20090831

Land of the rinsing sun ?

As Taro Aso became Prime Minister, he fulfilled a personal ambition to the risk of marring his own name : Japan was bound to face tough times, and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) bound to struggle at the 2009 elections.

Base case scenario then was a 1993 style victory for the Democratic Party of Japan.

Even if a few DPJ leaders have experienced their own turpitudes over the past year, LDP took very much the expected dive. Taro Aso's era and sense of timing could be summed up by one drunken Finance Minister at a G7 summit, and record high unemployment figures published on the eve of elections.

Forget about the base case scenario : Sunday, DPJ claimed over 300 seats out of 480 at the Lower House.

Hopefully, this worst case scenario for the LDP could turn out to be the best case scenario for Japan.

Because Japan badly needs change. Not change as in "political alternation", but change as in "political and societal shift".

Before becoming a controversial Prime Minister, Taro Aso was a controversial Foreign Minister, pushing all the (extreme) right buttons to please imperialist dieharders, infuriating Chinese and Korean neighbors*, and even dispising Hiromu Nonaka, a LDP rival, for being "burakumin", a person coming from a minority. Nevermind the fact that Korean blood runs through the body of the Emperor himself.

Taro's successor Yukio Hatoyama defends burakus and Japanese of Korean origin. He fights against discrimination at home and for reconciliation with neighbors. He leads a movement in favor of stronger ties between Korea and Japan, and has a vision for both countries as natural partners in the region.

Behind this 62 year-old leader, DPJ sent to the Diet an impressive roster of young people, many of whom women, kicking out of the political landscape a collection of dinosaurs who'd be running for decades a country glued in keiretsu conservatism and bureaucracy.

These elections could mean the end of Post-War Japan and the beginning of something new. Now would be the perfect time to - at last** ! - set the record straight about what happened during and before the said war, and to get rid of the only minority that tarnishes its greatness : a dangerous clique of nostalgist and revisionist fascists.

Japan has a unique opportunity to embrace the new millenium as a great nation at peace with its neighbors, its own past, and its own citizens.


blogules 2009 (also in French : "Le Pays du Soleil Lavant ?")


* see "
Taro Aso after Tzipi Livni and before... ?"
** see too many previous
blogules about Japan, and why unrepentant Japan shouldn't be allowed to seat as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

20090826

Afghanistan, ground zero

So after all, Hamid Karzai may emerge as the official winner of the August 20th blackout.

The day presidential and regional elections were held in Afghanistan, all lights of democracy seemed to be switched off :
- a me-too product modeled after Iran's 2009 infamous elections : manipulations, forged results, stuffed ballots...
- a few typically local florentine delicacies : last minute outrageous alliances and legislative gifts, continuous and shameless corruption...
- an agenda set by enemies of democracy : Taliban intimidations, threats, bombings, terror attacks, murders, mutilations of women who dared vote..., and to spice it up,
- the revolting complicity of all major Western democracies : eyes, ears, and noses wide shut, observers didn't observe anything, media didn't report anything, respecting the blackout on violence (including the aforementioned attacks on democracy levelled by the Afghan government)

As a result : a parody of democracy, a low turnout, the final destruction of the last illusions of the Afghan people.
The government started testing rumors : Karzai would have won by a landslide with 68% thanks to a massive turnout, so no second round needed, thanks for coming.

In other words : Iran Elections 2009 redux (see "Ahmadinejad Alienates Iranian People Today, Iranian Clerics Tomorrow"), except that unlike Ahmadinejad, Karzai was supposed to cruise easily towards victory in case of a second round : Abdullah Abdullah doesn't enjoy a political spectrum as wide as Mousavi's.

But the attempted fraud went too far : such a stage of forgery would backfire on Western democracies as surely as it did on Khamenei.

So the government backpedaled and anounced today a much more politically correct first batch of official results : President Karzai would enjoy a slight, 2 point lead over his main rival according to 10% of the votes fully counted. 10% more shall be revealed tomorrow, and so on because see, that's the smartest way we and our Western allies found to gain some time to sort things out and build the least implausible scenario. We wouldn't want this crisis to take an Iranian turn, would we ?

