long-range rocket, and three months after the most recent North Korean rocket launch, which took place on April 5.

"The 2006 test-firing of the Taepodong-2 missile was followed by Pyongyang's first nuclear device detonation on October 9 of that year.

"China Confidential accurately predicted both events.

"North Korea also plans to launch several medium-range rockets before the end of 2009."

The Times reports:

North Korea has threatened to carry out a second nuclear test unless the United National Security Council apologises for criticism of its rocket launch earlier this month.

The threat raises the stakes in Pyongyang’s strategy of brinkmanship with the international community, coming days after the isolated Stalinist state announced that it had restarted extracting plutonium from spent fuel rods at its nuclear plant.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said that the country would be compelled to take additional "self-defensive measures" unless the Security Council apologised immediately. “The measures will include nuclear tests and test-firings of intercontinental ballistic missiles," it said.

China Confidential analysts say the North Korean threat was deliberately timed to upstage President Obama's symbolic 100th day in office. Similarly, the North will make every effort to mar U.S. independence day celebrations on July 4.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Israel Celebrating 61 Years of Independence

Israel began celebrating 61 years of statehood at sundown on Tuesday following the commemoration of Remembrance Day, which honors fallen soldiers and civilians.

The Independence Day celebrations officially began with the lighting of torches at a ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem attended by hundreds of Israeli and foreign dignitaries. The ceremonies will continue on Wednesday with air force and naval parades to the mark the anniversary under the Jewish calendar of the end of the British mandate in Palestine on May 14, 1948.

China Confidential analysts say this year is almost certain to be Israel's most challenging since the War of Independence. Israel will not allow Iran to become a nuclear power, even if Israel has to attack the mullahocracy on its own, without American help or approval. The Obama administration is pursuing a policy of appeasement toward Tehran--under cover of never-ending "direct diplomacy"--in the hope of entering into a so-called grand bargain with the Islamist nation for the pacification of Afghanistan (a lost cause) and countering nuclear-armed Pakistan if it is overrun by the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Israel is the odd man out in the White House world view; the importance of America's strategic ally is being downgraded and diminished to a dangerous degree.

Latin American Audiences Entertained, Moved to Tears by First Film Shot in Guatemala Since 1938

Is film an art or a business?

The answer, of course, is that film is both an art and a business.

It is also a source of prestige and wealth creation for countries, states, and municipalities, which is why so many governments of all sizes offer financial incentives, including tax credits, grants and loans, and heavily subsidized, "below-the-line" services, in order to attract qualified film producers.

Films generate jobs and tourism; they normalize places and encourage interest in them. In terms of civic pride, people of all backgrounds and nationalities derive pleasure and excitement from seeing moving images of their nation, town, or neighborhood. Films bind communities together and help them to become better known to the outside world.

All of which may explain the phenomenal international reaction to Andrzej Krakowski's brilliant new film, Looking for Palladin. It is the first feature film made in Guatemala since the 1938 release, Tarzan and the Green Goddess. That Looking for Palladin, which focuses on a group of bohemian expatriates, is also about the Central American nation--or, a slice of it, at least--makes the movie even more newsworthy. It is also exceptionally entertaining and moving, and unquestionably universally appealing. The foreign setting adds texture and color to the film--and terrific production value--without detracting from its deeper meaning or underlying message in any way.

Simply put, Looking for Palladin is a gem, an instant classic; and audiences of all ages, especially Guatemalans and other Latin Americans, are embracing it, even though the film, which has won film festival awards, has yet to be commercially released in the United States.

This reporter was privileged to have been present for Sunday night's screening at the 25th Chicago Latino Film Festival, the largest, oldest, and most influential Latino film festival in the U.S. Well over 200 people attended the screening (another is scheduled for Tuesday at 6:30 PM) at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema at 2828 N. Clark St., the premiere venue for independent cinema in Chicago.

Writer/director Krakowski and his co-producer Jerry Carlson, represented the film. To describe the reception as tremendously positive is to understate it--seriously. Audience members who hail from Guatemala (and there were many) had tears in their eyes as they praised the picture and participated in the post-screening Q&A session that went on till midnight.

Said one such audience member: "I have never seen my country shown so poetically and lyrically."

There was also a strong Mexican-American contingent, and their reactions, though less emotional, were equally enthusiastic--a reflection, clearly, of Krakowski's decision to cast Mexico's two top stars, Pedro Armanderiz Jr. and Angelica Aragon, in strong supporting roles.

Looking for Palladin tells the story of a young Hollywood player who is drawn into a remote place looking for a quick deal and instead finds a sanctuary, a community, and, ultimately, himself. Ben Gazzara, an icon of American cinema, plays Jack Palladin, a legendary, lost star. Also starring are: David Moscow; Talia Shire; Roberto Díaz Gomar; the Guatemalan commedians Jimmy y Samuel Morales; and Vincent Pastore.

Click below to view the trailer. Not for nothing is Krakowski known as both an artist and a money-making movie maker. He has a God-given gift--and the Midas touch.

Swine Flu and the Global Meat Industry

Mike Davis's controversial analysis of the Mexican swine flu outbreak is the most provocative, and, arguably, the most insightful and original piece on the public health crisis to have appeared anywhere.

The Mexican swine flu, a genetic chimera probably conceived in the faecal mire of an industrial pigsty, suddenly threatens to give the whole world a fever. The initial outbreaks across North America reveal an infection already travelling at higher velocity than did the last official pandemic strain, the 1968 Hong Kong flu.

