China Readings for January 21st

  • An Ethnic War Is Rekindled in Myanmar – NYTimes.com – This month hundreds of mortar rounds fired by the Burmese military landed within miles of this town near the mountainous Chinese border. International human rights groups and soldiers and officials of the Kachin ethnic group say that Burmese soldiers have burned and looted homes, planted mines, forcibly recruited villagers as porters and guides, and raped, tortured and executed civilians. Several thousand villagers have fled to China. Tens of thousands more who have been displaced could follow if the Burmese Army continues its offensive, local relief workers say.
  • SOPA: We Can Fix This « C-Scape – In the media world, we have journalistically-minded companies who have spent a lifetime defending freedom of speech and fighting anything that seems to impair that right. In that world such freedom overshadows the original reason for the proposed rules, which was the fact that most of those companies are losing billions of dollars because their intellectual property is being stolen and reused by others for profit.

    Then we have the Googles of the world, who beat the Freedom-of-Speech drum as well, but who really are among those who have built huge businesses on the back of every content creator with little or no compensation for their content. In their case, it’s Freedom-of-Profit and Growth that they are protecting.

    Having Google out front defending the media on the SOPA issue is like having Larry Flynt be the point person defending Freedom of Speech in court. We like what he is saying, but is he the right person to make the case around?

  • Army Foresees Expanded Use of Drones in U.S. Airspace | Secrecy News – The Army issued a new directive last week to govern the growing use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or “drones” within the United States for training missions and for “domestic operations.”

    “The Army’s unmanned aircraft systems represent emerging technology that requires access to the National Airspace System,” wrote Army Secretary John M. McHugh in a January 13 memorandum.

  • Heat to turn up on China | Global warming | Climate change – Global warming threatens China's march to prosperity by cutting crops, shrinking rivers and unleashing more droughts and floods, says the government's latest assessment of climate change, projecting big shifts in how the nation feeds itself.

    The warnings are carried in the government's "Second National Assessment Report on Climate Change," which sums up advancing scientific knowledge about the consequences and costs of global warming for China – the world's second biggest economy and the biggest emitter of greenhouse gas pollution.

  • The "anti-Semitism" smear campaign against CAP and Media Matters rolls on – Glenn Greenwald – Salon.com – Last month, my Salon colleague Justin Elliott revealed that AIPAC’s former spokesman, Josh Block, had been encouraging neoconservative journalists and pundits on a private email list to attack as “anti-Semites” various Middle East commentators employed by two of the most influential Democratic-Party-aligned organizations: the Center for American Progress (CAP) and Media Matters (MM). Block distributed a dossier containing posts by these CAP and MM writers about Israel and Iran that he claimed evince anti-Semitism, and then issued these marching orders (emphasis in original): “YOU SHOULD AMPLIFY this.  And use the below [research] to attack the bad guys.” The predictable roster of neoconservative, hatemongering extremists on that email list – led by The Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin, who recruited the Simon Wiesenthal Center to the cause — dutifully spewed out articles echoing Block’s attacks against these mostly young, liberal writers: Matt Duss, Ali Gharib, Eli Clifton and Zaid Jilani at CAP’s ThinkProgress blog and Media Matters’ MJ Rosenberg (a former AIPAC employee)…

    Is this not the most blatant evidence yet that these organizations and their adherents are manipulating and exploiting charges of anti-Semitism in order to stifle and punish perfectly legitimate political and policy debates about Israel? They are effectively admitting that “anti-Semitism” does not mean irrational hatred or animosity toward Jews — its actual definition — but rather now means: challenging or even questioning the policy assumptions and preferences of certain Jewish groups and the Israeli government. They are literally decreeing that you are barred from challenging the dubious premises of those who crave war with Iran, are further barred from questioning their fear-mongering about the Iranian nuclear program, are also barred from assigning blame to the settlement-expanding Israelis for the lack of a peace agreement, and are even barred from condemning the increasingly unsustainable and anti-democratic treatment of the Palestinians — all upon pain of being formally condemned as anti-Semitic.

    What we find yet again is this common– and quite dangerous — paradox: the very groups that are charged with fighting anti-Semitism have done more than anyone else to trivialize the accusation and thus render it impotent and meaningless. They have done this by continuously exploiting the term for completely illegitimate aims: to smear those who deviate from their policy preferences regarding Israel.

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