Archive for the ‘freedom of speech’ Category

If Obama Wins; Dems are Set To Muzzle the Right

October 20, 2008

By Brian C. Anderson
New York Post
October 20, 2008

SHOULD Barack Obama win the presidency and Democrats take full control of Congress, next year will see a real legislative attempt to bring back the Fairness Doctrine – and to diminish conservatives’ influence on broadcast radio, the one medium they dominate.

Yes, the Obama campaign said some months back that the candidate doesn’t seek to re-impose this regulation, which, until Ronald Reagan’s FCC phased it out in the 1980s, required TV and radio broadcasters to give balanced airtime to opposing viewpoints or face steep fines or even loss of license. But most Democrats – including party elders Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and Al Gore – strongly support the idea of mandating “fairness.

Would a President Obama veto a new Fairness Doctrine if Congress enacted one? It’s doubtful.

The Fairness Doctrine was an astonishingly bad idea. It’s a too-tempting power for government to abuse. When the doctrine was in effect, both Democratic and Republican administrations regularly used it to harass critics on radio and TV.

Second, a new Fairness Doctrine would drive political talk radio off the dial. If a station ran a big-audience conservative program like, say, Laura Ingraham’s, it would also have to run a left-leaning alternative. But liberals don’t do well on talk radio, as the failure of Air America and indeed all other liberal efforts in the medium to date show. Stations would likely trim back conservative shows so as to avoid airing unsuccessful liberal ones.

Then there’s all the lawyers you’d have to hire to respond to the regulators measuring how much time you devoted to this topic or that. Too much risk and hassle, many radio executives would conclude. Why not switch formats to something less charged – like entertainment or sports coverage?

Read the rest:
http://www.nypost.com/seven/10202008/postopinion/oped
columnists/dems_get_set_to_muzzle_the_right_134399.htm

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The Real China and the Olympics

April 5, 2008

By Hu Jia and teng Biao
The Washington Post
Saturday, April 5, 2008; Page A15 

This week, a Beijing court sentenced human rights activist Hu Jia to 3 1/2 years in prison for subverting state authority and to one additional year’s loss of his “political rights.” He was arrested in part for co-authoring, with Teng Biao, an open letter on human rights. Below, The Post printsHuman Rights Watch‘s translation of the Sept. 10, 2007, letter.

On July 13th 2001, when Beijing won the right to host the 2008 Olympic Games, the Chinese government promised the world it would improve China‘s human rights record. In June 2004, Beijing announced its Olympic Games slogan, “One World, One Dream.” From their inception in 1896, the modern Olympic Games have always had as their mission the promotion of human dignity and world peace.

Chinese President Hu Jintao lights a cauldron with the Olympic ...
Chinese President Hu Jintao lights a cauldron with the Olympic torch at a ceremony in March 2008. A special envoy of Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, called on Beijing Thursday to cancel plans to carry the Olympic torch through Tibet, saying it was a “provocative” move after the Chinese crackdown of protests in the Himalayan territory.(AFP/File/Peter Parks)

China and the world expected to see the Olympic Games bring political progress to the country. Is Beijing keeping its promises? Is China improving its human rights record?

When you come to the Olympic Games in Beijing, you will see skyscrapers, spacious streets, modern stadiums and enthusiastic people. You will see the truth, but not the whole truth, just as you see only the tip of an iceberg. You may not know that the flowers, smiles, harmony and prosperity are built on a base of grievances, tears, imprisonment, torture and blood.

We are going to tell you the truth about China. We believe that for anyone who wishes to avoid a disgraceful Olympics, knowing the truth is the first step. Fang Zheng, an excellent athlete who holds two national records for the discus throw at China’s Special Sport Games, has been deprived of the opportunity to participate in the 2008 Paralympics because he has become a living testimony to the June 4, 1989[,] massacre.
Zeng Jinyan -- the wife of human rights activist Hu Jia -- weeps ... 
Zeng Jinyan — the wife of human rights activist Hu Jia — weeps as she speaks to the media outside a courthouse in Beijing. Hu Jia was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison this week by China.
(AFP/File/Teh Eng Koon)

That morning, in Tiananmen Square, his legs were crushed by a tank while he was rescuing a fellow student. In April 2007, the Ministry of Public Security issued an internal document secretly strengthening a political investigation which resulted in forbidding Olympics participation by 43 types of people from 11 different categories, including dissidents, human rights defenders, media workers, and religious participants. The Chinese police never made the document known to either the Chinese public or the international community.