Stealing the limelight from our officially appointed assassin, H5N1, this porcine virus is a threat of unknown magnitude. It seems less lethal than Sars in 2003, but as an influenza it may be more durable than Sars. Given that domesticated seasonal type-A influenzas kill as many one million people a year, even a modest increment of virulence, especially if combined with high incidence, could produce carnage equivalent to a major war.

Click here to read the entire essay. According to Davis,

Virologists have long believed that the intensive agricultural system of southern China is the principal engine of influenza mutation: both seasonal "drift" and episodic genomic "shift". But the corporate industrialisation of livestock production has broken China's natural monopoly on influenza evolution. Animal husbandry in recent decades has been transformed into something that more closely resembles the petrochemical industry than the happy family farm depicted in school readers.

Monday, April 27, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: Egypt Foils Islamist Plot to Kill Mubarak

China Confidential has learned that Egypt has foiled an Islamist plot to assassinate President Hosni Mubarak.

The conspirators include domestic Sunni fanatics--members of the Muslim Brotherhood--and Shiite extremists--more specifically, members of Iran's Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah.

Islamist terrorists have often bridged the Sunni-Shiite theological divide.

Earlier this month, Egypt said it had uncovered a Hezbollah cell operating inside its borders that was planning attacks against tourist sites in Sinai, conducting surveillance on strategic targets including the Suez Canal, and funneling arms and money to Iran's Palestinian proxy, Hamas, which is also backed by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah subsequently admitted that the ringleader of the cell was a member of his organization.

Egyptian and Israeli intelligence experts say Iran aims to overthrow the Egyptian government, which decades ago made peace with Israel. The Egyptian leader responsible for the peace accord, President Anwar El Sadat, was assassinated in October 1981 by an Islamist coalition that included Ayman al-Zawahiri, who went on to become Osama Binladen's second-in-command in Al Qaeda.

American Hostages in N. Korea in Grave Danger

Two American hostages in North Korea are in grave danger.

The Stalinist/Kimist state says it will put the two journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, on trial for unspecified criminal charges.

The Americans were arrested last month for allegedly crossing a river and entering North Korea from China.

Intelligence experts assure China Confidential that the reporters were captured on the Chinese side of the border.

China Fears Mexican Swine Flu Could Mutate

While the United States moves painfully slowly to stop the spread of Mexican swine flu--out of fear of offending a failing neighboring state's corrupt and inefficient government--China is moving swiftly and decisively to combat the deadly disease.

China has warned its citizens visiting or already in Mexico to take precautions.

Beijing has also banned all direct or indirect imports of swine or pork products from Mexico and from Texas, California and Kansas, the country’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said.

Chinese officials fear that the swine flu virus that has killed dozens in Mexico could mutate into a "more dangerous" strain, as a senior World Health Organization official said on Sunday. The WHO official said the United Nations agency will decide on Tuesday if it should raise its alert rating.

"Yes, it's quite possible for this virus to evolve," Keiji Fukuda, acting WHO assistant-general for health, security and the environment told journalists.

"When viruses evolve, clearly they can become more dangerous to people," he said.

China and other Asian countries are ahead of the United States in dealing with the outbreak, which is on the verge of becoming a pandemic.

Airports in South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines have installed special thermal scanners. The devices, which the U.S. does not have, were last used in the SARS scare.

The Philippines has also temporarily banned pork from the U.S. and Mexico. Russia, China, and Thailand also banned pork imports from Mexico and parts of the U.S. But the BBC reported that a World Health Organization (WHO) official said “there was no evidence to link exposure to pork with infection."

Japanese scientists are also racing to find a vaccine.

In contrast with the rest of the world, the U.S. is moving incrementally. Under pressure, it finally advised against "nonessential" travel to Mexico; but the border remains wide open.

Exxon Looks at China's Energy Future

Today the United States has the world’s highest power generation fuel demand, followed closely by China. But by 2030, China’s economic and population growth will drive power generation demand up by more than 100 percent, to almost 28 MBDOE, 40 percent higher than the U.S.’s projected usage of approximately 20 MBDOE. Like that in the U.S., demand in the European Union will grow slowly, up about 10 percent to 16 MBDOE.

By 2030, we expect overall power generation demand in China to more than double, despite efficiency gains. Although coal loses share in China over the outlook period, it will still grow rapidly at 2.3 percent per year, reaching more than 20 MBDOE.

By 2030, coal will still dominate Chinese power generation and account for almost 75 percent. Considering the vast coal resources that give China security of supply – and assuming no significant direct cost of carbon or tax on greenhouse-gas emissions – it is likely that China will continue to favor coal as a fuel source for power generation for the foreseeable future.

Natural gas use also will grow rapidly and reach 4 percent of the market at 1.1 MBDOE, helping meet peak-demand requirements while also reducing environmental impacts in urban areas. Nuclear is expected to have continued strong growth, reaching a 13 percent share by 2030, up from 2 percent in 2005. Hydroelectric power is the most prominent renewable energy source for Chinese power generation, and it will continue to increase significantly.

Overall, China will account for more than one-third of the worldwide increase in power generation demand from 2005 to 2030. This rapid expansion contrasts dramatically with that of the U.S., where demand is expected to grow slowly. Although total U.S. power generation demand in 2030 will be higher (20.2 MBDOE vs. 18.6 MBDOE in 2005), it will have declined to approximately 16 percent of global power generation, down from 23 percent in 2005.

