21 dic. 2009

21 dicembre 1989, Bucarest, Romania.

La fine di un mondo nella smorfia incredula di un dittatore.
Una delle immagini più potenti della storia.
Qui la cronaca degli eventi che precedettero e seguirono quella giornata.

Fare la pace con i terroristi.

Thousands of supporters of Nepal's Maoist former rebels demonstrated across the nascent republic on Monday, the second day of a strike that has highlighted the fragility of a three-year peace process.
Maoist activists shouted anti-government slogans and waved flags with the hammer and sickle as they gathered in empty streets, demanding the resignation of the government seven months after the former rebels walked out in a row with the president.
The Maoists, who headed a coalition after emerging as the largest political group in last year's election, resigned in May following a failed attempt to sack the country's army chief, a move that prompted the president to intervene.

Dozens were injured on Sunday when protesters burnt tyres, vandalised cars and clashed with police. The U.N. human rights office in Nepal said the violence was "some of the worst on the streets of Kathmandu for several years."
(Nepal crippled in Maoist general strike)

20 dic. 2009

Los dioses del fútbol.

Guardate bene questa immagine. Probabilmente la miglior squadra di sempre.

19 dic. 2009

Copenhagen. Accordarsi su un fallimento.

By the early hours of Saturday, representatives of the 193 countries who have negotiated here for nearly two weeks had not yet approved the deal and there were signs they might not. But Mr. Obama, who left before the conference considered the accord because of a major storm descending on Washington, noted that the agreement was merely a political statement and not a legally binding treaty and might not need ratification by the entire conference.
The three-page accord that Mr. Obama negotiated with the leaders of China, India, Brazil and South Africa and then presented to the conference did not meet even the modest expectations that leaders set for this meeting, notably by failing to set a 2010 goal for reaching a binding international treaty to seal the provisions of the accord.
Nor does the plan firmly commit the industrialized nations or the developing nations to firm targets for midterm or long-term greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The accord is nonetheless significant in that it codifies the commitments of individual nations to act on their own to tackle global warming.
“For the first time in history,” Mr. Obama said, “all major economies have come together to accept their responsibility to take action to confront the threat of climate change.”
(Many Goals Remain Unmet in 5 Nations’ Climate Deal)
Storia di Feng.

Since Nov. 4, Feng has been an unusual fixture at the bustling Narita International Airport outside Tokyo. While the Hanks character became trapped at a JFK terminal when his native country was wiped off the map following a coup, Feng is a Chinese citizen with a valid Japanese visa. He refuses to pass through immigration checkpoints to enter Japan for a simple reason — he wants to go home.
But the Chinese government has blocked his path since mid-June. Airlines in Japan – including U.S.-based Northwest Airlines – denied him boarding four separate times, citing orders from Chinese authorities. On four other instances, he made it as far as Pudong International Airport in Shanghai – only to be sent back to Tokyo in increasingly forceful manners. After the last round of tussles, Feng put his foot down and began camping out at Narita.
(Feng Zhenghu: Changing China from Terminal 1)
(Feng Zhenghu in Wikipedia)
L'onda lunga. Qualche mese fa, nello Sri Lanka, ascoltavo i racconti di chi si era visto arrivare il mare addosso. Cinque anni dopo, in quelle zone, nessuno ha dimenticato.

Credo che, tecnicamente, il decennio finisca l'anno prossimo. Ma le immagini meritano comunque l'anteprima.

16 dic. 2009

Timisoara. I treni arrivavano in orario.

20 years on, the BBC has gained access to a remarkable document, the Timisoara station-master's log from November and December 1989. Hand-written, it meticulously records the details of each train which arrived in Timisoara North railway station during the revolution.

On 16 December 1989, between 2040 and 2240 in the evening, single wagon train 15/II arrived in Timisoara from Bucharest. It was met by the station chief.
All other trains had to make way for it.
The timing is significant.
The protest gathering was still outside Pastor Tokes's house - the marchers had not yet moved off into the city. According to Radu Tinu - at that time the number two in the Timis county Securitate - the deputy police chief of Romania, the deputy chief prosecutor, and a Securitate general were on that train.

Uniformed security forces first opened fire on the crowd on the afternoon of 17 December.

There is another intriguing entry, from 0755 on the morning of 21 December. The protests had spread to other cities by then, but Ceausescu was still in power in the capital.
Supplementary train 1006/A, with two brand new carriages, their windows blacked out, loaded with USLA - anti-terrorist troops - arrived in the outskirts of Timisoara.
From there, they set out across the botanical gardens towards the city centre. Were they sent to fight the army, and seize back control?
(Romania's bloody revolution remembered)

15 dic. 2009

La truffa globale.

