Archive for June, 2013

Most American In Denial: Believe they are healthier than they actually are

June 30, 2013

Americans are in denial about their  lifestyles and believe they are healthier than they actually are, a new study  has found. Insurance company Aetna commissioned a study  which looked at various things including how we rank our health compared to  other generations to what we would do if we had an extra hour in a  day. In the survey of 1,800 adults between the  ages of 25 and 64, when asked why they exercise, typically young women said it  was to look good in their underwear. More than 50 per cent believed they were  healthy even if they were overweight, although 67 per cent of people asked said  they needed to lose a median of 25 pounds.

Young woman exercising --- Image by © Tetra Images/Corbis
Large sportsman holding basketball --

Baby boomers – aged 50 to 64 – are twice as more likely  than Generation Xers and Millennials to describe  themselves as healthy, which  included getting regular doctor checkups or screenings

Almost half of Americans said they believe  their generation is the healthiest, with 45 per cent saying they  think their own generation is in the best shape, followed by their parents’  generation and then by the  generation younger than their own. Keri Gans, author of The Small Change Diet,  told CNBC  of the study’s participants: ‘There  is a disconnect. It’s surprising.


‘Being healthy is about being at a healthy  body weight…the higher their weight goes, the higher their risk  increases. ‘There is that road to health. More people  are getting on it. I just think we need more people to be on that  road.’

When it comes to exercise, 44 per cent of those surveyed said they are more motivated to exercise when they can do it alone. Solo: When it comes to exercise, 44 per cent of those  surveyed said they are more motivated to exercise when they can do it  alone

Baby boomers – aged 50 to 64 – are twice as  more likely than Generation Xers and Millennials to describe themselves as  healthy, which included getting regular doctor checkups or  screenings. Millennials – aged 18 and 34 – believe their  eating and exercise habits are better than those of other generations, though 37  per cent of them admit drinking alcohol to deal with stress with around half  saying they snack on unhealthy food when they are stressed out. A third of Millennials and Generation Xers  said they worried about what they looked like in their underwear while just 19  per cent of baby boomers worried about this. When it comes to exercise, 44 per cent of  those surveyed said they are more motivated to exercise when they can do it  alone and if given an hour extra a day more people said they would exercise than  they would sleep. Read more: 1/In-denial-Americans-think-healthier-really-are.html#ixzz2XjhZZRDu Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook


Daily Mail’s Story About Alec Baldwin’s Wife Tweeting Is No Longer Up (But We Have the Meat of IT!)

June 30, 2013

alec baldwin

The Daily Mail story that led to Alec Baldwin’s Twitter tirade was no longer up online on Sunday.

The Huffington Post

Baldwin unleashed a series of angry, homophobic tweets after the Daily Mail’s George Stark accused Baldwin’s wife Hilaria of tweeting while the couple was attending James Gandolfini’s funeral. The story turned out to be incorrect, and could not be found on the Daily Mail’s website, which showed the message, “Sorry…The page you have requested does not exist or is no longer available.”

The Daily Mail said on Saturday that it had been wrong, and that Hilaria Baldwin had actually tweeted after the funeral. The tweets were actually sent out three hours after what the timestamps reflected.

“We accept Mrs Baldwin’s assertions that she did not Tweet from the funeral and apologise for any distress caused,” a spokesperson for the newspaper said. “But this was a genuine misunderstanding caused by a baffling defect in the Twitter platform and we would also call on Mr Baldwin to withdraw his homophobic and threatening remarks.”

Among Baldwin’s tweets on Friday were, “I’m gonna find you, George Stark, you toxic little queen, and I’m gonna fuck…you…up,” and “If I put my foot up your f-cking ass, George Stark, but I’m sure you’d dig it too much.” Baldwin has since deleted his Twitter account, and issued an apology to GLAAD.

Lots of Photos:



At the beginning of the program, Muir teased:

DAVID MUIR: And under fire. Paula Deen losing millions in just a week after  admitting using a racial slur. Tonight the other case. The newest alleged slur  from Alec Baldwin. Some asking why no backlash for him.

So to the folks at ABC News, writing “I’m going to find you, George Stark,  you toxic little queen, and I’m gonna f–k…you…up” is an “alleged slur?”

So is “If [sic] put my foot up your f–king ass, George Stark, but I’m sure  you’d dig it too much?”

Those are “alleged” slurs?

Of course, ABC News chose not to share that second tweet with viewers. They  must have thought it was too incriminating.

Such is how liberal media members defend transgressors they support.

