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Showing posts from January 23, 2014

Maybe the Most Orwellian Text Message a Government's Ever Sent

By Brian Merchant

Ukraine's protests, now under cellphone surveillance. Image: Wikimedia

“Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.”

That's a text message that thousands of Ukrainian protesters spontaneously received on their cell phones today, as a new law prohibiting public demonstrations went into effect. It was the regime's police force, sending protesters the perfectly dystopian text message to accompany the newly minted, perfectly dystopian legislation. In fact, it's downright Orwellian (and I hate that adjective, and only use it when absolutely necessary, I swear).

But that's what this is: it's technology employed to detect noncompliance, to hone in on dissent. The NY Times reports that the "Ukrainian government used telephone technology to pinpoint the locations of cell phones in use near clashes between riot police officers and protesters early on Tuesday." Near. Using a cell phone near a clash lands you on the r…

US Feigns "Horror" Over Cooked-Up Report on Syrian War They Engineered

By Tony Cartalucci

January 22, 2014 - Update: Further details have emerged regarding the authors of the report. It was produced by British law firm Carter-Ruck on behalf of Qatar who funded it (CNN). Carter-Ruck had in the past defended Saudis suspected of funding Al Qaeda.

ABC's "U.S.: Saudis Still Filling Al Qaeda’s Coffers," would report that Yasin al Qadi was being represented by Carter-Ruck against US charges filed just after 9/11 claiming he was financing Al Qaeda. It should also be noted that Yasin al Qadi is a close ally of US' partner in the Syrian conflict, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. The suspicious report, conveniently released just a day before the Geneva conference, emerging from a tangled web of state-sponsored terrorism and dubious Western law firms only further taints the West's image as they go into "peace talks" regarding Syria.


January 22, 2014 (LD) - As with every Western-backed conference assembled regarding Syria, dramtic fabrica…

China: Protecting Food Security Amid Land Reform

A farmer works in her rice field in China's eastern Zhejiang province. (PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


In a public display of commitment to its roots as a mobilizer of peasant interests, China's Communist Party has once again identified reforming the countryside as its core policy prerogative in 2014. However, for the first time in the past decade, Party leaders have tempered their reform goals with cautionary statements on protecting the nation's food security, reflecting Beijing's deep-seated fear of the unintended consequences of reforming too rapidly.

Analysis


On Jan. 19, China's State Council released its annual No. 1 Central Document, a brief that typically contains no detailed policy prescriptions but nonetheless is important symbolically. Previous documents have been used to announce and solidify broad shifts in the government's policy orientation. For example, the 2004 No. 1 Central Document, published by the newly-installed administration of Hu …

Vietnam: A Delay in Nuclear Power Raises Energy Security Concerns

An expert (R) explains a nuclear reactor to students in Hanoi. Vietnam has delayed the construction of its first nuclear power plant, which was to begin this year. (HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has announced that the construction of the country's first nuclear power plant, the 4,400-megawatt Ninh Thuan 1 -- slated to begin this year -- will be delayed until 2020 due to concerns about safety and efficiency. Dung said national energy company Petrovietnam will need to build a 5,000-megawatt, natural gas-fired power plant complex to provide electricity in place of the nuclear plant.

The delay would undermine the energy security that nuclear power is eventually supposed to bring to Vietnam. Hanoi will increase imports of hydropower, coal and liquefied natural gas to make up for the share of future power supply that was ultimately projected to come from nuclear sources. This energy profile will put pressure on Vietnam's ability to…

Russia Weighs its Options for Managing Regional Debts

Summary


Editor's Note: The following is the third installment of a three-part series on growing debt for Russia's regional governments.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has plans to help stabilize the regions' economies. Given the social tensions within Russia and global economic situation, allowing the regions' economic problems to go unchecked could create challenges for the Kremlin on many levels.

Analysis


The growth and stability Putin fostered in Russia is starting to erode, and the Russian regions' economic and financial stability is at risk. Of course there are stark differences between the country's current position and its situation in 1998; the federal government is relatively strong and has cash reserves to work with, and most of the regional governments are politically loyal to Putin. However, should certain regional economies continue to deteriorate and regional governments become unable to pay their bills, things can change quickly, as seen in 1998.…