Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

Gaga gagged

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

The Indonesian Islamists won’t have her sing, even when Indonesia is supposedly a secular state,

Lady Gaga gagged in Indonesia after Islamic opposition

Pop star Lady Gaga has been refused a permit to perform in the Indonesian capital next month over security concerns, police said on Tuesday, after Islamic groups voiced strong objections to her “vulgar” style.

In other parts of the world, Mark Steyn confronts the truth,

For every independent-minded soul like Senator Bernardi, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, or Baroness Cox (who arranged a screening of Wilders’ film Fitna at the House of Lords), there are a thousand other public figures who get the message: Steer clear of Islam unless you want your life consumed — and steer clear of Wilders if you want to be left in peace.

So, while I don’t like Lady Gaga, must deplore that her concert(s) are cancelled.

China increases military spending by 12.6%

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

China’s buying the producers of raw materials for most everything they can get a hold of, and now they’re increasing military spending by 12.6%:

China’s military spending will rise 12.6 percent in 2011 to 583.6 billion renminbi, or about $88.6 billion, a separate Finance Ministry report stated on Saturday, slightly less than the 12.7 percent increase announced on Friday by a legislative spokesman.

That resumes a long string of double-digit annual increases in military spending that was interrupted in 2010, when spending rose only 7.5 percent, perhaps, analysts said, because money was diverted to address the global economic crisis.

What, me worry?


Aung San Suu Kyi released from house arrest UPDATED with VIDEO

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Myanmar Frees Democracy Leader Suu Kyi

Myanmar’s government released pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi after more than seven years of house arrest, offering a glimmer of hope for opposition groups that have been trying to unseat the country’s harsh military regime for decades.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners noted that more than 2,200 political prisoners continue to be held in Myanmar and released a statement, “Unlike Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, the door to freedom will not be opened wide with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s release, indeed, it will not even be opened a crack.”

Suu Kyi is a hero. Her struggle continues.

Cubachi has the video,


O to Oz: There ain’t gonna be no trip

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Remember that Australia trip Obama was going to make last Spring, which got postponed?

It ain’t gonna happen, again:
Obama postpones Indonesia, Australia trip again

President Obama has once again postponed his trip to Indonesia and Australia, telephoning the leaders of the two countries late Thursday night, the White House said.

It is the second time the trip has been canceled. It was originally planned for March but was put off because the president wanted to be in Washington for a critical health-care vote in Congress.

Now, the president needs to stay in Washington to oversee the worsening environmental crisis from the oil spill off the Gulf Coast, making a seven-day venture oversees impractical and politically problematic.

As Roseanne Roseannadanna said, “it’s always something!”, isn’t it?

Obama had been scheduled to leave June 13 and stay abroad for a week, spending time in Indonesia, Guam and Australia. There was no indication in the statement about when he might try again.

This time Obama dropped the pretense of a “re-schedule”,

Mr. Obama telephoned Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia to tell them he could not come after all, the White House said in a statement issued at midnight.

This ought to clear any doubts as to whether Obama sees himself almost exclusively as a domestic-issues president.

Well, in that case, “never mind!”

Daniel Drezner: Barack Obama has foolishly decided to blow off the most dynamic region in the globe — again


World newspapers’ reaction to the Obama victory:

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

A couple of people asked if I’ll be posting on the election results in Puerto Rico. Yes, I’m working on a post for later this afternoon

Please note that I translated all the items below that were not originally in English from their original Spanish, French, or Portuguese. If you use any of them please credit and add link to this blog. Thank you.

Brazilian newspaper O Globo has a list of newspaper reactions from around the world: Principais jornais do mundo: vitória de Obama é feito histórico (Main newspapers of the world: Obama’s vitory is an historic event).

Clarin, Argentina: El Gobierno considera que la victoria de Obama es “un mensaje de esperanza” para el mundo (The [Argentinian] government considers Obama’s victory a “message of hope” for the world.) Argentinian chancellor Jorge Taiana added, “it’s the end of the cycle of neoliberalism.