Però le e-mail ci sono, sono quelle che hanno dato il via al Climategate, lo scandalo dei dati climatici truccati per procurare l’allarme mondiale. E-mail che Gore aveva letto, grazie alla corrispondenza con il capo dell’Ipcc, Rajendra Pachauri. Sono centinaia, ne ha pubblicato stralci il New York Times: in una il professor Michael Mann della Pennsylvania State University dice di aver usato “un trucco per nascondere il declino” delle temperature dal 1981 a oggi. In un’altra Kevin Trenberth, del National Center for Atmospheric Research di Boulder, in Colorado, ammette: “Non possiamo spiegarci la mancanza di riscaldamento” terrestre. Sono alcuni tra gli scienziati citati da Gore in film, libri, conferenze zeppi di paura, catastrofi imminenti, clima che cambia e caldo che uccide e che ora si scopre – ma l’aveva già detto, non ascoltata, l’Alta Corte di Londra due anni fa – sono basati su dati distorti, falsificati. Sono veri, invece, i premi, il messianismo e soprattutto i soldi incassati in questi anni.
Se nel 2000 la famiglia Gore aveva un patrimonio di due milioni di dollari, adesso la stessa cifra andrebbe moltiplicata (almeno) per cinquanta. Ci sono gli incassi di “Una scomoda verità”, le conferenze (175 mila dollari ogni volta e poi, per una strana “sindrome”, dove ce n’è una fa sempre freddo o cade la neve) e gli investimenti nei business verdi – lautamente foraggiati dall’Amministrazione Obama grazie all’azione della lobby goriana Alliance for Climate Protection – attraverso il fondo Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Adesso che non sa più cosa dire, l’ex vicepresidente annulla una conferenza stampa a pagamento (tremila biglietti, in prima fila da 1.209 dollari) in quel di Copenaghen. Dall’Academy Awards, ora, qualcuno già chiede che il leader ambientalista riconsegni l’Oscar. E qualcun altro, a Washington, potrebbe far lo stesso per i sussidi elargiti grazie alle comode paure spacciate al mondo da un guru d’essai.
(Così le comode paure di Al Gore sono diventate le sue scomode verità)

14 dic. 2009

Dentisti al potere.

Mr Berdymukhamedov chipped off just enough from Niyazov’s personality cult to make some space for himself. No Turkmenbashi, Mr Berdymukhamedov settled for the title of “hero”. The television news is always happy and often shows the new president performing heroics. A recent broadcast showed Mr Berdymukhamedov, a dentist who styles himself a doctor, performing a small operation. Next morning the security services confiscated newspapers carrying the accompanying photo: someone had noticed that the X-ray the president had been holding was upside down.
Not only locals are keen to flatter the president. At a recent investment forum, representatives of the world’s largest energy companies touted their services and praised Turkmenistan’s visionary leader, who did not bother to turn up. (He was represented by a huge portrait.) However, no Western company has been allowed to drill onshore yet. Only the Chinese have managed to wangle a special concession and also to build a pipeline.
The main pipeline from Turkmenistan goes through Russia. This long allowed Gazprom, a Russian monopoly which generates 70% of Turkmenistan’s GDP, to dictate the price. In recent years, however, as demand increased Turkmenistan rebelled and started raising the price. Faced with rising demand and flat production, Gazprom had to agree. When demand fell, during last year’s crash, Gazprom did not renegotiate the contract. Instead, according to Mr Berdymukhamedov, it simply stopped importing gas—which caused the pipeline to explode on April 9th. Gazprom denies it was at fault and blames the explosion on poor maintenance of the pipeline.
(Burning sands and pipe-dreams)
L'oppio del popolo.

A Feb. 2 report by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime found that the price of opium in Burma, also known as Myanmar, increased by 15% last year. As a result, Burmese land dedicated to poppy cultivation actually expanded in 2008, despite promises by the country's ruling junta to combat its reputation as one of the world's most notorious narco-states.

Back in 1999, Burma's top brass unveiled a 15-year plan to completely eliminate opium cultivation. For a few years, production, as measured in part by U.N. helicopter forays over Burma, did indeed decline. But the U.N. now reports that poppy land has increased by 33% since the lowest levels recorded in 2006. Last year was the second consecutive year of growth, and the trend shows how unlikely it is that the junta will make good on its goal of completely wiping out poppies by 2014. (The alarming statistics didn't stopped Myanmar T.V., however, from claiming earlier this month that the anti-drug effort is going forward with "added momentum" and "remarkable progress").
(Burma's Opium Production Back on Rise)
Armi da Pyongyang.

