The New Cold War: China vs Japan

Lately, it seems that Japanese officials can’t sneeze without incurring the wrath of the Chinese — and vice versa. So it’s no surprise that even conciliatory statements from Shinzo Abe have been soundly rebuffed. On Thursday, Abe wrote a message, published in local Chinese-language papers, conveying greetings for the lunar new year. According to Reuters’ translation of the Japanese-language version, Abe insisted that Japan has “taken the path of peace” since World War II, and “nothing has been changed in the policy of continuing to uphold this position.”

Friday, Abe further extended the olive branch. According to Channel NewsAsia, Abe told a parliamentary session that “Japan and China are inseparable.” He also expressed his desire for the two countries to restart diplomatic meetings. “Instead of refusing to hold dialogue unless issues become resolved, we should hold talks because we have issues,” Abe said.

China flatly rejected these overtures. Responding to earlier requests for a bilateral dialogue, Qin Gang responded with bitter sarcasm: “Such kind of dialogue will be of no effect. Chinese leaders are very busy. Let them spend more time on things useful and effective.”

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The effect of today’s technology on tomorrow’s jobs will be immense—and no country is ready for it

INNOVATION, the elixir of progress, has always cost people their jobs. In the Industrial Revolution artisan weavers were swept aside by the mechanical loom. Over the past 30 years the digital revolution has displaced many of the mid-skill jobs that underpinned 20th-century middle-class life. Typists, ticket agents, bank tellers and many production-line jobs have been dispensed with, just as the weavers were.

For those, including this newspaper, who believe that technological progress has made the world a better place, such churn is a natural part of rising prosperity. Although innovation kills some jobs, it creates new and better ones, as a more productive society becomes richer and its wealthier inhabitants demand more goods and services. A hundred years ago one in three American workers was employed on a farm. Today less than 2% of them produce far more food. The millions freed from the land were not consigned to joblessness, but found better-paid work as the economy grew more sophisticated. Today the pool of secretaries has shrunk, but there are ever more computer programmers and web designers.

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The emerging links of Saudi Arabian state sponsorship of 9/11

wtc 911

After the 9/11 attacks, the public was told al Qaeda acted alone, with no state sponsors.  But the White House never let it see an entire section of Congress’ investigative report on 9/11 dealing with “specific sources of foreign support” for the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudi nationals.  It was kept secret and remains so today.  President Bush inexplicably censored 28 full pages of the 800-page report. Text isn’t just blacked-out here and there in this critical-yet-missing middle section. The pages are completely blank, except for dotted lines where an estimated 7,200 words once stood (this story by comparison is about 1,000 words).

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See also here.  And here.  And here.

 

Global Terrorism and Saudi Arabia: Bandar’s Terror Network

Saudi Arabia has all the vices and none of the virtues of an oil rich state like Venezuela.  The country is governed by a family dictatorship which tolerates no opposition and severely punishes human rights advocates and political dissidents.  Hundreds of billions in oil revenues are controlled by the royal despotism and fuel speculative investments the world over.  The ruling elite relies on the purchase of Western arms and US military bases for protection.  The wealth of productive nations is syphoned to enrich the conspicuous consumption of the Saudi ruling family.  The ruling elite finances the most fanatical, retrograde, misogynist version of Islam, “Wahhabi” a sect of Sunni Islam.  Faced with internal dissent from repressed subjects and religious minorities, the Saudi dictatorship perceives threats and dangers from all sides:  overseas, secular, nationalists and Shia ruling governments; internally, moderate Sunni nationalists, democrats and feminists; within the royalist cliques, traditionalists and modernizers.  In response it has turned toward financing, training and arming an international network of Islamic terrorists who are directed toward attacking, invading and destroying regimes opposed to the Saudi clerical-dictatorial regime.

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The Return of the Twelfth Imam