Huge investment in Olympic projects and a total lack of transparency have facilitated serious corruption and widespread bribery. Taxpayers are not allowed to supervise the use of investment amounting to more than $40 billion. Liu Zhihua, formerly in charge of Olympic construction and former deputy mayor of Beijing, was arrested for massive embezzlement.

Chinese activist Hu Jia, seen here in 2007, was jailed for three-and-a-half ...
Chinese activist Hu Jia, seen here in 2007, was jailed for three-and-a-half years for subversion. Rights groups said the charge is part of China’s campaign to silence dissent before the Olympics.(AFP/File/Frederic J. Brown)

To clear space for Olympic-related construction, thousands of civilian houses have been destroyed without their former owners being properly compensated. Brothers Ye Guozhu and Ye Guoqiang were imprisoned for a legal appeal after their house was forcibly demolished. Ye Guozhu has been repeatedly handcuffed and shackled, tied to a bed and beaten with electric batons. During the countdown to the Olympic Games he will continue to suffer from torture in Chaobei Prison in Tianjin.

It has been reported that over 1.25 million people have been forced to move because of Olympic construction; it was estimated that the figure would reach 1.5 million by the end of 2007. No formal resettlement scheme is in place for the over 400,000 migrants who have had their dwelling places demolished. Twenty percent of the demolished households are expected to experience poverty or extreme poverty. In Qingdao, the Olympic sailing city, hundreds of households have been demolished and many human rights activists as well as “civilians” have been imprisoned. Similar stories come from other Olympic cities such as Shenyang, Shanghai and Qinhuangdao.

In order to establish the image of civilized cities, the government has intensified the ban against — and detention and forced repatriation of — petitioners, beggars and the homeless. Some of them have been kept in extended detention in so-called shelters or have even been sent directly to labor camps. Street vendors have suffered brutal confiscation of their goods by municipal agents. On July 20, 2005, Lin Hongying, a 56-year-old woman farmer and vegetable dealer, was beaten to death by city patrols in Jiangsu. On November 19, 2005, city patrols in Wuxi beat 54-year-old bicycle repairman Wu Shouqing to death. In January 2007, petitioner Duan Huimin was killed by Shanghai police. On July 1, 2007, Chen Xiaoming, a Shanghai petitioner and human rights activist, died of an untreated illness during a lengthy detention period. On August 5, 2007, right before the one-year Olympics countdown, 200 petitioners were arrested in Beijing.

China has consistently persecuted human rights activists, political dissidents and freelance writers and journalists. The blind activist Chen Guangcheng, recipient of the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Award and named in 2006 by Time Magazine as one of the most influential 100 people shaping our world, is still serving his sentence of four years and three months for exposing the truth of forced abortion and sterilization. The government refused to give him the Braille books and the radio that his relatives and friends brought to Linyi prison in Shandong. Chen has been beaten while serving his sentence. On August 24, 2007, Chen’s wife, Yuan Weijing, was kidnapped by police at the Beijing airport while waiting to fly to the Philippines to receive the Ramon Magsaysay Award on behalf of her husband. On August 13, 2007, activist Yang Chunlin was arrested in Heilongjiang and charged with subversion of state power “for initiating the petition ‘Human Rights before Olympics.’ ”

China still practices literary inquisition and holds the world record for detaining journalists and writers, as many as several hundred since 1989, according to incomplete statistics. As of this writing, 35 Chinese journalists and 51 writers are still in prison. Over 90 percent were arrested or tried after Beijing’s successful bid for the Olympics in July 2001. For example, Shi Tao, a journalist and a poet, was sentenced to ten years in prison because of an e-mail sent to an overseas website. Dr. Xu Zerong, a scholar from Oxford University who researched the Korean War, was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment for “illegally providing information abroad.” Qingshuijun [Huang Jinqiu], a freelance writer, was sentenced to a 12-year term for his online publications. Some writers and dissidents are prohibited from going abroad; others from returning to China.

