Masters Of War

Come you masters of war You that build all the guns You that build the death planes You that build all the bombs You that hide behind walls You that hide behind desks I just want you to know I can see through your masks. You that never done nothin' But build to destroy You play with my world Like it's your little toy You put a gun in my hand And you hide from my eyes And you turn and run farther When the fast bullets fly. Like Judas of old You lie and deceive A world war can be won You want me to believe But I see through your eyes And I see through your brain Like I see through the water That runs down my drain. You fasten all the triggers For the others to fire Then you set back and watch When the death count gets higher You hide in your mansion' As young people's blood Flows out of their bodies And is buried in the mud. You've thrown the worst fear That can ever be hurled Fear to bring children Into the world For threatening my baby Unborn and unnamed You ain't worth the blood That runs in your veins. How much do I know To talk out of turn You might say that I'm young You might say I'm unlearned But there's one thing I know Though I'm younger than you That even Jesus would never Forgive what you do. Let me ask you one question Is your money that good Will it buy you forgiveness Do you think that it could I think you will find When your death takes its toll All the money you made Will never buy back your soul. And I hope that you die And your death'll come soon I will follow your casket In the pale afternoon And I'll watch while you're lowered Down to your deathbed And I'll stand over your grave 'Til I'm sure that you're dead.------- Bob Dylan 1963

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What role is al-Qaeda playing in Libya? - Inside Story - Al Jazeera English

