Friday, 31 October 2014

U.S. Government Sanitizes Vietnam War History

by Marjorie Cohn | For many years after the Vietnam War, we enjoyed the “Vietnam syndrome,” in which US presidents hesitated to launch substantial military attacks on other countries. They feared intense opposition akin to the powerful movement that helped bring an end to the war in Vietnam. But in 1991, at the end of the Gulf War, George H.W. Bush declared, “By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!”

With George W. Bush’s wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and Barack Obama’s drone wars in seven Muslim-majority countries and his escalating wars in Iraq and Syria, we have apparently moved beyond the Vietnam syndrome. By planting disinformation in the public realm, the government has built support for its recent wars, as it did with Vietnam.

Now the Pentagon is planning to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War by launching a $30 million program to rewrite and sanitize its history. Replete with a fancy interactive website, the effort is aimed at teaching schoolchildren a revisionist history of the war. The program is focused on honoring our service members who fought in Vietnam. But conspicuously absent from the website is a description of the antiwar movement, at the heart of which was the GI movement.

Thousands of GIs participated in the antiwar movement. Many felt betrayed by their government. 
They established coffee houses and underground newspapers where they shared information about resistance. During the course of the war, more than 500,000 soldiers deserted. The strength of the rebellion of ground troops caused the military to shift to an air war. Ultimately, the war claimed the lives of 58,000 Americans. Untold numbers were wounded and returned with post-traumatic stress disorder. In an astounding statistic, more Vietnam veterans have committed suicide than were killed in the war.

Millions of Americans, many of us students on college campuses, marched, demonstrated, spoke out, sang and protested against the war. Thousands were arrested and some, at Kent State and Jackson State, were killed. The military draft and images of dead Vietnamese galvanized the movement. On November 15, 1969, in what was the largest protest demonstration in Washington, DC, at that time, 250,000 people marched on the nation’s capital, demanding an end to the war. Yet the Pentagon’s website merely refers to it as a “massive protest.”

But Americans weren’t the only ones dying. Between 2 and 3 million Indochinese – in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia – were killed. War crimes – such as the My Lai massacre – were common. In 1968, US soldiers slaughtered 500 unarmed old men, women and children in the Vietnamese village of My Lai. Yet the Pentagon website refers only to the “My Lai Incident,” despite the fact that it is customarily referred to as a massacre.

Japan Inflation Slips, Unemployment Up In September

Photo: AP
from Japan’s economic recovery remained in the doldrums in September, as inflation edged lower and unemployment ticked up.

The data were released Friday, as the Bank of Japan held a monetary policy meeting. The central bank faces pressure to increase stimulus to support growth as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe weighs approval of a sales tax hike next year.

Core inflation, excluding volatile food prices, was at 3.0 percent, down from 3.1 percent in August. Unemployment rose to 3.6 percent from 3.5 percent.

Abe and the central bank have sought to spur inflation as a way of encouraging consumers and businesses to spend more and thus support faster growth.

But a sales tax hike in April, from 5 percent to 8 percent, slowed the recovery that began in late 2012.

Taiwan Food Tycoon Faces Nearly 140 Fraud Charges

from Press TV: A Taiwanese tycoon has been charged with nearly 140 counts of fraud over his alleged role in the country’s latest food safety scare, prosecutors say.

Wei Ying-chung, one of the country’s richest men, has been indicted on 60 counts of fraud and 79 instances of aggravated fraud as well as violating food safety laws for selling tainted cooking oil, prosecutors in the central city of Changhua said.

The court has been asked to seize around Tw$440 million (USD 14.67 million) of illegal profits from selling the adulterated oil.
“Wei ignores the law and disregards the danger to public health and his corporate responsibility to manufacture and retail cooking oil made from feed oil to seek personal gains,” prosecutors said in a statement.
Wei was taken into custody on October 17 and faces a 30-year jail term if convicted of the crimes.