El Universal, Venezuela, quotes Hugo Chavez, who never misses a chance to be inopportune,

“I truly wish (the new president of the United States) to change the imperialist vision; I wish him to suspend the blockade on Cuba (which has been effective since the 1960’s); everybody has been asking for it for a long, long time.”

Noticias 24, Venezuela: La embajada de EEUU en Caracas celebro una fiesta electoral (Election night party at the US Embassy in Caracas)

La Razon, Bolivia América Latina busca mayor atención
REACCIONES • Los gobernantes y analistas consideran que se acabará la indiferencia con la región, serán revisados los acuerdos comerciales y restablecidas las relaciones diplomáticas.
(Latin America seeks more attention
REACTIONS: Leaders and analysts believe it’ll be the end of indifference towards the region, business agreements will be revised, and diplomatic relationships will be re-established.)

El Mercurio, Chile: Obama se convierte en el primer Presidente de color de EE.UU. (Obama becomes the US’s first president of color.)

Las victorias demócratas en los estados clave de Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Carolina del Norte, Nevada y Colorado le aseguraron a Obama tempranamente el triunfo, a pesar de que aún faltaba el recuento de votos en parte del territorio. (The Democrats’ victories in the key states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Nevada and Colorado insured Obama’s early triumph, in spite of parts of the country’s vote not yet being tallied.)

El Tiempo, Colombia: Editorial Obama logro lo practicamente imposible (Obama achieved the nearly impossible)

Granma, Cuba: Obama a la Casa Blanca (Obama to the White House)

As I said in the podcast, prior to the podcast I didn’t have enough time to link to Mexican newspapers; here are two, both from Mexico City:
El Universal: Cae barrera racial
Obama primer presidente negro en Estado Unidos
(Racial barrier comes down. Obama’s first black US president)
El Sol de Mexico: Récord de votantes hispanos en EU; mayoría con Obama (Record number of Hispanic voters in the US; most for Obama)

El Pais, Spain: Sarkozy destaca la “victoria brillante” de Obama
Los mandatarios mundiales felicitan al líder demócrata.- Irak no espera “grandes variaciones” de la política de EE UU en su país
(Sarkozy highlights Obama’s “brilliant victory”; World leaders congratulate the Democratic leader – Iraq doesn’t expect “big changes” in US politics towards their country). El Pais lists world leaders’ reactions:

France’s Sarkozy highlights the “brilliant victory”
Germany’s Merkel asks for unity between the US and the EU
The EU’s Barroso believes in the “strength through unity”
UK’s Brown is encouraged by Obama’s “progressive values”
Iraq doesn’t expect “big changes” in US politics towards their country:
“El Gobierno iraquí, que da la bienvenida y respeta la elección del pueblo estadounidense, no espera un gran cambio en la política de EEUU hacia Irak, ni que se pueda producir de la noche a la mañana”, ha destacado el ministro iraquí de Asuntos Exteriores, Hoshiar Zibari. (“The Iraqi government, which welcomes and respects the American people’s election, does not expect a big change in US policy towards Iraq, nor that it would change overnight,” Exterior Minister Hoshiar Zibari stated.

Mexican president expects a new stage in US-Mexican relations
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas asks for “accelerated efforts to find a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict”
Afghanistan “applauds” the voters’ choice
Iran believes the US should change its attitude
Moscow expects a more constructive relationship
The EU’s Solana proposes joint solutions between the EU and the US
Italy’s Berlusconi congratulates the winner
Mandela applauds the commitment to peace and security

Notice the difference between what that article said about Iraq, and that of The Guardian, UK: The world reacts to the new US presidentOverwhelming congratulations and an ‘awesome’ from Bush while Baghdad remains sceptical

Elsewhere, the vast majority of world leaders welcomed Obama’s win as a landmark moment for both the US and the wider world, while warning of the challenges the new president will face once in office.

A couple were less enthusiastic – Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, noted that the new president “will not have the same enthusiasm and momentum for this situation (in Iraq)” as did Bush – while Sudan was distinctly underwhelmed.

