Every time you think China is becoming a more open society, it goes all repressive again.
China’s Christians rival in number the members of the Communist Party in China. (Photo: Elizabeth Thomsen / Flickr)
“In another sign of the authorities’ efforts to contain one of China’s fastest-growing religions, a government demolition campaign against public symbols of the Christian faith has toppled crosses at two more churches in the coastal province of Zhejiang,” reports Andrew Jacobs in the New York Times. “Since early spring, the authorities in Zhejiang Province have issued demolition notices to more than 100 churches.”
The effectiveness of missile defense can scarcely be inferred from the “sound and light show” that is Iron Dome.
Iron Dome battery deployed in the field. (Photo: Israel Defense Force / Wikimedia Commons)
Contrails, the wake of an aircraft usually created by water vapor in its exhaust. When you hear them mentioned these days, it’s usually an attempt to paint them as “chemtrails,” the supposed product of a secret government program for spraying chemical or biological agents on the public to various ends. But contrails happen to be key to the effectiveness ― or lack thereof ― of Israel’s iron dome mobile missile defense program.
Before continuing, if you’re anything like me, you wonder how U.S. missile defense, which (a recent test notwithstanding), has underperformed, while its Israeli counterpart, Iron Dome, has proven successful in stopping rockets launched at it by Hamas and other extremists. First, it behooves us to remember that those are rockets, not ballistic missiles, launched at Israel. Second, where’s the evidence that Iron Dome works anyway? At the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, editor Jon Mecklin frames the question.
How should a country react when its diplomats commit a crime and claim diplomatic immunity?
An incident involving diplomatic immunity has caused an uproar in both Malaysia (pictured) and New Zealand. (Photo: Uwe Schwarzbach / Flickr)
Diplomatic immunity has long been a staple of good-faith diplomatic relations between governments in the modern state system. But although the privilege was designed to reduce the incidence of conflict between states, its abuse has often had the opposite effect.
The 2013 New York arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade triggered a diplomatic rift between Washington and New Delhi. Charged with visa fraud and perjury, Khobragade was also accused of violating U.S. labor law by underpaying her housekeeper while making her work longer hours.
Towards a ceasefire, negotiated settlement, and end to the Israeli Occupation.
Essentially all of Gaza has become a military target. (Photo: Kashfi Halford / Flckr)
Cross-posted from the Colorado Progressive Jewish News.
Preface: This is the first of a series I hope to write on the current Israeli war on Gaza. There will be a follow-up piece specifically on U.S. policy. I also hope to be writing some stuff with dear friend and frequent collaborator, Imam Ibrahim Kazerooni.
Update: A few hours after I posted this a 12-hour ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza Palestinians was agreed to by both parties. Today is “El Quds” Day…the last Friday prayer of the Ramadan month of fasting. It might not mean much to North Americans and Europeans, but in the Muslim world, it is an important day. It means “Jerusalem Day”…and today the West Bank blew up in opposition and anger against the Israel war on Gaza, so much so that Mohammed Abbas and his Fatah group fear losing control of the situation, greatly complicating Israel’s position. It is also true, although essentially blacked out in the US, that the Secretary General of Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah, gave an important speech today in which he pledged support for the Gaza Palestinians. In the West Bank already at least seven have died, hundreds arrested. For Israel it now means that it is opposing Palestinians on two fronts, [possibly three] simultaneously – Gaza and the West Bank. It is more than likely that this deteriorating situation for Israel is behind the call for a 12-hour cease-fire. (Cheers, RJP.)
Many of the citizens of Transylvania in Romania are of Hungarian descent and speak Hungarian.
Life under Ceausescu was not easy for Romanians in general, but it could be particularly harsh for Romanians of Hungarian ethnicity. (Photo: Ville Miettinen / Flickr)
Cross-posted from JohnFeffer.com.
Agnes Gagyi grew up in the city of Miercurea Ciuc in the Transylvanian region of Romania. More than 80 percent of the population of this city of 50,000 people is of Hungarian ethnicity. Most everyday interactions are conducted in Hungarian. In fact, Gagyi didn’t learn Romanian at home or on the streets, but rather through television and Romanian classes at school.