What role is al-Qaeda playing in Libya? - Inside Story - Al Jazeera English

Inside Mexico's mud-hut mosque - Features - Al Jazeera English

Inside Mexico's mud-hut mosque - Features - Al Jazeera English

Exclusive: Obama moves to sell Northrop drones to South Korea | Reuters

Exclusive: Obama moves to sell Northrop drones to South Korea | Reuters

UPDATE: S Korea August CPI +5.3% On Year; Highest Since Aug 2008 -

UPDATE: S Korea August CPI +5.3% On Year; Highest Since Aug 2008 -

Why Gaddafi got a red card By Pepe Escobar

By Pepe Escobar
Surveying the Libyan wasteland out of a cozy room crammed with wafer-thin LCDs in a Pyongyang palace, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il, must have been stunned as he contemplated Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's predicament.
"What a fool," the Dear Leader predictably murmurs. No wonder. He knows how The Big G virtually signed his death sentence that day in 2003 when he accepted the suggestion of his irrepressibly nasty offspring - all infatuated with Europe - to dump his weapons of mass destruction program and place the future of the regime in the hands of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Granted, Saif al-Islam, Mutassim, Khamis and the rest of the
Gaddafi clan still couldn't tell the difference between partying hard in St Tropez and getting bombed by Mirages and Rafales. But Big G, wherever he is, in Sirte, in the central desert or in a silent caravan to Algeria, must be cursing them to eternity.
He thought he was a NATO partner. Now NATO wants to blow his head off. What kind of partnership is this?
The Sunni monarchical dictator in Bahrain stays; no "humanitarian" bombs over Manama, no price on his head. The House of Saud club of dictators stays; no "humanitarian" bombs over Riyadh, Dubai or Doha - no price on their Western-loving gilded heads. Even the Syrian dictator is getting a break - so far.
So the question, asked by many an Asia Times Online reader, is inevitable: what was the crucial red line crossed by Gaddafi that got him a red card?
'Revolution' made in France
There are enough red lines crossed by The Big G - and enough red cards - to turn this whole computer screen blood red.
Let's start with the basics. The Frogs did it. It's always worth repeating; this is a French war. The Americans don't even call it a war; it's a "kinetic action" or something. The "rebel" Transitional National Council" (TNC) is a French invention.
And yes - this is above all neo-Napoleonic President Nicolas Sarkozy's war. He's the George Clooney character in the movie (poor Clooney). Everybody else, from David of Arabia Cameron to Nobel Peace Prize winner and multiple war developer Barack Obama, are supporting actors.
As already reported by Asia Times Online, this war started in October 2010 when Gaddafi's chief of protocol, Nuri Mesmari, defected to Paris, was approached by French intelligence and for all practical purposes a military coup d'etat was concocted, involving defectors in Cyrenaica.
Sarko had a bag full of motives to exact revenge on The Big G.
French banks had told him that Gaddafi was about to transfer his billions of euros to Chinese banks. Thus Gaddafi could not by any means become an example to other Arab nations or sovereign funds.
French corporations told Sarko that Gaddafi had decided not to buy Rafale fighters anymore, and not to hire the French to build a nuclear plant; he was more concerned in investing in social services.
Energy giant Total wanted a much bigger piece of the Libyan energy cake - which was being largely eaten, on the European side, by Italy's ENI, especially because Premier Silvio "bunga bunga" Berlusconi, a certified Big G fan, had clinched a complex deal with Gaddafi.
Thus the military coup was perfected in Paris until December; the first popular demonstrations in Cyrenaica in February - largely instigated by the plotters - were hijacked. The self-promoting philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy flew his white shirt over an open torso to Benghazi to meet the "rebels" and phone Sarkozy, virtually ordering him to recognize them in early March as legitimate (not that Sarko needed any encouragement).
The TNC was invented in Paris, but the United Nations also duly gobbled it up as the "legitimate" government of Libya - just as NATO did not have a UN mandate to go from a no-fly zone to indiscriminate "humanitarian" bombing, culminating with the current siege of Sirte.
