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)