But that was just the beginning:

MUIR:  Well tonight actor Alec Baldwin is apologizing after several ugly tweets have  him in hot water again. But this evening, some are asking if there’s a sort of  celebrity double standard here as Paula Deen pays dearly after admitting to  using slurs herself. Here’s ABC’s Gio Benitez.

GIO BENITEZ: It’s the latest twitter tirade from Alec Baldwin, this time  directed at a reporter who wrote about his wife.

“I’m going to find you, you toxic little queen and I’m going to expletive you  up.”

The British reporter had alleged that Baldwin’s wife had been tweeting from  the pew at James Gandolfini’s funeral this week. Baldwin denied the accusations  unleashing a flurry of disparaging tweets to his one million followers.

HOWARD BRAGMAN, ABC NEWS CONSULTANT, REPUTATION.COM: There he goes again.  This is a guy who has a history of throwing tantrums, whether in public or on  social media.

BENITEZ: This latest tantrum happened in the same week that celebrity chef  Paula Deen lost a reported $12.5 million worth of corporate sponsors following  the revelation that she once used a racial slur. Just months ago, Baldwin  reportedly argued with a New York Post photographer, using a racial epithet, and  calling him a crack head and drug dealer. Baldwin denied it.

Now some on Twitter are comparing the two celebs. Quote “Paula Deen’s  career destroyed by words she used 30 years ago, but Alec Baldwin has profane  threatening rant on Twitter.”

BRAGMAN: Alec Baldwin is kind of a loveable rogue. We’re kind of sensitized  to the fact that Alec Baldwin’s had another outburst.

BENITEZ: Last night Baldwin apologized to the gay community saying, “The  words had absolutely nothing to do with issues of anyone’s sexual orientation.”  Baldwin’s wife is now speaking out on Twitter, defending her husband, saying  some of her best friends are gay and she would never have married a homophobic  man.

Read more:

Yes, Benitez really did say “some of her best friends are gay.”

I didn’t make that up.

And this is how liberal media members cover for one of their own.

Just imagine how much different this segment would have been if Baldwin were  a conservative.

Please also see “Andrew  Sullivan: ‘Alec Baldwin’s a Pro-Gay Liberal, So He May Get a Pass’ For Gay Slurs  – ‘He Shouldn’t’


Anderson  Cooper: ‘Why Does Alec Baldwin Get a Pass Using Gay Slurs?’ Conservative ‘Would  Be Vilified’“.

(HT @RichardGrenell)

See the video:

Read more:

Chinese Military Presence in the South China Sea a Threat to Regional Peace, Philippines Says

June 30, 2013

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei (AFP) –  The  Philippines said that an increasing Chinese military and paramilitary presence  in the disputed South China Sea was a threat to regional peace.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario made the statement in  a press release issued at a regional security forum attended by his counterparts  from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario. AP

“Del Rosario today expressed serious concern over the increasing  militarisation of the South China Sea,” the statement said.

He said there was a “massive presence of Chinese military and paramilitary  ships” at two groups of islets within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone  called Scarborough Shoal and Second Thomas Shoal.

Del Rosario described the Chinese military presence at these islets as  “threats to efforts to maintain maritime peace and stability in the region”.

Del Rosario said the Chinese actions violated a pact made in 2002 in which  rival claimants to the sea pledged not to take any actions that may increase  tensions.

Foreign ministers prepare for a group photo during the opening ceremony of the 46th Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei. From left: Malaysia’s Anifah Aman, the Philippines’ Albert del Rosario, Singapore’s Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam, Thailand’s Surapong Tovichakchaikul and Vietnam’s Pham Binh Minh. AP

The declaration on conduct signed by ASEAN nations and China also committed  rival claimants to resolve their disputes “without resorting to the threat or  use of force”.

“We reiterate our continued advocacy for a peaceful and rules-based  settlement of disputes in accordance with universally recognised principles of  international law,” Del Rosario said.

China claims nearly all of the strategically vital and potentially  resource-rich South China Sea, even waters approaching the coasts of  neighbouring countries.

ASEAN members the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia, as well as  Taiwan, also have competing claims to parts of the sea.

The rivalries have for decades been a source of regional tension, with China  and Vietnam fighting deadly battles for control of some islands in the sea.

Tensions have built in recent years with the Philippines, Vietnam and some  other countries expressing concern at increasingly assertive Chinese military  and diplomatic tactics to assert control of the sea.

Manila says China has effectively occupied Scarborough Shoal, a rich fishing  ground far closer to Philippine land than Chinese, for more than a year.

