Archive for July, 2007

China’s Golden Cyber-Shield

July 31, 2007

The Chinese government is an infamous enforcer of digital apartheid; when its citizens try to access prominent international Web sites like Wikipedia and Flickr, they hit a filter that blocks politically sensitive material. In the West, that information blockade is often described as the “Great Firewall of China.”

But in Mandarin, it is called jindun gongcheng, the Golden Shield. As that name implies, China’s controls on the Internet are capable of blocking inbound as well as outbound traffic. According to some security professionals, that means the Golden Shield is more than just a barrier to free expression; it may also be China’s advantage in a future cyber-war.

“China has powerful controls over content going out and coming in at every gateway,” says Jody Westby, chief executive of security consultancy Global Cyber Risk. She argues that the tight relationship between China’s government and its Internet service providers–originally established to stop Web users reading about censored topics like Tiananmen and Taiwan–also means the country could better coordinate a defense against online attacks.

In the U.S., by contrast, the autonomy of the Internet may leave it vulnerable to state-sponsored enemies trying to steal classified data or shut down servers controlling energy or telecommunications. “They have a decided defensive advantage,” says Westby. “China simply doesn’t have the same issues of coordination [the U.S.] would face in the case of information warfare.”

Sizing up threats in a hypothetical cyber-war is still based on educated guesswork and speculation, but no longer mere science-fiction: A political dispute in May over a U.S.S.R. memorial in ….

Read it all:
http://www.forbes.com/technology/2007/07/30/china-cybercrime-war-tech-cx_ag_0730internet.html?partner=rss

Related:
Cyber officials: Chinese hackers attack ‘anything and everything’

China: Less Than You Thought

July 30, 2007

By Les Lothringer, ShangHai
Special to Peace and Freedom
July 30, 2006 

The Chinese Administration is now well placed with overwhelming FX reserves to pursue strategic asset purchases globally.  Rather than commit more funds for domestic wealth creation, they will seek to control sources of production and mining, rather than buy outputs.
 
By not investing more in China’s internal domestic growth, personal wealth and consumption here will not keep pace with the overwhelming production capacity that China now has built, courtesy of massive foreign investment and know-how which could have been directed to home country capital growth.
 
As Chinese automobile factory output far exceeds domestic consumption, or the road capacity to soak up that output – and, by the way, the roads in large Chinese cities are already saturated and you save more time, a lot more time by taking the subway – those car factories will send their motor cars offshore for sale to Western buyers.
 
Superficially compelling they are.  Seductive in their bargain basement breaking pricing and ostensibly modern designs, it is an almost irresistible dream come true for families seeking to upgrade to a motorcar they might not otherwise afford.
 
Yet, like so many products here in China, they are the result of the same production psychology where quality and branding are absent in a culture that competes largely on price alone and uses the tools of “down gauging” and copying to lower production costs – and none too well either.
 
Chinese motor cars may look similar to certain Western models but the similarities end when one considers engineering design and the structural integrity of that motorcar, as revealed in crash tests conducted in the West.  Whereas, say, a Japanese family sized Lexus will maintain passenger compartment integrity, similar looking Chinese marques can experience passenger shell collapse, with both front seat and back seat “occupants” suffering catastrophic injuries.  This is true of both sedans and four wheel drivers.
 
Yet, there is another side to this which is the loss of quality standards enforcement by Western states on whatever is shipped to their borders.  The safety advances and standards that evolved over many years are not adequately applied to prevent the import of Chinese cars and motorcycles into Europe and the United States, the UK and Australia.
 
Consider, say, the electric motorcycle which we are seeing more of in the West, in the desire by consumers towards a lower carbon footprint.  Electric motorcycles here may sell for as little as US$130, including a battery that will convey you about 40 miles between charges.  But the quality standard cannot be up to Western expectations, not at that price.  We see electric bikes like this in the West.  Close inspection reveals brake handles with the pivot screw working itself loose, bike frames with lower safe working loads, inferior metallurgy and welds and, overall, a machine with a much shorter “mean time between failure”, an engineer’s way of saying that the machine is going to break down more often and, for a bike, possibly while being ridden.
 
That these products can be imported cannot be entirely the fault of the Chinese and there remains, as always, no substitute to owning and controlling one’s own factories.  The concept of the “virtual factory” or “the virtual brand manager” and contracted outsourcing, as was widely written up in the last ten years or so was always a short-sighted and flawed growth strategy.
 
Les Lothringer – ShangHai
*********

Tim Johnson covers China for McClatchy Newspapers. On June 26 he wrote a piece on automobile safety for China’s newly minted cars.

“The Brilliance BS6 sedan was hoping to enter the European market this year as a premium-style sedan. But the 40 mph crash test left damage on the automobile that the blogger described as catastrophic.

