Archive for January, 2010

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Labour’s ‘Victory’ over Racism: A Premature Pat on the Back?

January 14, 2010

Today, in an unusually proud statement by Communities Secretary John Denham, Labour proclaimed its near victory over racism, making the point that the United Kingdom not enjoys the most culturally-aware and accepting population ever seen on the island. The statement, coupled with the release of a report entitled “Tackling race inequality: A statement on race” was intended to not only highlight the multitude of efforts by Labour MPs over the years to recognised these problems” and “legislate against racism” but also as a way to erode away the racist platform upon which UK’s nationalist parties stand, particularly the BNP.

However, this pat on the back might be a little premature. Although the UK is more exposed on a wider-scale to some Caribbean, African, and South Asian cultures, incidents of ethnic violence grew in the 1990s – between 1994 and 1998 there were around 5000 reported racist incidents in the Metropolitan police area. Compare that to over 23,000 between 1999 and 2000 (Institute of Race Relations). Additionally, racist terms continue to be employed by youth as well as adults in the cities, to refer to those of immigrant backgrounds especially South Asian and East Asian descent. Take into account as well that less than 2% of the population in London is of East Asian descent (UK ethnicity cards denote either ‘Chinese’ or ‘other’ for East Asians) and NOT a new immigrant, which means exposure to East Asian cultures and peoples is extremely low.

Mr. Denham was making the case that in the UK today, class is the first impediment to education, job acquisition or housing, not race. The steps that Labour have encouraged to bring the UK system to this place are good steps, but they are only preliminary. Additionally, attitudes towards different cultures in the cities centers are in stark contrast to those in the countryside (as is true of most countries). More needs to be done and the small steps over the past few years cannot create a sense of complacency in the issue. But if Labour is going to the lengths it is in to push the publication of this new paper to the detriment of the BNP, it seems action is on the minds of the government, and hopefully it stays there.

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US-China Relations Outlook 2010: 什么样的关系?

January 13, 2010

A hearing on recent security developments in the People’s Republic of China provided a somewhat bleak outlook for the near future of US-China relations, echoing the wary sentiments of pundits and academics in recent weeks. Meeting at one of the House Visitors’ Centers’ many committee rooms this morning, the House Armed Services Committee heard testimony from top Department of Defense, State, and PACOM officials on what we can expect this year from the growing strength of China in the global arena.

In unusual agreement with pundits’ (see Robert Cohen’s recent NYT Op-Ed) and academics’ recent warnings concerning China’s military and economic might, Pacific Command Admiral Robert F. Willard, USN, expressed him uneasiness at China’s PLA capabilities. He said that China’s stated goals of peace and stability in the region and world are unmatched by their recent military buildup.

Building on issues of military might, Department of Defense A/S Wallace C. Gregson describes current US-Chinese relations as operating in a “dynamic environment with little historical precedent.” Positives in the relationship, which include China’s support of UN Security Council Resolution 1874  and anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden are matched by negatives such as an overall lack of transparency  and the pace and scope of their military buildup.

Concluding remarks came from Department of State Deputy A/S for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David B. Shear, who seemingly tried to re-prove to the House members how State officials have tried to engage the region in a dynamic and cooperative manner, bring up the numerous POTUS and Secretary trips to the region. However, his recap of the last year of efforts in Asia was darkened by a statement on the recent near-decision by Google to pull out its operations in China in light of an apparent cyberattack perpetrated by China against various Chinese human rights activists who use GMail. He reiterated today’s remarks from Secretary Clinton that State was briefed on the matter by Google previously and that a scheduled press conference on internet security and openness scheduled for next Thursday was scheduled prior to this fact.

The overall tone of all testimonies given seemed to parallel the feelings of many China watchers these days – although China is becoming more accountable to global norms of transparency and responsibility, this is only a natural change due to its increased presence on the global stage. Stated goals and dreams of peace by the PRC seem to be what they’ve always been – lipservice – and the PLA military buildup’s actions speak louder than these words. Wariness seems to be the best posture to be taken by the US at this point – wariness and preparedness. Within the next few weeks, China’s moves on the Google issue and on Iran sanctions could prove as a good litmus test to actions in the rest of 2010.

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Daily International News 01.12.10

January 13, 2010

I posted this yesterday but it didn’t update for some reason! 😦

Daily International News
January 12, 2010


North Korea

S. Korea and U.S. Dismiss N. Korea’s Peace Talks Proposal
[NYT]

Japan
Investors Seek To Dump JAL On Delisting Fears
[WSJ]
U.S. Seeks to Defuse Sense of ‘Crisis’ in Japan Alliance
[WSJ] and Japan’s foreign minister reaffirms close ties with U.S. [WaPo]

China
China ‘successfully tests missile interceptor’
[BBC]
Baidu hacked by ‘Iranian cyber army’
[BBC]
On Asia-Pacific trip, Hillary Clinton downplays U.S.-China friction
[WaPo]

Southeast Asia
Five charged over Thai-Saudi jewel mystery
[BBC]

Middle East
Iranian nuclear physicist killed in bombing
[WaPo]
Work begins on first planned Palestinian city
[AP]
Tough Sanctions May Not Persuade Iran to Quit Nuclear Program
[Bloomberg]

Europe
Russia and US to resume arms control talks
[AP]
Britain bans Islamist group at centre of march row
[Reuters] and [Guardian]Islam4UK to be banned, says Alan Johnson
Iraq invasion ‘had no legal mandate’, Dutch inquiry finds
[Times of London]
Italy may suspend Berlusconi trials by decree
[Reuters]

Domestic
Ford: I’m gearing up for Senate race
[NY Post]
Some fear Kan. ruling may spur abortion violence
[AP]

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Daily International News 01.11.09

January 11, 2010

Now that I’m back from my London jaunt, here’s the first international news bulletin of the new year!

Daily International News
January 11, 2010

Clinton to East Asia
Clinton to talk bases, security on Pacific swing
[Reuters]

North Korea
North Korea Calls for Peace Treaty Talks With U.S.
[NYT]
S. Korea skeptical of N. Korean proposal for peace treaty
[Yonhap]

Japan
Japan seeks to come clean from secret nuke deal
[China Daily]

China
China says missile defense system test successful
[AP]
China sends Rio case to prosecutors
[Reuters]
China surpasses Germany as world’s top exporter
[WaPo]
Sino-Pak talks on joint strategy to meet challenges
[Dawn]

Middle East
Panel Ties Ally of Iran Leader to Protester Deaths
[NYT]
Afghans agree Bagram jail takeover
[Al Jazeera]
Israel to build 2 fences on porous Egyptian border
[AP]
Yemenis locate German hostages – German minister
[BBC]

Southeast Asia
Malaysia church attacks continue in use of ‘Allah’ row
[BBC]

Europe
Spain will likely accept 2 Guantanamo prisoners
[AP]
Official: NIreland leader to step down temporarily
[AP]
Islamic Group Cancels Antiwar March in Britain
[NYT]
Croatia election commission: Josipovic wins presidency
[CNN]
Back at work, Italy’s Berlusconi seeks new immunity
[Reuters]
Race Riots Grip Italian Town, and Mafia Is Suspected
[NYT]

Americas
Chavez says military will monitor Venezuelan prices
[CNN]

Domestic
Reid fights for political life; Republicans call on him to step down
[Politico]
Google’s Eric Schmidt on why bankers deserve little sympathy and Obama does
[Telegraph]
A Risky Proposal: Gay Marriage in the US
[New Yorker]