The Philippines says China has recently also deployed vessels to intimidate a  tiny Philippine garrison on Second Thomas Shoal that has been stationed there  since the mid 1990s.

Read more:

Despite Obamacare Advocates and PR: 55 Percent Believe Obamacare Will Lead to Higher Health Care Costs, Just 5 Percent See Future Savings.

June 30, 2013

It’s been one year since the Supreme Court decision that allowed Obama administration officials to begin implementing the Affordable Care Act, and the frequency and volume of reports about the challenges facing those reforms—and the difficulties they are visiting on those who were supposed to benefit from them—are increasing dramatically.

By Stephen F. Hayes

Jeff Vernon, an employee of Scrambler Marie’s restaurant in Toledo, Ohio, told a local reporter that the owners were cutting his hours to avoid penalties under Obamacare. Businesses with more than 49 employees have to offer insurance to all “full-time” workers—defined as those who put in 30 hours or more each week. The result, for Vernon: $400 less in take-home pay every month. “That leaves me $27.50 for two weeks to live off of,” he explained. Vernon said the owners tried to avoid the cuts but didn’t have any other recourse. “They were real good about that,” he added. “The last thing they wanted to do was cut people. They don’t want to fire anybody.”

Other business owners haven’t been able to avoid eliminating jobs. A Gallup poll taken in June found that nearly one in five small businesses—19 percent of those surveyed—have cut workers “as a specific result of the Affordable Care Act.” The same poll, first reported by CNBC, found that 41 percent of those interviewed had suspended hiring because of Obamacare. The poll of 603 business owners with less than $20 million in annual sales also found that 55 percent believe Obamacare will lead to higher health care costs, while just 5 percent saw future cost savings.

The steady stream of negative stories in recent months is one reason the Obama administration is preparing a massive public relations campaign to promote the launch of health care exchanges on October 1, 2013—which is fewer than 100 days away. The administration is seeking to enlist high-profile athletes and celebrities to sell Obamacare and its alleged benefits. Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services, told reporters last week that HHS officials are working with major American sports leagues on the campaign.

“We’re going to be wherever people are,” said Sebelius, noting that the talks included discussions of “partnership efforts” as well as paid advertising. “The NFL, for instance, in the conversations I’ve had, has been very actively and enthusiastically engaged because they see health promotion as one of the things that is good for them and good for the country.”

But the top spokesman for the NFL gave The Weekly Standard a rather different characterization of those discussions. “The NFL, NBA, and others were contacted by the administration. We have made no commitments nor discussed any details with the administration,” says Greg Aiello, the NFL’s senior vice president of public relations. “We are in the process of clarifying what it is the administration would ask of us.” There’s quite a difference between “very actively and enthusiastically engaged” and “made no commitments nor discussed any details.”

Ministers will this week announce a move to increase the number of medical students who become family doctors and to train thousands more nurses to work in the community.

The comments from Sebelius concerned some owners and league executives who aren’t eager to lend the NFL’s brand to Obama’s unpopular health care law. According to a Harris poll taken in December 2012, professional football remains the most popular sport in America, with 34 percent of those surveyed calling it their favorite (compared with just 16 percent for baseball and 7 percent for basketball). League sources say NFL officials were “surprised” by the comments from Sebelius.

Sebelius’s remarks also concerned Representative Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana who serves as chairman of the influential Republican Study Committee. On June 27, Scalise wrote to Roger Goodell and David Stern, respectively the commissioners of the NFL and NBA, asking for details about the administration’s request. “Has the NFL or the NBA been asked by HHS to contribute funds or in-kind services to any third-party organization aiding the promotion or implementation of PPACA?” he asked. “Has the NFL or the NBA been asked by HHS to encourage enrollment in the new health insurance exchanges or other aspects of PPACA?”

Scalise, in an interview with The Weekly Standard, pointed to recent hearings the House Energy and Commerce Committee held examining previous requests Sebelius made to private entities as part of her drive to boost Obamacare. “I don’t think any private organization should be pressured to help promote a law the administration is admitting isn’t even ready,” he says. “The NFL and the NBA shouldn’t be put in this position—it’s unethical for the administration to even ask. Secretary Sebelius needs to withdraw any requests she’s made.”

In the weeks before the momentous congressional votes on the Affordable Care Act, opponents warned of chaos in the health care field and broader economic upheaval if the bill became law and went from theory to reality. Implementation, they predicted, would be a nightmare. That point is no longer in serious dispute, with even proponents of the reforms acknowledging the obvious.