Welcome to Ground Zero, Afghanistan. The twin towers of democracy and decency were not that tall so nobody noticed their fall, but this time, inside job conspiration theories are not totally unfounded.

blogules 2009
(also in French : "
Afghanistan, morne plaine")

20090824

CIA to Blackwater : Kill, Baby, Kill

Government outsourcing according to Bush-Cheney ?

. To Halliburton: drill, baby, drill

. To Blackwater: kill, baby, kill

Even if Blackwater didn't succeed in capturing nor killing jihadists*, the contractor managed to kill at least 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007. A small step compared to the hundreds of thousand deaths caused by that illegal invasion, but a giant leap for a private corporation.

So as someone said, Mission: accomplished.

And Magna cum laude according to standards set by then Amerikan rulers, most notably :

. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a.k.a.
The Chief Torture Officer, head of the Destruction of Justice

. Vice President Dick Cheney, a.k.a.
The Chairman of the Waterboard, a supervillain with a knack for illegality and infamy.

. President George W. Bush, a.k.a
The Fundamentalist in Chief, a stubborn again theocrat under whose rule America ended up one Supreme Justice away from outright fascism.

We don't know yet what CIA's Leon Panetta will come up with next, but expect more public outcries than five years ago when, even as all abuses were perfectly known, Dubya's Weapons of Mass Disinformation earned him a clear mandate from American voters to keep digging.

Eric Holder, this is your time to shine and restore justice in the US.

blogules 2009

* see "
C.I.A. Sought Blackwater's Help to Kill Jihadists" (NYT 20090819)

20090818

KIM Dae-jung as Don LEE's Statue du Commandeur

Tragic year for former Korean Presidents : today, pneumonia eventually claimed KIM Dae-jung (1998-2003) a few months after his successor ROH Moo-hyun (2003-2008) committed suicide*.

Korea's first Nobel laureate had been treated for over one month at the Severance Hospital, and when his fate seemed sealed, all former foes paid him a visit to "make peace" with a man whose disparition was bound to spark a new wave of criticisms on their own past.

Most notable stars of this strange "Sunshine Policy", 3 presidents : CHUN Doo-hwan has already been judged, KIM Young-sam still struggles to balance his own legacy, but LEE Myung-bak is about present time, history in the making.

And KIM Dae-jung was particularly vocal against him. Actually, his very last public breaths were to denounce repeated attacks on democracy, particularly following the disparition of ROH Moo-hyun (see "
A Yellow Sea for Roh Moo-hyun" - also on blogules).

At least for the weeks to come, KIM Dae-jung shall stand as an embarrassing "Commander Statue" for a Don Juan already struggling to reconquer public opinion.


* See "
Roh Moo-hyun follows Pierre Beregovoy" (also on blogules and blogules VF).

blogules 2009
---

initially published on
Seoul Village.

20090814

We reject as false the choice between our social security and our ideals

According to Karl Rove*, President Obama would be in "Permanent Campaign". That comes from someone who started campaigning for George W. Bush's 2004 election as soon as he stole the 2000 ballot, and who is still campaigning for his "Bush Legacy", a revisionist's take on one of the darkest periods in US History.

According to Karl Rove, "turning critics into enemies isn't presidential". That comes from a man who had attorneys fired because they were not able to invent proofs against critics of the Bush-Cheney Administration**. Remember those "us vs them" guys ? Were they "Presidential" when they called "axis of weasels" friends who advise you not to invade illegally a country because you may fuel terror worldwide instead of fighting against it ? Were they "Presidential" when they called "un-Americans" patriots who dared point out the possibility that torture, not only performed on innocent people, may not be consistent with American values.

So why is Karl Christian Rove***, a non-presidential individual in Permanent Campaign and turning critics into enemies if I ever saw one, making once again a fool of himself ?

Simply put, this man is scared. Yes, "Turd Blossom" is s..t scared. He knows his long overdue disgrace is coming : he's heading straight to prison, he won't pass go, he won't collect $200, and the few people who would actually like to pay this criminal a visit may turn out to be inmates themselves.

Karl Rove keeps going at "Obama(s)care" because he knows perfectly that once this last major bipartisan effort is over, Eric Holder is free to unleash justice and fix the moral collapse of the Bush-Cheney era.