- ExxonMobil

Obama's Plane Panics Manhattan

Now, this calls for an apology.

AFP reports:
New Yorkers evacuated offices in panic Monday when an unexpected overflight by one of President Barack Obama's Boeing 747s triggered fears of a new 9/11.

The jumbo, escorted by low-flying fighter jets, roared over southern Manhattan and the Hudson River for about 30 minutes on what officials later described as a photo op.

Office workers who failed to spot the presidential markings feared a repeat of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in which two hijacked airliners smashed into the World Trade Center, killing almost 3,000 people.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The above AP image was taken with a cellphone by Jason McLane.

China Arms Imports Drop Amid Rising Concerns Beijing Building Up Domestic Weapons Industry

By Stephanie Ho

A newly released report says China has been importing a smaller volume of conventional arms in recent years. The trend comes as concerns grow that Beijing is working on further developing its own indigenous weapons industry and capabilities.

The information is included in a new Stockholm International Peace Research Institute report that looks at arms transfers around the world.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute analyzed data over a five-year period, to give an average that it considers more reliable than only looking at an individual year.

In the findings for the most recent period, from 2004 to 2008, China remained the top global recipient of conventional weapons, with 11-percent of the world's total.

SIPRI researcher Paul Holtom says the high point for Chinese weapons deliveries was 2006.

Big Ticket Items

"That was when big ticket items such as combat aircraft, naval vessels, submarines, were being delivered and the last of the orders placed around the beginning of the millennium, 2001 to 2003," he said.

At the same time, Holtom points to what he describes as a "significant drop" in arms deliveries to China in 2007 and 2008.

He says one reason is that China has needed time to absorb the high volume of equipment it has already received from Russia, which he calls a near-monopoly supplier. He says another reason may be China's desire to rely more on making and developing its own arms and military technology.

China does not buy weapons from the United States and the European Union because of arms embargoes imposed following Beijing's bloody crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Wariness in Russia

Holtom says China's efforts to develop its own weapons is causing wariness in Russia, which has so far been unwilling to sell China just a small number of combat aircraft that can be used on an aircraft carrier.

"Playing into that is concerns in Russia that when they deliver a small number of items, China is sort of reverse-engineering and seeking to use that as a means to develop its own copies," Holtom said.

Increasing sales of Chinese arms worldwide could be another reason Beijing is looking to build up its own weapons industry.

SIPRI's data from the 1980's showed China ranked as the fifth largest arms supplier in the world. Holtom says despite anticipation that China would emerge as a major global arms supplier, the country dropped to twelfth in the latest period.

"At present, what China is offering is not going to be attractive to most of the big buyers," he said. "If you look at its markets - and it's Bangladesh, they are other poorer nations in Asia or Africa."

Holtom says China's customers include oil-rich countries like Sudan and Burma, which are shunned by a large part of the international community. He also points to another highly-publicized case last year, in which Chinese arms and ammunition were headed for Zimbabwe, shortly after a disputed election there.

Kuwaiti Professor Dreams of Anthrax Attack on US

A Kuwaiti professor says he dreams of an anthrax attack on America--from Mexico to the White House--that will make 9/11 look like "small change." He also prays for the bombing of a nuclear Plant on Lake Michigan.

Abbas Won't Recognize Israel as Jewish State

Mahmoud Abbas said he will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

"A Jewish state, what is that supposed to mean?" the Palestinian Authority president asked in a speech Monday in Ramallah. "You can call yourselves as you like, but I don't accept it and I say so publicly."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said it will be impossible for the two sides to arrive at a peace agreement if the Palestinians do not recognize Israel as a Jewish state, though he has not made it a precondition to restarting talks.

Abbas also said that he will not resume peace talks until Israel enforces a complete settlement freeze and that Netanyahu must commit to the notion of a Palestinian state, not the "economic peace" the Israeli leader has been promoting.

Final Solution

"If you do not want the two-state solution, then what do you accept?" Abbas said.

Abbas also drew his red line on the final borders of the two states.

"We want a state on the 1967 borders, not a centimeter more, not a centimeter less," he said.

An Israeli Arab member of Israel's Knesset, Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List – Ta'al) called Abbas' words "reasonable and correct."

Tibi said "recognition between states does not include recognizing the essence of the state but rather their right to exist, their independence and their borders."

Mahmoud Wants Hugo-Like Treatment From Barack

Iran's maniac-in-chief and wannabe Hitler, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wants U.S. President Barack Obama to treat him like Hugo Chavez--the new gold standard, apparently, for engaging foreign despots. Click here for the story.

There is some consolation: at least, the Iranian President isn't asking Obama to bow to him, the way he bowed--deeply and submissively, from the waist--to the Saudi King.

North Korea Issues 'Nuclear Holocaust' Warning

North Korea's state media, which act as government mouthpieces, on Friday published "clear as noonday" warnings of a possible "nuclear holocaust." An excerpt from the KCNA article , a report on an analysis that appeared in the North's cabinet newspaper, Minju Joson, follows:

If the DPRK remains a passive onlooker to the moves of war against it pursued by the U.S. and the Lee Myung Bak group under the pretext of "alliance," it will be as clear as noonday that the whole land of Korea will turn into a theatre of a nuclear war and all Koreans in the north and the south will have to suffer a nuclear holocaust.