Democratic senator Max Baucus, a chief author of the Affordable Care Act, famously warned in April of an impending “train wreck” because implementation of the law is behind schedule. Gary Cohen, a top official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, acknowledged the problems with implementing Obamacare during an appearance at the Brookings Institution last week, even as he insisted that the process is unfolding “on schedule.” “I certainly wouldn’t claim that we’re not going to have any problems and everything’s going to work perfectly. I would like for that to happen. But it would be a surprise, I think, if that were to happen.”

It won’t.

Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard

ASEAN Leaders Hope for Progress on Nuclear North Korea, China’s Aggression in South China Sea

June 30, 2013


BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei (AP) – Southeast Asia’s top diplomats have not abandoned hope that this week’s annual Asian security summit will provide a chance for North Korea and its neighbors to discuss restarting long-dormant disarmament talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, according to a joint statement released Sunday.

The foreign ministers of North Korea and five other nations involved in the now-stalled nuclear disarmament talks are gathering in Brunei for the Association of Southeast Asian Nation Regional Forum. The international standoff over North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is expected to take center stage, along with other regional issues, including South China Sea territorial disputes.

In the last six months, North Korea has launched a long-range rocket and conducted an atomic test in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions banning the regime from nuclear and missile activity. Pyongyang calls the weapons buildup the core of its defense against U.S. aggression, and has vowed to push ahead in constructing the arsenal as long as it feels threatened by the U.S.

Top diplomats from the 10 ASEAN countries urged the six nations involved in past disarmament negotiations – North Korea, South Korea, the U.S., Japan, Russia and China – to restart the talks. The disarmament-for-aid talks hosted by Beijing have been stalled since 2008.

“We emphasized the importance of dialogue aimed at promoting mutual understanding and confidence among all parties concerned with ensuring peace, security and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” they said in a joint statement. “In this regard, we recommended that the (regional forum), where all six members to the six-party talks are also participants, could contribute to forging a conducive atmosphere for the resumption of the six-party talks.”

Still, it’s not clear whether North Korea will hold informal talks with the U.S. or South Korea on the sidelines of the forum. The governments in Seoul and Washington have said they have no immediate plans to meet privately with Pyongyang.

In recent weeks, North Korea has proposed restarting the talks that once provided crucial fuel and other aid in exchange for disarmament. But the U.S. and South Korea say North Korea first must demonstrate its sincerity on nuclear disarmament with concrete action.

The foreign ministers’ statement also said ASEAN countries support peaceful efforts toward building a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and the early resumption of six-party talks.

North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun arrived in Brunei on Sunday morning.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterparts from South Korea and Japan were to hold a trilateral meeting on Monday, according to South Korean officials.

The ASEAN Regional Forum has previously provided a chance to use informal, sideline talks to break stalemates over the nuclear issue. In 2011, top nuclear envoys from the two Koreas met on the sidelines of the forum in Bali, Indonesia, and agreed to work toward a resumption of the six-nation talks. The Koreas’ foreign ministers held sideline talks in 2000, 2004, 2005 and 2007, and top diplomats from Pyongyang and Washington also met privately in 2004 and 2008.

Meanwhile, long-raging territorial rifts in the South China Sea remained a thorny issue in Brunei, with the Philippines calling China’s recent deployment of naval and paramilitary ships in two disputed shoals as part of Beijing’s “increasing militarization” of disputed areas that could threaten regional stability.

Chinese surveillance ships seized the Scarborough Shoal last year following a tense standoff with Philippine vessels. Then a few weeks ago, China deployed a frigate, surveillance ships and fishing boats to Second Thomas Shoal, which the Philippines says is part of its regular territory, in a move Filipino diplomats feared could be a prelude to a Chinese takeover of the area.

“This is a violation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea,” Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario told fellow diplomats, referring to a 2002 accord between China and ASEAN that discourages aggressive moves that can provoke armed confrontations in disputed waters.

Southeast Asian nations wanted to turn the 2002 accord into a stronger, legally binding “code of conduct” to prevent the territorial rifts from turning violent, but China has not stated when it would sit down with ASEAN nations to negotiate such a pact.

Morsi defiantly rejects call for elections

June 30, 2013

In exclusive interview with the Guardian, Morsi defiantly rejects call for elections, setting stage for trial of strength on the streets

and in Cairo,              Sunday 30 June 2013 04.31 EDT

 Protests in Cairo against Mohamed Morsi
Protests against the rule of Mohamed Morsi in Tahrir Square. Photograph: ITAR-TASS/Barcroft Media

The Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, has vowed there will be no second revolution in Egypt, as thousands planned to gather outside his presidential palace calling for his removal after a year in power.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Morsi rejected opposition calls for early presidential elections and said he would not tolerate any deviation from constitutional order. He said his early resignation would undermine the legitimacy of his successors, creating a recipe for unending chaos.