Bangkok court extends detention of five-man crew over Ilyushin-76 airliner, with speculation of illegal shipment to Iran
The intended destination of a plane carrying 35 tonnes of arms from North Korea and impounded in Thailand was tonightstill unclear, with none of the governments apparently linked to the seized flight admitting any responsibility for its cargo. Ukraine today said it had launched an investigation into the Ilyushin-76 aircraft, amid speculation it may have been transporting arms to Iran as part of an illegal North Korean smuggling network used to fund North Korea's banned nuclear weapons programme.
Ukrainian sources indicated the plane had originally set off from Belarus. Belarus's foreign ministry denied the report but confirmed that one of its citizens – Mikhail Petukov – had been on board, working as a flight engineer. According to Ukrainian officials, the plane travelled via Ukrainian airspace and refuelled at an airport near Kiev. It set off again on 8 December without a cargo to North Korea. The plane picked up a shipment of portable grenade launchers, an anti-aircraft missile system and other weapons from Pyongyang, North Korea's capital.

Today Bangkok's criminal court extended the detention of the plane's five-man crew, four of whom come from Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan tonight denied any knowledge of the illegal arms shipment. It said the plane was registered in Georgia on 7 October and had been leased to a New Zealand company.

Today, government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said the aircraft was supposed to be flying to the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo. But he said the authorities were investigating whether the flight plan was misleading, and the final destination was in the Middle East, noting the aircraft had recently stopped in the United Arab Emirates.
(Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan disavow arms flight from North Korea)

13 dic. 2009

La prossima sarà una pallottola pacifista, nonviolenta, progressista?

10 dic. 2009

Cina: sempre più stato di polizia.

On December 2, senior state-security personnel met in Tianjin to fine-tune a new nationwide antisubversion network to help safeguard the Chinese Communist Party's ruling status. Official media says the network is aimed at fighting "the redoubled threats of separatism, infiltration and subversion" and stopping the leakage of state secrets.
It's no coincidence that this is happening now: The authorities anticipate more challenges to the regime from disaffected peasants and workers, and "anti-Beijing" elements in Xinjiang and Tibet, following the deployment earlier this year of extra troops of the paramilitary People's Armed Police to promote socio-political stability in those areas. State-security specialists also want to seal China off from the "subversive" ideas of the West. And preparation for the all-important Party Congress in 2012 will begin in earnest in the spring. President Hu Jintao, who wants to promote dozens of his protégés at the Congress, is keen to show the party's 76 million members that he is in firm control of the nation.

Big and medium-sized cities are setting up state security "leading groups" which will be headed by municipal Party secretaries. These leading groups set the agenda for police and security departments, and ensure that enough vigilantes and voluntary informants can be recruited from the populace. They can also ask other government units to contribute funds and resources to help maintain overall stability.
Smaller cities and county-level administrations are also setting up new big-brother units to ensure stability, called Offices to Maintain Social Stability and to Rectify Law and Order. In rich coastal cities, such outfits are being set up in every district and major street. According to a government circular, these groups are charged with ferreting out "anti-CCP elements" and "snuffing all destabilizing forces in the bud."
(China's New Security State)
Il clan della Arroyo.

How was such an attack possible?
There are three reasons. First, the culture of impunity wherever President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is involved. Second, the culture of rido, or clan feuds, in Mindanao, and third, defects in the Filipino judicial system.

That is a sufficient explanation of the massacre: The Ampatuans assumed they could get away with it, given the 16 leadership positions they hold on the huge island, including two governorships.
(Philippine massacre facilitated by confluence of factors)

9 dic. 2009

Scusate l'insistenza. Ma in Corea del Nord sta succedendo qualcosa di significativo, qualcosa che a memoria non si era mai registrato: settori di popolazione, in località diverse, stanno protestando contro il regime per la politica monetaria recentemente imposta. Sotto un riassunto grafico delle mini-rivolte, e qui l'articolo dell'ottimo Evan Ramstad. Mi chiedo se Bosworth, inviato di Obama alla corte di Kim, sia al corrente della situazione sul terreno e se ne faccia interprete o si limiti a recitare la lezione imparata a casa. E' quella storia delle persone che non sono cartellini o etichette, di cui si è parlato prima.

Finalmente un argomento scientifico, grazie Gore.

He said climate change was the most complex challenge ever to confront human civilization and climate change skeptics -- who have prospered in the wake of email leaks from a UK climate research center -- were living in an "era of unreality."
"All around the world we are seeing the consequences of global warming," Gore said.
"The entire north polar ice cap is melting before our very eyes. Mountain glaciers are melting rapidly in places all over the world with record storms, droughts, floods, fires and sea level increase."

"This is not a political issue. It's not an ideological issue. It's a moral issue about our responsibility to safeguard future generations from truly catastrophic changes that scientists tell us will unfold if we fail to take action."
(Gore attempts to defuse 'Danish text' dispute)
Avanguardie anti-regime.

"The women are tough and defiant," a source said, "and now they are angry. Markets are turning into places of protest against North Korean leader Kim Jong-il." The women gather to accuse the authorities, defying threats of arrest.
('Women Power' Gathers Against N.Korean Currency Shock)

4 dic. 2009

Caos monetario a Pyongyang/3.