The U.S. and the south Korean warmongers are working hard to dare invade the DPRK while talking about the "tightened alliance," but it is a daydream.

The revolutionary powerful forces of Mt. Paektu which have grown to be invincible under the care of the Songun brilliant commander accurately target the U.S., the south Korean warmongers and other forces hostile to the DPRK.

If the U.S. and the south Korean warmongers start a new war, a nuclear war at any cost on the Korean Peninsula under the pretext of "alliance" targeted against the DPRK, the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK will deal unpredictable, inescapable and merciless blows at them.

US Keeps Mexican Border Wide Open

A Katrina moment?

While the rest of the world rushes to contain and guard against Mexico's deadly swine flu epidemic, the politically correct--code for left-wing and weak--Obama administration is downplaying the danger out of fear of offending the failing state's so-called government.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control has issued public warnings about the outbreak, which is on the verge of becoming the first flu pandemic in 40 years; but the CDC, in sharp contrast with the actions of Hong Kong, Japan, and other governments, has thus far refused to warn people against traveling to Mexico.

The European Union is urging its citizens to avoid both Mexico and the United States; and the World Health Organization is considering quarantine measures.

But the U.S. says it is economically impractical to warn against or suspend travel between the U.S. and Mexico.

Passive Response

The U.S. on Monday started "passive screening" of travelers from Mexico at border locations, resisting suggestions for mandatory screening. Sealing the wide open border is not even on the radar screen, even though studies have shown that approximately 36,000 troops could do the job.

The move to passively or selectively screen travelers who seem ill or complain of disease symptoms is an apparent change in the administration's position. On Sunday, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano--who is charged with protecting Americans domestically--insisted that testing air passengers landing in the U.S. from Mexico was unnecessary.

"Right now we don't think the facts warrant more active testing or screening of passengers coming in from Mexico," she said.

Archeologist Died After Presidential Handshake

President Barack Obama tested negative for swine flu after visiting Mexico to deal with the drug war violence that threatens to plunge the country into anarchy and overwhelm America's southwestern states. Obama had shaken hands with an archaeologist, Felipe Solis, who died of the disease soon after the encounter.

The White House and an adoring media downplayed the test and generally buried the story of the archeologist's death.

Obama: No Cause for 'Alarm'

The President has not missed an opportunity to use the flu crisis--which he says is a cause for "concern" but not for "alarm"--to argue for more federal spending. Addressing the National Academy of Sciences Monday morning, Obama said:

We are closely monitoring the emerging cases of swine flu in the United States. This is obviously a cause for concern and requires a heightened state of alert. But it is not a cause for alarm. The Department of Health and Human Services has declared a Public Health Emergency as a precautionary tool to ensure that we have the resources we need at our disposal to respond quickly and effectively. I’m getting regular updates on the situation from the responsible agencies, and the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Centers for Disease Control will be offering regular updates to the American people so that they know what steps are being taken and what steps they may need to take. But one thing is clear – our capacity to deal with a public health challenge of this sort rests heavily on the work of our scientific and medical community. And this is one more example of why we cannot allow our nation to fall behind.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what has happened.

Federal funding in the physical sciences as a portion of our gross domestic product has fallen by nearly half over the past quarter century. Time and again we’ve allowed the research and experimentation tax credit, which helps businesses grow and innovate, to lapse.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

China Buying Will Boost Gold Price to $950

China Confidential analysts expect the price of gold to rise to $950 an ounce before the end of June, owing to strong demand from the world's fifth largest holder of the precious metal--China.

The International Monetary Fund, which is the world's third-largest holder, is seeking to sell gold to China. Click here for the story.

China Calls for New Global Currency System

Even though it is the world's largest holder of U.S. Treasury securities, China is working to end the dollar-dominated, international currency system. Click here for the story.

Myth of 'Arab' Jerusalem: a Dagger Aimed at Israel

The King of Jordan, an American aligned Arab country that has made peace with Israel, has raised the issue of Jerusalem in a most aggressive way. Israel's liberation of the city, he insists, is the root cause of Islamist hatred--from Iran to Pakistan to Allah-Knows-Where.

The King is a weak man, frightened that the Palestinian majority over which he rules--undemocratically--will one day rise up and drive him from his palace. Like his late father, Hussein, Abdullah II dreads ending up like Iran's Shah--a wandering, exiled monarch, in constant danger--or, even worse, like Egypt's President Anwar Sadat, who was murdered by Muslim Brotherhood Islamists, including Al Qaeda's second-in-command, following his signing of a peace treaty with Israel.

For the record....

Jews have been living in Jerusalem continuously for nearly two millennia, constituting the largest single group of inhabitants there since the 1840s. Jerusalem contains the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.

Jerusalem was never the capital of any Arab entity. In fact, it was a backwater for most of Arab history. Jerusalem never served as a provincial capital under Muslim rule nor was it ever a Muslim cultural center. Muslims revere a site--the Dome of the Rock--not the city. For Jews, however, the entire city is sacred.

Jordan controlled Jerusalem's eastern part from 1949 to 1967, when King Hussein cynically and stupidly ignored Israeli pleas to stay out of the June Middle East war. Instead, the King attacked Israel, believing he could share in the spoils of an Egyptian-Syrian victory. Their aim was to annihilate Israel. But they lost the war; and Jordan lost control over East Jerusalem and the Jordanian-occupied areas west of the Jordan River.

