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Showing posts from March 25, 2014

In Taiwan, Protests Against a Cross-Strait Trade Deal Gain Strength

Police spray protesters with a water cannon outside the Executive Yuan in Taipei on March 24. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)


This will be a decisive week for protests in Taipei that began on March 18. The demonstrations mark a crucial juncture for Taiwan's opposition movement and perhaps for the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou. The Ma administration believes closer ties with China will make Taiwan more competitive in the growing Chinese consumer market and pave the way for the island's accession to prospective multilateral trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. But not all of Taiwan agrees with Ma's strategy.

In the largest-ever student-organized demonstration in Taiwan's history, an estimated 10,000 protesters reportedly gathered outside the country's legislative headquarters in Taipei over the weekend to protest a cross-strait services trade agreement. Under the terms of the deal…

Business as usual with Russia out of the question, says NATO Sec Gen

NATO's "business as usual" with Russia is off the table after Moscow's annexation of Crimea, says its leader Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Calling for a hike in allied defence spending and a strategic reduction of Europe's reliance on Russia energy supplies, he said the Euro-Atlantic community must now take a more muscular approach to backing up its diplomacy with hard military power.

"The crisis in Ukraine is a decisive moment and a very dangerous one - not just for us in Europe but across the whole Euro-Atlantic region," Rasmussen said on 21 March to the German Marshal Fund's Brussels Forum of security policy officials.

"It follows a pattern of military pressure and frozen conflicts across our neighbourhood: South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia, and Crimea and Transdnistria" in Moldova. "What connects them all is one big country deciding to re-write the international rules and re-create new dividing lines in Europe. This is…

Arrest of suspected Indian Mujahideen bomb maker likely to reduce risk of major attacks in six-month outlook


Indian police on 22 March 2014 arrested the alleged chief bomb-maker of the domestic terrorist organisation, the Indian Mujahideen (IM), wanted for a number of attacks since 2007.

Special Police Commissioner S.N. Srivastava told a media conference on 23 March that Ziaur Rehman, popularly known as 'Waqas', was arrested, together with three others, in the western state of Rajasthan, a major tourist destination.

A police search of the alleged hideouts of the arrested men found detonators, electronic circuits, timers, and explosives. Srivastava said the arrests had averted a 'spectacular' terrorist strike but did not elaborate. Indian media reports alleged the suspected militants were targeting the BJP prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, and Israeli tourists in Rajasthan.

Economic Suicide

By Mike Whitney

 - "Counterpunch"- Abenomics has been great for stock speculators and corporate bigwigs, but for everyone else, not so much. The fact is–despite all the media hype and monetary fireworks–Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s three-pronged strategy to end 20 years of deflation has been a total bust. But don’t take my word for it, check out this clip from Reuters and see for yourself:

“In the fourth quarter of last year, Japan’s economy grew at an annual rate of just 0.7 percent, revised figures show, slower than the initial estimate of 1.0 percent on weaker business investment and consumption….” (Japan fourth-quarter growth, external balance suffer blow in test for Abenomics, Reuters)

See? Japan’s economy is dead as a doornail. No sign of life at all. What more proof do you need than that?

And Abenomics won’t end deflation either. That’s another fiction. The weaker yen is just going to force working people and retirees on fixed income to reduce their consumption which will…

Egypt: More Than 500 Sentenced to Death in ‘Grotesque’ Ruling

By Amnesty International

Egyptian relatives of those sentenced to death react to the news outside the Minya Criminal Court. © AFP/Getty Images

- Today’s mass death sentences handed down by an Egyptian court are a grotesque example of the shortcomings and the selective nature of Egypt's justice system, Amnesty International said.

According to state media reports, in a single hearing this morning, the Minya Criminal Court sentenced 529 supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi to be executed for their alleged role in violence following his ousting in July last year.

“This is injustice writ large and these death sentences must be quashed. Imposing death sentences of this magnitude in a single case makes Egypt surpass most other countries’ use of capital punishment in a year,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

"This is the largest single batch of simultaneous death sentences we’ve seen in recent years, n…

Asia Adjusts to Russia's Standoff with the West

Northeast Asian diplomacy is changing as the conflict between Russia and the Western powers over Ukraine radiates outward. U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-Hye each met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the nuclear security summit in The Hague on Monday; Russian President Vladimir Putin canceled his plans to attend. On Tuesday, Obama will meet with Park and with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Though the leaders have much to discuss regarding nuclear security and broader relations in the Pacific, most important to watch is their maneuvering related to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

Asia and the West view Russia's resurgence differently. The United States and the European powers share suspicions that Putin's efforts to rebuild Russia's influence in its periphery constitute a threat to their interests, despite their varying degrees of appetite for confrontation. In Japan, China and South Korea, the Russian revival has g…