Hello and good evening and all that…here is the news that happened today.
Well, I will start with the world today…and there is so much going on, just don’t know where to begin. So I’ll hit the far east and move west. In China, Jasmine (yes the plant) is now being treated like some sort of red-headed step-child. Jasmine Becomes Contraband in China – NYTimes.com
Sim Chi Yin for The New York TimesDAXING , China — Do not be lulled by its intoxicating fragrance or the dainty, starlike blossoms whose whiteness suggests innocence and purity. Jasmine, a stalwart of Chinese tea and the subject of a celebrated folk song often heard while on hold with provincial bureaucrats, is not what it seems.Since Tunisian revolutionaries this year anointed their successful revolt against the country’s dictatorial president the “Jasmine Revolution,” this flowering cousin of the olive tree has been branded a nefarious change-agent by the skittish men who keep the Chinese Communist Party in power.Beginning in February, when anonymous calls for a Chinese “jasmine revolution” began circulating on the Internet, the Chinese characters for jasmine have been intermittently blocked in cellphone text messages while videos of President Hu Jintao singing “Mo Li Hua,” a Qing dynasty paean to the flower, have been plucked from the Web. Local officials, fearful of the flower’s destabilizing potency, canceled this summer’s China International Jasmine Cultural Festival in south China, said Wu Guangyan, manager of the Guangxi Jasmine Development and Investment Company. Even if Chinese cities have been free from any whiff of revolutionary turmoil, the war on jasmine has not been without casualties, most notably the ever-expanding list of democracy advocates, bloggers and other would-be troublemakers who have been preemptively detained by public security agents, among them the artist provocateur Ai Weiwei, who remains in police custody after being seized at Beijing’s international airport last month. Less well known are the tribulations endured by the tawny-skinned men and women who grow ornamental jasmine here in Daxing, a district on the rural fringe of the capital. They say prices have collapsed since March, when the police issued an open-ended jasmine ban at a number of retail and wholesale flower markets around Beijing.[…]As is often the case in China, government controls have a tendency to wilt in the face of mercantile pressures. After two months with little sign of jasmine at the markets, a few vanloads of the plants, their branches thick with blossoms, began to show up at wholesale centers last week. They were priced so low, the buyers could not resist. One retailer, who asked that only her surname, Cui, be printed, acknowledged that the original order had not been officially lifted but that the authorities had yet to interfere.
For some perspective on this, here is an article about the US talks with China from HuffPo. Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton Note ‘Vigorous Disagreement’ Over Human Rights As China Dialogue Begins
As the United States opened two days of talks with China Monday, Vice President Joe Biden lauded the growing political ties between the world’s two largest economies but emphasized that the Obama administration remains deeply concerned about continuing human rights violations in China. “We have vigorous disagreement in the area of human rights,” Biden said as the third annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue got underway. “We have to be honest with each other,” he added, noting the recent arrests and disappearances of Chinese journalists, human rights lawyers, bloggers, writers and artists. […] But Jeffrey Bader, a China expert at the Brookings Institution, said nervousness over the Arab Spring uprisings and fears of similar upheavals at home have spurred recent crackdowns. Despite recent discussions in which U.S. officials “took a thoughtful approach of stressing issues of concern to Chinese people and groups, mitigating the risks of appearing to be imposing U.S. customs and norms on a suspicious China,” Bader expects few concrete results to emerge from this week’s summit.
I guess I just see the relationship, here you have a Jasmine, which is a flower and plant that is very much a part of the Chinese identity. The NYT article above quotes a poem that a jasmine vendor begins to sing…I’ll quote it below:
“Mo Li Hua,” a version of which was played each time medals were presented during 2008 Olympics in Beijing: A beautiful jasmine flower, A beautiful jasmine flower, Perfumed blossoms fill the branch, Fragrant and white for everyone’s delight. Let me come and pick a blossom To give to someone, Jasmine flower, oh jasmine flower
So as with the jasmine flower, China has also silenced/arrested its journalists, human rights lawyers, bloggers, writers and artists that are a symbol of China’s culture and identity. I just find the connection between China’s banning the Jasmine flower and China’s blatant lack of Human Rights sort of symbolic. Makes me want to go out and buy a Jasmine and plant it in my yard… For more on the China-US talks, follow me below the fold.China-U.S. Talks Hit on Rights and Trade – NYTimes.com
Top American officials used a conference here with their Chinese counterparts to lodge blunt complaints about Beijing’s human rights practices, but, reflecting the importance of a dynamic and growing trade relationship, they were far less critical of China’s economic practices.
Syria’s crackdown on anti-government protests have been widely criticised [AFP]
Western diplomats say Kuwait will replace Syria as a candidate for a seat on the United Nations’ top human rights body in the wake of an intense campaign against the Syrian regime for its ongoing crackdown on a pro-democracy uprising. Kuwait has agreed “privately” to contest the May 20 secret-ballot vote at the UN General Assembly as a candidate for one of the four seats on the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, one western diplomat said on Tuesday. “Syria has faced several calls from the Asia group to withdraw,” another envoy said. Diplomats said it was unclear whether Syria would take over Kuwait’s bid for a council slot in 2013. In January Syria was slated as one of the four candidates alongside India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, for seats to be filled by Asia under a convention that stipulates UN bodies be filled by regional blocs. Human rights groups and some governments have been campaigning to keep Syria off the council. Their efforts intensified after Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on pro-democracy protests that began in March. News hailed “Kuwait’s candidacy certainly reduces the chances that Syria will get elected,” Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, told AFP. “Syria should see the writing on the wall and withdraw.”
