Tuesday, May 31, 2011

China and Laos

This morning, the BBC news featured a commentary from one of their correspondents reporting from the Laos/China border.  One the Chinese side of the border are massive plantations of rubber trees.  These trees do not satisfy the needs of China.  So, apropos previous blog posts, the Chinese government has been in conversation with Laotian officials. The latter have agreed to supply the Chinese with land to expand their rubber tree plantings.  The Laotian government seconded the lands of Laotian villages along the border where farmers owned the land and grew rice. One villager pointed out that the plantations are so vast it will take a million people to work on them.....there are not enough Laotians, he pointed out, so it will have to be Chinese workers.......

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Chinese Behaviour Pattern Continues

They have poisoned their wells with unsafe mining practices.  They have ruined villages and wreaked environmental havoc with dam building.   They have continued farming and food production with unsafe practices that sicken and kill their own people.   And, not content to rob developing countries of their resources, the Chinese are now in need of other sources of food.  The have buttered up the regimes of such popular leaders as Lula da Silva of Brazil, getting their foot in the door.   And now Brazilians are starting to feel a little uneasy and queasy about the land grab that has ensued as the Chinese are "investing" in small farmers and getting them to grow soybeans.  See this story from today's NYT.
To read about their incursions into Africa and the regrets of various African nations, search this blog under 'China".

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Blood Brothers: Putin & Mugabe

Joe Nocera's opinion piece in today's NYT had a great sub-heading: "What Putin & Pals want, Putin & Pals get".  This observation is in regard to the trial, and today's conviction, of Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky and Platon L. Lebedev. 

Also in today's NYT is a review of Peter Godwin's new book The Fear : Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe.  Peter Godwin is a journalist who has two previous memoirs on his life in Zimbabwe:  A White Boy in Africa and When a Crocodile Eats the Sun...both excellent.  This newest book is another indictment of Mugabe.  He really has to go.

South Korean author's first book translated into English

Saturday, May 21, 2011

More on South Africa and Libya

Ah, confirmation that the revolutionary brotherhood between Che Zuma and Che Gaddafi is rent asunder by truth in actions.
South Africa on Friday accused Libyan leaders of spreading “misinformation” about the fate of a South African photojournalist by saying he was alive when they knew him to be dead.

Calcified Mugabe

Robert Mugabe insists that his age is no deterrent to seeking re-election and continued despotic rule in Zimbabwe. Citing his excellent health in the face of claims to the contrary, he says that doctors have told him they are amazed and his good bone structure: perhaps he misinterpreted their diagnosis. He has ruled with such an iron fist that his bones, and brain, must have calcified by now, rendering him incapable of anything but rigid thinking.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Another killing in Libya: South African photographer

The South African official view of Libya:
History of Relations
Unofficial relations between South Africa and the Great People's Socialist Libyan Arab Jamahiriya are of long standing and go back to the days of the struggle against apartheid. The first South African formal accreditation was established on 19 November 1996, when the South African Ambassador to Tunisia presented his credentials to the Secretary of the General People's Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Co-operation (Foreign Minister). Relations between South Africa and Libya are solid and have been highlighted by high profile visits to Libya by both former President Mandela and President Mbeki. South Africa made a significant contribution to negotiations for the release of the two Libyan suspects in the so called "Lockerbie issue".

Maybe the official position will be reassessed and recalibrated affter the coldblooded killing of photographer Anton Hammerl.  See this article in the Mail & Guardian.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Accolades for Emma Donoghue

RoomRoom by Emma Donoghue

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I dreaded starting this book as it sounded just so traumatic and creepy.  But, it was a page turner, beautifully written, and well worth putting aside feelings of horror and dismay at the subject matter.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Crackdown in Syria

Just a year ago, my husband, son, his girlfriend, and I ate falafel sandwiches near this square in Damascus


 The above video is from this article from the Los Angeles Times.

You can also find more videos from Syria at this link.

Friday, May 6, 2011

As the sands shift........

Saudi Arabia is taking preemptive action amidst change and unrest in the Middle East.  Unsure of its future relationship with the US, it is looking to diversify its supply chain by reaching out to.....China!  See/hear this story from NPR.  Ah,  opportunistic China.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Iran Demands Syria Free Dorothy Parvaz....

Now this is an interesting development

Iran has been strangely silent throughout the unrest in Syria.  D. Parvaz was born in Iran.....

D. Parvaz is Missing in Syria

Former Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter is missing.  She landed in Damascus last Friday, 29 April, and has not been heard from since.  There is a Facebook page dedicated to information on her.  A former colleague, Joe Copeland has written a story in the online newspaper, Crosscut.  Call the Syrian Embassy in Washington, DC, tweet, and email: (202) 232-6316 ext. 139 or send an email to as1@syrembassy.net. A Twitter campaign uses the hashtag #FreeDorothy