"Healthscare" is the last throes of Bush-Cheney politics of fear. But this time, the fear is on THEM. And this time, it's not "us vs them" as in "us vs our critics", but "U.S. vs Them" as in "America vs Amerika". This isn't the politics of fear where a corrupt Administration decides who's guilty, but the politics of justice where a sound Administration lets justice do its job independently. Once again,
Barack Obama is not pointing the finger at anyone : he is simply showing the direction for Justice ****.

Some think Obama is crazy to tackle health care now, but he doesn't have much choice : it's now or never. You can't mobilize the nation on such a daunting task in the middle of an L or W shaped "recovery". And now, he still needs all aisles of the Congress to work with him.

If you have any doubt about Obama's sense of priorities, just remember the most important words in his inauguration speech ("We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals") and his first decision as a President (closing Guantanamo).

Change is coming, and the most vocal opponents are those who have the most to fear from justice.

This isn't socialism they're fearing but justice.


Justice against torture and fascism.

Justice against criminals who disgraced American values.

Justice against Nazis who parade freely in a land that defeated Nazism*****.

The time as come to restore American values.

So with hope, we reject as false the choice between our social security and our ideals.


* see "
Obama and the Permanent Campaign" (WSJ - 20090813)
** see on NYT "
E-Mail Reveals Rove’s Key Role in ’06 Dismissals" (NYT - 20090811)
*** don't get fooled by the middle name : Karl is of the medieval, crusade prone variety - not the "peace and love" kind.
**** see "
'Insects placed in a confinement box' (Welcome on Waterboard)"
***** I've often denounced hate groups in America, but they keep coming out crazier than ever as they fear for their own relevance in post-racial America. Depicting Obama as Hitler is typical Goebbels-style propaganda from extremists. On the surrealistic recent developments of the US gun gap, you want to read "

20090806

Latest Korean Export : Hangeul Alphabet, To Indonesia

According to The HunminJeongeum Society (HunminJeongeum Research Institute), representatives from Bau-Bau decided to use the Korean alphabet in order to preserve their own language, a dialect that lacked a writing system.

Created in 1443, Hangeul is often praised by linguists as the most efficient alphabet ever invented and indeed, it takes only a few minutes to understand how it works. Still, Hangeul needed some help to reach Bau-Bau, the most populated town (120,000 inhabitants) of Buton island, at the Southwesternmost point of Sulawesi, Indonesia.

The HunminJeongeum institute has been trying to export Hangeul for years. The easiest and most obvious entry points are non written languages with a limited reach and on the verge of extinction : a writing system means an easier conservation, transmission, and of course a global reach via the internet.

Last year, the vice president of the association (headed by Seoul National University Professor Kim Ju-won), Chun Tai-hyun, Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, announced in a Korean Times interview* that representatives from Bau-Bau would visit Korea to learn Hangeul and find out how to implement it. "In Indonesia, ethnic minority communities are losing their own spoken languages. We realized that the Korean alphabet could actually help preserve these endangered local languages."

The said trip bore interesting fruits : a comprehensive textbook in Hangeul created by the Institute and titled "bahasa jjia-jjia 1", and a Korean center soon to be opened (see Yonhap article*).

I found this information both exciting and surprising : If it were say in Thailand, where the national language uses a specific writing system, I would understand the trial... but Bahasa Indonesia itself, the Indonesian language, has adopted the Latin alphabet about one century ago. Indonesian is spoken everywhere, even if many dialects survive, and Latin alphabet already offers a potentially global reach. Choosing an alphabet is a founding moment, and picking a different alphabet almost has to have a political meaning...

I did some quick research :

- on the island's official website (baubau.go.id), there's nothing about the issue yet : all pages seem written in perfect Bahasa Indonesia... as much as I can tell (I haven't practiced the very little I know for 20 years !).

- on the always fascinating UNESCO Atlas of endangered languages, I found only Busoa ("vulnerable") and Taloki ("definitely endangered") in the area. If Indonesia boasts about 130 endangered languages, this very one is not on the list.

- on the "Ethnologue report for Sulawesi, Indonesia", I found the language mentioned on the manual : in 2005, 79,000 people spoke Cia-cia language (or simply cia, which means "no") across this part of Sulawesi, but with many variant dialects. The language is said to be "vigorous" and spoken at "all ages", along with Indonesian and the dominant Austranesian language of Buton island, wlo (or wolio).

