“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for February 2007

Iraq 2007

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Iraq is a mess, neighbouring states are using it to play out their power games and the sectarian divide between the Sunni and Shi’ites is being stoked up by gangs, militia, criminals and the “resistance”. Much of the political establishment seems to have been taken over by Shi’ites and many of them seem hell-bent on revenge. If it is bad now, then I dread to think what it will be like once the US and coalition forces withdraw to their bases.

One particular group which faces daily murderous attacks in Iraq are Lesbians and Gays, their plight is detailed at their blog:

It doesn’t bear thinking about what will happen when the Islamists gain unchallenged power in Iraq.

Written by modernityblog

24/02/2007 at 12:47

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Wither Venezuela?

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What is happening in Venezuela?

No, I’m not talking about Chavez’s oil deal with Ken Livingstone, nor am I talking about Chavez’s new dictatorial power.

What is happening in Venezuela concerning antisemitism?

Engage has an article pointing to the rise of antisemitism, which seems to have coincided with Chavez’s linkup with the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

This presentation shows compelling evidence of antisemitism in Venezuela.

Is this the shape of 21st century socialism?? Or another Doctor’s plot in the making?

Written by modernityblog

22/02/2007 at 12:18

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Are You a Closet Conspiracy Freak?

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Well, are you a closet conspiracy freak?

Go on admit it!

or at least take the BBC conspiracy test

I got 26-50:

“Your responses indicate that you have a medium level of belief in conspiracy theories. You may well be quite trusting of your close friends, partners, those you work with and others but sometimes cannot be sure of all of them all of the time. You may also feel that your voice in terms of wider political decisions is rarely heard or acted upon, perhaps because government and big business is more concerned with their own interests than with those of the average person.”

and I thought that I was just a bit cynical, but fortunately I don’t need a tinfoil hat, well not just yet?

Written by modernityblog

18/02/2007 at 15:05

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Anti-imperialism as an Emotional Spasm?

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I was taken by a Brendan O’Neill piece on Comment is Free:

“Reading recent reports and media coverage, and trawling through the arguments of the anti-war movement, you could be forgiven for thinking so. Everyone seems obsessed with “Muslim anger” and with British and American foreign policy. Government officials send each other handwringing memos asking what should be done about the Muslim community’s distress over Iraq. Self-serving Muslim community groups use “community anger” to politically blackmail officials, warning that if they don’t change their foreign policy there could be another 7/7. The leaders of the anti-war movement try to harness “Muslim fury”; they seem to believe that putting some Muslim youth at the head of their marches adds a dash of authentic and raw emotion that is sorely lacking in the ranks of the exhausted old left.

This privileging of “Muslim anger” over other arguments against western military interventionism is a disaster for progressive politics. Making Muslim spokespeople the authoritative critical voice on British foreign policy degrades anti-imperialism. That political tradition was about universalism and solidarity. It took as its starting point the idea that people around the world had common interests, and much to gain by standing shoulder-to-shoulder against western warmongering. Today’s “Muslim anger” takes the opposite starting point: that only Muslims understand the pain and suffering of people in Iraq or Palestine, because they have a special religious/emotional connection with them. It represents the triumph of the personal over the political; the particularistic over the universal; the politics of victimhood over the politics of solidarity. It is anti-imperialism reduced to an emotional spasm.

. . .”

Written by modernityblog

11/02/2007 at 00:10

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China: New Superpower or Age Old Imperialist?

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China has always held a certain fascination for people in the West, from Marco Polo’s expedition, the Opium Wars, Japanese occupation to Chairman Mao’s Revolution, but never quite so much as the scrutiny that China is under today.

Scrutiny may not be the right word, possibly morbid fascination is better.

We are frequently told by the media that China is the next Superpower and almost daily there are stories of China’s Great industrial leap forward.
Now such a frenetic pace of industrialisation requires raw materials and Chinese leaders have long recognised that fact, so President Hu Jintao’s constant tours should come as no surprise to anyone as The Times reports:

“President Hu Jintao began an eight-nation tour of Africa yesterday, seeking to reaffirm China’s commitment to the continent at a time of international and domestic concern over Beijing’s growing influence.

Mr Hu’s 12-day visit, his third since coming to power in 2003, takes him to Cameroon, Liberia, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Seychelles and Sudan. He is expected to announce new investment worth billions of dollars and to follow through on promises of aid, including debt relief, made during last year’s Africa summit in Beijing.

Trade between Africa and China has risen fourfold this decade to $40 billion (£20 billion) in 2005, driven by China’s voracious appetite for natural resources, particularly oil.

The burgeoning relationship between China and Africa has passed largely unchallenged, with African leaders keen to take advantage of investment and aid that is delivered with few strings attached at a time when Western trade partners are imposing onerous conditions of accountability and the environment.

Now the relationship is being questioned, in Africa and beyond. Domestically, there is alarm at the adverse impact on local companies of a flood of cheap Chinese manufactured goods. In elections in Zambia in December the opposition attacked China’s “exploitation of workers” and low safety standards in copper mines that it took over, near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Internationally, there is unease about Beijing’s support for dictatorial regimes such as Zimbabwe and the DRC, and of China’s willingness to overlook human rights abuses. The most pressing example is Sudan, which will play host to Mr Hu on Friday.

The country has become a vital source of oil, pumped from oilfields developed by the China National Petroleum Corporation. China receives about 350,000 barrels a day through a Chinese-built pipe-line to ships off Port Sudan, financed by Beijing at a cost of £4.2 billion.

Sudan has used some of the revenues to reequip its armed forces, which have been waging a brutal campaign in the Sudanese region of Darfur. More than 200,000 people have been killed and three million have fled their homes over the past three years, in what President Bush has repeatedly labelled a genocide.

During this period China, one of Khartoum’s few allies, has threatened to wield its Security Council veto to prevent tough UN measures against Sudan over Darfur. Its stand has led to mounting criticism over its support of the hardline Muslim Government of President Omar al-Bashir.

Aid agencies hope that Mr Hu will use China’s leverage to persuade Sudan to accept a greater role for the UN in Darfur. Urged on by Ban Ki Moon, the Secretary-General, the Chinese Government is under pressure to force Khar-toum to reach agreement over the deployment of international peacekeepers.

Chinese officials say that Mr Hu would be looking to help to broker lasting peace in Darfur. “I believe this visit will not only boost bilateral ties, but also peace and stability in the region,” said Zhai Jun, the Assistant Foreign Minister, on the eve of the Africa mission. Mr Zhai said that criticism of China’s relationship with Africa was unfounded. He said that Beijing was trying to help Africa to build infrastructure and alleviate poverty.

Shi Yinhong, of the International Relations department of the People’s University in Beijing, said: “Hu Jintao wants to persuade Sudan not to reject the UN resolution. This will bring moral and diplomatic pressure on Sudan and also help China’s ties with the US, the EU and greater Africa.”

Such a situation is all the more curious given China’s appalling human rights record, occupation and annexation of Tibet, and long history of environmental pollution.

But what is odd is how the outcome of China’s actions are often swept under the carpet, we hear comparatively little of their consequences

China is happy to use military force when needed (Tibet) or threaten it (Taiwan) and will do business with the most unsavoury dictators and repressive regimes in the world, for the sake of raw materials.

China is in dire need of oil and I suspect that if their sources in the Middle East are threatened then there will be an entirely different type of reaction from China, which will make contemporary “imperialists” look positively benevolent.

Best to remember that the situation in Tibet shows us how China will react when she has the upper hand.

Written by modernityblog

02/02/2007 at 15:02

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