For Jews and Christians, Israel's miraculous victory meant that the long nightmare of Jordan's occupation of Jerusalem had finally come to an end. In violation of the 1949 Armistice Agreement, Jordan denied Israelis access to the Western Wall and to the cemetery on the Mount of Olives, where Jews have buried their dead for more than 2,500 years.

Under paragraph eight of the agreement, Jordan and Israel had agreed to establish committees to arrange the resumption of the normal functioning of cultural and humanitarian institutions on Mt. Scopus, and free access to that area; use of the cemetery on the Mount of Olives, and free access to holy places and cultural institutions.

Under Jordanian rule, "Israeli Christians were subjected to various restrictions during their seasonal pilgrimages to their holy places" in Jerusalem, according to Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek. "Only limited numbers were grudgingly permitted to briefly visit the Old City and Bethlehem at Christmas and Easter."

In 1955 and 1964, Jordan passed laws imposing strict government control on Christian schools, including restrictions on the opening of new schools, state control over school finances and appointment of teachers and the requirements that the Koran be taught. In 1953 and 1965, Jordan adopted laws abrogating the right of Christian religious and charitable institutions to acquire real estate in Jerusalem.

In 1958, police seized the Armenian Patriarch-elect and deported him from Jordan, paving the way for the election of a patriarch supported by King Hussein's government. Because of these repressive policies, many Christians emigrated from Jerusalem. Their numbers declined from 25,000 in 1949 to less than 13,000 in June 1967.

Israel abolished the discriminatory laws after the city was reunited in 1967.

When America's ally, supposedly moderate Jordan, controlled Jerusalem, the Jordanians systematically desecrated Jewish holy places as a matter of state policy. King Hussein, for example, permitted the construction of a road to the Intercontinental Hotel across the Mount of Olives cemetery. Hundreds of Jewish graves were deliberately destroyed by a highway that could have easily been built elsewhere. The gravestones, honoring the memory of rabbis and sages, were used by the engineer corps of the Jordanian Arab Legion as pavement and latrines in army camps (inscriptions on the stones were still visible when Israel liberated the city).

The ancient Jewish Quarter of the Old City was ravaged; 58 Jerusalem synagogues, some centuries old, were destroyed or ruined. Others were turned into stables and chicken coops. Slum dwellings were built abutting the Western Wall.

Jordanian snipers shot at Jews across the border--poor Sephardic Jewish immigrants who could not afford to live in safer neighborhoods.

The King also neglected Jerusalem, following the example of previous Muslim rulers. After the capture of the Old City in 1967, the scope of his disregard became clear when Israel discovered that much of the city lacked even the most basic municipal services, such as a steady water supply, plumbing and electricity. As a result of reunification, these and other badly needed municipal services were extended to Arab homes and businesses in East Jerusalem.

Israeli authorities found that hundreds of squatters had made their homes in the Jewish Quarter. Israeli civil engineers cleared the ruins to rebuild the quarter, but only after offering compensation or alternate housing to the squatters.

US Facing Three Nuclear Crises

For the first time in history, the United States is confronted with three concurrent nuclear crises: North Korea's emergence as a full-fledged nuclear power; Iran's development of nuclear weapons; and a rapidly deteriorating security situation in nuclear-armed Pakistan, which could put the country's weapons of mass destruction in the hands of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Click here for the Boston Globe editorial--a must read--and here for an AFP interview with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

American Hostages Abandoned and Ignored

An American hostage in Iran has reportedly gone on a hunger strike. Click here for the story.

At the same time, two American hostages in North Korea are in serious danger. Click here for an update.

The nuclear tag team partners are clearly using the Americans as bargaining chips. But the media seems disinterested, even though all three hostages are journalists.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

North Korea Has Deployed Nuclear Warheads

North Korea, which has restarted its nuclear facilities, has also deployed nuclear warheads at hardened underground missile facilities, according to intelligence experts and China Confidential analysts.

In fact, analysts say the North deployed its warheads ahead of its recent, long-range rocket test.

While there is debate over the Stalinist/Kimist state's ability to place a warhead atop a Taepodong-2 missle--capable of hitting Hawaii and Alaska--such as the one the North shot over Japan on April 3, there is a consensus that North Korea can use its medium-range rockets for nuclear attacks. The rogue nation--a Chinese vassal--has more than 300 Rodong missiles. The Rodongs, with an estimated range of 1,300km, can be launched from mobile transporters anywhere in North Korea.

In other words, North Korea is now a full-blown nuclear power, capable of obliterating cities and U.S. military bases in Japan and South Korea. China, which provides Pyongyang with most of its food, fuel, and arms, has allowed and, analysts would argue, even encouraged this to happen. The American strategy of relying on China to moderate North Korea, which the Bush administration adopted, has completely failed.

The diplomacy that failed to stop North Korea will also fail--utterly--stop its Islamist ally and partner in nuclear/missile crime, Iran, from becoming a nuclear power. The Obama administration, however, is nevertheless pursuing a policy of appeasement toward both countries.

Czech, EU Politicians Pressuring Israel

Czech authorities should be commended for detaining and deporting former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Click here for the story. Duke is a neo-Nazi Holocaust denier; and Holocaust denial is illegal in the Czech Republic.

