Friday, July 31, 2009

Venezuela: "Media Crimes"

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what Regime Censorship of the Media looks like.
Under the draft law on media offences, information deemed to be "false" and aimed at "creating a public panic" will also be punishable by prison sentences.

The law will be highly controversial if passed in its current form.

It states that anyone - newspaper editor, reporter or artist - could be sentenced to between six months and four years in prison for information which attacks "the peace, security and independence of the nation and the institutions of the state".
So far, that looks to be merely a draconian version of ordinary State Censorship, commonly imposed during wartime or national emergency... not that Venezuela is under either circumstance at present...

Where this becomes Regime Censorship, that pernicious device of censoring *all* opposition or inquiry into the conduct of the government, is in the details:
Under Article 5 of the draft Special Law against Media Crimes, which will be submitted on Thursday by Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz for the consideration of the National Assembly, "Any person who discloses false news through a mass media outlet, causing serious disruption to public tranquility, panic or anxiety in the population, disruption of public order or a prejudice to the interests of the State, shall be punished with imprisonment from two to four years."
The definition of what is "false news" is, of course, at the discretion of the prosecutor. That means (among other things) any challenge to an action of the regime that is met with "no comment" by the regime could be construed as thus being "false".

Having determined a report to be "false" or "misleading" (a second punishable and by the way utterly unquantifiable category) and "causing ... or a prejudice to the interests of the State", it would then be punishable by imprisonment.

How convenient. The next time there is an electrical blackout in Caracas again and the government claims a cause different than the media reports say, then it is bye-bye news reporters.

What, you think for a minute that this new law (if passed) might ever be applied to the *Regime spokesman* if they get the report wrong?



The original call for this sort of legislation by regime stalwart Luisa Ortega Díaz came on July 3rd. This latest action is the effort to actually pass the law. But even back in mid July, Reporters Without Borders was considering this as a "hounding" of private media through new laws and regulations... and that is just what it is.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Boko Haram leader captured... and killed.

It took only a few hours after the Nigerian government security forces captured Mohammed Yusuf, the Islamist preacher at the center of the Boko Haram attacks this week that have swept several towns in Nigeria's northeast...
A Reuters reporter saw Yusuf at a military barracks in the northern city of Maiduguri after his capture. Yusuf had no visible injuries and was standing up. He was later transferred to the city's police headquarters where he died.

"He has been killed. You can come and see his body at the state police command headquarters," Isa Azare, spokesman for the police command in Maiduguri, said.
source -- Reuters AlertNet

Note that there is no explanation, nor regret, cited in the report.


Freedom for Iran -- No Mourning Allowed

The 40th day mourning for Neda Agha Soltan (killed by gunfire in the protests against the rigged Iranian election results) has brought another government crackdown.

Iranian Police have arrested or dispersed the mourners at Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery.
Iranian police arrested mourners who gathered at a Tehran cemetery to commemorate victims of the unrest that followed the country's disputed June presidential election, witnesses said today.

The police forced Mirhossein Mousavi, a defeated candidate at the election, to leave the cemetery.

"Hundreds have gathered around Neda Agha-Soltan's grave to mourn her death and other victims' deaths ... police arrested some of them ... dozens of riot police also arrived and are trying to disperse the crowd," a witness told Reuters.
Election candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi was attending, as was candidate Mehdi Karoubi, at the invitation of N. Soltan's mother.

Agha Soltan (mother of Neda) gave this interview to RFE/RL's Radio Farda today. Please make the time to read it.

The excellent sources at Raye Man Kojast? (Where is my vote?) have this live 'blog of the day at the Cemetery, and several follow-up stories including some video that has been slipped out.

Remember, as an aide to Mousavi said 23 days ago:
It is when America stops paying attention that the regime loses all restraint.
I'll amend that to say "...when the World stops paying attention...", and do my part here to to keep attention focused on the goal of Freedom for Iran.

Please do your part as well.

Bombings in Spain

The car-bombing on Wednesday, up in the north of Spain in Burgos, is being pinned on the armed wing of the ETA (Basque Homeland and Freedom) organization. They've certainly got a history of doing such, especially targeting the Guardia Civil (Spanish gendarmerie; paramilitary police), and that bombing hit a GC barracks housing area. The attribution is in part based on the knowledge that the ETA armed wing has several vans prepared as bombs:
The minister said the van had used false license plates and had probably been stolen in France. He said no warning call had been received and no group had yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but said it bore the hallmarks of Eta.

After the detention of three Eta suspects in southern France earlier this month, Spanish security services put out an alert for three vans which had been loaded with explosives by a commando group in France.
Now comes another attack...

This one hit a GC barracks on Mallorca (Majorca; an island in the Balearics). Two GC officers were killed and there are several wounded.

Local authorities on Mallorca are yet to provide any details of the attack.

This is going to get a reaction. The Balearic Islands are a major part of Spain's tourism industry, and attacks that threaten to disrupt that are not going to be treated the same way "regional instability" is handled up in Basque Territory.



All transport links in and out of Mallorca are now closed.
Police ordered that no planes, ships or pleasure boats leave the island while they hunted for the bombers.

It was thought that at least 300 flights due to leave Majorca on Thursday would be affected by the blockade.

Meanwhile, incoming flights were being diverted.
The report also has this bombing as a planted device (on a patrol car) detonated upon the presence of the two officers.

More on this as more comes in.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Guinea-Bissau Election Winner

This is the promised follow-up to "Guinea-Bissau votes coming in" posted here on Monday.
Malam Bacai Sanha won Guinea-Bissau's run-off presidential election on Sunday with 63 percent of the vote, the West African country's electoral commission said on Wednesday.
source: Reuters AlertNet.

M. B. Sanha was the Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde(African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde; PAIGC) candidate for the presidency, and will enjoy an absolute majority in the Parliament upon taking office.

He'll have his work cut out for him, but here's wishing a better future for Guinea-Bissau.

That's quite enough, Mr. Bainimarama

The Foreign Minsters of the Commonwealth bloc of nations are likely to recommend another suspension of Fiji at the meeting of the 53-nation group on Friday, according to New Zealand sources cited by the AP. This was the latest straw on the camel's back of patience:
Self-appointed Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, the armed forces chief who seized power in a 2006 coup, announced President Ratu Josefa Iloilo would step down on Tuesday.

He will be replaced in the interim by Vice President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, widely seen as a mentor for the ambitious prime minister. Nailatikau was appointed foreign minister after the coup and assured Pacific leaders that elections would be held by April 2009—a pledge the regime has since broken, leading to its growing isolation.
Fiji is already under suspension by the Pacific Islands Forum and is under sanction by the E.U., Australia and New Zealand.


For more information and links to resources on the Fiji situation, I have the pleasure of once again recommending Fiji: The way it was, is and can be. This source cites material from all sides of the issue, and indicates the political leanings of those sources as best known.

Hugo, again...

Here we go again. As it was passed to me earlier today:
Chávez amenaza con expropiar empresas colombianas

ND (28/07/09-7:55pm).- El presidente Chávez amenazó con expropiar a las empresas colombianas al responder a las denuncias de ese país sobre unos lanzacohetes suecos del tipo AT-4 que fueron encontrados en manos de guerrilleros de las Farc. Al mismo tiempo, Chávez anunció la congelación de relaciones con el vecino país.

Así lo recoge una nota de ABN.

El presidente de la República, Hugo Chávez Frías, advirtió que ante una próxima agresión por parte del gobierno colombiano dirigido por su homólogo, Álvaro Uribe, se quebrantarían severamente las relaciones comerciales y hasta se podrían expropiar empresas neogranadinas en el país.

“La próxima agresión que haya en contra de Venezuela romperemos relaciones comerciales y económicas y comenzaremos a expropiar las empresas colombianas en el país”, precisó el mandatario nacional.

Desde hoy dio la orden al gabinete gubernamental para levantar un informe con las estadísticas comerciales entre ambos países ya que “ellos (el gobierno colombiano) no tienen respeto hacia nosotros y estoy seguro que volverá a suceder un ataque diplomático muy pronto”.

“Si ellos han decidido abrirle las puertas al imperio, con eso han demostrando que no les importa las relaciones con su hermano país Venezuela”, refiriéndose a la instalación de cinco nuevas bases militares del gobierno estadounidense en Colombia.

Sin embargo precisó que "vendrán nuevos tiempos con la Colombia, la Colombia que queremos, la que es nuestra hermana de verdad".
In summary, in English from El Universal:
President Hugo Chávez on Tuesday announced that he ordered the Venezuelan ambassador in Bogota to return to Caracas as the bilateral relations remain "frozen" in the wake of the seizure from the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) of Swedish weapons that, according to Sweden and Colombian officials, were sold by Venezuela to the rebel group.
He's bent about the new U.S. base-usage agreement with Colombia as well.

