By John Kusumi
There has been so much noteworthy news in the past month, I want to chronicle this in capsule summary form before it recedes from memory. Here is one month in news, suppressed or not–
Dec. 25, 2009 – Authorities of mainland China sentence dissident writer Liu Xiaobo to 11 years in prison; it’s retaliation for his part in authoring Charter 08, a manifesto and petition calling for Chinese political reform.
On the same day, a man on an airliner bound for Detroit sets fire to his pants, in a purported terrorist attack (or more precisely, a failed attempt at same). That story in the news becomes justification for the installation (at airports) of “full body scanners,” although such scanners cause problems to health and privacy.
Dec. 27, 2009 – U.S. forces descend upon an isolated house in Afghanistan. In the middle of the night, they wake up a group of sleeping school children, handcuff them, and execute them. Shooting handcuffed children is a new low in crimes against humanity, and this action was enough to make Barack Obama into a war criminal.
SHOOTING HANDCUFFED CHILDREN! And U.S. news media treats it like business as usual, instead of the cause of action for the impeachment of Barack Obama.
Around the same time that U.S. forces were shooting handcuffed children, the U.S. news media began in-depth reports about Yemen, a possible new target in the war on terror.
So, let’s review the upshots of all this news prior to New Year’s Eve:
– Liu Xiaobo is incarcerated;
– Scanners are coming to airports;
– Yemen is in the cross hairs;
Less well reported,
– War crimes have been committed; and,
– There is a basis to impeach Barack Obama.
December 29, 2009 – Protestors assemble outside the Chinese consulate in New York City. It is a protest against the 11 year prison sentence handed to Liu Xiaobo.
January 1, 2010 – The first thing in the new year is a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong. It is a good thing that the Chinese democracy movement swings into action, and it’s briefly reported in the news.
January 6, 2010 – Former Czech President Vaclav Havel protested to the Chinese government on behalf of Liu Xiaobo. (Havel was an author of Charter 77, the 1977 effort by dissidents of Czechoslovakia to stand up against Soviet Communism.)
According to the Christian Science Monitor, “Coming out of a relative seclusion, Havel has described frustration along with other European human rights advocates at the relative Western silence on the hefty sentence given Liu in Beijing.”
Later in the month, Havel published a commentary endorsing Liu Xiaobo’s candidacy for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize — cosigned by the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and others.
January 10, 2010 – Petitioners are out in Hong Kong, gathering signatures to demand the release of Liu Xiaobo and to support Charter 08.
January 11, 2010 – Chinese police arrest Zhao Shiying, another signatory of Charter 08. It begins to look like the first steps to persecuting the entire group of signatories. Charter 08 signatories seem to be particularly at risk. By January 17, the (UK) Guardian newspaper published, “Why is China so terrified of dissent?” at: http://tinyurl.com/ykgnbqd
January 12, 2010 – Earthquake hits Haiti. The U.S. proceeds to take control of the airport and airspace in Haiti, and gives responsibility to SOUTHCOM (the military), not to FEMA or USAID. Troops, plus photo opportunities for Hillary Clinton and then Bill Clinton, are prioritized up, while aid flights are prioritized down.
Also January 12, Google releases “A new approach to China.” See
–Basically, Google complained that it and other US companies were the targets of cyber attacks from hackers, presumed to be working for the Chinese government. In one result, hackers gained access to the GMail accounts of human rights activists. The attack which raised their concern was detected “in mid-December.”
Google had been trying to cooperate with the Chinese government and had created a separate Google.cn web site search engine, with censorship for topics that do not meet with Chinese government approval. (Tiananmen Square, Falun Gong, Tibet, and East Turkestan are among the censored topics.)
But, even with their willingness to cooperate, Google had encountered push back and harrassment from the Chinese government. The hacking attack seems to have been the last straw. Indeed, the upshot is this paragraph in the Google announcement:
“These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered–combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web–have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn….We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.”
There were responses to the Google announcement:
– Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) found new impetus for his Global Online Freedom Act, a bill he proposed in Congress.
– The government of China had a hissy fit, while human rights activists delivered flowers to Google’s office in Beijing.
– Governments of France, Germany and Australia issued warnings to stop using Internet Explorer. (See also January 21, below, for more repercussions.)
Also January 12, protestors in Hong Kong hold a candle light vigil in support of Liu Xiaobo and in protest against his 11 year prison sentence from mainland authorities.
January 13, 2010 – Hong Kong’s Legislative Council debates a motion in favor of Liu Xiaobo but fails to pass the measure.
January 15, 2010 – Authorities of mainland China sentence Tiananmen Square dissident leader Zhou Yongjun to 9 years in prison. Zhou had been placed on trial on November 19, the day after Barack Obama finished his visit to China. (Newswires didn’t report this until Jan. 20, but the sentence was handed down on the 15th.)
January 19, 2010 – Massachusetts’ Senate seat, formerly held by Democrat Ted Kennedy, goes to Republican Scott Brown in a special election held to fill that vacancy. Basically, a “tea partier” gets elected while sounding very populist and vowing to stop the Obamacare plan of corporate welfare for the insurance industry.
January 21, 2010 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations are entitled to spend unlimited funds in our elections. It appears that this ruling serves to further tilt the already-tilted American system against people and in favor of corporations.
The law of unintended consequences went to work, and now the air is filled with proposals for constitutional amendments, abolition of the Electoral College, Instant Runoff Voting, and proportional representation. (!)
Also on January 21, Microsoft rushes out an emergency patch to fix Internet Explorer vulnerabilities that were used in the Google cyber attacks.
Also January 21, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered “a major policy address on Internet freedom live from the Newseum in Washington, D.C.”
January 24, 2010 – The Wall Street Journal editorializes to say the same things as supporters of Zhou Yongjun, namely that Hong Kong faces ominous legal precedents due to their secret rendition of Zhou Yongjun to authorities of mainland China. See tinyurl.com/y9x6vzw
Note: Also during this month, the problem of melamine tainted food products — previously an issue for pet food in 2007 and for milk products in 2008 — reappeared in China. Apparently, the tainted milk powder was not destroyed and has made its way back onto the market, so we are now experiencing a reprise of that prior scandal.
= = = All of the above is just one month of news! = = =
Both the United States and Haiti seem to be profoundly changed by the news of the past month. And the Chinese democracy movement has now gotten the Wall Street Journal to agree with it!
(Next, we would like the Wall Street Journal to admit that free trade with China was flawed and faulty policy, and a bad move for the US.)