Most Europeans now won’t be caught, er, dead in one of these vehicles.

Back in 2005, China’s Jiangling Motors tried to market its Landwind SUV in Europe. But sales evaporated after the SUV failed this kind of crash test miserably.

Intelligent intelligence

July 29, 2007

Arnaud de Borchgrave
The Washington Times
July 29, 2007

President John F. Kennedy once said he got “far more out of the New York Times than the CIA.” Those were the days when major U.S. newspapers and the three networks maintained foreign bureaus staffed by prize-winning foreign correspondents all over the world.

In those halcyon days, Open Source Intelligence, or OSINT in the espionage vernacular, could be culled from highly knowledgeable foreign correspondents, many of them scholars who had written books about the history and culture of their wide-ranging beats. No more. At the end of World War II, there were 2,500 U.S. foreign correspondents; today, less than 250.

Read the rest:
http://washingtontimes.com/article/20070729/
COMMENTARY/107290025/1012

What Does Beijing’s Communist Central Government Consider a “Threat”?

July 29, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
July 29, 2007

In China, the people have no right of assembly or to free speech. The media is severely limited and the central government would prefer that the only voice of the media in China came from the state agency: Xinhua.

The government of Beijing is increasingly worried about and sensitive to assemblies of groups and potential for disorder.

No To AIDS Conference

China just today cancelled an HIV/AIDS conference and seminar.

“Authorities informed us that the combination of AIDS, law and foreigners was too sensitive,” Sara Davis, on the organizers of the conference told Reuters.

The nations invited, and presumably these were the nations China objected to, were: South Africa, India, the United States, Canada and Thailand.

Catholic Priests Detained

In another case of China’s paranoia, several Catholic priests were detained this weekend. Their crime? China’s 12 million Catholics share the same basic religious beliefs but are politically divided between “above-ground” churches approved by the ruling Communist Party and “underground” churches that reject government ties. The priests detained are said to be from the “underground church.”

A picture begins to emerge of a communist Chinese government that does not permit gatherings of just a handful of people unless the government has approved both the topic of discussion and the participants.

Since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, China has been at least extremely sensitive and some might say paranoid about groups, assembly and free speech.

Any hint of not following Beijing to the letter is termed “social instability.”


Communist Vietnam’s proven method
of silencing a prisoner.  Father Ly just
before he was removed from court.  He
had no representation at trial

Illegal Government Land Grabbing

Government “appropriation” (or rather, misappropriation) of peasant farms and other lands is the largest root source of assemblies, riots, other forms of civil unrest and “social instability.”

“This is the foremost issue in rural areas and probably the most contentious issue leading to social unrest in China today,” Nicholas Bequelin, a Hong Kong-based China researcher with Human Rights Watch said.

The issue of the illegal seizure of land by thge government is also the single most important reason for protests in Vietnam.

There were 130,000 cases of illegal land grabs last year in China, an increase of 17.3 percent from 2005, the land ministry said in March.

Mr. Bequelin said these 130,000 are just the reported cases. He believes there may be 100,000 other cases or more. He noted past official estimates that 50-60 percent of all land deals in China were illegal, rising to 90 percent in many places.

“The crux of the issue is that governments at all levels plunder the land resources, the commoners see little if any of the money and violators get off scot-free,” said Hou Guoyan, a retired professor from the China University of Political Science and Law.

Beijing has also issued a series of regulations aimed at increasing scrutiny, but experts say the central government does not have enough power to enforce the law in the provinces.

“The (central) government is at a loss to solve the problem,” Hou said.

This is the “social instability” Beijing fears.

Enforcing ‘State Policy’

The central government is also having a great deal of trouble enforcing many other of its own communist state policies.

Earlier this year, in Bobai county in the region of Guangxi, thousands of villagers rioted, burning cars and clashing with police, after being fined for breaching the one-child policy.

China allows couples to only bring into the world one child. Villagers in Bobai were violating this rule. When police cracked down to enforce the law, violence erupted.

Central Beijing was caught off guard and proved itself completely incapable of an appropriate response.

Other incidents of people in the countryside ignoring Beijing are common.

Pollution Regulations Ignored

After China pledged to contain and even reduce its huge pollution problem and its contributions to greenhouse gases, the people in the countryside were disturbed. When the new environmental requirements trickled down to the provinces and the countryside, they were and are being ignored.Local governments in China are continuing to invest in dirty, resource-intense industries, jeopardizing Beijing’s goals of saving energy and cutting pollution. Some regions are encouraging steel, cement and other heavy industries to boost economic growth despite demands from Beijing to rein in those sectors, the China Daily newspaper reported.