Chosun Shinbo, the Chongryon (General Association of North Korean Residents in Japan) publication, made public images of the new bills and claimed that the “currency reform” is being done for the workers.
North Korean currency now features a 5,000, 2,000, 1,000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 10 and 5 won bill, plus a 1 won coin, and a 50, 10, 5 and 1 jeon coin.
On the front of the 5,000 won bill there is Kim Il Sung’s portrait, with Mangyongdae, Kim Il Sung’s birth place on the back. On the front of the 2,000 won lies Kim Jong Il’s alleged birth place, a log cabin on Mt. Baekdu, and Jong Il Peak, which is located behind the cabin, and on the back side is the top of Mt. Baekdu. Kim Jong Suk’s birth place in Hoiryeong is on the front of the 1,000 won, and on the back a lake, Samji, where Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il had a famous photo taken.
(New Denomination Images Unveiled)
In the three days since the start of the exchange, the authorities have changed the policy a number of times. First they planned to allow each household to exchange 100,000 won; 1,000 won in new denominations. Then they changed it to 150,000 won. Then they changed it again to 100,000 won, plus 50,000 won more per family member in a family of four. That is, a standard household can now exchange a maximum of 300,000 won.
Additionally, the authorities announced an extra new decree whereby one could put the rest of one’s money, which cannot be exchanged into new bills, in the bank.
(Endless Confusion from Bad Policy)

3 dic. 2009

Caos monetario a Pyongyang/2.

What occurred Monday in North Korea is different. Unlike a Turkish or Ghanaian-style reform, in which all citizens are encouraged to convert all their holdings of the old currency, the North Korean regime limits the amount of currency that can be converted. This renders excess holdings worthless, and has set off the frenzy this week to get out of old won and into anything else—dollars, Chinese yuan, physical goods—that will maintain value.

This move is part of Pyongyang's broader effort to curtail the rise of market activities and the development of pathways to wealth—and potentially power—beyond state control. Participants in North Korea's bootstrap capitalism include everyone from laid-off factory workers to government officials who exploit their inside knowledge to deal privately in everything from grain to imported Chinese consumer goods.

There appear to be several particular spurs for the latest "reform." North Korea relies on local production for about two-thirds of grain consumption, with most of the rest coming through aid. The recent harvest was reportedly poor and world grain prices are rising. This makes farmers more likely to divert food from government procurement to the black market. United Nations sanctions also are disrupting the country's finances, affecting everyone and reducing the supply of luxury goods the regime dispenses as favors to supporters.

Surveys of defectors suggest that the repressive apparatus of the state is disproportionately targeting those involved in market-oriented activities. Participants in market activities are more than half again as likely to be detained as other citizens.

Prisoners enduring a typical-length incarceration in a low-level "labor training center" often used to house economic criminals observed horrific abuses at astonishing rates: execution (observed by 60%), forced starvation (90%) and death by torture or beating (20%).
(Kim Jong Il's Fake Currency 'Reform')
"Many citizens in Pyongyang were taken aback and in confusion. Those who were worried about their hidden assets rushed to the black market to exchange them with yuan or U.S. dollars. The yuan and the dollar jumped," one of the sources said.

The revaluation was the first for North Korea since 1992 and the fifth since its government was founded in 1947. In the first reform in 1947 and the third in 1979 and fourth in 1992, currencies were exchanged 1 to 1 with no adjustment of denomination values. Only the second reform in 1959 raised the exchange rate to 100 to 1 as in the reported latest move.

No signs of currency reform were detected yet in joint industrial projects, such as the factory park in the North Korean border town of Kaesong, where South Korean investors pay North Korean wages in dollars, the spokesman added.
(North Korea revalues its currency)
The cabinet resolution No.423 of currency revaluation has been issued. No.423-1 is for "stabilization and improvement of people’s livelihood" and No.423-2 is for "establishment of economic management system and order. In the meantime, the authorities handed down an order requesting the maximum punishment to be given to those who violate the rules of the currency exchange. Unlike the past currency reform in 1992, the implementation of the currency reform is executed under total control of the Party this time.

All commercial transactions will be suspended during the period of currency exchange until December 6. Already all the services and trade networks, including sauna, public bath-houses, barber shops and restaurants, stopped operations. Long-distance bus service as well as peddling has stopped as well. Any activities requiring monetary payments will be suspended until new currency will be legally circulated. The purpose of the currency revaluation is to crush private commercial activities, considered to promote anti-socialism. After December 6, old currencies will be worthless.