Expect the order to move "tank battalions; ten of them" to the border shortly. ...which would impress me more if Hugo Chavez had ten battalions of tanks to order anywhere.

"Tin-pot dictator" does not even begin to describe him adequately.

Nigeria moves against Boko Haram group

The Nigerian Army is in the field against the Boko Haram Islamist militants who staged multiple attacks over the weekend.

More on this as confirmable reports come in, but for now here is the most recent report.
Soldiers are searching areas near the home of sect leader Mohammed Yusuf in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.

On Tuesday the army shelled the compound, exchanging heavy gunfire with militants.
Massive movements of security forces are happening throughout the region as well.


Update 0700hrs ('blog time)

Nigerian Police reports are now stating over 300 killed in the fighting, since Sunday.

Make that Four Dead Men

Again, there is no nice way to say this, but it has hit open source so here goes...

Of the five British nationals taken hostage by the Pasdaran (IRGC) front group Islamic Shia Resistance in Iraq, two bodies have come home. Now the BBC is reporting that there are two more dead men.
BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said the Foreign Office told the families of Mr McMenemy and Mr Maclachlan last week that the men had most likely died while in captivity.

And he revealed the kidnappers told the British government a month ago they had two more bodies.

"At the time the hostage-takers handed over the bodies of the two other security guards - Jason Creswell and Jason Swindlehurst - they let it be known that they had two more bodies," he said.

"They have made many claims and counter-claims and that couldn't be verified immediately. The Foreign Office is now pretty certain that it's true."
Alan McMenemy, from Glasgow, and Alec Maclachlan, from south Wales.
The condition of the fifth man, Peter Moore, is not known.
Little is left to negotiate, but the FCO is still trying.

It is time to plan how to avenge them. Patience, lads. Time will come.


Previous unhappy news on this item was discussed in "Two Dead Men" here at CompHyp.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Uh huh, sure.

I am *so* believing this denial:

FARC denies giving money to Correa's campaign.

Yup. Un huh, sure. Just like the "Raul Reyes" computer files. INTERPOL sure showed those up, didn't they?

...oh, wait. That wasn't exactly how it went, was it? What say we take a look at those video files and see about how they were supposedly "manipulated"...?

Mugabe feigns calls for ending political violence.

The current President of Zimbabwe (Rhodesia), Robert Mugabe, has made a habit of calling for an end to political violence recently. He made this statement back in March. It was for show. He made this statement on the 24th of July. Bets are it was all for show as well, and it was implied to only count for the "three peace days" of the 24th~26th.

This is what is really happening:
Mugabe declared three "peace days" from 24 to 26 July "to observe the prevailing peace, [and] promote the ideals of national healing and reconciliation", but in the rural provinces of Mashonaland West, East and Central, Masvingo and Manicaland - once ZANU-PF strongholds - supporting the MDC still carries the risk of a beating.

Morgan Komichi, a senior MDC official involved in rural organization, told IRIN that ZANU-PF violence was increasing as the party went about shoring up its support ahead of the elections expected to take place once a new constitution has been agreed.


"What is happening is that ZANU-PF is rolling out its machinery of violence in order to intimidate the population ahead of the constitution making-process; it is a constitutional battle," Komichi said.
Read the whole report, please. It pulls no punches.

AT-4's? Gee... they are around here somewhere.

This qualifies as a pretty clear End-User Certificate violation:
The Swedish government said on Tuesday it had asked Venezuela for information on how Swedish-made weapons exported to the South American country had found their way to rebels in neighbouring Colombia.
For those of you not familiar with the Arms Trade, what that means is serious legal trouble for Hugo Chavez and crew. One does not resell military-grade armaments casually in the modern world and stay out of trouble for long.
(cf. Viktor Bout)

The legal and correct export of those AT-4 light antitank rockets was made by the manufacturer in Sweden based on the certification by Venezuela that *its own armed forces* were the user. Years later (the sale was back in the 1980's), the very weapons so certified have been found in FARC hands inside Colombia. The only legal way that Venezuela is not liable for them being there is if they were reported stolen and certified as lost, which would have meant a bit of legal trouble for losing them *back then*; no such loss is on record.

Unless there is a fall-guy around to take one for the team and be arrested by Venezuela as a thief and arms smuggler, this is going to add another nail to the "Chavez supports the FARC" coffin.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Joanna adds "goddess" to her OBE

That's probably overstating it a bit, but if anyone deserves the blessings of heaven upon them then one good candidate is certainly the daughter of Major James Rutherford Lumley.

Bravo, Purdey. You've done a very fine thing for "the bravest of the brave", and your own nation. Enjoy the adulation!

The Weekly N&C for July 27th, 2009

We have done a lot in a year.

While the 'blog anniversary is not until the 1st of August, this is the wrap for one year of CompHyp's The Weekly Item. Forty five entries, most of them long enough to be an in-depth look at some of the World Events that usually don't get a lot of time on the nightly news.

It has been a pleasure to do this, and I hope it has been of use to you.

If you are of the mind to see where this began, Here's The Weekly N&C for August 4th, 2008.

Expect more of the same, from "Local News" (matters regarding Japan) to matters in the far corners of the globe. Expect more analysis of why things are happening, and more efforts to point a spotlight at some of the dark places where trouble spreads from in the world.

Maybe, just maybe, what you and I do here helps.

Nigeria's 'Boko Haram' insurgency

As if the Federal Republic of Nigeria didn't have enough problems with the political and opportunist violence against government-controlled oil projects down in the Niger River Delta region...

Three attacks (so far) in northern Nigeria have come from the so-called Boko Haram followers of Islamist preacher Mohammed Yusuf. Reports on this round of fighting of 150 people killed in the battles; fortunately, mostly militants. Attacks in Bauchi happened on Sunday; This round of attacks came in Borno State, Yobe State, and near the city of Kano. Here's an easier map to use than the small one in the BBC report, above. The 12 states in the north and northeast of Nigeria are heavily Islamized, and Shari'a (Shariah; Islamic Law) is in force the autonomous religious court system of the region.

So what is with the name "Boko Haram"? Well, that's a borrow-phrase from Arabic. It means "Education is prohibited".

That's right. The followers of Mohammed Yusuf see any education besides their religious education to be against the teachings of Islam.
...the group is seen locally as a fringe group and has aroused suspicion for its recruitment of young men, and its belief that Western education, Western culture and science are sinful.

They have dreams of Waziristan-in-the-Sahel, it seems.

Or maybe they hope to bring back the Fulani Empire but if so, they are misreading history*. The Fulani at Sokoto (for example) were a most literate people who valued education.

*They aren't misreading anything. They likely don't care. This is really about imposing Islam as a system of governance.

Guinea-Bissau votes coming in

No word on any final result is expected for some days, but the run-off Presidential Election held on Sunday in Guinea-Bissau looks to have gone well. Reuters has observers reporting:
Voting was calm, orderly and well-organised in the main, said Johan Van Ecke, chief of the European Union's observer mission, one of several international scrutineers, though turnover was similarly low to that of the first round.
That's good news.

The BBC their report on this as well, and they see some additional positive notes, specifically this:
Our correspondent says in past elections, voting has largely gone along ethnic or religious lines, but many people are now so fed up with the situation that this seems to be changing.
Of course, the major item behind much of the recent trouble has been the role of Latin American narco-traffickers using Guinea-Bissau as a way-point to European markets, and there is no clear sign that the government that will come out of this election will be any more capable of standing up to the Narco's...

Here's hoping, though.


The essential source for polling and election information from around the world, Angus Reid Global Monitor, had this work-up on the election, and here at CompHyp there have been a number of topic threads on Guinea-Bissau's situation. Sort by "West Africa" to find them, please.

Arrests in Papua Murders

Seven individuals, including 2 employees of Freeport's Grasberg mining complex, have been arrested in the cases of three killings on the approach road to the mine.

The report as of now makes no assertion as to any affiliation of the accused, whether they are brigands, anti-government militants, *or* rival security providers currently trying for new contracts "guarding" the mine.


Previous discussion on this topic in The Weekly N&C for July 13th, 2009 here at CompHyp.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday "not dead" Push

Yah... brudder, wadda week.

Hope yours was better than mine.

Here's your place to start something of your own interest. This thread is left open to comments for folks to make their own fun or leave messages for me about breaking news events. The usual rules still apply: play nice.

No major Site Admin matters this week.

Countdown to August 1st at six now, so get your confetti and streamers ready for next Saturday...


