Saturday, 22 August 2015

North Korea vows 'strong military counteraction' against South

via Press TV: A senior North Korean official has vowed to launch a "very strong military counteraction" if the South Korean government fails to halt broadcasts of anti-Pyongyang propaganda.

"If South Korea does not respond to our ultimatum, our military counteraction will be inevitable, and that counteraction will be very strong," Pyongyang's Deputy UN Ambassador An Myong Hun told reporters on Friday in New York.

According to reports, loudspeakers (pictured) have been broadcasting propaganda messages against Pyongyang across the border since August 10. South Korea had suspended broadcasting anti-Pyongyang messages through loudspeakers since 2004.

Seoul re-launched the mudslinging campaign following a landmine explosion that severely injured two South Korean soldiers who were patrolling the inter-Korean demilitarized zone. North Korea has denied the accusation that it had planted the mines.

The tensions on the troubled peninsula are running high since Thursday when South Korea fired dozens of shells across the border into North Korea in retaliation for an apparent Pyongyang rocket attack.

“The resumption of the broadcasting is a direct action of declaring a war against the DPRK (North Korea),” the Front Command of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) said on August 15 in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The agency said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had ordered the frontline to “enter a wartime state” as of Friday 5:00 pm (0800 GMT). The troops should be “fully battle-ready to launch surprise operations” while the entire frontline should be placed in a “semi-war state."

Friday, 14 August 2015

China Just Started A Currency War: Here’s what it means for you

by James Corbett
August 11, 2015

Last month I wrote about the worrying capital outflows we’ve seen from China recently (with the country bleeding $224 billion in the last quarter alone). At the time I wrote:
When China starts hitting the panic button and officially joins the ZIRP and QE club, the “currency wars” of the last several years will seem like a quaint relic of a bygone age, and the real currency wars will begin in earnest. Devaluations, more and more frantic money printing, and central banks acting increasingly aggressively will be the order of the day. And when and if that happens, the gears of world trade will start to grind to a halt and the “currency war” will turn into a real war, exactly as the trade wars of the 30s led to WWII.
Well, guess what just happened? The People’s Bank of China just changed the way their currency is valued, causing the yuan to fall a record 1.9% in one day.

That’s all well and good, but what does that mean for the average person? Well you know it’s not a good thing when even the “everything’s fine!” mainstream financial media (read: FT, CNBC, Bloomberg, MarketWatch, etc.) start openly discussing the “currency war” idea.

So what exactly is a “currency war”? It’s when central banks begin devaluing their currencies in order to make their exports cheaper (and thus more attractive) on the global market. The policy is dangerous because it causes other countries to devalue their own currency in order to keep it in line with their trading partners and soon you have a cycle of devaluations better known as the “race to the bottom.” Or, as Stephen Roach, former chief economist at Morgan Stanley helpfully explains:
“In a weak global economy, it will take a lot more than a 1.9 percent devaluation to jump-start sagging Chinese exports. That raises the distinct possibility of a new and increasingly destabilizing skirmish in the ever-widening global currency war. The race to the bottom just became a good deal more treacherous.”

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Financial Survival: China’s New Global Trade System

from The Corbett Report: On this week's episode of Financial Survival James Corbett and Alfred Adask discuss China’s proposed ‘new global trade system’ to eclipse the current American system. What will this global trade system look like and what currency will it run on? Do differences in reserve currency lead to differences in global relations? Will the world be better off under a more China-centric system? Find out in this week’s episode of Financial Survival.


Julia Child and The OSS Recipe For Shark Repellent

China To Contribute To New Global Trade System

Lessons From The 1930s Currency Wars

IMF Work Progresses on 2015 SDR Basket Review

Meet The SDR: The Global Reserve Currency?

Zhou Xiaochuan: Reform The International Monetary System

China Still Fudging Gold Numbers (And Everything Else)

China’s H1 Industrial Profits Up 11.4%

China June Industrial Profits Fall 0.3 Percent Year-On-Year

Record Fall In China Industry Profits

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Worst Terror Attacks in History

By Norm Dixon | Global Research: August 6 and August 9 will mark the anniversaries of the US atomic-bomb attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In Hiroshima, an estimated 80,000 people were killed in a split second. Some 13 square kilometres of the city was obliterated. By December, at least another 70,000 people had died from radiation and injuries.