“If we changed someone in office who [was elected] according to constitutional legitimacy – well, there will be people opposing the new president too, and a week or a month later they will ask him to step down,” Morsi said.

“There is no room for any talk against this constitutional legitimacy. There can be demonstrations and people expressing their opinions. But what’s critical in all this is the adoption and application of the constitution. This is the critical point.”

At least seven people have been killed and over 600 injured in clashes between Morsi’s Islamist allies and their secular opposition over the past few days.

With tensions set to rise on Sunday, Morsi’s defiant stance sets the stage for a trial of strength that will be played out on the streets of Cairo in front of his official residence. Once gathered, the opposition have vowed not to leave it until he resigns.

The man at the centre of a national storm seems uncannily certain of himself and his staying power. Asked whether he was confident that the army would never have to step in to control a country that had become ungovernable, Morsi replied: “Very.”

But Morsi’s assured demeanour contrasted with the tense atmosphere that surrounded him on Saturday afternoon. Morsi held back-to-back meetings with top-level state officials, including the prime minister, Hisham Qandil, the interior minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, and several senior officers, including the head of the armed forces, General Abdel Fattah Sisi – whose ambiguous comments in recent days have led to widespread hopes in opposition ranks of military intervention.

Morsi had decamped from Itahadiya palace, the traditional seat of the president, which is now surrounded by makeshift concrete walls in anticipation of Sunday’s protests. In its place, he held court on Saturday at the Quba Palace, the birthplace of Farouq – the last king of Egypt.

Morsi claimed Egyptian private media channels had exaggerated the strength of his opponents, and blamed this week’s violence on officials loyal to the former president Hosni Mubarak.

He said the media had taken “small situations of violence and then magnified them as if the whole country is living in violence”. He dismissed the organic nature of the opposition to his rule, and maintained that the fighting had been co-ordinated by “the deep state and the remnants of the old regime” who had paid off hired thugs to attack his supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood.

“They have money, and they got this money from corruption. They used this corrupt money to pull back the regime, and pull back the old regime into power. They pay this corrupt money to thugs, and then violence takes place.”

The president refused to name which countries were meddling in Egypt’s affairs, but maintained that it was happening. Asked whether he was referring to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,  Morsi replied: “No, I am talking in general terms. Any revolution has its enemies and there are some people who are trying to obstruct the path of the Egyptian people towards democracy. I am not saying it’s acceptable, but we observe it everywhere.”

Morsi admitted for the first time in the English-language media that he regretted making a constitutional declaration that gave him wide powers – a move that the opposition saw as dictatorial, and which he soon rescinded.  This was the pivotal moment of his first year, sowing the seeds for widespread dissent against his administration.

“It contributed to some kind of misconception in society,” Morsi said, distancing himself from one of the most divisive clauses in the new Islamist-slanted constitution, which allows for greater religious input into Egyptian legislation.  “It’s not me who changed this article. I didn’t interfere in this constitutional committee’s work. Absolutely not.”

He said that once MPs were finally elected to Egypt’s currently empty lower house of parliament, he would personally submit constitutional amendments for debate in the house’s first session.

But Morsi’s contrition only went so far. Amid opposition claims that the failure to achieve consensus had led to Egypt’s current polarisation,  Morsi blamed the refusal of secular politicians to participate in the political process for the impasse.

He denied that his government was unduly loaded with Islamists. He went on to list numerous offers he claimed he had made to bring non-Islamists on board, while defending the right of a popularly elected president to promote his allies. “This is the concept of real democracy,” he said.

Morsi denied that he had ever offered the leading secular politician Mohamed ElBaradei a job, but named Mounir Fakhry and Gouda Abdel Khalif as two opposition ministers who left his cabinet against his wishes. “That’s the situation,” Morsi claimed. “We offer people [jobs] and they refuse.”

Even now, Morsi said, the offer for dialogue with opposition members remained open – though the opposition say such meetings are a waste of time because Morsi only pays lip-service to their point of view.

Morsi has been criticised for betraying a key goal of the 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak: security sector reform. Since rising to power, Morsi has avoided criticising the police, even in the face of allegations of extreme malpractice. In January after more than 40 people died in gun battles with security officials in Port Said, Morsi praised the police and gave them more powers.