Friday, July 24, 2009

Items in brief

Something to watch for:

M. Zelaya is making a show of trying to enter Honduras. Is this a gift to the interim Government of Honduras, who recognizes now they should have arrested him at the start of this, or is Zelaya just trying to get another of member of his "supporting demonstrators" killed?

Something to watch out for:

If you see a bunch of Hezbollah members digging storage bunkers in your neighborhood, you can safely presume they aren't for cold-storing goat cheese. Heck of job the UNIFIL is doing, catching this... of course, the enormous explosion might have tipped them off.

Something to watch, if you are Japanese:

With the run-up to the next Lower House Election underway, and the control of the administration of the Government of Japan at stake, it sure is good to see The Japan Times put this Page One, above the fold, today. Clearly, this is further evidence that having anko filling the space between your ears is no impediment to popular success, which should hearten the members of political classes everywhere.

FYI July 24th

Obligations elsewhere are interfering with my otherwise daily devotion to this project. No worries, please. Things should return to normal by Sunday ('blog time).

Major events or breaking news on topics here will still be made available here as usual.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Zelaya magic: disappearing money

Make of this what you will, but after hearing and seeing so many difficult-to-document claims of financial malfeasance and narco-trafficking ties aimed at the ousted-president. Mr. Manuel Zelaya, formerly of Honduras... is more than a little satisfying to see a well documented and provable case of multimillion US$ theft by Zelaya and crew.

Now let's see the rest of the evidence on the pre-rigged vote totals, the narco-trafficking relationships, and other abuses of public funds.

While they are at it, some explanation and some names as to the real reason why and by who Zelaya was allowed to be exiled from the country in the first place.

Because it certainly *looks* like " 'anging is too good for 'im ".

Let's be absolutely sure.

Abyei border arbitration

The matter of the border delineation dispute and arbitration thereof regarding the Abyei District of Sudan has been concluded... at least if both "north" Sudan and "south" Sudan live up to their words accepting the arbitration results.

Sudan (the "north") got the border drawn in such a way that most of the more important oil fields are on their side, which certainly makes the P.R. Chinese happy. Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC), the operator there, is a consortium led by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).

Autonomous South Sudan got acceptance that at least the major part of their claim of what constitutes Abyei is correct, and did get recognition of most of the fertile grazing land being within Abyei.

Where this all really matters is when it comes time for the twin referendums in 2011.

At the same time, Abyei will vote as to whether it remains part of "north" Sudan or joins the autonomous "south" *and* all of the "south" will vote as to whether to remain a part of Sudan or if it will become Independent South Sudan.


Please see The Weekly N&C for June 22nd, 2009 regarding this matter in greater detail.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Weekly N&C for July 20th, 2009

Apples and Apples and Oranges

So is there ever a case where one international situation is the same (within argument); that there are enough parallels that hypocrisy in the reaction of outside governments becomes apparent?

Rhetorical question.

One that is almost unanswerable without a detailed knowledge of the finer points of any cases being compared, but...

...when such comparisons do catch the attention, hypocrisy can be the second thing to come to mind (the first always being "the world is a terrible place", or some other such moment of sympathy for the innocent caught up in the turmoil).

Here's a couple of cases, just to see whether they trigger one's hypocrisy alarm:

The Bolivarian Socialist bloc, voiced by President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, have claimed open support for demonstrations inside Honduras in favor of making removed-and-exiled former President Manuel Zelaya un-exiled and reinstated. They have certainly made vast amounts of resources available to sustain demonstrations and political protests outside Honduras, and there is solid enough evidence that they've sent support to the Zelaya faction inside Honduras.

So what? Zelaya is their man, and he got caught working the political machinations to turn Honduras into a Chavista vassal state. Of course they are opposed to his removal. Power to the Zelaya People and print up more t-shirts for the protesters.

Meanwhile, in Venezuela, there have been ongoing labor actions against the various interventions by the Chavez regime... PDVSA (the national Oil monopoly) workers against party-appointed "union leaders" and "management"...
(Provea human rights NGO general coordinator, Marino) Alvarado accused Labor Minister María Cristina Iglesias of ordering the arrest of five employees of the state-run oil company Pdvsa Gas Anaco, who led a protest last April at the gates of the Ministry of Labor.

Alvarado stressed that such detentions show that the government has gradually become intolerant to demonstrations.
Note that the right to strike is guaranteed under the Venezuelan Constitution. Such arrests functionally make the criminalization of protests State Policy.

Same story goes for Venezuelan Guayana's Corporation (CGV), the State-controlled Aluminum smelters in Venezuela. Expect these strikes to be criminalized shortly.

So, protests against Honduras = good; protests against Chavista Venezuela = bad.

No surprise, but pretty blatant.

Madagascar, and the removal of Marc Ravalomanana by the military (acting on their own impetus). Ravalomanana is outright deposed, but not arrested, for a list of supposed crimes against the people and the State. He makes his way to southern Africa and is immediately welcomed into the SADC regional community as "still the legitimate President of Madagascar". Weeks went by, and pressure from all manner of the political bodies in the region mounted... threats of outside intervention were made... activists (provocateurs) demonstrated publicly, and plotted privately... the latest acts being a campaign of attempted bombings orchestrated by former government officials. Yet when this matter came before a more distant interested party (France)
France denounced the attempted strikes in its former colony and called for the island's feuding leaders to resume talks towards establishing a consensus government.

"France condemns all recourse to violence in Madagascar and hopes light is shone on this affair," said a statement from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In fact, France has shown a distinct willingness to keep the Rajoelina junta in place *in spite of serious Constitutional challenges to that having any legitimacy* and negotiate toward arranging for an election at some unspecified future date.

Yet France, as party to the European Union response to the Honduras Crisis, and even in possession of the entire manifest of Constitutionally-compliant actions by the interim government of Honduras (up to the act of exile), has seen to withdrawing its ambassador and calling for the reinstatement of M. Zelaya.

Maybe they would see things differently if Honduras had ever been a French Colony...

The Honduras Crisis negotiations (if they still exist) are supposed to forestall "possible civil war", yet the talking points being waved around by negotiator-in-chief President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica are as of this date a list of the Zelaya camp's demands, and the talks have rightfully gone nowhere.

It will be most edifying to see if *when* the impatient Mr. Zelaya (and his far-more impatient Bolivarian Socialist backers) attempts to force the issue with rioting and his return to some corner of Honduras, whether anyone will call this act what it is:

Just another attempt to make a government in Stanleyville to oppose the government in Leopoldville. (reference: Congo Crisis, 1960)

Let's try to stop that from happening again. That time, the guys with red stars on their hats poured material and weapons in and the result was five more years of bloody and nearly senseless warfare.

If it takes someone stepping up to the Zelaya-backers and saying "if that happens, then we go all-in on the side of the Interim Government; if it doesn't, you've got your negotiations", then so be it.

What's the worst that could happen if you (a country) steps up?

Hugo Chavez rants his hatred for you. Sounds pretty much like what he does already.

Big deal.


End Notes:

All notes are embedded in the text as links.

General Information on all matters and persons referenced in the text are available at Wikipedia, but as always *remember that this is a contentious matter* and to check carefully all sources cited therein.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Midday Push

Here's hoping all are enjoying their weekend. It's a three-day weekend here in Japan, but CompHyp will still be on for The Weekly come Monday, 'blog time. 'Till then, barring breaking news...

Here's your place to start something of your own interest. This thread is left open to comments for folks to make their own fun or leave messages for me about breaking news events. The usual rules still apply: play nice.

There are no site admin matters of note this week. Traffic remains substantially above the historical rate, thank you All.

Be well and safe!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The FARC and Ecuador's Correa

It has always been an open question: Does President R. Correa of Ecuador act in support of the FARC narco-terrorists operating along the Ecuador-Colombia border? Very strongly arguable evidence says "yes" (cf. Raul Reyes), but official activities by the Ecuadoran Armed Forces to shut down drug labs and stem some of the cross-border movements says "maybe no".

But if one turns the question around and asks "Does the FARC support Correa?", well... that answer is a definitive "yes", and that's just the latest evidence of FARC efforts to find friends in neighboring countries.

The Correa administration, of course, denies everything about this.

Mauritania Presidential Election

The polls have opened for today's Presidential Election in Mauritania, the country's effort to move back toward a Representative Democracy after last August's military coup. Here's the first report from the BBC on how it is going. The concern, as always, is that just because there is an election there is no telling how long civilian rule will last...
Mauritania has been led by a democratically elected leader for just one year since independence in 1960.
Here's hoping for a clean election, and no major incidents of Islamist militant violence. Mauritania is an important part of Operation Enduring Freedom - Trans Sahara, the theater of the GWOT against al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), so a return to normal governance there is part and parcel to victory there.

