They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Militants bulldoze Gaza wall, thank Caterpillar

It's unusual to witness a Cat doing something useful for the Palestinians:

Friday, January 25, 2008

UN slams Israel over Gaza

The UN Human Rights Council criticised Israel on Thursday for its blockade of Gaza, in a resolution that EU member states on the council abstained from voting on, citing a lack of balance.

By a vote of 30 to one, the council adopted the resolution that had been tabled by Pakistan and Syria on behalf of the Islamic and Arab blocs. Canada cast the lone opposing vote, while a total of 15 other states abstained.

The resolution called for "urgent international action to put an immediate end to the grave violations committed by the occupying power, Israel, in the occupied Palestinian territory". Link

Gazans find a brief freedom, and food


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Starbucks could start making decent coffee

Starbucks, Threatened by McDonald's, Brings Back Schultz as CEO

Howard Schultz was peddling a unique idea when he turned a Seattle coffee-bean roaster into a chain of U.S. cafes called Starbucks Corp. Now he is returning to lead a company battered by the competitive landscape it created. Link

db: Can you imagine your favourite European coffee shop coming under competitive threat from McDonalds? This just confirms what we all know - Starbucks coffee is foul piss.

Justice Scalia: Let them die in pain

"This is an execution, not surgery," [Justice] Scalia said, adding, "Where does this come from, that ... in the execution of a person who has been convicted of killing people we must choose the least painful method possible? Is that somewhere in our Constitution?" Link

db: Are the families of the executed as innocent as the families of the victims? Can you not compare the pain inflicted on them, by the state, with the pain inflicted on the families of the murdered victims? Governments have no moral right to kill their citizens under any circumstances. Losing your son, brother, father under such conditions must bring unbearable suffering.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Jean Charles de Menezes would be 30 today

The family of Jean Charles de Menezes today remembered Jean Charles de Menezes on what would have been his 30th birthday and vowed to continue their struggle for justice until those responsible are held accountable for his killing.

Alex Perriera, cousin of Jean Charles de Menezes, today said:

"If Jean were alive today, I imagine he would have been living back in Brazil and celebrating his 30th birthday with his parents, family and maybe even a girlfriend. Instead, today there will be no celebration; his birthday only serves as a painful reminder to our family that it is two and a half years since we lost him and despite our long struggle no-one has been held accountable for his death. The police officers involved in his killing still carry on as normal while our lives exist in turmoil, fighting to get the answers and justice we deserve. We thank the public for their ongoing support which means a lot to us."

A spokesperson from the Justice4Jean Campaign said:

"Today is an extremely difficult day for the Menezes family and we commend their strength in continuing to fight for justice in the face of the determination by state agencies to close ranks and not hold anyone to account for his death. It is a disgrace that after two and a half years, two lengthy and critical IPCC reports and a damning jury verdict at the Old Bailey, still there has been no disciplinary action against a single person for the shooting dead of Jean Charles de Menezes"

The Menezes family now await the inquest into Jean's death which is expected to take place later this year and last approximately 3 months. The next date for a pre-inquest review is 8 February at Southwark Coroners Court where the Coroner is expected to name the date, location and presider of the inquest.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Balance of world power is changing rapidly

Many wished and believed a decade after the Cold War ended that the future world would be a multipolar one. But at the same time, they also believed that as the overwhelming superpower, United States hegemony would persist for at least another 50 years or even longer.

But recent years have shown that this is not the case.

Affected by economic globalization and the pursuit of profit maximization, and pushed particularly by "borderless information" and "hi-tech's invisible hand", the progress of world multipolarity has not been slow, but has accelerated in recent years. Changes to the international balance of power has taken place faster than some American "futurists" had expected. Who would have ever imagined that China and India could develop at such surprising speed? Who would have thought that China's (official) foreign exchange reserve could jump to be the world's No 1? Who would have thought that Russia would regain its great power status so rapidly?