The streets of major cities, such as Pyongyang, Pyongsung and Sinuiju, are quiet as if they are under martial law. The only sound heard is detailed rules of the currency exchange, which is broadcasted every two hours, repeated three times each time. In markets, signs are posted saying, "Closed for a week." On the day the currency revaluation started, city dwellers went to countryside to purchase things, assuming that people in rural area would not have learned the news.
In Sinuiju, school teachers even left classes and rushed to rural areas to buy rice on bicycles.
Farmers were first excited that a crowd of city residents would buy a bowl of rice paying as much as 30,000 won, but soon their excitement turned into disbelief after learning about the revaluation.
(North Korea Today No.307-309 Hot Topics November 2009)

2 dic. 2009

Did West Point miss the point?

1 dic. 2009

Continua a parlarne solo il Telegraph.

What we are looking at here is the small group of scientists who have for years been more influential in driving the worldwide alarm over global warming than any others, not least through the role they play at the heart of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
(Climate change: this is the worst scientific scandal of our generation)

30 nov. 2009

Ripensare l'Honduras.

When Mr. Zelaya was deposed, Mr. Insulza dutifully took up his instructions sent from Caracas to quash Honduran sovereignty.
Unfortunately for him, the leftist claims that Honduras could not hold fair elections flew in the face of the facts. First, the candidates were chosen in November 2008 primaries with observers from the OAS, which judged the process to be "transparent and participative." Second, all the presidential candidates—save one from a small party on the extreme left—wanted the elections to go forward. Third, though Mr. Insulza insisted on calling the removal of Mr. Zelaya a "military coup," the military had never taken charge of the government. And finally, the independent electoral tribunal, chosen by congress before Mr. Zelaya was removed, was continuing with the steps required to fulfill its constitutional mandate to conduct the vote. In the aftermath of the elections Mr. Insulza, who insisted that the group would not recognize the results, presides over a discredited OAS.

President Obama came to office intent on a foreign policy of multilateralism. Perhaps this experience will teach him that freedom does indeed have enemies.

The outpouring of international support demonstrates that Hondurans were never as alone these past five months as they thought. A good part of the world backs their desire to save their democracy from chavismo and to live in liberty.
(In Elections, Honduras Defeats Chávez)

29 nov. 2009

Le (s)elezioni birmane.

Although Burma's military regime has announced no election law nor declared the date of the poll it plans to hold in 2010, preparations appear to have begun in Naypyidaw. Informed sources suggest that potential candidates for president, vice-president, commander-in-chief of the armed forces and defence minister have been chosen.
The current list may yet be modified before the election and some potential candidates on the list could be removed. All depends on the regime's leader Senior General Than Shwe, who still calls the shots.
Gen Than Shwe has reportedly already endorsed the junta's No.3 man, Gen Thura Shwe Mann, joint chief-of-staff in the armed forces, to become president of post-election Burma.

Gen Shwe Mann and his wife are close to the strongman's family on a personal level, undertaking shopping trips together to Singapore.

Gen Than Shwe's choice for one of the two proposed vice presidents, according to  informed sources, is Maj Gen Htay Oo, the minister of agriculture and irrigation and a key leader of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), the junta-backed mass organisation.

Maj Gen Tin Ngwe, who is commander of central command, is said by analysts to be the front-runner for the post of commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He recently accompanied Gen Than Shwe when he made an official visit to Sri Lanka.

According to the new constitution, the commander-in-chief will control the ministries of defence, border affairs and home affairs, exercising wide executive powers.

Analysts say Gen Than Shwe wants to make sure the 2010 election provides him and his family with a safe exit strategy. That entails leaving his trusted aides at the helm _ and that means the country will continue to be to run by the military.
(Selection time precedes election time)

27 nov. 2009

"No tiene entidad, no está...".

Videla, in conferenza stampa, parla dei desaparecidos.
Birmania. Aprite gli occhi/2.

The problem is that engagement with Burma has been tried many times before, and always without success. Nor is it the first time the regime has promised to free Suu Kyi, or that Suu Kyi has expressed her willingness to meet the generals. The patterns are all too familiar, the accommodating noises from the generals eerily similar to those uttered before.
The US sees the election as the opportune time to begin a process of democratic change. But, for the generals, the election is the culmination of nearly 50 years of running the country. They have no interest negotiating their own demise.
The generals want to tighten their grip on the country and they have moulded the constitution so that they can do just that. They have nobbled the media and they will not be in a hurry to free Suu Kyi so that she can arouse mass enthusiasm for another political party. And any younger army officers harbouring ideas of a more pluralistic society have been kept sweet with more privileges. The election will be a confirmation, if not a tribute, to the generals' own success.
(Burma engagement offers false hope)
Birmania. Aprite gli occhi.