When it first became apparent that local governments were ignoring Beijing on pollution issues, Beijing threatened local communist leaders. Their promotions were tied to environments goals.

But this scheme was an utter failure. Fearing a total revolt of local communist officials, Beijing rescinded the edict on July 21, 2007.
Photo

Summer Olympics 2008

China is already preparing to “manage and control” crowds, assembly and protests at next summer’s Beijing Olympics. The gathering of information on foreigners who might mount protests and spoil the nation’s moment in the spotlight has already commenced. The central Beijing government is already preparing lists of potentially troublesome foreign organizations, looking beyond the human rights groups long critical of Beijing.

Among those targeted as “potential protest and assembly groups”? American Evangelical Christians.

China watchers we have been in contact with cited this as another example of Beijing’s paranoia.

But Beijing defends its actions as necessary for the safety of all involved in the Olympics, even Americans.

“Demonstrations of all kinds are a concern, including anti-American demonstrations,” said the consultant, who works for Beijing’s Olympic organizers and asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

The government, he said, is “trying to find out what kinds of NGOs will come. … What are their plans?”

While foreign governments often monitor potentially disruptive groups ahead of big events, Beijing this time is ranging farther afield, targeting groups whose activities would be considered legal in most countries.
Photo

Local Communist Authorities Threatened

During the first week of July 2007, China ordered local authorities to address the root causes of rising public discontent, according to state media sources. China watchers consider this yet another sign of growing concern over social stability from Beijing.

Local officials have been told they will be denied promotions unless they minimize social unrest in their areas, Xinhua news agency quoted a top Community Party official as saying.

In summary, the communist government in Beijing is insisting on total control of all its 1.3 billion people and its vast countryside. But in many cases, China’s central government in Beijing is being resisted or ignored.

Should these tendencies persists, it certainly means additional violence could be possible inside China.
Beijing is rushing to make its air clean for the 2008 Olympics, but experts say it will be impossible for the site to be totally safe for athletes at the global sporting event.

NY Times: China Moves to Refurbish a Damaged Global Image

July 28, 2007

SHANGHAI, Sunday, July 29 — After years of being accused by Western nations of making only token gestures to fight fake goods and months of complaints about the safety of its exports, China is taking extraordinary steps to change its image.

Last week, Beijing unveiled new controls aimed at fighting counterfeit drugs and substandard exports. High-ranking officials and regulators vowed to strengthen China’s food safety system, tighten controls over chemical use by large seafood and meat producers, and create a system that holds producers more accountable for selling unsafe products.

The government also announced that it had broken up a series of criminal rings that operated huge manufacturing centers, producing goods as varied as pirated ….

Read it all at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/29/world/
asia/29safety.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Related:

Distrustful of China’s Government at Almost Every Turn

Distrustful of China’s Government at Almost Every Turn

July 28, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
July 29, 2007

Please excuse me if I am distrustful of just about everything said and done by China’s government.

Having lived in China, watched China through my own media mesmerized eyes, and witnessed China’s government actions and reactions through Chinese business associates and friends, I have come to be distrustful of just about everything said and done by China’s government.

It is almost as if the Chinese government has been across the table from me for 30 years as we played poker. You get to know intuitively when the adversary is bluffing, lying, admitting, or avoiding.

In 2003, China faced an epidemic of a disease called Severe Acute Reparatory Syndrome (SARS).

As the story broke that the disease was reaching epidemic proportions in Vietnam and Singapore and other Asian venues, China didn’t make a sound.

I was on the edge of my seat nonetheless. I had a Chinese-born American employee traveling and doing business in China. I was worried for his safety and alerted him that there may be some disease spreading, unbeknownst to us, inside China.

Sure enough, before too many days, news reports began to come out of China that it, too, was experiencing SARS but that the problem was being competently managed.

I knew that had to be a lie. Vietnam and Singapore had noticed the outbreak more than two weeks before and recovery had been tough and troubling.

China then announced that the problem was worse than at first thought and the government launched a huge show of activity to demonstrate how hard they were working to stamp out the disease. Near the end of the crisis (and it was a crisis: hundreds if not thousands died in China) China began to escort news people around hospitals and other facilities to demonstrate the professionalism and medical readiness of China’s system.

It was then that I realized the government of China responded the same way to every crisis.

In Phase One, China covered up the problem and denied it existed. The disease persisted and worsened. Phase Two was a flurry of activity to impress the international community that China was on top of the situation. Most of this was for show and didn’t contribute a thing toward ending the epidemic. During this phase other nations like Vietnam and Singapore, that had admitted the problem as soon as it was discovered, eradicated the disease.

Finally, China launched Phase Three: a show and charm offensive to convince the world that it did a great job solving the problem.