After the quick rise of "BRIC" (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), 2007 has witnessed the emergence of "VISTA" (Vietnam, Indonesia, South Africa, Turkey, and Argentina).

According to statistics, the foreign exchange reserves of developing countries make up three quarters of the world's total. Three (China, Russia, and India) of BRIC are all "tycoons" in this area. Emerging countries' proportion in the world economy has increased from 39.7 percent in the early 1990s to 48 percent last year. Apart from China's impressive speed, the annual economic growth rate of India has been maintained at 6 to 7 percent over the past decade, and is expected to be 8.5 percent this year. Both China and India rank among the top three most attractive investing countries in the world (the US is obviously the other one).

Russia has also been enjoying rapid growth in the past seven years, with an annual GDP growth rate of 7.8 percent and gold exchange reserves of $404.8 billion. More than $200 billion in debt left by the break up of the Soviet Union has almost been repaid. The country has returned to the list of the world's top 10 biggest economies. Seeking to be among the top five by 2020, Russia's GDP per capital may reach $30,000 by then.

Among the five VISTA countries, the annual GDP of Vietnam has increased 8.7 percent this year compared to 2006. The country has now become a leading one for trade and investment in Asia.

The total value of external trade of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) exceeded $1,400 billion in 2006, and its total domestic trade value was about $340 billion. The goal of forming an ASEAN Community will possibly be realized before 2015. The value of trade between China and ASEAN is expected to be $190 billion this year. The establishment of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Zone is accelerating. Having becoming the biggest exporter to the Japanese and South Korean markets, the value of trade between China and Japan has exceeded $200 billion, and that between China and South Korea $160 billion. Conspicuous growth was also seen between China and the US, Australia, New Zealand, and Russia.

Some international economic groups have pointed out that the world economy is experiencing its biggest transformation since the Industrial Revolution. Economic centers have been shifting from the developed world to emerging markets in Asia, East Europe, Middle East, and Latin America. BRIC and VISTA are changing the economic structure of the world. These factors are persuasive.

Obviously, it cannot be said at this stage BRIC, VISTA, and some other states have become "polars" of the world. But it is an irreversible trend.

It also cannot be said that the US, which still dominates international markets, has lost it leading position. But it is a fact it is going "down hill", and shrinking in relative power.

These changes, continuous and historical, will significantly affect future international relations.

In another development, regional conflicts and wars are likely to continue and intensify because the nature of the global strategy of the US will remain unchanged.

The US, whether under the Republicans or the Democrats, will continue to be the main antagonist. At the same time, the development of the international and regional situation will not change according to the whims of Washington. Under such circumstances, contradictions and conflicts are virtually inevitable and are likely to crop up from time to time. If dealt with inappropriately, it could likely to lead to wars. Currently, there is no shortage of international hot spots - the "Horn of Africa", Iran-US, and America's deployment of anti-ballistic missiles in some Eastern European countries. The number of such hot spots will tend to increase in the future, a cruel reality that none of us want to see.


Development of the international situation requires China to fully make use of the strategic opportunities though tough challenges still exist.

President Hu Jintao's report to the 17th Party Congress gives a better answer on to how to cope with such a situation. Hu's words of "constructing a harmonious world", is highly welcomed by the international community, and has "brought China and the world closer".

However, we should be prudent and modest, enhance our sense of urgency and never lose our head.

Now some people with ulterior motives are singing a "song of praise" for China on the international platform, and are even advocating "China-US jointly lead the world". Some domestic media and "experts" are also espousing the belief that China is getting ready to "lead the world".

China's long-term strategic principle is peaceful development. We should maintain a balance between the two and avoid overly stressing any of them.

Policies and strategies are the lifeblood of our diplomacy, yet we should not confuse their roles. If we do so, we will face a significant loss in the future.

The author is a researcher of internatioanl relations based in Beijing

(China Daily 12/28/2007 page11)