Asked why he had repeatedly refused to criticise specific instances of police malpractice, the president claimed that his praise was meant in a more general sense. “When I say I am supporting the police or the army, I am talking about the army in general and the police in general. In general, those institutions are good institutions. Accordingly if there are certain violations, or crimes, or abuses by certain individuals – well, the law takes its course.”

But Morsi has even been accused of kicking into the long grass allegations of security force brutality under previous regimes. After his election he commissioned a fact-finding report on police and military wrongdoing during and after the 2011 uprising. But he has never published its findings, and when its damning contents were leaked to the Guardian in April, Morsi chose to praise the army and police, and promoted three generals.

“I’m supporting the institution,” he again claimed this weekend. “I’m not supporting the individuals. And of course, the number of people who committed the violations are very small in comparison to the institutions.”

Morsi appeared to be treading a fine line between blaming stubborn state institutions for the failures of his administration in one moment, while embracing them in the next – perhaps to avoid making the situation worse.

Throughout the one-hour interview, Morsi hinted that the intransigence of Mubarak-era state officials was holding up reform of state institutions such as the interior ministry, who control the police. He noted the stubbornness of “a deep state and its impact on running the country, and the desire of some people who come from the previous regime to [create] corruption”, calling the extent of state corruption one of the most unpleasant discoveries of his first year.

While peppering his remarks with frustration at Egypt’s “deep state”, Morsi stressed his faith in the military high command – and in particular in Sisi. He admitted that he had no prior warning of Sisi’s comments last Sunday, in which the general appeared to give civilian politicians a week to resolve their differences.

“We constantly talk together over time,” Morsi said, but “we can’t restrict every single word announced by officials in this country”. Glancing at his spokesmen for the first time in the interview, Morsi also claimed that the army had been burned by their previous involvement in power, and said: “They’re busy now with the affairs of the army itself”.

Morsi emphasised his democratic legitimacy. But while acknowledging that he was elected freely and fairly, many of his opponents argue that he does not uphold the wider democratic values on which a successful democracy relies.

Among many other complaints, critics condemn his appointment of Talaat Abdallah as attorney general, claiming that Abdallah pursues political cases against activists and media personalities critical of the president – such as Alaa Abdel Fattah, who rose to prominence during the 2011 uprising, and Bassem Youssef, Egypt’s leading satirist.

But Morsi refused to accept this argument, arguing that Abdallah operated independently. “The cases you’re talking about, they were filed by citizens or by lawyers, and the prosecution dealt with [them]. And the prosecution and the judicial system are fully independent,” he argued. “If someone wants to say that I interfered in the work of the public prosecutor, he has to provide evidence of that, and an example of that.”

As his opponents bank on this year being his last, Morsi confidently predicted that he would serve a full term. “It has been a difficult, very difficult year. And I think the coming years will also be difficult. But I hope that I will all the time be doing my best to fulfil the needs of the Egyptian people and society.”

The problem remains that Egypt is bitterly divided on whether he should be allowed to do so.

Egyptians Fill The Streets Shouting For The End of Morsi’s Rule — Chanting “Obama Backs Terrorism”

June 30, 2013

Protesters opposing Egytian President Morsi in Tahrir Square Cairo, June 30, 2013

Protesters opposing Egytian President Morsi in Tahrir Square Cairo, June 30, 2013  Photo: Reuters

By Shaimaa Fayed and Yasmine Saleh

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egyptians poured onto the streets on Sunday, swelling crowds that opposition leaders hope will number into the millions by evening and persuade Islamist President Mohamed Mursi to resign.

Waving national flags, a crowd of some 200,000 had gathered by late afternoon on Cairo’s Tahrir Square, seat of the 2011 uprising against Mursi’s predecessor Hosni Mubarak.

“The people want the fall of the regime!” they chanted – this time not against an ageing dictator but against their first ever elected leader, who took office only a year ago to the day.

As the working day ended and the heat of the sun eased, more joined them on the otherwise deserted streets of the capital. Many are angry at Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, saying it has hijacked the revolution through a series of electoral victories to monopolize power and push through Islamic law.

Others are simply frustrated by the economic crisis, deepened by political deadlock, over which Mursi has presided.

Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi …

Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi shout slogans against him and brotherhood members (Reuter)

In other cities, thousands of protesters also gathered. Over 100,000 were out in the centre of second city Alexandria.

Security sources said three Brotherhood offices were set on fire by demonstrators in towns in the Nile Delta – the latest in over a week of street violence in which hundreds have been hurt and several killed, including an American student.