The French and the British redacted what would become UN Resolution 1973. Washington merrily joined the party. The US State Department brokered a deal with the House of Saud through which the Saudis would guarantee an Arab League vote as a prelude for the UN resolution, and in exchange would be left alone to repress any pro-democracy protests in the Persian Gulf, as they did, savagely, in Bahrain.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC - then transmuted into Gulf Counter-Revolution Club) also had tons of reasons to get rid of Gaddafi. The Saudis would love to accommodate a friendly emirate in northern Africa, especially by getting rid of the ultra-bad blood between Gaddafi and King Abdullah. The Emirates wanted a new place to invest and "develop". Qatar, very cozy with Sarko, wanted to make money - as in handling the new oil sales of the "legitimate" rebels.
United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may be very cozy with the House of Saud or the murderous al-Khalifas in Bahrain. But the State Department heavily blasted Gaddafi for his "increasingly nationalistic policies in the energy sector"; and also for "Libyanizing" the economy.
The Big G, a wily player, should have seen the writing on the wall. Since prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh was deposed essentially by the Central Intelligence Agency in Iran in 1953, the rule is that you don't antagonize globalized Big Oil. Not to mention the international financial/banking system - promoting subversive ideas such as turning your economy to the benefit of your local population.
If you're pro-your country you are automatically against those who rule - Western banks, mega-corporations, shady "investors" out to profit from whatever your country produces.
Gaddafi not only crossed all these red lines but he also tried to sneak out of the petrodollar; he tried to sell to Africa the idea of a unified currency, the gold dinar (most African countries supported it); he invested in a multibillion dollar project - the Great Man-Made River, a network of pipelines pumping fresh water from the desert to the Mediterranean coast - without genuflecting at the alter of the World Bank; he invested in social programs in poor, sub-Saharan countries; he financed the African Bank, thus allowing scores of nations to bypass, once again, the World Bank and especially the International Monetary Fund; he financed an African-wide telecom system that bypassed Western networks; he raised living standards in Libya. The list is endless.
Why didn't I call Pyongyang 
And then there's the crucial Pentagon/Africom/NATO military angle. No one in Africa wanted to host an Africom base; Africom was invented during the George W Bush administration as a means to coerce and control Africa on the spot, and to covertly fight China's commercial advances.
So Africom was forced to settle in that most African of places; Stuttgart, Germany.
The ink on UN Resolution 1973 was barely settled when Africom, for all practical purposes, started the bombing of Libya with over 150 Tomahawks - before command was transferred to NATO. That was Africom's first African war, and a prelude of thing to come. Setting up a permanent base in Libya will be practically a done deal - part of a neo-colonial militarization of not only northern Africa but the whole continent.
NATO's agenda of dominating the whole Mediterranean as a NATO lake is as bold as Africom's agenda of becoming Africa's Robocop. The only trouble spots were Libya, Syria and Lebanon - the three countries not NATO members or linked with NATO via myriad "partnerships".
To understand NATO's global Robocop role - legitimized by the UN - one just has to pay attention to the horse's mouth, NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen. As Tripoli was still being bombed, he said, "If you're not able to deploy troops beyond your borders, then you can't exert influence internationally, and then that gap will be filled by emerging powers that don't necessarily share your values and thinking."
So there it is, out in the open. NATO is a Western high-tech militia to defend American and European interests, to isolate the interests of the emerging BRICS countries and others, and to keep the "natives", be they Africans or Asians, down. The whole lot much easier to accomplish as the scam is disguised by R2P - "responsibility to protect", not civilians, but the subsequent plunder.
Against all these odds, no wonder The Big G was bound for a red card, and to be banned from the game forever.
Only a few hours before The Big G had to start fighting for his life, the Dear Leader was drinking Russian champagne with President Dmitry Medvedev, talking about an upcoming Pipelineistan gambit and casually evoking his willingness to talk about his still active nuclear arsenal.
That sums up why the Dear Leader is going up while The Big G is going down.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan(Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at
To follow Pepe's articles on the Great Arab Revolt, please click here.