The recent news about how many civilians have been killed in Syria: Syrian human rights group: 757 civilians have been killed since uprising began in mid-March – The Washington Post More Than 750 Killed in Syria – The Daily Beast
The bloody crackdown is showing no signs of stopping. At least 757 civilians have already been killed in Syria since protests against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad started in mid-March, a human-rights group said on Tuesday. The National Organization for Human Rights in Syria has lists of the names, ages, and causes of death of the victims, according to Ammar Qurabi, the head of the group. Qurabi also said that thousands have been arrested over the past two months and about 9,000 people are still in custody. Syria has banned foreign media, which makes it a challenge to confirm some reports of violence. On Tuesday a key ally of al-Assad warned that the regime will fight demonstrations “until the end.”
Legislation that critics call the “Kill the Gays” law is under deliberation by a Ugandan parliament committee. It could make homosexual acts punishable by life in prison and add penalties for those who “aid and abet” homosexual activity. The law had initially contained a provision making the death penalty a legal punishment for gay Ugandans. International human rights organizations have mobilized against this despicable bill, working to keep the parliament from voting before its session comes to a close at the end of this week. —KDG
Oh yes, I can’t wait for the 2011 Human Rights Amnesty International report that is coming out Friday!
Check out the link below for: Before and After Images Show Tornado Destruction – Interactive Feature – NYTimes.com
Satellite images taken by GeoEye the day after storms blasted through the south show a nearly straight line path of devastation, most likely from one tornado, stretching at least 10 miles. Use the slider and zoom tools to compare images taken before and after the tornado.
Dak mentioned yesterday in the comments that Gingrich is making it official. I just thought this was a good summary of his past proclamations… Gingrich Set To Announce Presidential Campaign | Right Wing Watch
Newt Gingrich will announce his decision to run for President tomorrow on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show. After an address to the Georgia GOP, he will embark on a tour of Iowa. Tracking Gingrich’s comeback in Republican and Religious Right circles, Right Wing Watch has compiled a “Top Ten” list of Gingrich’s truculent and divisive rhetoric and consistent disrespect for the rule of law, freedom of religion, and equality:
- Gingrich With Hagee, Warning US Becoming “Secular Atheist Country Dominated by Radical Islamists”
- Gingrich Says He Stands for Religious Liberty but Denies Rights To Muslims
- Gingrich Wants Ground Zero Declared a National Battlefield Memorial to Stop Park 51
- Gingrich Says His Infidelity Was Due To The Fact He Was Working So Hard To Save America
- Gingrich Group Funneled $125K To AFA To Remove Iowa Judges Who Supported Marriage Equality
- Gingrich Group Calls For Elimination of Ninth Circuit Over Cross Ruling
- Gingrich Warns of Sharia While Condoning Dominionist Ideology
- Gingrich and Huckabee Recommend the Ravings of Anti-Gay Activist Matt Barber
- Gingrich’s Presidential Campaign To Heavily Rely On Barton’s Counsel and Advice
- Gingrich Joins Lou Engle To Urge America to Rediscover God
Speaking of the 2012 Campaign, the President is heading to Texas, here is a WH press release: Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney aboard Air Force One en route El Paso, Texas | The White House
MR. CARNEY: Well, I assume I’ll have questions about what the President is doing in El Paso today. Briefly, obviously, he’ll be giving a speech to talk about the need for comprehensive immigration reform, about the need to increase support, why it’s an economic imperative, in particular, to keep us competitive in the 21st century.
Carney was asked about the recent news regarding Navy Chaplain’s memo:
Q The Navy chaplaincy has approved the — officiating of same-sex marriages at Navy chapels, pending a full certification of the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” There have been some members that have been complaining that that brings the administration’s pledge to uphold — or to, I should say, follow DOMA, if not defend it. Does the administration feel that that’s still legal under DOMA? MR. CARNEY: I haven’t seen that, and so I suggest you ask the Department of Defense since I haven’t seen that story.
Typical…”I don’t know, ask DoD.” So, Obama is going to be raking the money tonight… I Would Like to See the President When He’s in Austin Tonight, But I Don’t Have an Extra $50,000 Lying Around | Firedoglake
Look, I know it costs a lot of money to mount a national presidential campaign, but this looks absolutely terrible.The president is scheduled to speak to supporters at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater. Although some college students got tickets for $44, most in attendance will have paid at least $1,000 for the event, which will open with music from Robert Earl Keen. Obama will appear later at a much smaller, costlier fundraiser at a private home west of Austin before heading back to Washington tonight. According to Democrats familiar with the details of Obama’s trip, tickets to that dinner event cost more than $35,000 per person and more than $50,000 per couple, with the money split between Obama’s re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
These are not prosperous times. Over 8% of Texans are unemployed, benefits for the elderly and sick, already meager in this state, are being slashed, and our schools are literally being shut down — all so yacht buyers can get a tax cut. We’re at the mercy of the oligarchy here. Is this really the campaign message the White House wants to send to the working people in the state? When Senator Obama visited Austin in 2007, he spoke at Auditorium Shores to a crowd of 20,000. Tickets were free.
And here is the recent news on that little piece of Arizona that doesn’t want to be a part of Arizona: Leaving Arizona: Tucson Group Pushes Secession – Truthdig
Organizers in Tucson and surrounding Pima County have launched a petition drive that would put their plan to secede from Arizona on the ballot in 2012, a movement born out of liberal disgust with the conservatism of Phoenix and other northern neighbors. The plan is undoubtedly a long shot, and the creation of a “Baja Arizona” would be the first successful split since West Virginia branched off during the Civil War. But at the very least, the “Start Our State” movement sends a signal to the country that not all Arizonans support measures like the immigrant-targeting SB 1070 or the escapades of Maricopa Country Sheriff Joe Arpaio. —KDG
That should get you caught up…please tell me what you think about the China situation in the comments below.