Nowadays when I hear Burma pundits and “players” who counsel “pragmatism” and discuss the supposed potential for parliamentary space, the imagery that springs to mind is this: rows and rows of our MPs in their seats in the Hluttaw stealthily soiling their fine silk longyis, all robotically nodding and feigning attentiveness while Chairman Ne Win extolled the virtues and successes of  “the Burmese Way.”
Fast-forward to the post-2010 Pyithu Hluttaw.  Pliant democratic MPs who have made it in the military’s electoral process aren’t likely to fight for the people, within or without this talked-up “space.”  The regime will most certainly weed the defiant and assertive types out of its “discipline-flourishing democracy,”  by keeping them behind bars, under house arrest or in exile, barring their candidacy or even disqualifying their election wins on trumped-up legal grounds.

Now the US and Britain have publicly indicated that they are willing to tango with “Naypyidaw men,” providing that the latter take certain steps to make the roadmap’s last act "free, fair and inclusive."  Never mind that the regime has set the autopilot on “cheat” since its journey to “democracy” began.

It doesn’t appear to have a Plan B, though.
What can the opposition’s western supporters do if the 2010 elections are not fair, free or inclusive?

Concretely speaking, democratization is a multi-layered process and involves more than holding one-off political events such as elections or adopting a Constitution, or convening a parliament once or twice a year.  Without institutionalizing legal regimes of human rights to protect citizens' and communities’ socio-cultural rights, as well as economic and political freedoms, no polity can be labeled democratic.

Unfortunately for the people, the “Naypyidaw men” have grown accustomed to power, privileges, wealtha and State protection, as well as adept at control, manipulation and domination over the public, economy and the State.  As such, these men in the main are not going to be agents of change, regardless of whether engagement or isolation, sanctions or trade are pursued.

Burma’s sordid electoral history, the exceedingly illiberal nature of the ruling cliques and their unpredictable tactical teases—for instance, opaque talks of Aung San Suu Kyi’s release—should make pundits weary of the a-historical and deliberately naïve pro-election discourses.
When change does happen in Burma, for sure it will not be achieved through the generals’ elections.
(Beware of the Generals’ Elections)

26 nov. 2009

In colpevole ritardo, il filmato è bellissimo.

Pericolosi controrivoluzionari.

Chinese authorities have extended the detention of a jailed dissident writer for another two months, his lawyer said Wednesday.
Police took Liu Xiaobo away on Dec. 8, 2008, one day before the publication of a document he co-authored that called for more civil rights in China and an end to the Communist Party's political dominance.
Liu was held at a secret location for six months, then formally arrested in June on suspicion of "inciting to subvert state power" — a loosely defined charge that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years.
Lawyer Mo Shaoping said police gave no reason for Wednesday's extension other than that the case was complicated.
(Detention of China dissident Liu Xiaobo extended)
(Charta 08. Un'analisi)

25 nov. 2009

E dopo le vittorie, il gulag.

Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader, has banned the World Cup from being shown in his country – unless they win.
The Supreme Leader has ordered state-run television not to broadcast live games, and to only screen highlights of North Korea's victories.
The ruling means that 99 per cent of the country's 29 million population will not be able to find out who wins the competition unless the 350-1, outsiders win it.
Games between other nations will be banned from the airwaves, while any highlights of North Korea's matches will be heavily edited to ensure that they look like the better team.
(Kim Jong-il bans World Cup coverage - unless North Korea win)
Agiografia di Barack/2

It is an old tradition, a White House dinner governed by ritual and protocol that happens to be this city’s hottest social event. But at their first state dinner on Tuesday night, President Obama and his wife, Michelle, made sure to infuse the glittering gala with distinctive touches.
They hired a new florist, Laura Dowling, who bedecked the tented outdoor dining room with locally grown, sustainably harvested magnolia branches and ivy. They selected a guest chef, Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit in New York, an American citizen who was born in Ethiopia, reared in Sweden and cooks up melting pots of flavors and cuisines.
They invited local students to witness the arrival of the guests of honor, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India and his wife, Gursharan Kaur, and presented a mélange of musical entertainment, including the National Symphony Orchestra; Jennifer Hudson, the singer and actress; Kurt Elling, the jazz musician from Chicago; and A. R. Rahman, the Indian composer who wrote the score to the movie “Slumdog Millionaire.”
And at the tables, the meatless menu included a mix of Indian and American favorites, including some African-American standards. Collard greens and curried prawns, chickpeas and okra, nan and cornbread were served to the 320 guests — including some well-known Republicans and prominent Indian-Americans — who started off with arugula from the White House garden and finished up with pumpkin pie tart. (After a tasting at the White House on Sunday, the Obamas gave the dishes their stamp of approval, Mr. Samuelsson said.)
(Modern Flourishes as Obamas Host State Dinner)

23 nov. 2009

Agiografia di Barack.