The embattled food baron is ex-chairman of the Taiwan unit Wei Chuan Foods Corporation and Ting Hsin Oil and Fat Industrial Co., both part of food giant Ting Hsin International Group.

Ting Hsin Group was involved in three food safety scandals in Taiwan in less than one year, leading to an island-wide boycott of its products.

In the most recent case, Ting Hsin Oil was accused of selling oil intended for animal food, which is banned for human consumption, as regular lard and cooking oil.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Australian Data Retention Legislation Destroys Any Semblance Of A Free Society

from On Thursday (30th October), the Government introduced data retention legislation into the House of Representatives as the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014. The AFP has confirmed, even before the legislation has been voted upon in Parliament, that data retention will be used for copyright enforcement. The legislation also confirms that the exact location of mobile phone users will be stored as part of these provisions.

“There are far too many flaws in this legislation to enumerate,” said Brendan Molloy, President of the Pirate Party.

There has been no discussion as to why the current retention order provisions are insufficient. This legislation is disproportionate and unnecessary. ‘Metadata’ is ill-defined in such a way as to contain so much information that it is effectively the content of the communication, insofar that it contains the context and location of all communications. This is a massive issue for journalists, whistleblowers, activists, and a whole host of other persons whose activities are in many cases legal but perhaps not in the interests of the state to let happen without some level of harassment.

There are significant issues relating to cost and security of the data. Steve Dalby of iiNet said yesterday that iiNet would consider storing the data where it is the cheapest, which includes Chinese cloud providers. There will be a significant ‘surveillance tax’ introduced by retailers to cover the costs of storing this data that nobody wants stored.

Now we have it admitted by the AFP today that this legislation will be used for something completely unrelated to national security: copyright enforcement. The legislation hasn’t passed and yet already the scope is creeping! They are taking away our right to free expression and privacy to protect the profits of a few large corporations.

There is significant evidence to suggest that this legislation, which ensures that all persons in Australia will be under permanent and constant surveillance regarding all of the activities they conduct in the modern world, exists for nothing more than to track and control the entire population through the chilling effect of the knowledge that the Government will be storing your precise location data for two years, and more.


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

North Korea Rejects High-Level Talks With South Korea

from North Korea rejected South Korea’s proposal for high-level talks this week, Yonhap news agency quoted the South Korean Unification Ministry as saying Wednesday. “We express disappointment that it become difficult to open high-level talks on Oct. 30, as we proposed, due to North Korea's attitude,” the ministry's spokesman, Lim Byeong-cheol, said at a press briefing. North Korea responded via fax, expressing its opposition to the spread of leaflets across the border, adding that the South was not interested in talks, and demanding an end to the dissemination of leaflets. Several activist groups in South Korea have been spreading the leaflets, criticizing the North Korean regime. South Korea has repeatedly stated that it will not try to control activists’ freedom of speech, calling the North’s demands “unjust.”

A Look At the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement | Australian Roundtable #03 (Excerpt)

from In the following audio snippet from Episode #03 of the Australian Roundtable, Ethan, Johnno and Lindsey give an in-depth analysis of the TPP, extensive threats posed both domestically and internationally from the negotiations, and the suppression of coverage from political and media establishments in Australia.

Young Protesters Rap State Secrets Law As Movement Gains Rhythm

from “Don’t give up the fight! Stand up for your right!”

“This is what democracy looks like!”

“Now it’s our turn to decide what to do!”

Anyone who happened to visit Tokyo’s Shibuya district this past Saturday may have been dumbstruck at the sight of a very un-Japanese ruckus: a horde of agitated pro-democracy students marching down the avenues to condemn the state secrecy law championed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The rally, organized by the youth group Students Against Secret Protection Law (SASPL), drew an impressive turnout of more than 2,000 students and older supporters opposed to the law, which they say will have a chilling effect on democracy and infringe on their essential right to information.