- I couldn't dig any clue in the political / social context that may cast a particular light on such a bold move from local representatives.

So my guess is that in this more "push" than "pull" operation, the survival of cia-cia language was not as essential as the opportunity to see how Hangeul performs in a completely new context. Professor Kim Ju-won is even more specific : "In the long run, the spread of Hangeul will also help enhance Korea's economy as it will activate exchanges with societies that use the language."*

I understand that this kind of arguments help raise funds for research, but I sincerely hope that linguistics remain the main topic, and that someone is planning to closely monitor the impacts. For example, I'm anxious to see if there is any impact on pronunciation.

If this thrilling (in all senses of the expression) experiment turns out to be a success, other local languages may be tempted to adopt Hangeul... if they simply don't catch the virus by contagion.

To be followed up...


* "Linguistics Scholar Seeks to Globalize Korean Alphabet" (Korea Times)
** featuring "writing, speaking and reading sections", "the tribe's history, language and culture" (definitely a must), and as a bonus "a Korean fairy tale" - see "Indonesian tribe picks Korean alphabet as official writing system" (Yonhap 20090806)

---
initially published on Seoul Village : "Hangeul lands in Bau-Bau, Indonesia... to save the Cia !".

20090803

Israel openly embraces fascism

"Let's face it: they're fascists".

Beyond a certain point, you have to give up politically correctness and diplomatic circumnavigations.

Israel is being ruled by fascists.

This week-end's outrageous expulsions of Palestinian families* in the middle of Palestinian territory (East Jerusalem), only confirmed a recent hike in deliberate provocations from Tel Aviv following Obama's clear warnings issued at Benjamin Netanyahu during his last White House visit : illegal colonization unleashed, hatemongering declarations or actions... (see "
Netanyahu's al Aqsa Intifada").

These provocations soothingly comfort Israel's extreme right voters as Avigdor Lieberman feels the heat : following years of investigation, the police officially demanded that the extremist Vice-Prime Minister / Minister of Foreign Affairs shall be charged for a massive corruption scheme.

But Israel had already entered deep into illegal territories long before the Netanyahu Administration V2 even reached power : illegal attacks on Lebanon and Gaza, illegal anschluss of Palestinian land, illegal use of weapons of mass disinformation, illegal colonies, illegal walls, illegal murders on foreign land, negation of basic rights of Palestinian AND Israeli citizens...

Israel is now officially being ruled by fascists, and I'm weighing my words the way I weighed my words five years ago, using the very definition of fascism by Benito Mussolini himself to define Bush-Cheney Amerika (see "
Let's face it they're fascists").

Once again, this is not about religion, and this is not even about the existence of Israel. This is about justice and politics, about the legal and political framework wanted by the people of Israel (see "
Justice in America - Democracy in Israel?").

If any Israeli citizen refuses to see his or her country embracing fascism any further, let he or she speak out, speak out loud, and speak out now, without waiting for the next elections.

Beyond the future of Palestine, the future of Israel is at stake.


* "
Police evict two Arab families in Sheikh Jarrah, sparking furious int'l reaction" (Haaretz 20080801)

20090802

Six Pax Americana - Brewing the Gatesgate

President Barack Hussein Obama invited Professor Henry Louis Gates and Sergeant James Crowley for a Beer Summit at the White House, mobilising Vice President Joseph Robinette Biden Junior in the process.

Pundits keep elaborating on the level of racism reached during the incident that triggered the summit : Sgt Crowley handcuffed Pr Gates in his home. Prof had to force his own door to enter. Neighbor called the police, suspecting a theft. Sarge declined to tell his own name. POTUS said "police acted stupidly". Media spun the whole thing into some kind of a Victorian remake of "Do The Right Thing".

You have to understand the media : they were used to crispier gates, with cells, torture, waterboarding, pretzels, screams... the whole shebang and now what ? Instead of another Bush, they get Anheuser Busch !

If it weren't for healthcare / health scares, Obama's first year would be boring : the only major scandals are the Puppygate, the
Flygate, and now the Gatesgate...

What next ? The Yawngate ?

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