I documented my conclusions in a Washington Times commentary under the headline “China’s Ham-Handed SARS Response: Omen of The Future In Disease Control?”

During the SARS emergency, the international media found out, for the first time, that China lacked sufficient medications, medical staff and hospital facilities to properly service its own population. Like many other things in China, the medical system was mostly a sham.

After graduating from medical school, the most well educated medical professionals in China went to the west to work.

The World Health Organization estimated that only about 4% of China’s medical professionals were prepared for a disease like SARS. And the medical staff was severely undermanned.

Finally, the system in place to monitor medical safety is overtaxed.

“There’s no quick fix,” says Henk Bekedam, the World Health Organization’s top representative in China. “China has perhaps been cutting some corners because the focus has been on growth. But they have 5,000 companies that produce medicine. That’s far too many.”

“The government has a limited ability to enforce things,” he said. “They need to start with simple things: reduce the number of people you monitor.”

Today, according to China’s own Ministry of Health (MOH), “In most countries, the ratio of the number of nurses to the total population is about 0.5 percent, but the ratio in China is only 0.1 percent.”

Recall the Bird Flu crisis? Phases One, Two and Three were used again. It seemed to me that there was a certain necessity to this for the Chinese leadership. When you have 1.3 Billion people you can’t have a complicated play book. And forget about innovation. When an American football quarterback would call an audible for perfectly valid reasons; China has to stick to a playbook that is simple and rehearsed. In many troubling situations, the only question China’s government leaders face is, “What Phase do you think we are in?”

In the food and product safety scandal that started in China this past spring, China was so taken by surprise that the government launched Phase Three without going through phases one and two. Despite plenty of signs that the tainted food (pet food, seafood, etc) and personal care items (cough syrup, toothpaste,etc) scandal was a big one, and still growing, on June 12, 2007, the deputy chief of mission of the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C., Mr. Zheng Zeguang, held a mini-news conference with reporters.

The esteemed deputy chief of mission lied to reporters about food and product safety. He said American reporters had grossly exaggerated the issue.

How did I know he was lying? Because reports of products with problems continued to roll in. And because, in Washington D.C., then the Ambassador from China speaks you can be pretty sure he is telling the truth, as far as he knows it. But when the deputy chief of mission is rolled out: the Chinese typically have something to hide.

I hate to give that away but the Chinese know it is true and we know it is true.

At about the same time that the Chinese Embassy’s deputy chief of mission briefed reporters, Li Dongsheng, vice minister for the State Administration for Industry and Commerce in Chiina, told reporters in China that China had developed “very good, very complete methods” to regulate product safety.

“There is now largely no problem with food safety. It is an issue the people care about greatly,” Mr. Li said. “So if there is a small problem, it becomes a big problem for us. So basically for now, we can guarantee food safety.”

That had to be a lie too.

Later that same afternoon, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of some “Thomas Train” toy items. They were painted in China using lead paint which is toxic. Everyone in the world has known for decades that lead paint is toxic.

Of course the food and product safety scandal widened, even after China had said, “we can guarantee food safety.”
Photo
In the toothpast scandal, first poison was found in some Chinese toothpaste brands.  Then Colgate-Polmolive reported that up to 1 million tubes of counterfeit “Colgate” toothpaste had been discovered.  It was made in China.  It was also poisoned.
***************************

It occurred to me that China had entered Phase Three (schmooze, show that everything is O.K. and move on) even before Phase One and Two had been allowed to play out. By not following their own play book, China got tied up and tripped up in its own shoe laces.

What followed was a series of other “summer scandals” including an abuse of child worker scandal (they were making Beijing Olympics 2008 mementos) and a slavery scandal, to name a few.

Today, communist news organs and the India news agency IANS announced gleefully that China had secured another vote to assist its foreign policy goals in the United Nations.

Sudeshna Sarkar, reporting from Kathmandu, Nepal, for the India News Agency (IANS) wrote, “A bounty of 50 million Chinese yuan (over $6.5 million) and promises of more have procured for China fresh diplomatic support from Nepal, with the communist-majority Nepal government stating that it was opposed to Taiwan’s bid to join the UN.”

Excuse me? China is now BUYING votes in the U.N. from client governments and allies?

So we are back where we started.

Please excuse me if I am distrustful of just about everything said and done by China’s government.