Here's the backgrounder on today's election from Angus Reid Global Monitor.

UNMIL: No Liberian Threat to Guinea

In response to the claims of threatening militant activities on the borders of the Republic of Guinea (the former French Guinea), the force commander of the United Nations Mission in Liberia says there is no sign of any such threat from Liberia.
LT/Gen ATM Zahirul Alam and his men had been busy conducting investigation and verifying the statement made by the Guinean leader and his findings have shown that all is normal at the border. According to him, contrary to the information emanating Guinea about planned attempts to dethrone his administration, there is complete stable security atmosphere at the Liberia-Guinea Border.

Here is the original claim by RepGuinea sources as discussed last week here at CompHyp.

Friday, July 17, 2009

This is negotiating?

Mediator-in-Chief Oscar Arias must be turning a new-found shade of purple right now...

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is just not letting up on the "Zelaya is returning" claims. This morning, he came up with Manuel Zelaya would return to his country "in the coming hours".

Given the reports in Honduran newspapers of a supposed insurgency attempt to go along with such a return, it is rather unlikely that any return attempt is going to be greeted with a pleasant 'welcome home'... more likely, a pleasant 'you are under arrest'.

Friday Prayers -- Freedom for Iran

Former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani will lead Friday Prayers in Tehran today. Mir Hussein Mousavi is to attend. Mehdi Karoubi's spokesman says he will attend.
Pamphlets are circulating describing July 17 as "the promised day" and saying "the Green Wave should rise up." Supporters of Iran's "Green" movement, which backed Musavi's bid for the presidency, are describing the significance of this week's Friday Prayers as "epic."

It is difficult to predict what will come out of the event.
Understatement of the week, that last part.

This could be decisive, one way or the other.


Three reports on how it has gone:

from the Financial Times.

from the AP.

from the Times (UK).


Saturday Update:

Rafsanjani has apparently been labeled as an enemy of the regime for his sermon at Friday Prayers, and at least one threat of legal action against him has been written.

Several excellent reports on the day, with lots of video and photo evidence, from Raye Man Kojast? (where is my vote?). Look for threads there source-dated "Tehran July 17th"; there are several in a row.

The movement for Freedom in Iran is not dead. It is, for now, being very, *very* careful.


Indonesia Hotel Bombings

This is still a developing story, so for the moment the most convenient sources are wire service reports like this from the AP.

What is known so far:

The explosives were relatively small (transportable), not vehicle based. The attacks were not complex (no armed raiders; apparently no secondary devices to target responders).

Two bombs went off in Hotels in Jakarta, Indonesia. Both were detonated well inside the hotel buildings (the restaurant of the Ritz-Carlton; the basement of the JW Marriott). 9 8* dead, over 50 wounded.

One additional unexploded device is reported to have been found.

The rest of what news is out there is mostly guesswork.

Security in Jakarta is on high alert for any follow-up strikes, and precautions are being taken in countries throughout the region.

*later reports confirm only 8 dead.

Still seeing mostly guesswork in later reports.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Zelaya plots; Chavez rants

The Zelaya faction (inside and more, outside Honduras) is not so happy with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias' efforts at mediation, and are ignoring calls for "patience". So, the demagogue plays to his populist base...

Calling on his supporters in unions to stage a work-stoppage on his behalf:

Commendable in principle; if entirely peaceful, commendable in practice.

Claiming he (Manuel Zelaya) will re-enter the country with supporters, who are apparently being armed at the behest outside interests:

um... not exactly commendable conduct for someone who is claiming legitimacy.
"We are going to install the constitutional assembly. We are going to burn the Congress," protest leader Miriam Miranda vowed.
Legitimate insurgency, or the armed march on the center of power, is what one does when there is no recourse within the institutions of the nation to bring down a government.

I'd say this is pretty much a slap in the face of Oscar Arias. It likely undermines what claim M. Zelaya might have of being the wronged party.

Of course, his having friends saying things like *this* is not helping his case either.

note: The claims H. Chavez is attempting to repudiate are these (Spanish-language source).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

oh, bother

Heck of a time for a back bench revolt, guys.

Chinook Story

It might not come to mind at first, but one of the major problems facing any military force is "appropriateness". That's a fancy way of saying that for the missions that force is expected to perform: not only has sufficient total force available...

...but the elements of that force match the requirements of that given mission.

See for example the American experience in occupation / pacification in Iraq. It was both overkill and counterproductive to generally use heavy formations equipped with tanks and mechanized infantry fighting vehicles to do what was a LIC (Low Intensity Combat) mission. Certainly, a few such formations were needed, but not for patrols or counter-insurgency (COIN). The mis-match then got worse when most all formations assigned to the mission were instead mounted on utility vehicles ("Humvees") that had no real protection for the troops. The answer, two-fold, was to focus major combat responsibilities on Stryker-equipped formations (large, reasonably armed and armored, but wheeled IFV's more suited to the task) and a massive procurement effort allowed the wide use of Mine Resistant Armor Protected (MRAP) trucks as the utility vehicle of choice. Neither of these types of vehicles are what one wants in a tank battle, but both were well-suited to the needs of COIN operations.

Now cast your gaze upon Afghanistan, and the British Army forces deployed there as a major part of the effort. Realize that budgetary considerations in almost any Western country other than the U.S.A. are murderously limiting on operational capabilities. Add to that moment of understanding the fact that the combination of terrain, elevation, and an almost total lack of roads makes force mobility in Afghanistan a brutal task. That last feature drives an almost imperative need... helicopters.

But many of helicopters in service with the British Army (and it should be noted that even in total, the U.K. has rather few helicopters in service) are entirely *inappropriate* for operations in Afghanistan. The Lynx multirole craft can't fly in thin air, or on hot days in the average elevations of the theater. The transport helicopter that the British have that *is appropriate* for most airmobile and logistical needs, and can fly well even in such an environment, is the HC1 (HC2 and HC3) Chinook, the British military version of the CH47 in U.S. service. However, between budget limitations and numbers available, there are simply nowhere near enough of them to support operations. By "nowhere near enough", I'm saying 5 times as many as they have would be good.

The shortage of reliable lift is second only to operational tempo as the reason for the high casualty rate being suffered right now by British forces. No lifters means they drive to battle; but they don't have MRAPs in any meaningful quantity; route clearance for movement is still done by foot patrols and hand detection of mines (IEDs); the total force available is strained to keep enough forces forward to do the mission, which leaves less available to secure routes once they've been cleared... and there aren't enough reconnaissance assets (like drone aircraft) to keep watch on the unsecured routes... and so on.

However, the Ministry of Defence, in full understanding of this situation, has not been exactly johnny-on-the-spot about making the expenditures needed to get a more appropriate force mix in the field. Worse, even when they have spent money in the past, they have so roundly mishandled the matter as to appear to be "bordering on irresponsibility".

This matter needs to be resolved. Now.

If that means cutting an unfavorable deal with the manufacturer, so be it. The whole affair is already unfavorable, and those Chinooks are needed.

If getting that done means hauling the blasted fragments of a Viking or a Snatch LandRover up to the front porch of Whitehall and leaving it there, smoking, to illustrate just what the failure to provide the Army with the means to fight is costing, so be it. Remember the "send body armor" outcry that the U.S. Department of Defense was hit with in the first years of the Iraq Campaign.

Stop wasting the lives of troopies in the name of saving money.


I've been looking for an opportunity to point readers to this for some time, so here is in my opinion the *best* milblog out there on British forces today: Defence of the Realm.

Just be prepared to be very mad at politicians after you read what's there.


Prime Minister Gordon Brown faced Parliamentary "question time" on this very subject. Sadly, the reality of the situation and what he says are simply not in agreement.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

ZANU-PF rent-a-mob trashes Constitution meeting

There is an old joke about hired demonstrators being the primary tool of developing world politicians... they were called "rent-a-mobs"... and the joke involved what happened when a bidding war for their services broke out between political interests.

So much for the joke.

In Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) today, only one political force has the means to dole out the rewards necessary to get the thugs out in numbers; the ZANU-PF party of Robert Mugabe (and cronies). On Monday, at the opening session of what is to be the national conference to draw up an new Constitution, the goon squad was out in force. Quoting from the article cited:
Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa said police stood by as the rent-a-crowd that ZANU PF used to disrupt the meeting pelted delegates, including cabinet ministers, with plastic bottles of water and shouted abuse.

The MDC councillor for ward 6 in Bindura Rural, and Mashonaland Central province organizing secretary Gilson Chitakunye, sustained serious head injuries after he was brutally assaulted by the thugs. Chitakunye was detained in a private clinic in Harare.