Additionally, El Pais did not mention Israel.

Times, UK: Analysis: Barack Obama’s victory is head-spinning stuff
Two years ago Barack Obama identified that the overwhelming sentiment in this election would be a desire for change
They also have a video on Obama’s rise.

Le Monde, France: “Les Etats-Unis ont surmonté les démons du passé” (“The US has surmounted the demons of the past,” says Le Monde’s editor, Alain Frachon)

Le Figaro, France: Le monde salue la victoire
de Barack Obama
(The world salutes Obama’s victory)

Pravda, Russia: A change for the better, which starts with

Only Satan would have been worse than the Bush regime.

I guess that’s their take on “thank goodness for term limits”?

Haaretz, Israel: Livni: Israel expects strong U.S. friendship to continue under Obama

“Israel expects the close strategic cooperation with the new administration, president and Congress will continue along with the continued strengthening of the special and unshakeable special relationship between the two countries,” she said.

In a statement, she called the Obama’s election “a mark of merit for American democracy.”

China Daily: Commentary: We wish US president-elect Obama well

The Standard, Kenya: Kenya erupts in celebration as Obama wins

The Australian, Australia: Janet Alberchstein’s blog, Is America a racist nation after all?

The NY Times: The Promise
For Many Abroad, an Ideal Renewed

Wall Street Journal: Read Their Lips
And the winner is … tax cuts.

Washington Post: Obama Makes History
U.S. Decisively Elects First Black President; Democrats Expand Control of Congress

Washington Times: EDITORIAL: Why weren’t they ready?

In heavily contested battleground states like Virginia, Pennsylvania and Florida, state elections officials recorded ever-expanding voter rolls month after month. But in most cases, they only marginally expanded access or upgraded their voting machines. Tuesday, the high turnouts proved they weren’t ready. Election officials need to explain why.

Post from last August: Latin American news media cover the Presidential campaign, and McCain is invisible

More on world reaction at 10AM Eastern in today’s podcast. The call-in number is 646 652-2639, and chat’s open by 9:45AM. Please join in!

You can listen to the podcast here.

Listen to Faustas blog on internet talk radio


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Colombia smashes drug ring with Hezbollah ties

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Extraordinary news from Colombia:
Colombia smashes drug ring with Hezbollah ties

Colombian authorities said on Tuesday they broke up a drug and money-laundering ring in an international operation that included the capture of three people suspected of shipping funds to Hezbollah guerrillas.

More than 100 suspects were arrested in Colombia and overseas on charges they trafficked drugs and laundered cash for Colombia’s Norte del Valle cartel and for outlawed paramilitaries in a network that stretched from South America to Asia, the attorney’s general office said.

“The criminal organisation used routes through Venezuela, Panama, Guatemala, Middle East and Europe, bringing in cash from the sale of these substances,” the statement said.

Among those arrested in Colombia were three people suspected of coordinating drug smuggling to send some of their profits to groups such as Hezbollah, the office said.

Those suspects — Chekry Mahmoud Harb, Ali Mohamad Abdul Rahim and Zacaria Hussein Harb — used front companies to send drug cash overseas, it said without providing further details.

Also among the arrested, Guatemalan drug kingpin Otto Roberto Herrera García one of the 40 most wanted criminals in the world.

In addition to Venezuela, Panama, Guatemala, Middle East and Europe, the cartel transacted in the US, Canada, Africa, and Asia, which is unsual, considering that Asian countries involved are also drug producers. Not unsual, however, would be that the international drug rings may be using similar money laundering processes and resources.

Also arrested were members of paramilitary groups in Colombia.

Here’s the official Colombian government press release on the raid (in Spanish). I’m not sure why the WaPo finds it necessary to title their Reuters reprint as “Colombia says smashes drug ring with Hezbollah ties.”

This is an extraordinary mission indeed.
First of all, the Colombian armed forces have performed another hugely successful operation this year. The US training and technology are well used, and the military have proved themselves trustworthy. This alone is a tremendous improvement from the condition they were in eight years ago.