Three days after Hiroshima’s destruction, the US drooped an A-bomb on Nagasaki, resulting in the deaths of at least 70,000 people before the year was out.

Since 1945, tens of thousands more residents of the two cities have continued to suffer and die from radiation-induced cancers, birth defects and still births.

A tiny group of US rulers met secretly in Washington and callously ordered this indiscriminate annihilation of civilian populations. They gave no explicit warnings. They rejected all alternatives, preferring to inflict the most extreme human carnage possible. They ordered and had carried out the two worst terror acts in human history.

The 60th anniversaries will inevitably be marked by countless mass media commentaries and speeches repeating the 60-year-old mantra that there was no other choice but to use A-bombs in order to avoid a bitter, prolonged invasion of Japan.

On July 21, the British New Scientist magazine undermined this chorus when it reported that two historians had uncovered evidence revealing that “the US decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki … was meant to kick-start the Cold War [against the Soviet Union, Washington's war-time ally] rather than end the Second World War”. Peter Kuznick, director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at the American University in Washington stated that US President Harry Truman’s decision to blast the cities “was not just a war crime, it was a crime against humanity”.

With Mark Selden, a historian from Cornell University in New York, Kuznick studied the diplomatic archives of the US, Japan and the USSR. They found that three days before Hiroshima, Truman agreed at a meeting that Japan was “looking for peace”. His senior generals and political advisers told him there was no need to use the A-bomb. But the bombs were dropped anyway. “Impressing Russia was more important than ending the war”, Selden told the New Scientist.

While the capitalist media immediately dubbed the historians’ “theory” “controversial”, it accords with the testimony of many central US political and military players at the time, including General Dwight Eisenhower, who stated bluntly in a 1963 Newsweek interview that “the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing”.

Truman’s chief of staff, Admiral William Leahy, stated in his memoirs that “the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.”

Sunday, 2 August 2015

China-Japan Tensions To Increase As Japanese PM Abe Revamps Security Policies

By D. S. Rajan | Eurasia Review: At a time when China-Japan relations already remain severely hampered due to contentious issues like history (Japan’s role in the World War II) and territory (East China Sea), a series of sweeping changes in the security realm being pursued vigorously by the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe since he assumed power in December 2012, are likely to further exacerbate tensions between the two Asian powers in the coming years.

It is clear that changes being contemplated by Abe regime are largely in response to its evolved perceptions on the current level of threats to Japan’s security. Reflecting them are the contents of Japan’s latest annual Defence White Paper (July 21, 2015), which are sure to play a role in shaping the future contours of Abe’s security and foreign policies. The document’s ranking of China as the main source of security concerns, makes certain that Abe’s approach in the coming years will become more and more China-centric. The nationalistic leader will give more teeth to and expand the role of his country’s military backed by an amended constitution. Over all, it can be said that the ongoing Abe-led security policy transformation in Japan on the basis of his “proactive pacifism” concept, will have far-reaching implications for the power balance and security in Asia. Geo-political shifts in the Asia-Pacific region look a certainty and there is an urgent need for other major regional powers like India to carefully watch and respond to the emerging trends.

Australian Schools Monitoring Students' Computers For Signs Of Extremism

from Australian schools are using computer software to monitor students for signs of radicalization, according to media reports.

Fairfax media reported on Friday that more than 10 schools had installed surveillance software onto its pupil's school-supplied computers to detect for political extremism.

The software alerts the principal and wellbeing officers when students search for specific terms over the internet.

Students' emails are also filtered, with a messages deemed to be from extremist group intercepted before the student is exposed to the content.

Jeremy Ludowyke, principal of Melbourne High School, one of the schools that has implemented the spyware, said parents and students had been consulted before it was introduced.