Related:

U.N. Vote for Sale: China Buys an Ally

China Plans Happy Olympics But A Few “Small” Problems Remain

China Planning a Surreal Facade for Summer Olympic Games: Beijing 2008

NY Times: China Moves to Refurbish a Damaged Global Image

Restore Civility in Debate, Politics and Government

July 28, 2007

We’ve published the essay below before so if you find your lips starting to move as you read it; that is entirely our fault.  We thought we would republish this essay, though, because of the stalemate in the U.S. Congress.  No funding bills have been agreed upon this session and the most important one, the defense appropriations bill, was pulled from the floor of the Senate by Senator Harry Ried, the Majority Leader.  Mr. Reid also engineered the meaningless all night “pillow fight” in the Senate which amounted to nothing.

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
Republished July 28, 2007

There seems a lack of civility, good manners, decorum and protocol in Washington these days.

And it has spread beyond Washington to the internet and to email onscenities.

One side frequently calls the other side names; instead of making organized, logical arguments.

We entered the world of the “blogosphere” on July 4, 2006. In this internet land of people discussing world events, the language we found often is particularly harsh, polarizing and nasty.

Former President Bill Clinton entered (or re-entered depending upon your point of view) the fray on Sunday, September 24, 2006, during an interview with Chris Wallace on the Fox News Sunday show. Associated Press writer Karen Matthews, reporting on the exchange, called it “combative.”

That’s not a word usually associated with a president during a media interview. I can’t think of that word ever applied to an ex-president during a media exchange — especially with a president.

This may just qualify Mr. Clinton for another description: “not presidential.”

Clinton accused host Chris Wallace of a “conservative hit job.” Not presidential at all. He seemed to be just venting rage. Who needs that?

Did president Clinton miss a memo about letting others mix it up in public with the opposition and their media? Even my Vietnamese-born wife observed: “Good thing Clinton didn’t interview with Bill O’Reilly on Fox. It might have ended up with Bill and Bill on the floor slugging each other.”

Not presidential.

Last week, in mid-July 2007, the two Democrat front runners for the nomination of their party to run for president duked it out in public.  As we used to say in the navy: “Hold Fire!” you two.  Save it for the Republicans!

It is bad enough we have to hear the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “talking smack” as they say, at the United Nations; now we have to hear it from a former President of the United States and those running for that high office. 

On President Bush’s trip to South America, not only has he refrained from talking about Mr. Chavez: he has refused to mention him by name.  This is the same Mr. Chavez that called the president the devil at the U.N.

Thoughtful, courteous national discourse has managed to get us through a revolution against the most powerful nation on the Earth, a War Between the States, two World Wars and other tragedies and trying times.

If we can get along, maybe we can discuss the problems and get the best answers. Maybe a more civil and etiquette-driven discussion of the issues can help us get through the War on Terror.

Instead, we have become a nation led by name-callers, insult-slingers and generally rude, angry and impolite representatives.

And sometimes, the media, maybe unintentionally, magnify the animosity.

My friend, retired Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters at The New York Post, wonders about “the unscrupulous nature of those in the media who always discover a dark cloud in the brightest silver lining. They are terror’s cheerleaders.”

What does this teach our children? And does it do us any good?

Candidate for president John Edwards not too long ago defended his own bloggers for their use of “the most hate-filled, blasphemous and obscene remarks—all of which were brought to the attention of Edwards—that have ever been written by any employee of a presidential candidate,” according to the Catholic League of the United States.

In other words: a new low.

Opposite Mr. Edwards, we were delighted to see Governor Bill Richardson call for civility among the national candidates.

Senator James Webb, a former Marine and Secretary of the Navy, met the President of the United States in November 2006 at the White House. Maybe Mr. Webb was a little too taken with himself after beating Senator Allen in the election. Whatever the reason, newspapers reported that Mr. Webb, while a guest at the White House, “Tried to avoid President Bush,” refusing to pass through the reception line or have his picture taken with the president. The president had to seek out the illusive Mr. Webb, a guest inside the Executive Mansion.

“How’s your boy?” President Bush asked the Senator then elect, referring to Webb’s son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

“I’d like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President,” Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

“That’s not what I asked you,” Bush said. “How’s your boy?”

“That’s between me and my boy, Mr. President,” Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.

When Webb was asked about the apparently rude response to a question from the President of the United States, he responded by saying, “So I know the drill. I’m looking forward to working with people in this administration.”

The language and smart remark to the President of the United States, and the host of the event in his own residence, seems an insult to me and not an indicator of someone eager to work with the opposition. It is not the language of a gentleman.

“I’ve got good friends on the Republican side,” added Webb, a former Republican.

I would say, apparently, that Senator Webb does not know the drill: at least the drill taught to the leaders of Communist Vietnam, where the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Vietnam held a cordial discussion in November 2006 or at the United States Naval Academy, Webb’s alma mater, where many of America’s finest young men and women are taught to behave in a certain manner and make the case cogently and without obscene language or smart remarks.