This was an international operation: Colombia’s seeking out and cooperating with international law enforcement agencies. This particular operation had been in the works for two years,

A statement from the [Colombian] attorney general’s office said the international police operation, codenamed Titan, had been under way for more than two years.

Its aim was to break up a drug-trafficking and money-laundering ring that operated globally, from Colombia to the US, Canada, Europe and the Middle East.

Ninety people were detained overseas, while raids in the cities of Bogota, Cali, Medellin and Pereira led to 21 further arrests.

From the internal security standpoint, Colombian law enforcement is also going after the paramilitaries. Are you paying attention, Obama and the House Democrats?

Last but not least: International terrorism, Islamists (in this case, Shi’ite Hezbollah), crime, kidnapping, money laundering and the drug trade are not separate elements in South America; they are the threads from which one fabric is woven. American policymakers need to recognize that fact.

The US must show its support of Colombia in every way. Passing the FTA would be a good start.

Recent archived posts on Hezbollah in Latin America here, including the story on the Venezuelan Minister of the Interior‘s ties with Hezbollah.
See also November 2007: Piracy, the Tri-Border Area and terrorism and July 2006: Hezbollah in Latin America


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Something to cheer about

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

Two Cheers for Russia’s Invasion of Georgia

1) It would be great if clarity came cheap. Sometimes it does, but often it doesn’t. In our liberation of Iraq, for instance, late realization about troop strength and strategy cost us men, money, and the opportunity to more easily advance our foreign policy goals everywhere from North Korea to Iran to Venezuela. Now we all have clarity about the nasty nature of Putin’s Russia (though I hope experts like Secretary Rice aren’t surprised), just as 9/11 gave us the full matrix about the true reality of the world we live in. It will be democratic Georgia, however, paying the price this time.

Go read the second thing to cheer about, at Capital Commerce.


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Georgia burns while Nancy fiddles

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Shamelessly stolen from Flopping Aces (click on cartoon for larger version),

Via Don’t go twitterfeed, a twitter points out that Russian jets targeted major oil pipeline: Georgia.

Roger Kimball (emphasis added):

When Russian tanks and troops poured into the separatist Georgian province of South Ossetia yesterday, it was not, as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said, part of a “peacekeeping mission.” It was part of an imperialist mission whose undeclared goal is to reabsorb the whole of Georgia–West-leaning Georgia with its critical oil pipeline supplying energy to an increasingly thirsty Europe–into mother Russia.

Indeed, that pipeline is the unacknowledged key to the drama–unacknowledged, anyway, by the belligerents. As an AP story notes, the “U.S.-backed oil pipeline runs through Georgia, allowing the West to reduce its reliance on Middle Eastern oil while bypassing Russia and Iran.” A good thing for the West; but is such autonomy something Russia (or, for that matter, Iran) wants to encourage? Indeed, as I write, Reuters has issued an unconfirmed report that earlier today Russia attacked not only targets in South Ossetia but also targeted “the major Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline.”

The Dems are asleep at the energy wheel. Energy policy is a matter of national security. Dependence on foreign oil puts us, at the very least, at the mercy of volatile markets and international conflicts.

While the Democrat congress is away on vacation, what is their candidate saying? Meaningless statements, that’s what:

McCain has strongly and unequivocally come out in support of our ally Georgia, while placing the onus for the war squarely where it belongs, on Russia. In this, he has aligned himself with our most loyal European allies. Obama, on the other hand, issued the sort of vapid statement that would ingratiate him with the State Department while not requiring any distraction from his Hawaii vacation. An interesting point, by the way: McCain is supposed to be the old guy, but Obama is the one who needs a vacation.

It is often said that Obama is not ready to be President, but I don’t think this is exactly right. It seems pretty obvious that Obama, given his temperament, his self-regard, his blithe ignorance of history and of the material conditions of life on this planet, will never be ready to be President. He is not unready: he is unsuited for, and inadequate to, the office.

And so are the vacational Congresspeople.

[Don’t come bellyaching to tell me vacational is not a word. I just made it a word.]