Obama's Widening War In Somalia by Sherwood Ross

Led by the Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) the U.S. is stepping up its war in Somalia, The Nation magazine reports.
“The CIA presence in (the capital) Mogadishu is part of Washington’s intensifying counter-terrorism focus on Somalia, which includes targeted strikes by US Special Operations forces, drone attacks and expanded surveillance operations,” writes Jeremy Scahill, the magazine’s national security correspondent.
According to well-connected Somali sources, the CIA is reluctant to deal directly with Somali political leaders, who are regarded by U.S. officials as corrupt and untrustworthy. Instead, Scahill says, the U.S. has Somali intelligence agents on its payroll. Even the nation’s president, Sharif Sheihk Ahmed is not fully briefed on war plans.
The CIA operates from a sprawling walled compound in a corner of Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport defended by guard towers manned by Somali government guards. What’s more, the CIA also runs a secret underground prison in the basement of Somalia’s National Security Agency headquarters, where conditions are reminiscent of the infamous Guantanamo Bay facility President Obama vowed to shut down.
The airport site was completed just four months ago and symbolizes the new face of the expanding war the Obama regime is waging against Al Shabab, and other Islamic militant groups in Somalia having close ties to Al Qaeda.
Typical of U.S. strongarm tactics, suspects from Kenya and elsewhere have been illegally rendered and flown to Mogadishu. Former prisoners, Scahill writes, “described the (filthy, small) cells as (infested with bedbugs), windowless and the air thick, moist and disgusting. Prisoners...are not allowed outside (and) many have developed rashes...” The prison dates back at least to the regime of military dictator Siad Barre, who ruled from 1969 to 1991, and was even then referred to as “The Hole.”
One prisoner snatched in Kenya and rendered to Somalia said, “I have been here for one year, seven months. I have been interrogated so many Somali men and white men. Every day new faces show up (but) they have nothing on me. I have never seen a there is no court or tribunal.” The white men are believed to be U.S. and French intelligence agents.
Human Rights Watch and Reprieve have documented that Kenyan security forces “facilitated scores of renditions for the U.S. and other governments, including 85 people rendered to Somalia in 2007 alone,” Scahil writes.
Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a leader of Al Qaeda in East Africa and Kenyan citizen, was slain in the first known targeted killing operation in Somalia authorized by President Obama, The Nation article said, several months after a man thought to be one of Nabhan’s aides was rendered to Mogadishu.
In an interview with the magazine in Mogadishu, Abdulkadir Moallin Noor, the minister of state for the presidency, confirmed that US agents “are working without intelligence” and “giving them training.” He called for more U.S. counter-terrorism efforts lest “the terrorists will take over the country.”
During his confirmation hearings to become head of the U.S. Special Operations Command, Vice Admiral William McRaven said the U.S. is “looking very hard” at Somalia and that it would have to “increase its use of drones as well as on-the-ground intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.” U.S. actions appear to circumvent the president, who is not fully kept in the loop, the magazine reported.
A week after a June 23rd drone strike against alleged Shabab members near Kismayo, 300 miles from the capital, John Brennan, Mr. Obama’s top counter-terrorism adviser, said, “From the territory it controls in Somalia, Al Shabab continues to call for strikes against the United States. We cannot and we will not let down our guard. We will continue to pummel Al Qaeda and its ilk.”
Author Scahill reports the Pentagon is increasing its support for, and arming of, the counter-terrorism operations of non-Somali African military forces. A new defense spending bill would authorize more than $75 million in U.S. aid aimed at fighting the Shabab and Al Qaeda in Somalia. The package would “dramatically” increase US arming and financing of AMISOM’s (African Union) forces, particularly from Uganda and Burundi, as well as the armies of Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia.
The AMISOM forces, however, “are not conducting their mission with anything resembling surgical precision,” Scahill writes. Instead, in recent months they “have waged a merciless campaign of indiscriminate shelling of Shabab areas, some of which are heavily populated by civilians.”
According to a senior Somali intelligence official who works directly with U.S. agents, the CIA-led program in Mogadishu has yielded few tangible gains. Neither the U.S. nor Somali forces “have been able to conduct a single successful targeted mission in the Shabab’s areas in the capital,” Scahill reports.
Francis Boyle, distinguished authority on international law at the University of Illinois, Champaign, says the US. is “just using Shabab as an excuse to steal Somalia’s gas. Just before President Bush Senior’s Gulf War I, Somalia was already carved up among four or so U.S. oil companies. Then Bush Sr. invaded under the pretext of feeding poor starving Somalis...(but) the Somalis fought back and expelled us... So now we are just trying to get back in there. Notice they are escalating the propaganda again about poor starving Black People in Somalia, as if we ever cared diddly-squat about them. All we care about is stealing their oil. Shabab and famine are just covers and pretexts.”
The expanding war in Somalia, largely unreported in America, marks the sixth country in the Middle East----after Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, and Yemen---in which the regime of Nobel Peace Prize-winner Obama is engaged. One wonders how many additional countries does Mr. Obama, (the former secret CIA payroller,) have to invade to win another Peace Prize?
Sherwood Ross directs the Anti-War News Service. To comment or contribute, reach him at  