An attempt was made to proceed with the meeting as scheduled but it was disrupted and eventually abandoned, as a result of mob action. Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga told us they were determined to resume with proceedings, saying 'it would be sad if we give in to this thuggery'
Sad doesn't begin to convey the real meaning of this.

A failure to rewrite the Constitution will guarantee that the Unity Government (also called the Global Political Agreement; GPA) is a tool to keep the ZANU-PF in power.

If they can force an end to popular contribution to the new Constitution, and instead dragoon through the Kariba Draft, which ensures the Robert Mugabe could stay President for at least another 10 years, then the kleptocrats have won.

Resisting the rent-a-mob violence is going to require sacrifices.

Liberty is worth such sacrifices.

Naxal violence spikes up

In an extraordinary spike of violence, Maoist insurgents in eastern India have conducted a spate of attacks on police, military and social services in diverse locations. The worst attack came over last weekend as 29 officers were killed in an ambush in the dense terrain of Chhattisgarh State. 13 other police personnel are missing. The grave concern now is that the insurgency is growing.
The rebels, estimated to have 22,000 fighters, operate in large parts of the eastern, central and southern countryside, and officials say they are spreading to cities and bigger towns.
Naxal Terror Watch is reporting several other attacks, including another round of fighting near Lalgarh in West Bengal.


Previous posts about this topic June 21st and June 22nd here at CompHyp.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Weekly N&C for July 13th, 2009

The Mountain of Ore

It was called Ertsberg by the first Europeans to find it; literally “the Mountain of Ore”. Located in the then-Dutch colony of Netherlands New Guinea (the western half of the island of New Guinea), this enormous reserve of Copper, Silver, and Gold was at first a closely guarded secret. Failing to garner either local or Dutch permission to license mineral exploration in the area, the knowledge of this place faded in the years from the 1930’s (when it was first tentatively identified) until 1959. Then, in one of the storied moments in modern mining exploration, a news report of explorers “trying to locate the source of alluvial gold in rivers flowing into the Arafura Sea” led a geologist in the employ of the Freeport mining company (the then-Freeport Sulphur) to find and read the 1936 report and gain support for an exploration mission. The team of geologists found one of the largest copper ore bodies of modern times… 33 million tons at 2.5% copper, according to the initial estimates. It was a significant find of gold and silver as well. But while the original find has been mined out for all intents and purposes, the complex of the find has expanded with continued exploration. That original number almost pales in comparison to current estimates: Even after almost 30 years of mining, the 2006 estimate of reserves was 2.8 billion tons at 1.09% copper, 0.98 grams/ton of gold, 3.78 grams/ton of silver.

But to “get to” Ertsberg, or Grasberg (as the extended find is named), one had to overcome two very significant obstacles:

1) Location. The mine site is over 100 kilometers inland from the nearest feasible site for a port of loading, and is atop a mountainous region ranging from 10,000 to 14,000 feet (3000~4000 m) in elevation in some of the most inhospitable mountainous jungle in the world. The region was utterly devoid of transport infrastructure at the time.

2) Politics. In 1959, the Netherlands New Guinea holding was under severe pressure to be decolonized. The Dutch administration saw to preparations for independence, and did grant independence to West Papua on December 1st, 1961. But the neighboring nation of Indonesia treated this declaration much the same as they had the independence of South Moluccas in the 1950’s… they prepared an invasion.

Well, location and the required means for access can be overcome, and the means for doing so were within the capability of the mining engineers, but to overcome the political problem required something more shall-we-say old fashioned: a sell-out.

The American Kennedy administration intervened on behalf of the Indonesians. All protests inside the administration that this was simply exchanging one colonial master for another were dismissed in the name of keeping Indonesia out of the Soviet sphere of influence. Secret talks and considerable pressure on the Dutch resulted in the New York Agreement of August, 1962, which placed the territory under a United Nations Temporary Executive Authority October 1st of 1963 and supposedly stipulated an “Act of Free Choice” vote to determine final status. In May of 1963, administration of the territory was transferred to Indonesia… and by September of that year the territory was “quarantined”, made a special military zone under Indonesian control.

Bet you can guess how the “Act of Free Choice” came out.

So after Indonesia claimed a unanimous vote against independence by the unspecified portion of the population they chose to poll, and the Americans went along with the fix, it became a lot easier to get on with building the mine. Not the most glorious moment in American diplomatic honesty, that.

Now 35 years and more have passed since the first mine officially opened in 1973, and during those years the people of West Papua have been under the thumb of the Javanese-led Government of Indonesia (which only began to shake off its own autocratic history with the end of the Suharto dictatorship in 1998) and subject to intentionally invasive population movements that would be called “ethnic cleansing” if it was happening somewhere like Europe.

Freeport, now Freeport-McMoRan operating as PT Freeport, has not been direct party to any of the dirty deeds of the Indonesian overlords. In fact, they employ over 19,000 people in the operation of the mine, the slurry pipeline, the aerial tramway, the concentrator and the loading facilities. But by being license-holder from the Indonesians, and by depending upon Indonesian police and military for external security, Freeport has always been identified as a “collaborator with the occupation”. Given the nature of doing business in Indonesia, it is safe to say that the regime and certain well-connected people have prospered greatly by taking their bite of the royalty payments and other “bureaucratic expenditures” necessary to get things done.

Taken all and all, one might argue that the people of West Papua are in some way morally correct in forming an insurgency against the Indonesian regime. If that insurgency was focused on the regime, this author might *maybe* even agree with that premise. The case studies of the South Moluccas and the only-recently-undone conquest of East Timor (Timor Leste) by Indonesia both make a compelling case against the Indonesian empire-building campaign. But why, in the name of all reason, would anyone think that attacking the very source of regional wealth is a good way to resist the Indonesian occupation? There must be a revenge motive that precludes good sense, or some petty “if we can’t have it, no one can” approach going on.

This is not the way to win independence, gentlemen.

Not by trying to destroy the slurry pipeline (1977). Not by killing two Americans working at the mine (2002). Not by mob action that killed 6 people in a protest demanding the mine be closed (2006). Not by killing a young Australian man who worked at the mine. Not by killing a contract security employee escorting a convoy. Your cause is not helped in the slightest by giving the “counter-terrorist” element of the Indonesian military reason to take the field.

The military occupiers are the ones who have killed the many tens of thousands of West Papuans lost in the years of resistance.

To cast them out, which is *the* goal after all, the lesson of Timor Leste needs be learned.

Find leaders. Not guerrilla band chiefs; leaders with real stature. Get them out where they can make their case.

Open the gates. Find ways to get outsiders in, and get your story out.

Recognize that not everyone in Indonesia agrees with the occupation, and make their ability to have a voice inside Indonesian politics be your voice there as well.


Stop trying to kill the foreigners working at Grasberg. They aren’t drones. They aren’t stupid either. Given a chance to be on the side of the families of the people they work side-by-side with to do their jobs, they likely will be.

Right now, the people of West Papua need all the friends they can get.



*If* the murder of Australian Drew Grant was committed by someone else than the movement, that story needs to get out.

The Australian Federal Police investigators who have joined the case are certainly going to look very hard at the evidence. The history of Timor Leste has made them willing to believe the possibility of Indonesian dirty deeds.


End Notes:

All notes are embedded in the text as links.

General Information on most all the above-referenced places, politics, and businesses are available at Wikipedia, but in this case *show extreme caution* as to sources and attribution of all information there. This is a highly politicized matter and there are great gaps in some of the history. (cf. the entry on South Moluccas has no historical data from ~1650 to ~1950)

Fair Disclosure: this author’s father was a senior Bechtel Corporation mining project engineer in the period when the Grasberg mine was first built (by that firm).

Ayatollah Montazeri's Fatwa

This legal Fatwa issued yesterday by the Ayatollah Montazeri (the most senior of the clerical class in Iran) is worth noticing for two reasons:

1) It is in its totality almost the same phrasing as Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini used in his condemnation of the Shah's government of Iran during the Iranian Revolution.

2) It specifically calls the extant system of government in Iran "illegitimate".

If this doesn't knock the pins out from under those who still support the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad regime on a religious basis, nothing will. Whether that is enough to bring down the regime, though, that remains to be seen.

It is almost Article 7, Item 3, time

That's a nihon-koku kenpou (Constitution of Japan) reference.