 

Every year in mainland China, countless websites are closed, blogs deleted, sensitive words filtered. Many websites hosted abroad are blocked. Overseas radio and television programs are interfered with or strictly prohibited. Although the Chinese government has promised media freedom for foreign journalists for 22 months, before, during, and after the Beijing Olympics, and ending on October 17, 2008, an FCCC [Foreign Correspondents Club in China] survey showed that 40 percent of foreign correspondents have experienced harassment, detention or an official warning during news gathering in Beijing and other areas. Some reporters have complained about repeated violent police interference at the time they were speaking with interviewees. Most seriously, Chinese interviewees usually become vulnerable as a result. In June 2006, Fu Xiancai was beaten and paralyzed after being interviewed by German media. In March 2007, Zheng Dajing was beaten and arrested after being interviewed by a British TV station.

Religious freedom is still under repression. In 2005, a Beijing pastor, Cai Zhuohua, was sentenced to three years for printing Bibles. Zhou Heng, a house church pastor in Xinjiang, was charged with running an “illegal operation” for receiving dozens of boxes of Bibles. From April to June 2007, China expelled over 100 suspected U.S., South Korean, Canadian, Australian, and other missionaries. Among them were humanitarian workers and language educators who had been teaching English in China for 15 years. During this so-called Typhoon 5 campaign, authorities took aim at missionary activities so as to prevent their recurrence during the Olympics.

On September 30, 2006, Chinese soldiers opened fire on 71 Tibetans who were escaping to Nepal. A 17-year-old nun died and a 20-year-old man was severely injured. Despite numerous international witnesses, the Chinese police insisted that the shooting was in self-defense. One year later, China tightened its control over Tibetan Buddhism. A September 1, 2007, regulation requires all reincarnated lamas to be approved by Chinese authorities, a requirement that flagrantly interferes with the tradition of reincarnation of living Buddhas as practiced in Tibet for thousands of years. In addition, Chinese authorities still ban the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet and a world-renowned pacifist, from returning to Tibet.

Since 1999, the government has banned many religious beliefs such as Falungong and the Three Servants. Their followers have experienced extremely cruel and planned persecutions. Many died from abuse, suffered torture, brainwashing, imprisonment and labor camp internment for persisting in their faith, possessing religious books, making DVDs and writing articles to expose the truth of the persecution.

 

China has the highest death penalty rate in the world. Execution statistics are treated as “state secrets.” However, experts estimate that 8,000-10,000 people are sentenced to death in China every year, among them not only criminals and economic convicts, but totally innocent citizens, such as Nie Shubin, Teng Xingshan, Cao Haixin and Hugejiletu, whose innocence was proven only after they were already dead.

Another eight innocent farmers, Chen Guoqing, He Guoqiang, Yang Shiliang, Zhu Yanqiang, Huang Zhixiang, Fang Chunping, Cheng Fagen and Cheng Lihe, who confessed their “crimes” after being cruelly tortured by the police, have been sentenced to death and are currently held in prisons in Hebei [province] and in Jingdezhen [in Jiangxi province].

Torture is very common in China’s detention centers, labor camps and prisons. Torture methods include electric shock, burning, use of electric needles, beating and hanging, sleep deprivation, forced chemical injection causing nerve damage, and piercing the fingers with needles. Every year, there are reported cases of Chinese citizens being disabled or killed by police torture.

Labor camps are still retained as a convenient Chinese system which allows the police to lock up citizens without trial for up to four years. The detention system is another practice that the police favor, freeing them to detain citizens for six months to two years. Dissidents and human rights activists are particularly vulnerable targets and are often sent to labor camps, detention centers or even mental hospitals by authorities who want to simplify legal procedures and mislead the media.
China has the world’s largest secret police system, the Ministry of National Security (guo an) and the Internal Security Bureau (guo bao) of the Ministry of Public Security, which exercise power beyond the law. They can easily tap telephones, follow citizens, place them under house arrest, detain them and impose torture. On June 3, 2004, the Chinese secret police planted drugs on Chongqing dissident Xu Wanping and later sentenced him to 12 years’ imprisonment for “subversion of state power.”

 

Chinese citizens have no right to elect state leaders, local government officials or representatives. In fact, there has never been free exercise of election rights in township-level elections. Wuhan resident Sun Bu’er, a member of the banned political party the Pan-Blue Alliance, was brutally beaten in September 2006 for participating as an independent candidate during an election of county-level people’s congress representatives. Mr. Sun disappeared on March 23, 2007.

China continues to cruelly discriminate against its rural population. According to the Chinese election law, a farmer’s right to vote is worth one quarter of that of an urban resident. In June 2007, the Shanxi kiln scandal was exposed by the media. Thousands of 8- [to-]13[-]year-old trafficked children had been forced to labor in illegal kilns, almost all with local government connections. Many of the children were beaten, tortured and even buried alive.