Love Without Condition

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Eric Burdon ~ Soul Of A Man (2006)

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Our New Infographic: Exec Excess

We’re teaming up with the Institute for Policy Studies and US Uncut to drive home a basic point: when tax shelters allow CEOs to take home more in pay than their entire frickin’ company pays in taxes, something is very wrong. (You can find citations for all the facts in the infographic – and the full report by IPS – by clicking here.)

At Some Companies, CEO Pay Exceeded Company Tax Bill

As the Super Congress eyes trillions in budget cuts that will undermine the quality of life for most Americans, here's a stunning fact to contemplate: 25 hugely profitable U.S. companies paid their CEOs more last year than they paid Uncle Sam in taxes.
In other words, the more CEOs dodge their civic responsibilities, the more lavishly they're paid. That's the key finding of a new Institute for Policy Studies report,Massive CEO Rewards for Tax Dodging, which I co-authored.
These artful dodgers include the CEOs of Verizon, Boeing, Honeywell, General Electric, International Paper, Prudential, eBay, Bank of New York Mellon, Ford, Motorola, Qwest Communications, Dow Chemical, and Stanley Black and Decker. Their average annual compensation totaled $16.7 million, well above last year's average of $10.8 million for the CEOs of S&P 500 companies.
Instead of paying their fair share, these companies spend millions lobbying for additional tax breaks and loopholes. Twenty of the 25 companies spent more lobbying Congress last year than they paid the IRS in federal corporate taxes. General Electric invested $41.8 million in lobbying and got $3.3 billion in tax refunds. Boeing spent $20 million on lobbying and got a $35 billion contract from the U.S. government, while paying a paltry $13 million in U.S. taxes for a company with $4.3 billion in U.S. income last year.
Eighteen of the 25 companies aggressively use off shore tax havens to shift profits around the globe to avoid U.S. taxes. These 18 companies together had 556 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands, Singapore, Ireland, and other havens. The offshore scam works like this: companies pretend their profits are earned in low-tax or no-tax jurisdictions — and then feign losses from their U.S. operations at tax time.>
Whatever happened to corporate civic leadership? A previous generation of CEOs would have been ashamed to be compensated so lavishly while their companies abandoned responsibility for paying their fair share. They would have been embarrassed to go year after year contributing little or nothing to the public investments that make the United States a vibrant business environment.
  • Chesapeake Energy paid its CEO Aubrey McClendon $21 million last year but paid zero federal corporate income tax in 2010. Chesapeake is fracking the tax code, drilling it for every possible subsidy it can extract — while lobbying to preserve antiquated tax breaks for oil and gas industry.
  • Online retailer eBay paid its CEO John Donahoe $21.4 million last year while collecting a federal tax refund of $131 million. eBay' 31 subsidiaries in Switzerland, Singapore, and seven other tax havens facilitate its efforts to move money around the planet as a tax-dodging strategy.
  • Insurance brokerage Marsh & McLennan paid its CEO Brian Duperrault $14 million yet collected a $90 million tax refund from Uncle Sam. The company has 105 subsidiaries in 20 off shore tax havens, including 25 in Bermuda — a favorite locale for insurance companies seeking to avoid both taxes and regulation.
These super-moocher companies happily benefit from the privileges and advantages of doing business in the United States. If a competitor tries to steal their product or idea, these corporations rush to the U.S court system and law enforcement agencies for remedies and justice. The U.S. military guards their global assets.
They use the fertile ground of publicly funded research and infrastructure to bolster their own profits. They create new products from a foundation of Uncle Sam's investments in medical and scientific research and government funded technologies like the Internet. Our taxpayer-funded roads, ports, and bridges bolster their business environment. Our public schools and universities educate the workers these companies rely on. In fact 16 of these 25 CEOs attended public universities. They personally were educated with help from U.S. tax dollars.
These CEOs profess to love America. But when it comes time to pay the bills, they'd rather outsource that job over to you or the small business down the road.
Congress should pass the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act which would limit some of these tax shenanigans. In the face of growing fiscal austerity, these companies should contribute to the solution and pay their fair share of U.S. taxes. 