Obama said Monday that the U.S. needs to restore the nation's leadership in educating children in math and science to meet future challenges, and he announced a new Educate to Innovate Campaign.
(Obama pushes math, science education)

P.S. Sulla figuraccia dei global warmers nemmeno una riga, ma il tempo per una bella apologia del più grande presidente nero della storia americana la CNN lo trova sempre.
L'intervista impossibile.

The American side asked to arrange for a special interview of Obama by Southern Weekend.  Reportedly, Chinese Communist Party Secretary-General agreed.  But the Central Publicity Department knew full well that if they ordered Southern Weekend to delete sensitive contents after the fact, it would lead to American dissatisfaction and a diplomatic storm.  So they took pre-emptive action by preparing a "question list" that Southern Weekend had to use.  Although Southern Weekend is daring, it cannot bear the responsibility of diplomacy.  So it had to submit to the tsars of ideology.
It was rumored that senior officials of the Central Publicity Department were present during the Southern Weekend interview.  But the American embassy in China clarified that nobody from the Central Publicity Department was present at the hotel where Obama was staying and where the interview took place.  This was yet another tall trick from the Central Publicity Department which forced Southern Weekend into submission while creating evidence of absence at the scene.  So the Americans were tricked and even said good things for their victimizers.
(Obama’s China Interview Mystery (Updated))
Pazza idea.

General Fonseka is yet to reveal which party he will join or, indeed, whether he will contest at all. This week he said that he would make his decision public next week. But just two days before he had told journalists that he would reveal his plans in 48 hours. Sri Lanka’s first four-star general, it seems, is in a dither.
Many analysts feel that if he does decide to contest the election, General Fonseka will pose a formidable challenge to Mr Rajapaksa. Sanjana Hattotuwa, of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, a Colombo think-tank, says he will present himself as the architect of the victory over the Tigers and as a war hero. No other challenger could hope to boast as much.
(General intentions)

22 nov. 2009

Tutti fuori.

Sri Lanka will release next month the remaining 136,000 Tamil refugees still in the squalid and overrun government camps where they've been detained since the country's civil war ended six months ago, a top official said Saturday.
Some 300,000 war refugees were forced into the camps after fleeing the final months of the government's decades-long war with the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels, which ended in May.

Basil Rajapaksa, a senior adviser to his brother, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said Saturday the refugees will be free to return to their villages after Dec. 1, and the camps will be completely closed by Jan. 31.
(Sri Lanka to release 136,000 Tamil war refugees)

21 nov. 2009

La canzone dei vecchi amanti.

Por el boulevard de los sueños rotos.

20 nov. 2009

Birmania. La festa dei bambini.

The Burmese military junta celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Universal Convention on Children’s Rights on Friday in Naypyidaw.

There are no official statistics on child labor in the country. However, the ILO has estimated that more than 1.1 million Burmese children are economically active. Child laborers are noticeable on the streets and in teashops and markets in Burmese cities.
Burma has one of world’s poorest health care systems. The UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has said that infant mortality in the country is unusually high, with one out of 10 live births resulting in death.
“Malnutrition is widespread among children under five with about one-third of children severely or moderately stunted and underweight,” according to UNICEF.
The UN says that less than 55 percent of children in Burma complete primary school.
Rights groups say Burmese children work as forced laborers in dangerous jobs in Thailand, China, Bangladesh, Taiwan, India, Malaysia, Korea, Macau and Japan. Oftentimes, the children are exploited in the sex industry.
(Children’s Rights Celebrated in Naypyidaw)
Nell'era della diplomazia dell'inchino/2.

A student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests has been put on trial by China, one day after Barack Obama departed from Beijing.
Zhou Yongjun, 42, faces a third prison term in China after being handed over to the mainland by the police in Hong Kong.
Mr Zhou, who has lived in the United States since seeking political asylum in 1992, was arrested last September.
His subsequent transfer to the authorities in China, who have accused him of travelling on a false passport, has ignited fury in Hong Kong, which remains regulated by British law.
(Tiananmen Square protest leader put on trial)
Storia di un disertore.

Some experts have even speculated about the possibility of a Chinese sponsored coup d'etat should conditions catastrophically deteriorate.
When asked for his view on such speculation, Mr Kim said that he thought it unlikely, but he did suggest that there have been internal uprisings in North Korea.
"I am not an expert in that area - but from the experience of living in North Korea the chances of a military coup with the backing of China or any other forces is very small.
"In the past, I wouldn't say exactly military coups - but there have been similar incidents that have happened before, which have failed."
(Defector tells of life in North Korean army)

18 nov. 2009

Nessuno scrive al Colonnello.