The Chinese judiciary still illegally forbids any HIV/AIDS lawsuits against government officials responsible for the tragedy. AIDS sufferers and activists have been constantly harassed by the secret police.

The Chinese government has been selling arms and weapons to Darfur and other African regions to support ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The Chinese authorities have forcibly repatriated North Korean refugees, knowing that they would be sent to labor camps or executed once back home. This significantly contravenes China’s accession to the “Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees” and the “Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.”

 

· Please be aware that the Olympic Games will be held in a country where there are no elections, no freedom of religion, no independent courts, no independent trade unions; where demonstrations and strikes are prohibited; where torture and discrimination are supported by a sophisticated system of secret police; where the government encourages the violation of human rights and dignity, and is not willing to undertake any of its international obligations.

 

· Please consider whether the Olympic Games should coexist with religious persecution[,] labor camps, modern slavery, identity discrimination, secret police and crimes against humanity.

 

As the Beijing Olympics slogan says, we live in “one world” with “one dream.” We hope that one day the Chinese people will be able to share universal human rights, democracy and peace with people from all around the world. However, we can see that the Chinese government obviously is not yet prepared to honor its promise. As a matter of fact, the preparations for the Olympics have provided the perfect excuse for the Chinese government to restrict civil liberties and suppress human rights!

We do not want China to be contained or isolated from the rest of the world. We believe that only by adhering to the principles of human rights and through open dialogue can the world community pressure the Chinese government to change. Ignoring these realities and tolerating barbaric atrocities in [the] name of the Beijing Olympics will disgrace the Olympic Charter and shake the foundations of humanity. Human rights improvement requires time, but we should at least stop China’s human rights situation from deteriorating. Having the Olympics hosted in a country where human dignity is trampled on will not honor its people or the Olympic Games.

We sincerely hope that the Olympic Games will bring the values of peace, equality, freedom and justice to 1.3 billion Chinese citizens. We pray that the Olympics will be held in a free China. We must push for the 2008 Olympics to live up to the Olympic Charter[,] and we must advocate for the realization of “one world” with “one human rights dream.” We believe that only an Olympic Games true to the Olympic Charter can promote China’s democratic progress, world peace and development.

We firmly hold to the belief that there can be no true Olympic Games without human rights and dignity. For China and for the Olympics, human rights must be upheld!

 

China’s Wen Open To Talks With Dalai Lama

March 20, 2008

By David R. Sands
The Washington Times
March 20, 2008
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China’s prime minister said yesterday that he would still be ready to negotiate directly with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, under the right conditions, even as Beijing struggled to control the worst political violence in the remote region in decades.

Riot policemen stand guard behind barricades set to separate ...
Riot policemen stand guard behind barricades set to separate the Chinese side from the Tibetan side at a main street in Xiahe town, Gansu province, March 19, 2008.(Nir Elias/Reuters)

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told lawmakers in London that his discussions with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao indicated hope for a meeting, despite Beijing’s rhetoric accusing the Dalai Lama of instigating the anti-Chinese demonstrations in the provincial capital of Lhasa and other cities in Tibet.
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Zhang Qingli, Tibet’s Communist Party chief, called the clash that began a week ago a “life-or-death struggle with the Dalai Lama clique,” in an editorial in Tibet’s state-owned newspaper.
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But Mr. Brown said, “The premier told me that, subject to two things that the Dalai Lama has already said — that he does not support the total independence of Tibet and that he renounces violence — that [Mr. Wen] would be prepared to enter into dialogue with the Dalai Lama.”
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The Dalai Lama, breaking with some Tibetan separatist groups, has called for greater self-rule for Tibet inside China. But direct talks with the Beijing regime have stalled over differences about the size and powers of a Tibetan autonomous region.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080320/FOREIGN/12628175/1003

Dalai Lama Says He’ll Meet With Chinese President, Officials

DHARMSALA, India – The Dalai Lama says he’s willing to meet with Chinese leaders, including President Hu Jintao.

胡锦涛
Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao

But Tibet’s exiled Buddhist leader said Thursday he would not meet with Chinese leaders in Beijing unless there was “a real concrete development.” He said he would be happy to meet them elsewhere.