To recap: John McCain forthrightly condemns Russia’s behavior and demands that Russia withdraw unconditionally. Obama wants to turn the mess over to the UN.

Check out also Eagles, Bears, & Peaceful Europeans.


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About those Russian planes….

Friday, August 8th, 2008

Reporting on the Russia-Georgia war, an interesting paragraph in the NYT (emphasis added):

There were unconfirmed reports that Georgian forces had shot down two Russian planes and that its aircraft had bombed a convoy of Russian tanks that was moving into the area.

If this is the case, what does this say of the Russian airforce?

Richard Fernandez points out that

The Georgians have contributed troops to the US campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Georgian military has been rebuilt by US military trainers.

Presently, Hugo Chavez is purchasing Russian fighter jets, claiming that 24 Russian Sukhoi fighter jets have been delivered to Venezuela.

Russian Planes Can Sink ‘Gringo Ships’, said Hugo, fresh from his Moscow trip.

If the Georgians have actually shot down two, maybe Hugo should be asking for a refund.


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Headlines: Edwards vs the Georgians

Friday, August 8th, 2008

While the cable TV news stations go wall-to-wall about John Edwards, who admits to his affair but denies he’s the child’s father (without taking a DNA test, of course), the Russians and the Georgians are going at it:

The BBC, which is the only one not starring Edwards, has the headline Russian forces battle Georgians
and the video:

Russian forces are locked in fierce clashes with Georgia inside its breakaway South Ossetia region, reports say, amid fears of all-out war.

Moscow sent armoured units across the border after Georgia moved against Russian-backed separatists.

Russia says 12 of its soldiers are dead, and separatists estimate that 1,400 civilians have died.

Georgia accuses Russia of waging war, and says it has suffered heavy losses in bombing raids, which Russia denies.

Russian tanks have reportedly reached the northern suburbs of the regional capital, Tskhinvali, and there were conflicting claims about who was in control of the city.

The McCain campaign has issued a statement:

Today news reports indicate that Russian military forces crossed an internationally-recognized border into the sovereign territory of Georgia. Russia should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory. What is most critical now is to avoid further confrontation between Russian and Georgian military forces. The consequences for Euro-Atlantic stability and security are grave.

The government of Georgia has called for a cease-fire and for a resumption of direct talks on South Ossetia with international mediators. The U.S. should immediately convene an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council to call on Russia to reverse course. The US should immediately work with the EU and the OSCE to put diplomatic pressure on Russia to reverse this perilous course it has chosen. We should immediately call a meeting of the North Atlantic Council to assess Georgia’s security and review measures NATO can take to contribute to stabilizing this very dangerous situation. Finally, the international community needs to establish a truly independent and neutral peacekeeping force in South Ossetia.

Don’t hold your breath for NATO:

Let this be another lesson in how Chamberlain-esqe conflict aversion turns minor squabbles into all out war. Had NATO followed President Bush’s advice and brought Georgia on board, this whole affair may have been avoided. Now, like so many other Russian dissidents that have felt Putin’s wrath, Georgia is paying the price for its pro-western ambitions.

Richard Fernandez analizes the situation:

The geopolitical value of South Ossetia, a remote region in the foothills of the Caucasus, is negligible. It is hardly worth a serious conflict between Russia and Georgia, still less between Russia and NATO. But a wounded Russian pride and American responsibility towards a loyal ally make it a volatile situation worth watching.

Svante Cornell of the Guardian blog calls it The war that Russia wants:

For months, Moscow’s successive provocations in Georgia have left observers suspecting that it was provoking a war in the Caucasus. It seems to have finally gotten what it wanted. The Kremlin’s blatant aggression puts at stake not only the future of the most progressive state in the former Soviet Union, but the broader cause of European security.

There’s also the issue of the timing: As Gerard puts it,

“Look at the timing. Elections. Olympic games. Most of the statesman gone for holidays. It’s the ideal time to attack a small country.”

Especially if you’re Vladimir Putin wanting to be the next Tsar.


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