Dick Cheney, the Ultimate American Terrorist

Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.
It is axiomatic by now: when someone leaves government service, especially from a high-profile position, they write a book. They all do it, sometimes more than once. Richard Nixon is the main example of one who produced a multi-volume apologia; by the time he went into the ground, he'd penned enough books to fill a wide shelf. Henry Kissinger was similarly prolific, which leads one to wonder about the relationship between criminal activities and the printed page. Nixon was chased from office after a series of crimes that, at the time, had no precedent, and Kissinger is still so infamous that he cannot travel abroad for fear of arrest. Both wrote enough books to take up half the political science section of any local bookstore, perhaps in the vain attempt to explain away the lasting damage their actions did to the republic.
Speaking of damaging the republic, Dick Cheney has a book out. I'm sure you've heard about it by now; he laid the groundwork for its release by claiming the contents would cause heads to explode in Washington, causing a lot of people who should know better by now to say, "Ooooh, this should be good." It isn't, at all, but I must confess that my head did come very close to launching itself off my shoulders...not because of what's in the book, but because I have to deal with the rancid reality of a free and un-convicted Dick Cheney appearing in the public eye once again.
If there were any justice to be found in this deranged country, Dick Cheney would have penned his pestiferous, self-serving little memoir by the light of a bare bulb inside the cell of a federal prison. If there were any justice to be found, Mr. Cheney would be forced to contend with the "Son of Sam Law," which, according to World Law Direct, "refers to a type of law designed to keep criminals from profiting from their crimes, often by selling their stories to publishers. Such laws often authorize the state to seize money earned from such a deal and use it to compensate the criminal's victims."
The Son of Sam, a.k.a. David Berkowitz, killed six people and wounded several others during his notorious summer-long shooting spree in New York. Berkowitz is an absolute piker compared to Dick Cheney, whose actions directly caused deaths and injuries that number in the hundreds of thousands. The deaths he is responsible for are ongoing to this day, in fact. If there were any justice to be found, whatever profits he earns from his book would be spread out between the families of dead and wounded soldiers whom he lied into war in Iraq, between the families of dead and wounded Iraqi civilians, and between Americans like Valerie Plame, who along with numerous other intelligence figures, had their lives bulldozed by Cheney's eight-year rampage through our system of government.
It would hardly amount to a pittance paid to each injured party - there are so many to account for! - but it would be a kind of justice all the same, for nary a dime of profit would line Dick Cheney's already-stuffed pockets.
Alas, the generations to come will be forced to reckon with one of the great and lasting failures of the Obama administration: the simple, unbelievable fact of Dick Cheney's continued freedom. He and his ilk committed enough brazen crimes to keep a brace of federal prosecutors busy for the next twenty-five years, and yet Mr. Cheney remains unmolested by the system of law he so vigorously disdained. According to Wikileaks, not only has the Obama administration failed to seek a reckoning with Cheney, they worked vigorously behind the scenes to ensure that no such reckoning will ever come to pass.
And so we have Dick, and his book, and yet another hard lesson on the absence of justice. He'll make a few bucks off the thing, which he can bank next to the obscene millions he gained through his nefarious Halliburton war profiteering. He was still getting paid by Halliburton while in office. Remember that? They called it a "deferred retirement benefit," an annual check with six zeroes to the left of the decimal, and all the while Cheney was steering your tax dollars into Halliburton's coffers with a blizzard of bald-faced lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
There is so much to remember about Dick Cheney's time in office. There was the Office of Special Plans, which he created to formulate the most effective lies possible about Iraq, WMD, and connections to September 11. There was the torture in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, which he referred to as "the dark side" and which he championed with great vigor. There was his dismissal of lawfully-issued congressional subpoenas, and his dedication to the idea of a "Unitary Executive" which is beholden to nothing and no one. There was his broad plan to spy on millions of Americans without a warrant, which he wanted to continue even after the whole thing was declared to be illegal. There was (and remains) the program of indefinite detention without due process of law, which was his baby, and there was the coddling of known criminal and double-agent Ahmed Chalabi, who was his pal.
There was all this, and so much more besides, but one incident stands out in my mind above all else. It was only an accent in the symphony of wrongdoing Cheney directed from his office, and was barely noticed at the time, but I will never forget it.
It was a simple thing, really: the National Archives, by dint of two different federal laws, annually collects the official papers of the Executive Branch for the edification of future historians, researchers and government officials. It is a by-rote requirement, one small cog in the wheelworks of government, but not this time.
Dick Cheney said no. No, you cannot have any papers from the office of the Vice President, and for one reason: the office of the Vice President, because I say so, is not part of the Executive Branch.
It deserves to be written twice: Dick Cheney actually claimed, with his bare face hanging out to all the world, that the office of the Vice President is not part of the Executive Branch. The unmitigated gall required to utter such a claim, especially after so much talk about the "Unitary Executive," is unparalleled in modern American history.
There, right there, is everything you need to know about the man. Dick Cheney is the ultimate American terrorist, one who not only lacks respect for American law and government, but who spent his eight years in office actively working to destroy and dismember the functions of that government. He tore the place up, deliberately and with intent, because he hated the law and the government it supported, and we will be a long time recovering from his deeds. He is directly and personally responsible for thousands of deaths and injuries. If this is not terrorism in the raw, then the word has no meaning.
Dick Cheney has blood on his hands, but will remain free for the foreseeable future because the administration that replaced his lacks the honor, integrity and intestinal fortitude to address what he has done. Until such a reckoning is at hand, all I can do is remind Mr. Cheney, and anyone who will listen, of another fact of law that, God willing, will be brought to bear against him someday.
There is no statute of limitations on murder, and murder is exactly what he did.