ayatollahIn a fascinating article for FrontPage Magazine titled “Now the Twelfth Imam Can Come,” scholar of Islam Robert Spencer provides a crash course on the nature of Twelver Shi’ite theology, with particular reference to a nuclearizing Iran. Shi’ites believe in the return of the so-called Twelfth Imam who is descended from Mohammed’s son-in-law Ali ibn Abni Talib, the fourth caliph assassinated in 661 in a succession war, after which the split between Sunnis and Shi’ites eventually became permanent. As Spencer explains, the Shi’ites continued a line of imams, “members of Muhammad’s household and his prophetic heirs. Each one in turn, over two centuries, was poisoned.…According to the traditions of Twelver Shi’ism, the official religion of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the twelfth of these Imams, a boy of five years old, disappeared under mysterious and disputed circumstances in the year 874 – but remained alive.” Though communicating with the world through various agents, he entered the state of “occultation” in 941, promising to return when the time would be propitious.  The reigning authority on Twelver Shi’ism is the historian Emmanuel Sivan, who in his magisterial volume on the subject, Radical Islam: Medieval Theology and Modern Politics, warned that an integral part of Shi’a Islam’s belief and thought involves the initiating of a planetary conflagration. This belief system posits that Allah’s kingdom will be established on earth by the Twelfth or Hidden Imam, also known as the Mahdi, whose advent can be hastened by creating the right set of circumstances: friction and misunderstanding among the nations and violent upheavals in a welter of blood and fire.

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The escorts who want to rebrand male prostitution as a business

josh624

Most people think of male prostitution as dangerous, degrading and exploitative work. But there are some who are attempting to reinvent it as a profession free of stigma by using all the tools of modern business, writes Mobeen Azhar.  ”The aim is to be the best escort in the world.” Josh Brandon’s conviction is punctuated by a strong Welsh valleys accent. The twentysomething moved to London four years ago with dreams of modelling and celebrity.  But soon after his arrival he began working as an escort. Now he has a price list which includes hourly rates and a discount for block booking. He issues loyalty cards so customers who pay for nine “appointments” get their tenth free.  ”I have a very professional booking system and I offer complete discretion,” he says. “My business model serves my clients and it serves me.”

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Iraq government loses control of Fallujah

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has vowed to eliminate “all terrorist groups” from Anbar province after al-Qaeda-linked fighters gained control of the town of Fallujah.  Maliki, speaking on state television on Saturday, said his government would end “fitna”, or disunity, in the province and would “not back down until we end all terrorist groups and save our people in Anbar”.  His comments came after a senior Iraqi security official told the AFP news agency that the government had lost control of Fallujah to fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  The police chief of Anbar, Hadi Razeij, later said the centre of Fallujah had fallen completely into the hands of ISIL fighters. “The walls of the city are in the hands of the police force, but the people of Fallujah are the prisoners of ISIL.”  Videos showed ISIL fighters also in control of the main Fallujah highway, and officials and witnesses inside the town told the Reuters news agency that ISIL was in northern and northeastern parts of the town.

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Saudi Arms Shipments to Al Qaeda Rebels Waiting behind Iraq’s Borders with Syria

Tens of vehicles carrying arms shipments from Saudi Arabia failed to cross the Iraqi border into Syria due to the Iraqi army’s ongoing operations in the Western Al-Anbar province which borders Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.  Following the Iraqi Army’s operations against Al-Qaeda forces in Al-Anbar province, the Saudi arms shipments have been stuck behind Iraq’s borders with Syria. The Saudi arms shipments entered Iraq from the Saudi city of Nakheib and via Ar-Ar border crossing.  Nearly 70 2-ton vehicles are waiting for the Iraqi army forces to end its operation and withdraw from the region giving them a chance to cross the border with Syria.   The vehicles are packed with explosives used for suicide attacks as well as anti-armor and anti-aircraft weapons.  Saudi Arabia is still supporting the Al-Qaeda terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.  While Turkey has closed a large part of its borders to terrorists and Jordan has also considered restrictions for the Saudi nationals who intend to sneak into Syria, Iraq’s desert borders where the government does not have a lot of military and security supervision are regarded as the best route for Saudi Arabia’s logistical supports for the terrorists in Syria.  The Iraqi army started military operations in Huran and Al-Abyaz regions in the deserts of Al-Anbar province last week.

Erdogan: Corruption case an attempted coup by judiciary

ANKARA, Turkey, Jan. 4 (UPI) — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday an investigation into corruption in his government is a coup attempt by the judiciary.  ”In this process, there has been a coup attempt by the judiciary in Turkey,” Euronews quoted Erdogan as telling a group of journalists.  ”There has been an attempt to seize the sovereignty from the people and transfer it to the judiciary.”  The corruption investigation has weakened Erdogan, Euronews said. He also suggested that a way could be found to retry military officers convicted of plotting a coup, suggesting he feels he needs help from Turkey’s powerful military, Today’s Zaman reported.  Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Friday no general amnesty would be granted the officers convicted of the coup attempt. Their supporters accused police and judges Thursday of fabricating evidence.  Erdogan’s Freedom and Justice Party is moderately Islamist. This has put his government at odds with the military, which sees itself as the defender of the secular legacy of Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkish state.