Unfortunately, however, some important Czech politicians have been complicit in paving the way for a new Holocaust--the planned destruction of Israel by nuclear-arming, Islamist Iran and its Islamist proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah. Acting on behalf of the European Union, the Czechs have been pressuring Israel to accept suicidally indefensible borders--the "Auschwitz borders," as the late Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban described the pre-1967 boundaries that divided Jerusalem and denied Jews access to the city's holy sites, made Galilee kibbutzim sitting ducks for Syrian artillery, and put Israel's center, including its main population center and commercial capital, Tel Aviv, in danger of being overrun by a potential, all-out assault from Jordanian-controlled territory west of the Jordan River.

The pressure on Israel is coming from the Czech Republic's Prime Minister, Mirel Topolanek, and Foreign Minister, Karel Schwarzenberg.

The Czech Republic holds the European Union's six-month rotating presidency; and the EU has suspended upgrading of Israel's relations with the organization over the Palestinian issue.

Translation: the EU, obsessed with creating a Palestinian state, wants Israel to withdraw from the disputed--and strategically important--West Bank (of the Jordan River) areas of Judea and Samaria that Israel captured during the defensive Six-Day War.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can be counted on to resist the Czech/EU pressure. He insists that the Czechs, of all people, should appreciate Israel's security concerns. Seventy-years ago, in March 1939, Nazi Germany marched into Czechoslovakia and occupied most of it. The invasion nullified the infamous Munich Pact, also known as the Munich Dictate--or the Great Betrayal--which Germany, England, France, and Fascist Italy signed in September 1938.

'Peace for Our Time'

The agreement, which was concluded without Czechoslovakia being present, ceded the country's German-speaking, Sudetenland territory to the Nazis under the principle of self-determination. The area had great strategic importance. The Sudeten mountains bordered Germany and guarded the access to the Czech heartland and to the capital city of Prague only miles away. Moreover, a system of fortifications and fortresses had been built in the mountains over many years.

No matter. England and France aimed to appease Germany. In sacrificing a piece of Czechoslovokia, they sought to preserve peace on the European continent--"peace for our time," in the words of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (commonly misquoted as peace in our time). But the policy of appeasement actually made war inevitable--on Germany's terms. On September 1, 1939, less than one year after he signed the Munich Pact, Hitler invaded Poland, mistakenly believing that Britain and France would not intervene. Both countries, however, immediately declared war on Germany, marking the beginning of World War II.

A Matter of Intentions

The appeasers misread Hitler's intentions; he was not a petty tyrant with limited ambitions, someone who could be satisfied with one or two territorial concessions. Rather, he was bent on conquering Europe--for starters.

Today's appeasers aim to abandon Israel in order to avoid war with the Palestinians' clerical fascist ally, Iran, which intends to destroy the Jewish State and dominate the Middle East--for starters.

The pro-appeasement politicians should be compelled to study the history of the run-up to World War II. They could begin by brushing up on the Munich Pact. The text--a product of direct diplomacy with a power-mad dictator--appears below.

Remarks made by one of the signers, French Premier Edouard Daladier, are worth recalling. He had serious misgivings about the pact but could not resist the arguments of government members still traumatized by the devastation of the First World War and overwhelmed by the economic crisis. "Today it is the turn of Czechoslovakia," Daladier warned Britain some five months before the signing of the agreement. "Tomorrow it will be the turn of Poland and Romania. When Germany has obtained the oil and wheat it needs, she will turn on the West."

Agreement concluded at Munich, September 29, 1938, between Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy

GERMANY, the United Kingdom, France and Italy, taking into consideration the agreement, which has been already reached in principle for the cession to Germany of the Sudeten German territory, have agreed on the following terms and conditions governing the said cession and the measures consequent thereon, and by this agreement they each hold themselves responsible for the steps necessary to secure its fulfilment:

(1) The evacuation will begin on 1st October.

(2) The United Kingdom, France and Italy agree that the evacuation of the territory shall be completed by the 10th October, without any existing installations having been destroyed, and that the Czechoslovak Government will be held responsible for carrying out the evacuation without damage to the said installations.

(3) The conditions governing the evacuation will be laid down in detail by an international commission composed of representatives of Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Czechoslovakia.

(4) The occupation by stages of the predominantly German territory by German troops will begin on 1st October. The four territories marked on the attached map will be occupied by German troops in the following order:

The territory marked No. I on the 1st and 2nd of October; the territory marked No. II on the 2nd and 3rd of October; the territory marked No. III on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of October; the territory marked No. IV on the 6th and 7th of October. The remaining territory of preponderantly German character will be ascertained by the aforesaid international commission forthwith and be occupied by German troops by the 10th of October.

(5) The international commission referred to in paragraph 3 will determine the territories in which a plebiscite is to be held. These territories will be occupied by international bodies until the plebiscite has been completed. The same commission will fix the conditions in which the plebiscite is to be held, taking as a basis the conditions of the Saar plebiscite. The commission will also fix a date, not later than the end of November, on which the plebiscite will be held.

(6) The final determination of the frontiers will be carried out by the international commission. The commission will also be entitled to recommend to the four Powers, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy, in certain exceptional cases, minor modifications in the strictly ethnographical determination of the zones which are to be transferred without plebiscite.

(7) There will be a right of option into and out of the transferred territories, the option to be exercised within six months from the date of this agreement. A German-Czechoslovak commission shall determine the details of the option, consider ways of facilitating the transfer of population and settle questions of principle arising out of the said transfer.