Article 7
The Emperor, with the advice and approval of the Cabinet, shall perform the following acts in matters of state on behalf of the people:

3. Dissolution of the House of Representatives.
That is the procedure when the naikaku (Cabinet) refers the request to dissolve the Lower House (shuugiin; House of Representatives) of the Parliament (kokkai; National Diet of Japan) to the monarch. In simpler terms, a 'snap election' is called. All seats there must stand for re-election. This also makes the Cabinet functionally a 'lame-duck' unless victory in the election is assured. There is *no* such assurance for this election.

It is not official, yet, but given reports like this (English-language source), that is where we are.

August 30th, 2009. Do mark the date on calendar.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Honduras curfew lifted; talks go on

The curfew that was imposed in the wake of the forcible removal of M. Zelaya from the Presidency and the wave of violent protests orchestrated to oppose that move has been lifted. Life there has at least a moment of normalcy.

The talks (they really aren't negotiations yet) being held by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias to seek an agreed resolution to the situation go on. The Micheletti administration in Honduras has even considered the possibility of amnesty after trial for Zelaya. (Spanish-language source)

Daniel at Venezuela News and Views reads these turns of events as a defeat all across the board for the Chavez-led Zelaya-fronted faction. He thinks the biggest casualty of all this will be J. M. Insulza, the Secretary General of the OAS (and often-apologist for H. Chavez). Mr. Insulza is likely not gathering much support for a new term as SecGen by his performance in this affair. The irony is that by failing to be fair, the U.S.A. lost what faith it had in him, and yet by failing as a useful idiot agent of their agenda, the Venezuelan government will likely not support his re-selection either.

Couldn't happen to a more appropriate fellow, as far as this author is concerned.

Amnesty Offer fails to dissuade MEND rebels

Granted, the amnesty offered by the Government of Nigeria has yet to be fully implemented, and Henry Okah has yet to be released, but things are not exactly getting quieter in the Niger River Delta area. H. Okah being the "suspected" leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).

In fact, the MEND raiders are claiming another attack today on the Atlas Cove Jetty oil loading facility in Lagos state.

So why hasn't this political process (the amnesty) bought any calm? Here's one opinion:
Human Rights Watch criticised the amnesty programme last month, saying it would not end the Niger Delta crisis because it did not punish the politicians that helped fund armed gangs.

Many of the gunmen behind the kidnappings, oil theft and violent crime in the delta were first hired by local politicians to intimidate opponents or fix elections.
They still are hired to do just that. There will be a round of elections come 2011, and the political players in the region are still operating on the "one bullet, one less ballot" school of community organizing.

If that makes one think that the MEND rebels are being used, that their hope for real autonomy is undermined by their part in the rampant criminality in the region, one would be right.

The people of the Delta need a better cause to support.

Looks bad for the LDP

That may be an understatement (the title, above), as things have looked precarious for months now for the jiyuuminshutou (Liberal Democratic Party, LDP) in the run up to the mandatory call for Parliamentary Elections this autumn.

They've lost 4 local elections of late, and it looks like they are going to get creamed in the big city as results of today's toukyou (Tokyo) Metropolitan Council Election are coming in.

Add that to the general consensus that the administration got a whole lot of nashi (nothing) out of the G8 meetings in Italy this last week, and there isn't a lot of happy going on right now in LDP headquarters.

The fact that the exchange rate for the en (Yen) to the US$ has crept into the 92 range and the entire export portion of the economy is based on numbers more like 105~115... it is a very bad thing to be an export-based manufacturer in Japan right now... and they are blaming the administration as well.

Consider this a warning of an impending mid-Summer change-of-management. It may come earlier than the usual end of August this time. It had better be a heck of a change, or the coming Parliamentary Elections could be an overwhelming landslide for the opposition minshutou (Democratic Party of Japan, DPJ).

Drug Lords planning Guinea attack?

Well, that is the story so far according to State Radio in the Republic of Guinea (the former French Guinea).
The military government of Guinea says it has put the army on high alert at all border posts after uncovering plans for an attack on the country.

The West African state said armed men were gathering on the borders with Guinea-Bissau and Senegal to the north and Liberia to the south.

An announcement on state-run national radio said drugs cartels were believed to be behind the plans.
One of positive things about the military coup that followed the death of then-President Lansana Conte in December of 2008 was that the junta took a rather hard line against narco-traffickers, and got some pretty impressive results last March.

The BBC's John James in neighbouring Ivory Coast says there is no independent confirmation of the reality of any threat along Guinea's borders.
That's worth checking again, fellows. After all...


Last of 6 hostages released by AQIM in Mali

It must be the season for hostage releases by al-Qaeda affiliates or something...

The BBC is reporting that Werner Greiner has been released. He was the last-held of six hostages taken by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Niger on January 22nd of this year.

One of the hostages then taken, Edwin Dyer, was said to have been killed by AQIM in May. The other four have previously been released.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Eugenio Vagni liberated

Successful mediation by a local politician liberates Eugenio Vagni from captivity.

This is the last of the three ICRC staffers taken hostage ~6 months ago on Jolo Island in the Philippines.


Local sources to Reuters are calling this a trade for captured Abu Sayyaf members.

For background on those arrests, please see "Lucky Catch" here at CompHyp on Thursday last.

Asking the real question

The Honorable Otto J. Reich, in testimony Friday before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs' Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, asked the real question about the international reaction to the removal of M. Zelaya from the Presidency of Honduras:
How can the so-called democratic community allow Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and other countries that have either destroyed self-rule, or are in the process of doing so, to determine the standards of democracy in the region?
Read the entire testimony, please. He recognizes the mistake the Honduran government made of expelling Zelaya rather than arresting him and trying the charges. But he also makes a fine defense of the legitimacy of the removal of Zelaya from office.

More importantly, it is an absolutely deadly indictment of the ALBA role in the attempt by Zelaya to commit an autogolpe, and it should be a warning as to how far the Chavez-led clique will go to try and make this situation worse.

Friday, July 10, 2009

This time for sure

The Government of Thailand has had its share of embarrassment over the massive demonstrations that endangered the last ASEAN meeting. Historically, Thai leaders don't take to being embarrassed very well. Case in point:

With just two weeks to go before the East Asia Summit is to be held on Phuket Island, the country's defence minister has issued a statement:
"I will do whatever it takes to stop these demonstrations from happening..."
Here's hoping the presence of 10,000 security personnel and an outpouring of good sense on the part of all factions makes that a peaceful and simple job.

So much for "creative thinking"

The Sakhalin meeting between the Governments of Japan and Russia produced an "agreement" that the Northern Territories Issue would have to be solved by what was termed 'creative thinking'...

The Russians asked for a quiet atmosphere to discuss this... and got it...

Apparently no one considered that the Russian definition of 'creative thinking' involves attempting to resurrect the 1956 Moscow Declaration as if it was either binding (it was interim) or definitive (it wasn't).

This is nothing new. This is the same *damn* noise made by V. Putin years ago when the first serious efforts to resolve this matter were made.

This author, for one, is getting pretty close to going back to the "get off, or we'll push you off" attitude about our islands.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

ZANU-PF toys with Constitutional reform

No surprise that the ZANU-PF party of Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) are doing every thing in their power to undermine the Unity Government...

No surprise that would involve trying to extend Robert Mugabe's Presidency for another 10 years without another election...

The only surprise is that anyone in any other political party in the country would be surprised at any gamesmanship on the part of the ZANU-PF.
"ZANU(PF) wanted us to postpone it indefinitely," Douglas Mwonzora, head of the parliamentary select committee to produce the draft,said after a meeting with MPs. "I don't understand the strategic importance of a delay. We tried to make sense of it."
Very well, at least enough sense was made to only delay the committee meeting until Monday. But if the opposition doesn't recognize that the ploy is to allow time for arm-twisting to force a consideration of *only* the Kariba draft, not an open Constitutional drafting, then someone hasn't been paying attention.

It shall be fortunate if arm-twisting is the only pressure applied to get what the ZANU-PF wants.

This Unity Government is a sham. The sooner something is done to end it, and end ZANU-PF control of the elements of power in the country, the better.

A Lucky Catch in the Philippines

Some days it is better to be lucky than good (although being both is better still). However it happened, the Armed Forces of the Philippines just got lucky as six suspected bomb-planter got caught trying to pass a checkpoint. The troops at the check point were doing a good job, so that's the good part. Here's the lucky part:
(Lieutenant Colonel Edgard) Arevalo said the arrested relatives included two wives of Muslim Abu Sayyaf rebel commander Albader Parad, who led the kidnapping of three Red Cross workers on January 15.


Arevalo said Parad's wives and their four companions were arrested on Tuesday, hours after the bombing in Jolo town, as their motorcycles passed by a marine checkpoint in Tagbak village in Indanan town.