Chinese soldiers in riot gear walk towards the main square in ...
Chinese soldiers in riot gear walk towards the main square in the city of Kangding, located around 400 km (250 miles) west of Chengdu in Sichuan province March 20, 2008. China has been grappling to quell unrest in several Tibetan towns and villages in the country’s west, after Buddhist monk-led demonstrations in Tibet’s capital Lhasa turned violent on Friday. The government in recent days has asked foreigners in Tibet to leave and has suspended approving travel permits to the Himalayan region.
REUTERS/David Gray (CHINA)

Chinese officials have accused the Dalai Lama and his supporters of organizing violent clashes in Tibet in hopes of sabotaging this summer’s Beijing Olympics and promoting Tibetan independence.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080320/ap_on_re_as/
india_dalai_lama;_ylt=AvI
zT0lZwKMbZErXJtGUFUOs0NUE

Human Rights, Vietnam: Senate Hearing

March 15, 2008

March 15, 2008

At a hearing this past week of the U.S. Senate Sub-Committee on East Asian & Pacific Affairs, Dr. Ngai Nguyen, Vice Secretary of the Democratic Party of Vietnam, in a prepared Statement, praised Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator James Webb for holding this important hearing to examine U.S. – Vietnam Relations.

Dr. Ngai Nguyen, the Vice Secretary of the Democratic Party of Vietnam, pointed out that Vietnam had shown some improvement in their behavior toward human rights in 2006 when it was eager to receive favorable trade relations agreements with the United States, and membership in the World Trade Organization.

The U.S. Capitol building is seen in Washington January 28, ... 

But once these benefits were granted, the government of Vietnam in 2007 reverted to an increase in arrests of dissidents, incarceration of religious leaders and restrictions on both political and religious freedoms.

One recent example surrounded the death on February 7, 2008, of Mr. Hoang Minh Chinh, the founder of the Democratic Party of Vietnam.

Dr. Nhan Nguyen, a prominent cardiac surgeon at Stanford University, and a member of the DPV, traveled to Hanoi to attend the funeral. However, one day prior to the funeral, she was kidnapped and deported from the country.

Another recent example was the fact that Trung Tien Nguyen, at age 24 and a half, more than six years older than most recruits, was drafted into the Vietnamese army last month. He had a job and was still going to graduate school, but was singled out because he was a young and active member of the DPV in Vietnam.

At the hearing, Christopher Hill, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State, in response to a question from the Committee, stated “there is still only one authorized political party in Vietnam, the Communist Party.”

Dr. Nguyen also praised the release on March 11, 2008 of the Department of State’s Country Report on Human Rights Practices, 2007, which said, “The Vietnamese Government’s human rights record remains unsatisfactory.”

The primary mission of the Democratic Party of Vietnam is to persuade the Communist Party, through peaceful means, to recognize the freedoms of the UN Charter and to allow multi-political parties, freedom of press and religion and the right to produce private publications, and the opportunity to live in a free enterprise economy with free entry, exit and travel.

A Whiff of Openness at China’s Congress

March 14, 2008

By Jill Drew 
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, March 14, 2008; Page A13

BEIJING — China is awash in policy proposals as more than 5,000 people meet this month to ratify laws handed down by Communist Party leaders. The official Chinese news media portray it as democracy in action — delegates, selected by local officials to represent their regions, offer ideas for laws they believe will improve conditions back home.
China's Polituro standing member and likely future successor ... 
China’s Polituro standing member and likely future successor to President Hu, Xi Jinping, foreground, delivers remarks as China’s President Hu Jintao looks on during the plenary session of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in this March 11, 2008 file photo. Entrusted with the Beijing Olympics and set to be made vice president, Xi Jinpeng is moving closer to cementing his status as China’s future president and Communist Party leader.
(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

The Great Hall of the People is not exactly filled with activists and partisans vigorously debating the future of the country’s leadership. That topic is off-limits. Still, the delegates are engaged in an elaborate process that analysts say is opening a window on President Hu Jintao‘s tentative efforts to make the Communist Party relevant and to provide a controlled forum for debate.

Chinese officials have trumpeted the openness and inclusiveness of this year’s two-week National People’s Congress (NPC) and a concurrent set of meetings by the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress, the government’s top advisory body. Proposals are being published for public comment instead of just being offered for a rubber-stamp vote. There are noticeably more news conferences than in years past. And for the first time, several meetings of the provincial delegations have been opened to journalists.