(8) The Czechoslovak Government will within a period of four weeks from the date of this agreement release from their military and police forces any Sudeten Germans who may wish to be released, and the Czechoslovak Government will within the same period release Sudeten German prisoners who are serving terms of imprisonment for political offences.

Munich, September 29, 1938.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Did North Korea Sell Nuclear Warheads to Iran?

Intelligence experts in Japan and South Korea are convinced that North Korea has nuclear warheads, contrary to assurances by the United States that the Stalinist/Kimist state has yet to develop these weapons.

Some experts even believe North Korea may have already sold--and smuggled--one or two warheads to its Islamist ally, Iran.

China Confidential analysts say the North Korean-Iranian threat is much more serious than Western governments have acknowledged.

While the Obama administration leaks and releases damaging documents about harsh interrogation methods used against Al Qaeda operatives--including the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 mega-attacks--America's worst enemies are making major advances with respect to their offensive capabilities.

Given North Korea's escalating rhetoric and Iran's Holocaust denial and campaign to demonize Israel and the Jewish people, the worst imaginable sneak attacks are possible--against the U.S. and Israel.

Times Confirms China Confidential Reporting and Analysis: North Korea Can Nuke Japan, S. Korea

Click here for the story--confirmation of years of reporting and analysis by China Confidential. For humanity's sake, we wish we were wrong.

In related news, North Korea is making good on its threat to bolster its "nuclear deterrent." Reuters reports:
North Korea said on Saturday it had started reprocessing nuclear fuel rods at its plant that produces arms-grade plutonium after quitting international nuclear disarmament talks earlier this month.

"The reprocessing of spent fuel rods from the pilot atomic power plant began as declared in the Foreign Ministry statement dated April 14," North Korea's official news agency KCNA quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying.

"This will contribute to bolstering the nuclear deterrence for self-defense in every way to cope with the increasing military threats from the hostile forces," it said.

Notwithstanding the Handshake, Hu's on First

A photograph of Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez grinning and gripping each other's hands caused alarm bells to ring in the United States and eyebrows to raise in China.

Understand (as Candidate of Change Obama was fond of saying throughout his Presidential campaign) that China is a major investor in Venezuela and that its anti-American, populist president--an ally of nuclear-arming Iran--is determined to turn Venezuela into one of China's top oil suppliers.

“All the oil China needs for the next 200 years, it’s here," Chavez said in February. "It’s in Venezuela.”

He's right. Venezuela is sitting atop huge heavy oil resources that have been known to Americans for decades, since the catastrophic Carter administration, but dismissed by an unholy alliance of Middle East-oriented big oil companies and environmental extremists fanatically opposed to "fossil fuels."

China Need Not Worry

China need not worry about the U.S. changing its view of Venezuelan heavy oil. Washington will continue to overlook the resource--for political reasons. And this reporter is not referring to Venezuela's support for Iran or suspicious dealings with the Islamist nation's terrorist proxy, Hezbollah. Obama, in the clutches of global warming fear mongers led by the charlatan Al Gore (who parlayed a slide show into a Nobel Peace Prize and an Academy Award) is simply not interested in hearing about heavy oil, regardless of whether it is produced in Caracas or California. Instead, the President is promoting uneconomical and nonexistent green energy solutions, which, in the midst of a recession, will cruelly push energy prices higher for all Americans and American businesses while failing to significantly reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Venezuela, in the meantime, will sell more oil to China. In 2008, the South American nation sold 380,000 barrels per day of petroleum and petroleum derivatives to China.

Venezuela sold 1.13 million barrels a day of oil to the United States in 2008--about 10% of total U.S. oil imports. But Chavez, notwithstanding his headline-making photo-op with Obama, would like to increase oil sales to China at America's expense.

During his recent visit to China--his sixth visit there since 1998--Chavez promised to boost Venezuela's total annual exports to China to one million barrels by 2013.

With that goal in mind, Venezuela is expanding its oil tanker fleet, and China is dedicating more and more refining capacity to Venezuelan crude.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Probe Shows Paulson Pressured BOA to Suppress Material Information About Insolvent Merrill Lynch

Did former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson pressure publicly traded Bank of America to withhold material information from the public about the financial condition of publicly traded Merrill Lynch?

AFP reports:
US officials used threats to pressure Bank of America to complete a takeover of ailing Wall Street firm Merrill Lynch last year, documents from a state probe showed Thursday.

The documents released by New York state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo indicated that top US Treasury and Federal Reserve officials threatened to push out bank management and board members if the takeover were not completed.

The documents also showed regulators cautioned Bank of America chief Kenneth Lewis not to disclose the extent of Merrill's troubles [italics added for emphasis] because of fears of a "disaster in the financial markets."

The documents indicated Bank of America wanted to walk away in December from the deal announced in September to take over Merrill, which had been on the brink of collapse at the same time as Lehman Brothers, the Wall Street rival that went bankrupt and triggered a financial panic.
Continue reading here.

U.S. securities laws are based on the bedrock principle of full disclosure in order to create a level playing field for investors. Hence, the need for timely and truthful filings with the Securities Exchange Commission, including quarterly and annual reports, audited financial statements, and special, 8-K filings and press releases of any and all developments, including material impairments, which could influence investors or affect their interests, for better or worse.

A penny-stock-sized company's CEO or CFO who withholds material information about the company's financial condition could be sued or prosecuted. That Paulson, the former Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, in his capacity as U.S. Treasury Secretary would do what he appears to have done--albeit with a national interest rationale--is truly shocking.