Over 20,000 Mursi supporters also congregated in the capital, by a mosque not far from the suburban presidential palace. Mursi himself is working elsewhere. But liberal protest organizers plan a sit-in outside the palace from Sunday evening.

Thousands of anti-Mursi protesters were walking to the site.

Interviewed by a British newspaper, Mursi repeated his determination to ride out what he sees as an undemocratic attack on his electoral legitimacy. But he also offered to revise the new, Islamist-inspired constitution, saying clauses on religious authority, which fueled liberal resentment, were not his choice.

He made a similar offer last week, after the head of the army issued a strong call for politicians to compromise. But the opposition dismissed it was too little too late. They hope Mursi will resign in the face of large numbers on the streets.

Protesters holding poster opposing Egyptian President …

Protesters holding a poster opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi shout slogans against him (Reuters)

Some also seem to believe the army might force the president’s hand. In Cairo, demonstrators stopped to shake hands and take photographs with soldiers guarding key buildings.

While many Egyptians are angry at Mursi over the economy, many others fear that more turmoil will make life worse.

Mursi and the Brotherhood can hope protests fizzle out like previous outbursts. If they do not, some form of compromise, possibly arbitrated by the army, may be on the cards.


Both sides insist they plan no violence but accuse the other – and agents provocateurs from the old regime – of planning it.

Helicopter gunships flew over Cairo. The U.S.-equipped army, though showing little sign of wanting power, warns it may step in if deadlocked politicians let violence slip out of control.

A protester, in wheelchair, is carried by other protesters …

A protester, in a wheelchair, is carried by other protesters shouting slogans against President Morsi (Reuters)

U.S. President Barack Obama called for dialogue and warned trouble in the biggest Arab nation could unsettle an already turbulent Middle East. Washington has evacuated non-essential personnel and reinforced security at its diplomatic missions.

In an interview with London’s Guardian newspaper, Mursi repeated accusations against what he sees as attempts by entrenched interests from the Mubarak era to foil his attempt to govern. But he dismissed the demands that he give up and resign.

If that became the norm, he said, “well, there will be people or opponents opposing the new president too, and a week or a month later, they will ask him to step down”.

Liberal leaders say nearly half the voting population – 22 million people – has signed a petition calling for new elections, although there is no obvious challenger to Mursi.

The opposition, fractious and defeated in a series of ballots last year, hope that by putting millions on the streets they can force Mursi to relent and hand over to a technocrat administration that can organize new elections.

“We all feel we’re walking on a dead-end road and that the country will collapse,” said Mohamed ElBaradei, a former U.N. nuclear watchdog chief, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and now liberal party leader in his homeland.

Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mursi shout …

Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi shout slogans against him and brotherhood members (Reuters)


Religious authorities have warned of “civil war”. The army insists it will respect the “will of the people”.

Islamists interpret that to mean army support for election results. Opponents believe that the army may heed the popular will as expressed on the streets, as it did in early 2011 when the generals decided Mubarak’s time was up.

A military source said the army was using its helicopters to monitor the numbers out on the streets. Its estimate on Tahrir in mid-afternoon was 40-50,000, with a few thousands at similar protest sites in other major cities.

It put the number at the Islamists’ Cairo camp at 17,000. Having staged shows of force earlier this month, the Brotherhood has not called on its supporters to go out on Sunday.

Among the Islamists in Cairo, Ahmed Hosny, 37, said: “I came here to say, ‘We are with you Mursi, with the legitimate order and against the thugs’.

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A protester opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi …

A protester opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi with the national flag painted on his face (Reuters)

“This is our revolution and no one will take it from us.”

At Tahrir Square, banners ranged from “The Revolution Goes On”, “Out, Out Like Mubarak” to “Obama Backs Terrorism” – a reference to liberal anger at perceived U.S. support for Mursi’s legitimacy and its criticism of protests as bad for the economy.

“I am here to bring down Mursi and the Brotherhood,” said Ahmed Ali al-Badri, a feed merchant in a white robe. “Just look at this country. It’s gone backwards for 20 years. There’s no diesel, gasoline, electricity. Life is just too expensive.”

The Egyptian army, half a million strong and financed by Washington since it backed a peace treaty with Israel three decades ago, says it has deployed to protect key installations.

Among these is the Suez Canal. Cities along the waterway vital to global trade are bastions of anti-government sentiment. A bomb killed a protester in Port Said on Friday. A police general was gunned down in Sinai, close to the Israeli border.

Observers note similarities with protests in Turkey this month, where an Islamist prime minister with a strong electoral mandate has been confronted in the streets by angry secularists.