Life under Ceausescu was not easy for Romanians in general, but it could be particularly harsh for Romanians of Hungarian ethnicity. Ceausescu orchestrated a nationalist turn in the Romanian Community Party that repudiated the cosmopolitan origins of the movement and reinforced the independent position Romania was increasingly taking within the Warsaw Bloc. Instead of a fraternal socialist neighbor, Hungary was for Ceausescu a potential threat, both for its more liberal version of Communism and its putative desire to reclaim lost territory like Transylvania.
While making a political show of turning away migrant children at the border, Texas Governor Rick Perry has offered “honorary citizenship” to a right-wing Australian author.
Apparently, Rick Perry values an Islamophobe over Central American children. (Photo: Nicholas Roznovsky / Mays Communications / Flickr)
Texas Governor Rick Perry may not want to let Central American children into Texas, but that doesn’t mean he hates all foreigners. Some of his best friends are foreigners!
Like the right-wing Australian author Nick Adams who Perry anointed an “honorary Texan” last year.
Meanwhile, 52,000 children have been apprehended crossing the United States’ southern border since October—most of them from the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
After learning airline crisis management the hard way, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has quickly taken control of the investigation of MH17.
Malaysia is applying the lessons it learned mismanaging MH370 to managing MH17. (Photo: Richard Deakin / Flickr)
The blame game has already begun over the Malaysian airliner that appears to have been downed by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.
Both the West and Ukraine insist that Russian President Vladimir Putin must be held accountable for the tragedy. Some, like U.S. Senator John McCain, are calling for the United States to respond more forcefully against Russia by increasing sanctions and providing more arms to the Ukrainians.
Putin, on the other hand, said in a televised statement that Ukraine bears sole responsibility for the disaster because it “renewed hostilities” in the troubled region.
Israel is obviously determined to subjugate Gazans by instilling fear.
Damage to Gaza from Operation Cast Lead in 2009. (Photo: Zoriah / Flickr)
Cross-posted from Antiwar.com.
Terrorism is defined by Merriam Webster’s dictionary as: “the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal.” One could say Hamas fits this definition out of desperation and a lack of moral leadership.
But Israeli actions toward Palestinians are much worse: Israel is politically and strategically determined to subjugate the Gazans through fear. They do this through commando raids, mass arrests, and air strikes – all with the most sophisticated army Tel Aviv and its U.S. partners can buy. It has not gone unnoticed by all. On July 15, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the current Israeli air offensive in Gaza, “state terrorism” against the Palestinians.
Scotland has a chance to obtain what’s been denied its people: sustainable economic growth, social justice, and, most of all, a Scotland-first approach.
David Cameron greets the Scottish military. What will the foreign policy of a free Scotland look like? (Photo: Crown Copyright / Flickr)
Scotland is barely a few months away from the all-important date of September 18, when its citizens will vote to decide the future of their country. The stakes are high: on one hand, there are supporters of an independent Scotland, whereas on the other hand, there is UK Prime Minister David Cameron who will be left “heartbroken” if Scotland chooses to be independent.
To save his heart, and to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom, David Cameron is even willing to offer 500m British Pounds (roughly $850m) to Glasgow. But nothing seems to quell the spirit for freedom in Scotland.
Between Ukraine airline officials keeping planes flying too low and the pilot diverting his plane into the vicinity of the military transport, MH17’s fate was sealed.
Flight MH17 memorial at Amsterdam Airport. (Photo: Roman Boed / Flickr)
Yesterday I posted that Russian Premier Vladimir Putin may have been making some sense when he blamed Ukraine for the destruction of MH17. Putin had said that “certainly, the state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedy.” Apparently he was referring to flawed decisions about flight path and air traffic by Ukraine aviation officials. As the Wall Street Journal reported:
Ukraine intelligence officials said they knew three days before the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 that rebels in the east of the country possessed sophisticated air-defense systems capable of felling a jetliner at altitudes in excess of where the Boeing 777 was flying.
The disclosure deepens the mystery of why Ukrainian aviation officials failed to entirely close off the airspace in the Donetsk region, where the jet was flying went it was shot down, killing all 298 people on board.
… Ukraine imposed a partial flight ban in the region on flights below 26,000 feet on July 1, and raised the ceiling of the exclusion area to 32,000 feet on July 14. The Malaysia Airlines plane was flying at 33,000 feet.