“In Japan, people will treat you like you’re crazy if you made some political statement. That’s very weird and so not right,” Aki Okuda, a 22-year-old political science major and core member of SASPL, told the feverish rally.

“But look at us today. There are actually so many of us who do want to state our opinions and join the protest!”

Okuda said now that the law’s enforcement is imminent, he hopes such protests will serve as a deterrent against its actual implementation.

“History shows there are certain laws that have never been applied because of strong public opposition. I hope protests like this will discourage the government from committing abuses.”

Saturday’s rally was one of numerous attempts by worried citizens to denounce the secrets protection law, which the Abe administration steamrollered into enactment last December despite overwhelming public opposition. In a Kyodo News poll at the time, more than 80 percent of the respondents wanted the law either amended or abolished altogether before it takes effect.

With its Dec. 10 enforcement drawing near, however, critics and activists lament that the law’s threats to their privacy and right to access critical information remain the same as when the legislation cleared the Diet.

Reports: China To Construct Antarctic Airfield

from Press TV: China is reportedly planning to construct an airfield on the politically neutral continent of Antarctica.

The Chinese government plans to build the airfield near its Antarctic Zhongshan Station on Larsemann Hills in Prydz Bay in East Antarctica, the Beijing Evening News reported on Monday.

The proposed airfield will assist China’s four research stations on the frozen continent, the newspaper said.

“[Researchers] must rely on maritime transport…[which is] seriously affecting the ability of scientific exploration,” the report said.

China’s Xue Long (Snow Dragon) icebreaker is scheduled to depart Shanghai on Thursday for an expedition to Antarctica, the report added.

The paper, however, failed to provide additional details such as runway length or capacity.

Ordinary Citizens At Risk Of Mass Arrests During G20, Says Civil Liberties Group

from Ordinary citizens and peaceful protesters who do not understand the depth of special police powers during the G20 summit in Brisbane risk being caught up in mass arrests, the Queensland council for civil liberties (QCCL) has warned.

Police will have unusual powers, including the right to demand identification and search people without cause for suspicion, under special legislation covering most of inner city Brisbane during the event in mid-November.

QCCL president Michael Cope said the council was concerned that while media attention is focused on the spectre of violent protests from anarchist groups, there was little publicity around the police powers.

He said this could lead to a repeat of the G20 summit in Toronto in 2010, where simple non-compliance with those extraordinary powers was a factor contributing to the 1,100 arrests made.

“One of the reasons for the many arrests in Toronto is that people didn’t know the full extent of police powers and as a result many people assuming the police still had their ordinary powers refused to comply,” he said.

“Unless people are made fully aware of the extent of police powers we are concerned that many unnecessary arrests will occur.”


RELATED: Australia – Descending into Darkness (Draconian Laws, Police State, Surveillance and more)

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

China Faces Hurdles On Path To Asia-Pacific Free-Trade Deal

from China is seeking to leverage its status as host of the APEC summit to advance talks on an Asia-Pacific free-trade deal and a joint push against corruption, but work on other agreements is standing in the way.

China is pushing for a Pacific Rim free-trade zone, known as the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), to be in place by 2025. But discussion on the FTAAP was being distracted because negotiations on other massive trade deals were under way, and the 21 Apec economies were still working out if they would overlap, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation secretariat executive director Alan Bollard said.

China's latest call is for a feasibility study on the FTAAP idea. It is analysis that usually precedes formal negotiations.

"We have not yet agreed on the study," Bollard said. "China is proposing that we do some more work on free-trade area of the Asia-Pacific region … But we are not at all clear about what it means and we would like to learn some more details about what it means and how we get there."

There are already several trade deals under negotiation in the region, the major one being the US-dominated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) covering 12 Pacific Rim countries but not China.
Beijing is also looking to wrap up talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which would draw in the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, plus Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

Some APEC economies have said that the regional talks already in progress should take priority over new negotiations. There is also no clear sign that any of these trade deals are close to being finalised.

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