He identified Parad's wives as Rowena "Honey" Aksan and Nursima "Simang" Annudden. The other arrested suspects were Aksan's brother, two wives and a brother of Abu Sayyaf bomb experts.

"All the persons arrested are suspected to provide logistical and service support in terms of vehicle, purchase and delivery of food and similar commodities to their bandit Abu Sayyaf cohorts," Arevalo said.

He added that there was reason to suspect that a mobile phone seized from the group "could be part of the triggering mechanism that set off the bomb that was placed in the motorcycle that exploded" near the church on Tuesday.
Nice catch.

Maybe this will lead to a break in the attempt to rescue Red Cross worker Eugenio Vagni (of Italy), the last of the three ICRC hostages taken by the Abu-Sayyaf group.



It seems bombing churches is quite the fad right now in the southern Philippines, so don't mistakenly think this Jolo bombing is the same as this bombing last Sunday. That one was in Cotabato, Mindanao, and the suspected perpetrators are the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

G8 for Mr. Aso

Our good souridaijin (Prime Minister) Asou Tarou (T.Aso) is off at the Group of Eight summit, and has brought a fairly full bag with him.

First up on his list is the matter of Land Tenancy in the developing world. He thought that was important enough to have written an Op-Ed piece for the Financial Times on the issues there. It *is* an important issue, and this author hopes the matter gains some traction in the discussions.

Today, he got to get some time on the sidelines with Russian President D. Medvedev on the Northern Territories issue. Sadly, the results seem to have been "no developments" (source in Japanese).

There are some reasons for offense to be taken, given the previous agreements to make progress on this matter, but...

...perhaps the Russian side will claim incapacity on their leader's part as justification.

Yes, I'm being unkind to President Medvedev. I'd like to think deservedly so.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Korea Cyberattack

A Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack is pretty much the internet equivalent of a barrage jammer... not terribly sophisticated, but almost sure to cause a fair amount of harm. Well, that's certainly what happened when North Korea someone as yet unproven let fly with DDoS attacks on a couple score of South Korean and American target sites.

Here's more on the story, from Yonhap News in English. From this article, there are links to some other reports (on the right side of the page, titled "News Focus") on what kind of vulnerabilities and problems this attack revealed.

As to the visible effect of the attacks...
The attacks left some government web sites and online shopping services down on Wednesday and access to some U.S. government sites from the country appeared to have been disabled, perhaps due to security measures in the United States that blocked access from South Korea due the attacks, experts told local media.
Heh. Perhaps.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Botswana brave about al-Bashir

Last week, the African Union conducted an almost unparalleled act of collective blindness by issuing a resolution refusing to cooperate with the International Criminal Court's warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity committed against the population in Sudan's Darfur region.

Today, the Government of Botswana has condemned the resolution.
"The chair did not permit much debate on this matter and therefore we did not get an opportunity to put our opinion across," Botswana's vice president, Mompati Merafhe, said in a speech posted on the presidency website on Tuesday.

"It is our view that Africa should not try to undermine the work of the ICC simply because one head of state called Bashir has been indicted by the Court."
Speaking of indictments, the prosecutors at the ICC are in the process of appealing for a reinstatement of the three other charges against al-Bashir: charges of Genocide
In his appeal lodged on Monday, it said the prosecution had "submitted detailed evidence on the mobilisation and use of the entire Sudanese state apparatus for the purpose of destroying a substantial part of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups in the entire region of Darfur during more than six years".

Rajoelina fails to impress the E.U.

Madagascar is running out of money, and fast, under the "Haut Autorité Transitoire" (Transitional High Authority; HAT) junta of President Andry Rajoelina. So they tried to plead to the European Union for relief from the sanctions on aid imposed after the overthrow of the Ravalomanana regime...

No luck. For some reason, having a President younger than the constitutionally allowable age for a President of Madagascar (to cite one easy example) plead that progress was being made on returning to constitutional order just didn't exactly impress the folks at Brussels.

Liberia TRC recommends banning the President

Actually, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has recommended that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf *and* 50 other high-profile public figures be banned from political office for the next 30 years.

President Sirleaf is named in particular for having sent US$10,000 to support the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPF-L) early in that 1989~96 rebellion against the hated regime of then-President Samuel K. Doe. The leader of the NPF-L was Charles Taylor, who went on to lead a campaign of terror and atrocity that eventually did defeat the Doe regime. In victory, Charles Taylor was then installed as President after an entirely corrupt election in 1997, and went on to spread terror and disorder to neighboring countries for his own political and financial gain.
Sirleaf, Africa's first democratically elected female leader, said the money she sent while an expatriate was meant for humanitarian services and that she was never a member of his group.

"If there is anything that I need to apologize for to this nation, it is to apologize for being fooled by Mr. Taylor in giving any kind of support to him," Sirleaf said in February.
Well, other than thinking this sure sounds like the 'Irish Hospital' scam of the 1970's, it is probably fairer to consider this other note from the article cited:
There were no publicly reported humanitarian works by Taylor and his fighters, especially in the first months of the war, but most atrocities were being committed by Doe's forces and Taylor was welcomed by many as a liberator fighting a barbaric dictatorship.
The TRC report is not binding until approved by the national legislature, and the next Presidential election is scheduled for 2011, so whether this will preclude a political future for any of the figures named remains to be seen.


For Reference:

The trial in the Hague of former-President Charles Taylor on 11 charges of various Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes, and Recruiting Child Soldiers, has been underway for 2 years now. The trial entered the defense phase last month.

Xinjiang Riots Revenge

The massive rioting and popular insurrection that has swept through the Xinjiang region of the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.) have taken a turn for the worse. What was originally a mainly-Uighur outburst against perceived unfairness by the central government has now become a mass reprisal by the Han Chinese population against the Uighur population... and Security Forces that were sweeping Uighur neighborhoods to crack down on the first round of riots are now caught between the Uighurs and vengeful armed Han mobs.

There is more than a little evidence that the P.R.C. central government is reaching the limit of its patience in this matter. The open question is whether they will come down hard on the Han rioters or simply assist them in a city-wide massacre.

The major city, Urumqi, has a greater number of Han than of Uighurs, but the region as a whole is still predominantly Uighur. *If* the riots in Urumqi turn into an effort to expel or kill the urban Uighur population, the entire region is simply going to explode in hatred against the immigrant Han and the central government. Considering how important Xinjiang is to the resource base of the P.R.C., that's going to mean civil war...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Zelaya expected back in Washington D.C.

Some amount of quiet has fallen in Honduras today, after yesterday's entirely orchestrated "kabuki dance" of former-President Manuel Zelaya trying to fly into the country.

The Toncontin Airport at Tegulcigalpa, Honduras, is closed today and tomorrow for security (and repairs) after the damage caused by break-through agitators with armed with wirecutters (and maybe more...).

M. Zelaya is now expected back in Washington D.C. on Tuesday for a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State H. Clinton. This might be a good thing: It *might* signal an effort to wrest control of the U.S. official reaction away from a certain NSC Western Hemisphere staffer whose motivation for his actions to-date are rather suspect. *Maybe*.

It could well be an encore performance of the dance done while Zelaya was in the Residence of the Ecuadorian Ambassador in Washington where the various players acting in his defense constructed his attempted trip back to Honduras. (See documentation at ECrisis in the July 6th posting, regarding that meeting)
**text corrected: the Residence, not the embassy itself**

There may yet be more reasonable (and less self-interested) involvement in this matter to come from the Obama administration, but I'll believe it when I see it.

At least Hugo Chavez is public about his support for Zelaya, and his role in supporting the demonstrators. How refreshing.


Previously on this, here at CompHyp yesterday.


Inkatha Freedom Party still free

The victory of the African National Congress (ANC) party in Kwa-Zulu Natal in the April elections of this year may have signaled a sea-change in local politics there, but the individual popularity of Jacob Zuma (who is tribal Zulu) as ANC leader may instead be the explanation. The latter is what the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leadership is betting on as they have rejected an offer to unite with the ANC.

The IFP is a swing party these days, friendly with but independent of the "elephant" that is the ANC, and is at the same time willing to side with the Democratic Alliance to keep some limits on what could devolve into a one-party state if unchecked.

It is better by far to be the loyal opposition than to be an insignificant part of the elephant, and it is good that IFP leadership recognizes that. Bravo.

Improving Defense in Japan's southwest

This is still a matter under consideration, but since the Bouei Daijin (Defense Minister) was willing to speak of this at a news conference, here is the story:

Currently, the westernmost of the islands of Okinawa Prefecture are patrolled but not garrisoned. The basing of elements of the Rikujou Jieitai (Ground Self-Defense Force; Land Army) at Yonaguni-jima would provide a facility for defense and disaster response in the region and would be a major improvement to force capabilities there.