In meetings, delegates can disagree with party positions and suggest alternatives, said David Shambaugh, director of the China policy program at George Washington University. “But if you go out and organize others,” he said, “the red line is crossed.”

Read the rest:
 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/13/AR2008031303651.html

U.S. to keep pressing Vietnam on jailed activists

March 13, 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States will use human rights talks with Vietnam in May to press for the release of political prisoners, including a U.S. citizen jailed last year, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia said on Wednesday.
 

A woman walks past a branch of Vietnam's Investment and ...
 woman walks past a branch of Vietnam’s Investment and Development Bank in Hanoi March 11, 2008.
REUTERS/KHAM (VIETNAM)

U.S . Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill, who visited Hanoi this month, told a U.S. Senate hearing he had raised the jailings of Nguyen Quoc Quan of California and other democracy activists with Vietnamese authorities and would keep on pressing these and other cases.

“We will continue to push vigorously for a greater expansion of the civil and political rights of all Vietnamese citizens and for the release of all political prisoners,” Hill said in a written statement to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Hill testified before the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs a day after the State Department’s annual report….

Read the rest:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080312/pl_nm/
rights_vietnam_usa_dc_1

U.S. eases criticism of China and targets Russia

March 11, 2008
By Sue Pleming 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States took aim at Russia on Tuesday in its annual report on human rights, accusing the government of corruption and electoral abuses, but seemed to ease criticism of China ahead of the Olympic Games.

Paramilitary policemen stand in front of a bus with Olympic ...
Paramilitary policemen stand in front of a us with Olympic mascots in the window as they watch delegates from the National People’s Congress (NPC) walk towards the Great Hall of the People in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square March 11, 2008.(David Gray/Reuters)

In examining human rights in more than 190 countries last year, the State Department also criticized its usual targets Pakistan, Afghanistan, North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Sudan, China, Nepal, Syria and Zimbabwe.

“Countries in which power was concentrated in the hands of unaccountable rulers remained the world’s most systematic human rights violators,” said the report, which is widely resented by foreign governments that come under fire.

In a gesture likely to annoy human rights groups, the State Department did not include China among the world’s worst offenders like last year but Beijing‘s record on the issue was described as “poor.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080311/ts_nm/right_
usa_dc_4

US: Olympic host China lacks freedoms

March 11, 2008
By ANNE GEARAN, AP Diplomatic Reporter

WASHINGTON – The United States branded China an authoritarian human rights abuser Tuesday, citing alleged torture, state control of basic aspects of daily life, tight controls on religion and harassment of foreign charities.

A woman holds a placard as she participates in the Sydney leg ...
A woman holds a placard as she participates in the Sydney leg of the Global Human Rights Torch Relay (HRTR), in 2007. The US dropped China from its list of the world’s worst human rights violators, but added Syria, Uzbekistan and Sudan to the alleged offenders in an annual report released Tuesday.(AFP/File/Greg Wood)

China, host of the summer Olympics, has rampant and chronic human rights problems despite rapid economic growth that has transformed large parts of Chinese society, the State Department said in its annual accounting of human rights practices around the world.

The world’s most populous nation, China is an increasingly important U.S. trade partner and a chief competitor with the United States for energy and shrinking natural resources. It is the object of broad U.S. economic and diplomatic outreach, with mixed results.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080311/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_human_rights_3
 

Communist Candidate Says Russia Elections “Can’t Be Fair”

February 4, 2008

MOSCOW (AFP)–The veteran leader of Russia’s Communist Party Monday said a March 2 presidential election wouldn’t be honest but vowed to keep his name on the ballot for the sake of democracy.

“Elections in Russia cannot be fair,” Gennady Zyuganov said as he set out his platform at a news conference on the first working day of the campaign. “Thieves cannot organize free elections.”

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INE000257.htm
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Note to Berkeley: Marines Are Not The Enemy

February 2, 2008

By Michelle Malkin  •  January 31, 2008

“Osama bin Laden couldn’t have said it better,” American Legion National Commander Marty Conatser said of the Berkeley City Council Resolution, which tells the Marines that they are not welcome there. “Disgraceful, disloyal, ungrateful. These words are too kind in describing the actions of the public officials in Berkeley, who voted for this disgrace.

Nonetheless, our Marines continue to bravely serve and in so doing, allow Americans to spout such foolishness. The American Legion not only strongly condemns this action by the City Council but also believes that a sincere apology is in order to all Marines, past and present.”