Malaysian Police Arrest 3 In 1MDB Probe

from Channel News Asia: Malaysian police on Saturday (Aug 1) arrested a deputy public prosecutor (DPP) with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), an ex-MACC adviser and an official from the Attorney General's Chambers (AGC) as part of a probe into "defamatory reports" by Sarawak Report's Clare Rewcastle Brown.

Police say the three are also being probed in connection with the leaking of official government information that was "misused".

Ahmad Sazilee Khairi, the DPP who was arrested, had been acting for a special task force probing allegations that around US$700 million had been channelled into the personal bank accounts of Prime Minister Najib Razak through entities linked to debt-ridden state investment firm, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

In a statement, Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said ex-MACC adviser Rashpal Singh, Jessica Gurmeet Kaur from the AGC and MACC DPP Sazilee Abdul Khairi had been arrested following several reports against the editor of London-based website Sarawak Report, Clare Rewcastle Brown.

Mr Khalid said officials from the central bank, Bank Negara, and other commercial banks will also be called in to aid with investigations. Sarawak Report had been among the first to publish those allegations, along with many other articles critical of the Malaysian government.

Mr Khalid said investigations will be carried out fairly and transparently, in accordance to the laws.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Australian Senators Give Medical Marijuana The Green Light

from Sydney Morning Herald: Senators from across the political divide will endorse a bill to legalise medical marijuana despite warnings it could create a regulatory nightmare.

Fairfax Media can reveal that a committee made up of Coalition, Labor and crossbench senators will strongly recommend that Parliament pass a cross-party bill to set up a medical marijuana regulator.

Spearheaded by Greens Leader Richard Di Natale​, the Regulator of Medicinal Cannabis Bill would effectively make the federal government responsible for overseeing the production, distribution and use of the drug.

The bill was introduced into Parliament last November and sent to a committee in February. After conducting public hearings around the country and attracting almost 200 public submissions, the committee is due to deliver its report on August 10.

Sources say the committee will back the bill despite "strong concerns" from the Health Department.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

China Has Drilling Rigs Near Disputed Islands: Japan

from Press TV: Tokyo says China has stationed 16 drilling rigs near its de facto maritime border with Japan in the South China Sea amid the escalation of a territorial dispute between the two East Asian countries.

On Wednesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga published diagrams demonstrating the location of the Chinese offishore platforms, saying they could exploit undersea reserves in the disputed waters.

“It is extremely deplorable that China is unilaterally developing resources while the border has not been settled,” Suga told reporters, adding that 12 out of the 16 structures have been installed over the past two years.

The Japanese official also noted that the platforms violate a June 2008 accord on joint development of natural gas fields in the contested territories.

Tokyo has lodged protests against Beijing’s moves in the disputed waters, but China has been reluctant “on resuming talks over implementing the June 2008 agreement, even though its activities appear to be continuing,” he added.

The development came one day after Japan censured China over what it called “coercive” attempts to reclaim land in the South China Sea.

In a defense report published on Tuesday, the Japanese government accused China of acting “unilaterally and without compromise” in the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Philippines Repairs Crumbling South China Sea Outpost

from The Philippines said Wednesday it was repairing a crumbling ship serving as its lonely outpost in the disputed South China Sea as China deploys more vessels and builds new islands nearby.

This would ensure the rust-eaten World War II-vintage BRP Sierra Madre remains livable for a tiny unit of marines guarding Second Thomas Shoal, said Philippine Navy spokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo.

"Maintenance repair is being done to ensure the vessel's minimum habitability. We are morally and duty-bound to provide for our troops there," he told AFP.

The Philippine military deliberately grounded the 100-meter (328-foot) vessel atop the reefs in 1999 in a last-ditch effort to check the advance of China, which four years earlier occupied Philippine-claimed Mischief Reef some 40 kilometers (25 miles) away.

The disputed outcrops are located around 200 kilometers from the western Philippine island of Palawan and roughly 1,100 kilometers from the nearest major Chinese land mass.

The Philippines regularly rotates a group of around nine marines aboard the tank landing ship, which first saw service for the United States Navy in World War II. It was acquired by the Philippine Navy in the 1970s.