The small Okinawa Prefecture island is part of the Ryukyu Islands in the East China Sea and located just 110 kilometers from Taiwan's eastern coast.

It is also roughly 150 km south of a set of Japanese-administered islets whose ownership is disputed by China, Japan and Taiwan. Japan considers the islands -- called the Senkaku in Japan, Diaoyutai in China and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan -- part of the Ryukyu Islands.
This may take some explaining to the neighbors. Hope they are willing to listen to reason.

Malian Army in a major fight against AQIM

The campaign begun in mid June by the Army of Mali against al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) insurgents is still on, and the fighting has taken a more difficult turn. Patrol battles near Tessalit in the north over the weekend have now been reported:
"The army fought very deadly clashes with Islamists on July 3 and 4 northeast of (the northern town of) Timbuktu. After very heavy fighting, there were losses on both sides," the army said late on Sunday. The statement gave no details on the death toll.

A military source said dozens had died in the two attacks and an army colonel was amongst the estimated 20 soldiers who went missing.

"We don't know if he is dead or has been taken hostage," the source, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.
Other media sources (AllAfrica; BBC Africa) consulted have nothing further on this item.

As a reminder, Mali is a partner nation to the Trans Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP) program, as is the United States under AFRICOM's Operation Enduring Freedom Trans Sahara portion of the GWOT.

More on the Malaysia-North Korea Bank matter

In this report on statements by the Chief of U.S. Naval Operations (CNO), Adm. Gary Roughead, made in Seoul after his meetings with South Korean official, a few other little tidbits of information were tucked in:
Malaysia, meanwhile, pledged Monday to work with the United States to block the North from using the Southeast Asian nation's banks to fund any weapons deals. Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said his government "does not condone" any illegal activities.

The assurance came as Philip Goldberg, a U.S. envoy in charge of coordinating the implementation of sanctions against Pyongyang, met with Malaysian officials.

South Korean media have reported that North Korea sought payment through a bank in Malaysia for the suspected shipment of weapons to Myanmar via the Kang Nam I.
That would be the Kang Nam 1 we've often mentioned here; one of 5 numbered ships of that series.

The possibility that Malaysia is willing to work with a financial sanctions regime is of great note. They have in the past been one of the more reliable routes for dictators and banned regimes to funnel money around. Choosing to "not condone" illegal activities is a great step forward. Of course, freezing accounts would be a better step; maybe that will come next.

Freedom for Iran - 6.July Update

The Opposition has not conceded even in the face of some very significant pressure to pack it in.

The most significant development in the challenge to the Election of June 12th is The 4th Statement by the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qom Seminary. This is not a part of the government, but the Qom School is the heart and soul of Iranian Shi'a teaching and to have the philosophical basis of the current government call the election illegitimate is a strong blow:
Some of the clerics and lawyers who are the members of the Guardian Council had expressed their opinion months ago and distorted their impartiality in the eyes of the people. A judge who takes sides in a case has no right to judge that case. Therefore, it is startling to see that the public treasury was used in the eyes of everyone to promote a candidate extensively for the elections and government facilities were used to gain votes.
Sources report that the next major attempt at organizing Oppo protests will come on July 9th.


More on the Association of Researchers and Teachers statement by Reuel Marc Gerecht who sees this as not just strong, but shattering.

The Weekly N&C for July 6th, 2009

***The Weekly is on hold while the queue of current events runs down***

For those of you who are fans of The Weekly for its historical context items, here are a couple of Birthday remembrances from recent days for you to investigate at your leisure:

June 5th... Cecil John Rhodes. (You had to know I'd mention this one)

The Cape to Cairo Railroad plan; the successful counterclaim against Portuguese efforts to span Southern Africa with colonial holdings; and in his will, the Rhodes Scholarship.

June 6th... John Paul Jones.

For all practical purposes, the founder of the United States Navy; Captain of the Ranger and the Bon Homme Richard (Bonhomme Richard); Probably as famous on the Island of Texel, North Holland, as in the U.S.A.; The American memorial to him stands in West Potomac Park of Washington D.C.

(Links intentionally not provided to encourage your own efforts)

Enjoy your selves!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sunday Night Push

*Whew*, what a week, ne?

Several perfectly noteworthy stories got pushed to the research archive rather than posted here simply because there has been so much going on that requires attention.


Here's your place to start something of your own interest. This thread is left open to comments for folks to make their own fun or leave messages for me about breaking news events. The usual rules still apply: play nice.

It has been an astounding week for visitors at CompHyp, again rising over even last week's solid numbers. I remain impressed that folks find this to be of use and interest, and you have my thanks for visiting.

A particular thanks goes out to which has kindly made CompHyp one of their Blog Spotlight items:
"Via Legal Insurrection, this blog seems to offer sensible, factual analysis of world events. Based on the few posts of his that I read, it's prolly worth bookmarking."
Thank you, Seafarious, and thanks again to the relationship chain of Legal Insurrection, Honduras Abandoned, and Fausta's Blog for getting CompHyp noticed in new places. I remain in your debt, All.

Bonus Thank You: Fausta has also linked CompHyp over at Right Pundits.

Now let's see if I can be worthy of all the attention.

Xinjiang riots worse than first reported

First reports in the People's Republic of China news outlets sounded bad, but not overwhelmingly bad by Chinese standards...
China says a riot that shook the capital of western Xinjiang region on Sunday was a plot against its power, after at least three people died in the eruption of ethnic unrest and authorities launched a crackdown.

Hundreds of locals took to the streets of the regional capital, Urumqi, some burning and smashing vehicles and confronting ranks of police and anti-riot troops.
Not so fast there.

It seems that there was a *bit* more to it than that:
Violence in China's restive western region of Xinjiang has left 129 people dead, state media say - a sharp increase on an earlier reported toll.
Some sources are putting an even higher number of deaths, but those are not yet second-sourced.

This matters, besides the obvious matter of more than a hundred dead people, in that Xinjiang is the western border territory held by the P.R.C., is a vital part of their energy and resource development plans, and is a little less than half-populated by Uighur (Uyghur)... the Turkic people shared across Central Asia... and they (collectively) haven't exactly taken well to being a part of Han-dominated China. There are perfectly peaceful nationalist Uighur groups, but there are some bad apples as well (cf. East Turkestan Islamic Movement) that have ended up on the wrong side of the GWOT, and then there are armed liberation groups.

The P.R.C. government finds it useful to lump them all under the "terrorist" label, and treats the problem as such.

There may not be that many "terrorist" Uighurs out there, but after today, there may well be more rebels.


UPDATE 6.July, late

The death toll is over 156, and official P.R.C. sources put the number arrested at 1,434. Protests have spread in the region, but there has been a massive movement of security forces to counter this uprising.


Zelaya thinks he can force the issue trying to go back to Honduras.

He couldn't get any of his ALBA buddies to get on the airplane with him, nor would the OAS leader. That pretty much rules out the "300 journalists" on the flight, too, although there are certainly seats available now.

He is said to have gotten Miguel D'Escoto, the former regional troublemaker now supposedly gainfully employed as the U.N. General Assembly president, to go with him.

The Honduran Government-in-place is not taking this lightly. Furthermore, given the raft of indictments against M. Zelaya, if he does reach the ground he should be arrested. If D'Escoto would like, he can waive whatever diplomatic immunity he has and be arrested too, but he'd have to ask nicely.


UPDATE ~1700hrs ('blogtime):

Roughly four hours ago Spanish language media had the aircraft landed in El Salvador. That may well have been a refueling.

In the last hour, Honduras ATC warned off the flight, then Zelaya claimed the flight was circling the airport at Tegucigalpa but the runway was blocked. He shortly thereafter claimed the flight was redirecting "to El Salvador" which doesn't quite jibe with having been their just before... and now the announcement comes that he will be landing in Managua, Nicaragua.

I didn't know Kabuki was popular in Latin America... sheesh.


If you have time to read one more source... Read Hunter Smith at Honduras Abandoned. His updates #4 and #5 for today are the best on-the-scene reporting out there right now. Shame on the major media outlets...


Hunter Smith called it, and I got lucky on spotting the staged Reuters wirephoto as it came in. Both he and William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection have kindly tipped the hat to CompHyp for this. Thank you both, gents.

There is reasonable confirmation from multiple sources of 1 dead in the encounter at the airport perimeter fence (*not* the main body of the demonstration, the agitators that pressed on past the stop-line), there may well be 2 dead. What isn't in yet are the medic reports on cause of death. That's another one for us to look to those on-scene to get news out on.


More on this as it comes in.