U.S. Marines conduct a search for insurgents during a training ...
U.S. Marines conduct a search for insurgents during a training simulation of a search through an Iraqi city built at the U.S. Marine Base in Camp Pendleton, California, June 29, 2006.
REUTERS/Mike Blake 
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Conatser, the leader of the nation’s largest veterans organization, was referring to a measure passed by the Council 6-3 Tuesday, that tells the U.S. Marine Corps that one of its recruiting stations is “not welcome in the city, and if recruiters choose to stay, they do as uninvited and unwelcome intruders.”The City Council marched in complete lock-step with radical anti-war group Code Pink in attempting to drive out Marine recruiters from its San Francisco suburb. The City Council also voted 8-1 to give Code Pink a free parking space in front of a recruiting station, along with a free sound permit for protesting once a week.Marine recruiters at Berkeley have faced harassment from protestors who regularly block nearby sidewalks, generate excessive noise and disrupt business.”I have been a recruiter in the National Guard and I know that it’s tough duty, with long hours,” Conatser said. “What these recruiters do is essential to our national security.Without recruiters we have no military. And I don’t think we can count on the flower children from Berkeley to protect this nation when it comes under attack. They have to remember that Marines are not the enemy; the terrorists are.”Conatser pointed out that The American Legion strongly supports the war on terrorism, passing a national resolution of its own.”Resolution 169 was passed unanimously by The American Legion in 2005 and it has been re-affirmed every year since. It reminds Americans that you can not separate the war from the warrior and that the American people should stand united in support for our troops who are engaged in protecting our values and our way of life.”

With a current membership of 2.7-million wartime veterans, The American Legion, http://www.legion.org, was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and patriotic youth programs.

Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.
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U.S. Marine Corps,
Berkeley
BERKELEY – Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates offered Friday to help the U.S. Marines leave town by negotiating an end to the lease for their recruiting station, even as he backpedaled on a City Council resolution declaring the Corps “uninvited and unwelcome intruders” in the city.In the face of an onslaught of pro-military criticism from around the country, Bates, a retired Army captain, also issued a statement that said the City Council’s resolution Tuesday night “did not adequately differentiate our respect and support for those serving in the armed forces and our opposition to the Iraq war policy.”He said he would ask the council to modify the resolution at its next meeting, scheduled for Feb. 12.

A Marines spokeswoman said Friday that the Corps has no intention of abandoning its space at 64 Shattuck Square that has been the subject of protests for months.

The council voted 6-3 Tuesday to tell the Marines that their recruiting station is not welcome in the city. In a separate vote, the council supported the women’s peace group Code Pink by giving it a designated parking space in front of the recruiting station once a week for six months and a free sound permit for protesting once a week from noon to 4 p.m.

The council also voted to explore enforcing its law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation against the Marines.
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Letter from A Former POW to Mayor of Berkeley

Dear Mayor Bates and the City Council of Berkeley: It is because of the Marines, Soldiers and Sailors that you are not conducting city business in Japanese or German. Here is an excerpt from the poem “What is a Vet” that follows.

Mike Benge civilian VN-POW 1968-73

“It is the soldier, not the reporter, Who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, Who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, Who salutes the flag,Who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, Who allows the protestor to burn the flag.”

WHAT IS A VET? Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a aged scar, a certain look in the eye.

Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together,a piece of shrapnel in the leg, or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul’s ally forged in the refinery of adversity. Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You can’t tell a vet just by looking.

What is a vet? He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweatingtwo gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn’t runout of fuel.

He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.

She – or he – is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.
He is the POW who went away one person and came back another – or didn’t come back AT ALL.

He is the Quantico drill instructor that has never seen combat – but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other’s backs.

He is the parade – riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand. He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.

He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of  The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean’s sunless deep.

He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket – palsied now andaggravatingly slow – who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when thenightmares come.

He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being a person who offered some of his life’s most vital years in the service of hiscountry, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not haveto sacrifice theirs.

He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known. So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say Thank You. That’s all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded. Two little words that mean a lot, “THANK YOU”.

Remember November 11th is Veterans Day.

“It is the soldier, not the reporter, Who has given us freedom of thepress. It is the soldier, not the poet, Who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer,

Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, Who salutes the flag,Whoserves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, Who allows the protestor to burn the flag.”

Father Dennis Edward O’Brien, Lt. Col., USMC
Space shuttle Atlantis lifts off from pad 39A at the Kennedy ...