Dicono inoltre le cronache che una ragazza è stata allontanata, perché giudicata troppo bassa e un’altra esortata a lasciare la compagnia (sarebbe meglio dire l’im­provvisato simulacro di un harem?) per­ché non del tutto compatibile con i canoni ideali della bellezza secondo il colonnello Gheddafi: in altre parole, perché bruttina. Ma c’è qualcosa di più feroce di un’esclu­sione dovuta esclusivamente per cause, per così dire, fisiche? Mica quelle ragazze erano state selezionate per un concorso di bellezza, o per il casting di una trasmissio­ne televisiva, o per allietare un evento mondano. No, erano state scelte per ascol­tare la parola di Gheddafi sull’Islam, sul crocifisso, sulle profezie, sulla virtù, sulla conversione. E allora che c’entrano la ta­glia 42 e il tacco di almeno sette centime­tri? Ma se non c’entrano, come mai si è im­provvisamente inaridito il fiume di discor­si e petizioni che in questi mesi si è impo­sto sulla degradazione del corpo delle don­ne, sulle ragazze ridotte e umiliate a stru­mento per allietare le serate dei sultani, al­l’imposizione di un canone convenzionale di bellezza che mortifica l’intelligenza del­le donne, che trasforma le ragazze in oche e veline sottomesse ai capricci dei potenti? E invece adesso c’è il silenzio. Il silenzio as­soluto.
(Tutti zitti sulle «lezioni» di Gheddafi)

17 nov. 2009

Ippopotamo mangia coccodrillo. Sequenza pazzesca.

(Le altre immagini)
Sotto il cielo di Praga.

Czechs and Slovaks are marking the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution - which brought down the Communist government of the then-Czechoslovakia.

"The march set history into motion," said Mr Havel to applause.
In a speech to the Czech senate earlier on Tuesday, Mr Havel paid tribute to the memory of those who had helped to bring down the Communist regime, including his late wife Olga.
"We often tend to forget our fellow colleagues, friends and the open-minded people in everyday life," he said, going on to name dozens who had died since the protests.
(Prague marks Velvet Revolution)

16 nov. 2009

La musica in un universo di plastica.

In 1970, the Communist government revoked the license for the Plastics to perform in public, forcing the band to go underground. In February 1976, the Plastic People organized a music festival in the small town of Bojanovice — dubbed “Magor’s Wedding” — featuring 13 other bands. One month later, the police set out to silence the musical rebels, arresting dozens. Mr. Janicek was jailed for six months; Mr. Jirous and other band members got longer sentences.
Mr. Havel, already a leading dissident, was irate. The trial of the Plastic People that soon followed became a cause célèbre.
(Czechs’ Velvet Revolution Paved by Plastic People)
(Musica della dissidenza)
Piccolo mondo antico.

Inside North Korea, all is orderly -- a "workers' paradise" for most of the 23 million residents, with no unemployment and little crime.
In this paradise, no one needs an alarm clock. Rather, each day at 5 a.m., in cities and rural areas, residents awake to patriotic music blaring through speakers, followed by a woman's haunting voice urging people to work hard, thereby enhancing the beauty and greatness of their society. And, of course, honoring "The Eternal President of the Republic," Kim Il Sung, and his son, Gen. Kim Jong Il, the current leader.
(A trip to North Korea offers curious sites)
Messaggio inviato al destinatario erroneo.

In somewhat more pointed remarks, Mr. Obama discussed more sensitive themes, saying the United States would push for freedom of expression (including no censorship of the Internet), political participation, respect for ethnic minorities and the empowering of women in society. He also said the United States would expand the number of American students studying in China to 100,000.
(Obama Pushes Rights With Chinese Students)

15 nov. 2009

Le promesse di Dmitry.

During his perfunctory election campaign, President Dmitry Medvedev made no mention of the need to modernize Russia, nor did he promise to become a popular video blogger or to set any world records for compassion by providing apartments to World War II veterans. No, Medvedev called for a battle against corruption and promised to do so much in establishing law and order that everyone would understand that he was not just keeping the presidential seat warm until Prime Minister Vladimir Putin returned to it in 2012.

However, Medvedev’s call to battle corruption has gone unheeded. All surveys, statistics and personal observations indicate that, during Medvedev’s 18 months in office, corruption has actually increased. Now the question is: Will Medvedev continue just talking about the problem or is he prepared to finally take action?
(Promises, Promises)
La locomotiva.

The private train North Korean leader Kim Jong-il uses on his trips either within the communist country or abroad consists of six around 90 carriages, and some 20 train stations have been built specifically for his own use. To defend Kim against attack, two separate trains precede and follow the main entourage, one handling reconnaissance and the other security.
(The Facts About Kim Jong-il's Private Train)
(Kim’s train stations (updated))
Di passaggio verso Pechino.

After less than 24 hours in Tokyo, Obama will spend three days in China, where he will discuss the yuan’s devaluation and call for more opportunities for U.S. exporters in its vast market.
(Obama in Japan: Reassuring an old friend)

9 nov. 2009

I migliori anni della nostra vita.