We can assure readers that at the Naval Academy, midshipmen are instructed to conduct themselves as gentlemen and gentlewomen.

Our American history is full of great men who teach us the importance of good conduct for the common good.

Some say George Washington actually authored “The Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour [sic] in Company and Conversation.”

Though not the author, Washington embraced good manners so famously that the “Rules” could easily have been his own creation. The good manners of John Adams also echo to us through history.

With Thomas Paine, Adams watched a young American officer conduct himself less than diplomatically and courteously before the King of France.

Adams wrote to his wife, describing the “Man of Choleric Temper.” Adams said the man “like so many Gentlemen from his State, is abrupt and undiplomatic. Last evening, at a Royal Reception, he confronted His Most Christian Majesty Louis XVI with Words both ardent and impatient, whilst Mr. Paine wrung his Hands at the other man’s lack of Tact. Never did I think that I would see our impetuous Paine so pain’d by another’s want of Courtesy and Civility. To our amazement, however, the King took [the man’s] Enthusiasm in good Part.”

When told one of his generals, John C. Fremont, had been nominated by a group of 400 anti-Lincoln loyalists to run for president, Lincoln opened a Bible and read aloud from I Samuel:22, “And everyone that was in distress, and everyone that was in debt, and everyone that was discontented gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them; and there were with him about four hundred men.”

Modern statesmen pulled the country together, not by tearing others apart or barking at the media, but more often by thoughtful discourse and conduct.

“Both Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt operated beautifully on the reporters who surrounded them,” wrote David Keirsey and Ray Choiniere in “Presidential Temperament.”

“Both used the press as if it were their own publicity machine.”

This was largely achieved in a civil, diplomatic style.

A modern day solon of wisdom and truth might be former Indiana Congressman and Democrat Lee Hamilton.

Hamilton volunteered some stern remarks about the importance of truth. “Facts are not Republican and they’re not Democrat,” he said.

“They’re not ideological. Facts are facts,” said Mr. Hamilton.

I cannot ever recall seeing Gerald Ford, our late president whom we honored last December, look mean, uncivil, rude or terribly angry.

Neither can I remember John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan (”The Great Communicator”), George H.W. Bush, or George W. Bush look petulant, angry or rude. I also cannot recall any of them knowingly distort the facts.

Other great national leaders also reflect respect, even admiration, for the importance of good protocol and decorum.

Winston Churchill described a 1941 university ceremony this way: “The blitz was running hard at that time, and the night before, the raid … had been heavy. Several hundreds had been killed and wounded. Many houses were destroyed. Buildings next to the university were still burning, and many of the university authorities who conducted the ceremony had pulled on their robes over uniforms begrimed and drenched; but all was presented with faultless ritual and appropriate decorum, and I sustained a very strong and invigorating impression of the superiority of man over the forces that can destroy him.”

Let’s hope leaders become enlightened enough to avoid the forces that can destroy them. For our sake and the sake of our children. Especially as we in the United States near an important national election.

I regret the times that bad conduct, anger and a disregard for etiquette got the best of me. I hope our present day political leaders see the light too.

To get though the war against terror and to achieve victory, a united, clear-thinking leadership just might be important.

Angry rhetoric and arson with clever words serves no good purpose.

I am be wrong but that’s how we see it.

Related:
Lingo of Failure: How to Decode Washington Political Speak

Triangle of Death:Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia: From the Democracy-Project

July 28, 2007

Submitted to Peace and Freedom for publication by Human Rights activisits Bruce N. Kesler, The Democracy Project.

July 27, 2007

Last April, we wrote about the deforestation in Vietnam and in June about the deforestation in Cambodia, in both cases politicos, their cronies and international businesses cozily profiteering and indigenous peoples suffering the loss of their way of life and resources to live.

Recently, NGO’s Global Witness and Human Rights Watch reported on these depredations, and called for international action, to cut off the funding that facilitates this, as Montagnard Foundation calls it, Triangle of Death.

Below is a press release from the Montagnard Foundation, with links to the in depth Global Witness report and Human Rights Watch’s statement, which is included in this post, and the action statement by the Montagnard Foundation..

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 27 July 2007 Spartanburg, SC, USA

THE TRIANGLE PROJECT: The governments of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have embarked on a massive economic development project in the vast region (triangle area) of their countries. The “master plan” was adopted in agreements reached between the Prime Ministers of Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia at their 3rd summit in 2004 and ratified by the three countries on 28 November 2004. The triangle area encompasses over a hundred thousand square miles in the region bordering these three countries and has already resulted in deforestation and the forced removal of indigenous Degar Montagnards from their ancestral lands. Endemic levels of corruption exist at every level of government in these three countries and environmental exploitation and land rights exploitation has negatively affected the indigenous peoples throughout the region. Deforestation is continuing at unprecedented levels in Cambodia and Laos as these countries turn a blind eye to illegal logging, permitting officials at the highest levels of government to reap massive profits from deforestation. Global Witness has directly implicated the Cambodia government in this abuse of power in a 95 page report. See: Global Witness report.