Apparently, Paulson spent too much time in China before coming to Washington--the secrecy and despotism may have affected his decision-making. One of the reasons Paulson was selected to replace John Snow at Treasury was because of his strong connections to Wall Street and to China. At Goldman's helm, Paulson, whose net worth has in the past been estimated as close to $1 billion, made over 70 business-related trips to China. As Treasury Secretary, he headed a "strategic dialogue" with Beijing that accomplished nothing of real value or importance from a U.S. perspective.

Recognizing Rising Islam, China Sees the European Union as a Mere Market, America as the Next Rome

China Confidential analysts across Asia and Europe report China's rulers--the leaders of the Communist Party and the commanders of the People's Liberation Army--have arrived at a startling consensus concerning the world's political future. They see (a) the United States as the dying but still dangerous "Hegemon"--a modern-day version of the ancient Roman Empire in its declining years, and (b) Europe as an increasingly politically irrelevant collection of weak states.

China sees Europe not as a power, but as a market. A European Union in name only--from China's perspective, the old Common Market name is more fitting--it is certainly not a serious rival to either China or the U.S. for international influence and prestige.

With the above in mind, click here to read Tony Barber's first-rate, Financial Times report on China's view of Europe as a "mere pawn" in a global chess game. His analysis is timely and important with regard to understanding China's changing posture in the context of the worldwide recession.

Destined to be Overwhelmed

Barber's provocative piece is on target with regard to Beijing's take on Europe; but China Confidential analysts, including intelligence experts who monitor Chinese think tanks, are even more provocative than Barber. China Confidential analysts say the PLA, in particular, is convinced that Europe is destined to be overwhelmed and irreversibly transformed by its Muslim minorities, especially if Turkey's bid for EU membership (which U.S. President Barack Obama has endorsed) proves successful.

In contrast with Europe, the U.S. clearly has a long way to go before it is Islamized. In terms of importance, Detroit, for example, can't be compared with Londonistan. But Beijing, according to China Confidential analysts, believes that the continuing Muslim influx into the U.S. and rise in Muslim supremacist groups combined with the ceaseless flood of illegal immigrants from Latin America--capable of turning overnight into a human tidal wave if Mexico collapses into chaos and anarchy--will eventually overwhelm and ultimately bury the Hegemon.

Chinese Communist Party economic advisers also believe the U.S. economy is doomed as a result of years of hollowing-out and outsourcing, incapable of being revived without a radical restructuring. A slow death is foreseen; hence, the need to diversify out of the dollar in an orderly fashion--without killing China's stake.

There is more to the story. China's military strategists are said to be convinced that the U.S. is dangerously vulnerable to asymmetric warfare, including Islamist terrorist attacks. Another mega-attack, the Chinese believe, could be fatal for the U.S. A series of Mumbai-style, swarming attacks on so-called soft targets--schools, hospitals, commercial buildings and shopping centers--could prolong the recession or turn it into a full-blown depression.

Several Chinese asymmetric warfare experts believe it is only a matter of time before the U.S. is hit by nuclear terrorism.

Rising China Shows Off a More Menacing Navy

China is showing off its growing maritime muscle while assuring the world that it does not seek "hegemony." Click here for the Reuters report.

The Economist reports:
Among the vessels inspected by President Hu Jintao from on board a Chinese-made destroyer were two nuclear-powered submarines. China’s official press identified them as a Xia-class ballistic-missile submarine and a Han-class attack submarine. These are not China’s very latest models, but showing them at all was rare.

China is coy about its submarines. Foreign military officials attending the regatta toured a Song-class diesel-electric submarine. The Song has been in use since the 1990s, but it was the first time that some of these officials, despite repeated requests, had been allowed inside one. China has said nothing about its new Jin-class submarines armed with long-range nuclear missiles. The Pentagon reported that the first of these had been deployed.
Sky News notes:
The Northern Pacific region has traditionally been part of the US's security umbrella and the growing strength of the Chinese Navy poses a potential challenge in these waters.

There is also concern about possible plans for the construction of China's first aircraft carrier that would vastly increase the reach of China's fleet.

US Navy Chief, Admiral Gary Roughead - present at today's celebrations - has warned that China's neighbours are worried.
"If it is not clear what the intent of the use of the aircraft carrier is, I would say that it may cause concern with some of the regional navies and nations," he said.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Maybe Coming Soon ... the Beijing Consensus

Can a Beijing Consensus replace the Washington Consensus? Click here for the story.

China's financing of hard-pressed Jamaica may be a sign of things to come.

China to Environmentalists: 'Dam' You

Defying domestic and foreign environmentalists, China is determined to proceed with plans to dam up the endangered Yangtze River in order to tap its hydroelectric potential to the maximum possible extent. Click here for the story. At least 20 more projects are planned by 2020.

Several Chinese seismic and environmental experts assert that one of the many dams along the river triggered the massive earthquake last May that left 87,000 people dead or missing. The government denies the claim.

US Navy Rescue: Disturbing Details Emerge

As if to answer a China Confidential posting on the subject, details of the U.S. Navy rescue of Captain Richard Phillips are emerging--and they are indeed disturbing. Suffice it to say, it is becoming increasingly clear that the brave merchant mariner--a real American hero--was rescued in spite of President Obama, not because of him.