Files: Americans [Bechtel etc.] aid Gaddafi in rebel fight

Mosaic News - 08/30/11: Muslims Celebrate Eid ul-Fitr in a New Era

China, Russia rush to rebuild North Korea's transport links

RAJIN North Korea Aug 31 (Reuters) - Destitute North Korea's push to breathe new life into economic relationships with its neighbours China and Russia appears to be bearing fruit in its far north of the country where foreigners are busy helping rebuild a crumbling infrastructure.
A top local official told reporters on Tuesday that China and Russia had invested heavily in the region in order to gain access to its three east coast ports in the towns of Rajin and Songbon, which are the main centres for the secretive North's Rason Special Economic Zone.
"Rason is situated well geographically, and provides favourable conditions for investment," the city's vice mayor Hwang Chol-nam said through an interpreter.
The ports would more than halve the distance Chinese firms needed to ferry goods from landlocked Yanji in Jilin province to the major industrial centre of Dalian which is also a shipping hub for northeast China.
Impoverished and squeezed by international sanctions for conducting a series of nuclear and missile tests from 2006, North Korea has reached out to Moscow and Beijing for help to fill the gap left by the drying up of South Korean and the U.S. economic assistance.
Over the past 15 months leader Kim Jong-il, who in the past rarely travelled abroad, has visited China four times and last week made his first trip to Russia in nearly a decade. Kim's visits were mainly aimed at winning economic support, and have raised speculation he may finally be opening one of the world's most closed economies.
The North announced in June it would work with Beijing to make the Rason zone work, along a similar zone in the west at Hwanggumpyong island near the Chinese city of Dandong.
North Korean authorities this week escorted a group foreign journalists to the lush Rason area where they are hoping to secure foreign investment and raise much needed hard currency.
Over 100 Chinese bulldozers and diggers were seen working on a new mountain road connecting the Chinese border post of Jing Xin and the North Korean ports, while a new railway line linking the area with Russia is all but complete.
Hwang said that the North had also agreed in principle with a Chinese company to build a coal-fired power plant in the so-called Rason Special Economic Zone, where like the rest of North Korea, there is little power.
"We have finished all the feasibility studies," he told reporters visiting the area, adding he hoped construction on the new thermal plant would start next year. Asked the name of the Chinese company, he said: "It's a secret".
Hwang said the power plant would be coal-fired with a maximum capacity of 600,000 kilowatts.
"Power is the lifeline of industry, that is the first urgent problem for developing the Rason Economic Development Zone," he said, adding the zone had introduced new laws permitting international banking transactions, as well as tax incentives.
The North faces acute energy shortages, and in Songbin a massive thermal coal-fired plant lies idle, while oil refinery, complete with 30 massive tanks, sits derelict.
At night, Rajin is pitch black except for the few buildings with their own generators.
Russian engineers were seen working on the new rail line just outside of Songbon, about 20 km north of Rajin. "The Russians have constructed the railroad from the border city of Khasan to Rajin port, and they are finishing the project this year," he said, adding Russia has leased one of the ports.
The special economic zone near the border with Russia and China, was initially instigated in the early 1990s, but the project fell by the wayside due to lack of interest from foreign investors.
Hwang said the country's leader Kim Jong-il visited the area in 2009, and issued a directive to push ahead with the plan to promote international trade in cargo, and to develop the local fishing and tourism industries.
But even with the improved infrastructure, the twin ports still have a long way to go. A port meant for timber appeared to be in ruins, while the ports in the Songbon were rundown. Rusted and hole-ridden giant water pipes ran along another port near the derelict thermal power plant.
In the biggest port, Rajin, a 250-metre Russian transport vessel, named "Friendship", was moored with a trickle of smoke coming from its engines. It was unclear if it was operational.
None of the 15 giant cranes cargo were operating on the any of the three piers. A few fishing trawlers and small boats were tied to the piers, the longest of which measured about 500 metres.
Foreign experts say the North's plans to develop the port may just work given China's close involvement but doubt it will ever turn into major cargo hub.
Hwang said there had been considerable interest, mostly from Chinese and Russian companies, but also from Thai and Swiss investors. He said China's biggest cement manufacturer, Jilin Yatai (Group) Co. had agreed to build a factory with a 1 million tonne per year capacity. Textile companies from China and Taiwan have also expressed their interest.
Hwang also had his eyes on even bigger things -- shipbuilding, auto manufacture and the hi-tech industry.
"I think one year after the completion of infrastructure we will be at a high stage." (Editing by David Chance and Jonathan Thatcher