The government of Vietnam has already decimated the ancient forests of the Central Highlands leaving Cambodia and Laos’s rain forests next in line. Throughout the region the indigenous peoples, Degar Montagnards and other indigenous minorities such as the Hmong face forced or coerced removals from their lands where they will be driven into poverty and malnutrition or killed. Little has been done by donor nations to confront the corruption and Global Witness calls the donors, “spineless” while Human Rights Watch stated on 15 June 2007 “The $5 billion in aid plowed into Cambodia in the past decade has yielded little in return for the donors or the Cambodian people”. See: Human Rights Watch statement.

Human Rights Watch Statement:

Cambodia: Donors Must Hold Government Accountable
Banning of Forest Report Mocks Commitments to Human Rights
(New York, June 15, 2007) – Cambodia’s international donors should not accept any more empty promises from the Cambodian government on human rights, the rule of law and good governance, Human Rights Watch said today. The annual Consultative Group meeting of donors is scheduled to take place in Phnom Penh on June 19-20, and donors are expected to pledge more than US$600 million in additional aid for the next year.Human Rights Watch said that the Cambodian government has made virtually no progress in the past decade on key pledges to donors on the rule of law or judicial independence. Impunity for human rights violations remains the rule. Corruption is rampant. Natural resources are still being plundered. Those who report on such abuses are threatened or harassed and sometimes subject to violence.

“The $5 billion in aid plowed into Cambodia in the past decade has yielded little in return for the donors or the Cambodian people,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The meeting has become an empty annual ritual, with the government making and breaking promises every year. There will be more promises made this year, but without serious donor pressure they, too, will be broken.”

Human Rights Watch called on the Cambodian government to rescind its June 3 order to “ban and collect” the recent report by Global Witness. The report, “Cambodia’s Family Trees,” alleges illegal logging by individuals close to Prime Minister Hun Sen. It also claims that the government’s promises to end illegal logging have been broken, that the army, military police and police are deeply involved in illegal logging, and that funds from illegal logging support Hun Sen’s personal bodyguard unit, which has been responsible for human rights abuses.

The government should officially repudiate reported statements by Kompong Cham provincial governor Hun Neng, Hun Sen’s brother. Hun Neng reportedly said on June 11 that “If they [Global Witness] come to Cambodia, I will hit them until their heads are broken.”

“The government’s reaction to the Global Witness report shows its lack of commitment to freedom of expression and public debate, and its continued thuggish behavior,” said Adams. “Donors should insist that the government undertake a credible judicial investigation into the criminal activities detailed in the report, rather than resort to violent threats against its authors. Donors often complain about a lack of political will from the government, but this will be a test of their political will, too.”

Human Rights Watch said that donors have a major role to play in determining Cambodia’s future by continuing their assistance to civil society and insisting that the government fully comply with commitments made at successive donor meetings dating back to 1993. After billions of dollars of donor support over the past 14 years, it is time for a clear and unambiguous signal to be sent to the government. Donors should make it clear that they can no longer accept previously unmet promises.

For more than a decade, donors have been providing aid equivalent to roughly half Cambodia’s national budget. As donors have noted, good governance is directly linked to a country’s pace of development. There is little doubt that Cambodia’s development continues to be slowed by the country’s poor governance.

“If donors are serious about development in Cambodia, they should start generating momentum for real reform,” said Adams. “They need to emphasize, not marginalize, the links between human rights and development.”

Development assistance and budgetary support should be contingent on the government meeting agreed benchmarks on human rights, the rule of law, and good governance, such as:

· Tackling impunity for human rights abuses, including the many extrajudicial killings carried out during and after the July 1997 coup by Hun Sen’s government;
· Ceasing to harass and threaten civil society activists and opposition party members;
· Ensuring that the rights of individuals and organizations to defend and promote human rights are protected, including the right to peacefully criticize and protest government policies, in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the 1998 United Nations General Assembly Declaration on Human Rights Defenders;
· Creating an independent and restructured National Election Committee;
· Liberalizing electronic media ownership rules, including allowing transmitters of private, critical media to be as strong as those of pro-government private stations;
· Complying fully with previous Consultative Group commitments to address corruption and misuse of natural resources and other state assets; these include public disclosure of information concerning management of land, forests, mineral deposits and fisheries, as well as the location of military development zones; and,
· Passing legislation on asset disclosure and anti-corruption that meets international standards, and appointing an independent, international external auditor for government finances.