Bahrain: Shouting in the dark


Here it seems useful to refer to Chinese political thought for triangulation. In Chinese political thought, the rule is classified into Dézhì, or rule by virtue ofRújiā, Confucian school, and Fǎzhì, or rule by law, of Fǎjiā, legalist School.
The ideal of the main trend of Chinese political thought has been Dézhì, the rule by virtue, despite Fǎzhì, the rule by law, has always been the real politics historitcally.
The world view of this Chinese political thought is called Huayizhìxù, China-barbarian order. In this world view, the moral teaching of Confucianism is pivotal and it is regarded as the very Civilization itself and any country which accepts this teaching become a part of Zhōnghuá, Sinocentric world, thus, Wángtǔ, literally Land of King, or Shénzhōu, Divine State, which is the land of the Civilization and the areas outside this Sinocentricworld are called Huawaizhidi, uncivilized land. Although Huángdì the emperor is regarded as Tiānzǐ, Son of Heaven, he is not above this teaching, but he is required to rule embodying the virtues of this teaching.
For both Islamic and Chinese political thought, the central idea is the divine order which is the aim to be realized by the politics, not the person of Ruler. In Islam, this order is conceptionalized as the Law, the Revealed Divine law, Shari‘ah, while in China it is called, Wángdào, literally the Way of King, virtuous rule according to Confucian teaching.
Thus, the comparative analyses between Western political thoughts, Islamic one, and Chinese one brings to light the fact that the basic frame work of Western political thought is rule of the man, while Islamic one, Khilafah, is rule of law and Chinese one is rule of virtue.
In the process of theorization of Khilafah of Sunni school, counter-argument against Shiite Imamology has crystallized the concept of “rule of the law”, the sovereignty of Shari`ah, in contrast to concept of “rule of the man” of ShiiteImamology in which the person of the divinely nominated infallible Imam is the sole source of legitimacy of the rule and only it is what guarantees the good governance, which we can find clearly even in contemporary Shiite political thought of post-Imam Era (Ghaibah) symbolically called theory of “Wilayah al-Faqih (Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist )”
On the other hand, Katou Takashi, a Japanese scholar of New Testament and comparative civilization, proved theologically that Western political thought is classified definitely by “the rule of people”. Kato argues, “the rule of man by man” has become the most essential characteristic of Christianity since the infant community of Jerusalem transformed from a sect to the Jerusalem Charch” and “the feature of this principle is that the human beings are divided into two types and the upper class is to control or  manage the lower class. After proclaiming that rule of man is the essential feature of the Christian societies, on this vies of Christian society, Kato analyses that the dual structure of “rule of man” with sub-division of the secular domain of “the ruling clergy - ruled laity” into “ruling aristocrat - ruled common people and slaves” is the social structures of the Western Christian civilization, and its spread to a global scale is the modern world.  [1]
On the other hand, Western political thought can scarcely imagine form of the rule other than “rule of the man”, i.e., rule of the single person, monarchy or dictatorship, rule of the minority, aristocracy or oligarchy, and rule of the majority or democracy. The idea of rule of the law only appeared quite recently in 17 century in England, as we have told, and even this new borne concept of law has soon degenerated into “rule by the law” in Chinese sense, or Rechtshtaat, or “rule of the commandments of the rulers” in our terminology. We can only find trace of concept of rule of the law in Western political thought in the concept of “human rights” as supplement to “the rule of man” of the democracy to complement its defects and to neutralize its evils.
Historically speaking, Khalifah had lost his real power early Abbasid (750-1258) and his authority had become nominal and the political power had shifted to his subordinates, SultansAmirs, and Wazirs, a parallel phenomenon of which we find rather in history of Tennnousei, institution of Japanese Emperor, rather than institution of Chinese Emperor itself.
Both of them claim that their political order is universal, thus their rule is the sole legitimate rule. This universalism is expressed by the dichotomy of Dar al-Islam –Dar al-Harb, House of Peace – House of War, Law-governed Space – Lawless Land, in Islam, and, , Zhōnghuá, or WángtǔShénzhōu -Huàwàizhī, Sinocentric world, or Land of King, Divine State, Land of the Civilization -Uncivilized Land, in Chinese political thought.
In spite of their universalism, both of them are not totalitarian, contrary to the notion of the modern Western territorial state, but rather are multi-ethnic and multi-religious.
As for the multi-ethnicity, beside the fact that various ethnic groups had coexisted in Islamic Caliphate and Chinese Empire, the political power has been shifted from Arab to Persian, then to Turk in case of Islam, and Chinese history has Mongol dynasty of Yuán(1279-1368) and Manchurian Dynasty of Qīng (1644-1911).
Regarding multi-religiousness, though indeed Islam in Khilafah and Confucianism in China were the base of their respective rule, both of them are not “theocracy” in the Western sense, i.e, the rule by the priests, and the “freedom” of religion, in the narrow sense of the West, had been enjoyed by people respectively in their “communal-private” sphere, for there were no “individual” in traditional Islamic and Chinese society, and besides `Ulama’ or Fuqaha’ in Islam and zhě in China,  who constituted the religious establishment of the Empire, were rather scholars than priests.
In Islam, Christian, Jew, and Zoroastrian were accepted as Dhimmi, protectee, then the category of Dhimmi is expanded to followers of all religions, while in China, Prof. Tu Weiming said ;“Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism and Islam were lumped together as ‘the four teachings’ of China”. (Osman Bakar, “Confucius and the Analects in the light of Islam”, Osman Bakar(ed.), Islam and Confucianism, p.68.)
Islamic Dar al-Islam and Chinese Zhōnghuá, Sinocentric world or Wángtǔ is a space in which Divine Order is established, and as such its boundary must be rather vague, not clear cut, contrary to the notion of the territorial nation state. The boundary of Dar al-Islam and ZhōnghuáWángtǔ is continuously changing according to the religio-cultural condition of the inhabitants and the power relations with the outer world.
Although the similarities are remarkable, there are some important differences between Islamic political thought and Chinese one.
Because Confucian teaching is focusing on moral codes and rules of courtesy while Islamic Shari‘ah includes public law and private law as well as moral codes and rules of courtesy, therefore definition of “self and others” and rules relating “self and others” both inside of Dar al-Islam and outside of it, in Islam is, positively speaking, more articulated, stable and predictable than ones in Confucianism, or, negatively speaking, more inflexible, rigid, fossilizing, difficult to adapt itself to changing situations.
The boundary of Huáyí is quite ambiguous both at the level of countries and at the level of individuals. We can find only difference of graduation in mastery of virtues of Confucian teaching, while in Islam distinction between ‘self and others’ is rather dichotomic. Consequently, Chinese political thought rejects categorically to spread territory of Zhōnghuá, Sinocentric world or Wángtǔ , by force as the condemnableBàdào, way of hegemon, and considers its spread through its voluntary acceptance by others yearning for it, Wánghuà, Islam rather regards it obligatory to spread its order or the rule of Law, Shari‘ah, not Islamic faith, all over the world by military force, even though this missionary campaign should be performed according to Islamic law of warfare.
[1] Katou Takashi, Ishshinkyounotanjou(The Birth of the Monotheism), Tokyo, 2002, 260-286.
Dr. Hassan Ko Nakata is former Professor of Theology at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan. He is the author of several books and articles in English, Arabic and Japanese. READ MORE