Past meetings of the Consultative Group have been attended by 18 countries and five intergovernmental organizations: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, plus the Asian Development Bank, the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations Development Program, and the World Bank.

“The donors’ list of conditions hardly changes over time, and the government simply ignores them year after year,” said Adams. “Hun Sen continues to run circles around the donors, making the same empty promises every year and laughing all the way to the bank.”

THE MONTAGNARD FOUNDATION CALLS ON:

International donors namely, the United States, Japan, the European Union, Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russian Federation, Singapore, Sweden, the IMF, United Nations, World Bank and Asian Development Bank to consider withdrawing funding to the Triangle Project and to review their overall aid commitments to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam given the endemic history of corruption, environmental degradation, exploitation and human rights violations committed by these three countries.

Iran-arms importers captured in Iraq

July 28, 2007

By Sara A. Carter
The Washington Times
July 28, 2007

Four terrorists linked to an Iranian smuggling operation — responsible for targeting coalition forces with powerful bombs — were captured yesterday in Iraq, according to Defense Department officials.

The announcement came as U.S. officials continue to investigate links between Iran and insurgents seeking to destabilize the region and who target U.S. forces on the ground.

“I would say that it’s clear to us that there are networks that are smuggling weapons, both explosive-formed projectiles, IEDs, as well as mortar and other capabilities from Iran into Iraq,” ….

Read the rest at:
http://washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070728/NATION/107280053/1001

Tell Kids Who Idolize Sports Stars: Michael Vick’s Empire Crashing to Earth

July 28, 2007

By John E. Carey
July 27, 2007

In keeping with great “street names,” often earned, like “Snoop Dog,” some are now calling Mister Michael Vick “Vick-Dog.”

The Virginia Tech and Atlanta Falcons great is now the brunt of pooch nicknames and was loudly booed and jeered as he entered the courtroom this week.

Millions of kids idolize sports stars. I grew up watching Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown before the Super Bowl was even invented: only to see him accused of various forms of mischief and mayhem off the field later on.

What I took away from that Jim Brown experience was this: these sports starts are just guys.

But unfortunately, part of what makes some of these super-athletes tick is a testosterone fueled anger, maybe even rage, that often translates not just into terrific performance on the field but often becomes some really ugly performance (or performances) elsewhere.

Mister Michael Vick is the latest example. Despite millions of dollars in pay and endorsements, an entire city waiting for him to deliver the Super Bowl to Atlanta, a Mother with the highest expectations imaginable, and teammates relying on his cool and skills; he threw it all away pursuing something that any towel boy could have told him would enrage more than nine-tenths of the American public against him.

Today Nike suspended its lucrative contract with Michael Vick. The other shoe fell, as it were. Nike is suspending Vick’s endorsement deal without pay. Michael will no longer be paid as a Nike endorser because his contract has a clause requiring a certain decorum of behavior. Any towel boy probably knew that too.

Vick’s likeness is also being pulled from a trading card company’s line, which will cost him some more money. And Reebok took the unprecedented step of stopping sales of his No. 7 jersey.

“Nike is concerned by the serious and highly disturbing allegations made against Michael Vick, and we consider any cruelty to animals inhumane and abhorrent,” Nike spokesman Dean Stoyer said in a statement.

Mister Vick, and three friends, were accused in federal court yesterday of sponsoring a gruesome operation that often shot, hanged, drowned or electrocuted losing dogs.

Mister Vick pleaded not guilty yesterday. But the secrecy of his dogfighting operation and his bald-faced lie when first confronted with the facts by a TV news crew (“The only dog I own is a poodle.”) tells us this: he knew what the towel boy knew. More than nine-tenths of mankind would condemn his conduct and his endorsement deals would be flushed, by his own hand, down the toilet.

Despite the lack of a trial or conviction, Mister Vick is now “persona non grata” in the NFL and in many other venues: including the corporate offices of Nike, Reebok and a certain trading card company.

Mister Vick is now the poster child of stupidity, grossly malicious and inhumane behavior and shame.

Tell your kid who idolizes sports stars.

This is what happens when you head the wrong way out the locker room door. Sometimes you can never get back into the locker room again.

Related:

The many sides of Michael Vick, AKA “Vick-Dog”

“Vick-Dog” Probably Running an “Out Pattern;” Entered Plea of “Not Guilty”

“Vick-Dog” Indictment Includes Street Names; Pleas this Afternoon

“Pet Prowess” in America; Michael Vick to Coach at University of Beijing

Falcons Eyed Ban on “Vick-Dog;” NFL Put Owner on Leash

Dog Rights in America versus Human Rights in Vietnam