For many Egyptians, though, all the turmoil that has followed the Arab Spring has just made life harder. Standing by his lonely barrow at an eerily quiet downtown Cairo street market, 23-year-old Zeeka was afraid more violence was coming.

“We’re not for one side or the other,” he said. “What’s happening now in Egypt is shameful. There is no work, thugs are everywhere … I won’t go out to any protest.

“It’s nothing to do with me. I’m the tomato guy.”

(Reporting by Asma Alsharif, Alexander Dziadosz, Shaimaa Fayed, Maggie Fick, Alastair Macdonald, Shadia Nasralla, Tom Perry, Paul Taylor and Yasmine Saleh in Cairo, Yusri Mohamed in Ismailia and Abdelrahman Youssef in Alexandria; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Anna Willard)

Boiling Point: Sovereignty Belongs to Taiwanese

June 30, 2013

Taiwan’s fishermen have been awash in a sea of trouble recently, amid their involvement in territorial disputes to the north and south of the nation.

First there was the spat with Japan over fishing rights and sovereignty vis-a-vis the Diaoyutais (釣魚台), which Tokyo calls the Senkakus. That conflict had barely been settled when the shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman occurred near the Philippines, where Taiwan’s claimed exclusive economic zone overlaps with that claimed by Manila.

By Jerome Keating

Taipei Times

As often happens in such cases, nations and their supportive historians will put forth arguments and “evidence” to defend these positions, but as also happens in such cases, the arguments can have a logic of their own that goes beyond the original intention and can return with a bite. Examine the case of the Diaoyutais.

As last year came to an end, the Republic of China (ROC) government led by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) sought ways to bolster its claims to fishing rights and sovereignty over the islands.

Shaw Yu-ming (邵玉銘), a professor at National Chengchi University, chose an unusual approach to presenting the ROC’s case in an article posted on the KMT’s Web site on Dec. 5 of that year. In the article, Shaw drew an interesting distinction between sovereignty and administrative control.

Shaw argued that since the 1950s, the US had promised to transfer the Ryukyu Islands and the Diaoyutais to Japan. However, Shaw credited Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and the government’s launching of a Diaoyutai Islands defense movement in 1971 with “saving the day.”

He said that despite the normalization of US-China relations that was ongoing at the time, the US had backed down because of the ROC defense and only transferred administrative control, not sovereignty, over the Diaoyutais to Japan.

However, the problem with Shaw’s main argument is that the support for it rested not on any official documents from the US, but on Chiang’s diaries.

The content of Chiang’s diaries may be a form of gospel to some members of the KMT and a legitimization of their national discourse, but to the rest of the world they remain one man’s interpretation of reality.

Chiang’s claim that he was supposedly “holding back” from enacting a military solution to the issue because it would “threaten Taiwan’s security” confirms such a perspective.

Going further, Chiang claimed that the matter was “unfair,” a word which seems to indicate that one’s position has divine backing or serves global justice.

What Chiang is suggesting reveals how he used — and some KMT members continue to use — rose-colored glasses to help see themselves as the legitimate, but dispossessed, heirs of the “Middle Kingdom.”

However, there is a twist to the issue because what Shaw’s argument neglects to mentions is that the San Francisco Peace Treaty never specified to whom Japan was to cede Taiwan.

Furthermore, the US has continued to state — up to the present — that the matter of who Taiwan belongs to remains “undecided.”

Continuing in this vein, there is no official record of the US transferring sovereignty of Taiwan to the ROC government, unfortunately for Shaw and the KMT.

If one pursues this line of argument, all evidence points to a completely different distinction, one that threatens the KMT’s long-term and questionable claim to legitimacy over Taiwan.

It is this distinction that promises to send national pundits and scholars running to scrutinize historical documents and also revives the old issue of what the US really means when it uses the phrase “one China.”

Using Shaw’s phrasing, the argument would posit that the US allowed the KMT to have administrative control over Taiwan, but it never gave the KMT sovereignty over Taiwan.

In effect, the KMT then remains a dispossessed diaspora that was allowed to settle in Taiwan and set up a one-party state — an unfortunate situation for the Taiwanese, but one that met the US’ national interests at the time.

This throws the KMT narrative of its legitimacy further into question.

So what to do now? Going back to change the past and eliminate the sufferings that Taiwan has endured is not possible. Nor is it possible to change Taiwan’s struggle to achieve democracy.

However, there is a potential solution to this conundrum, especially since Taiwan is now a democracy, which would be to say that sovereignty over Taiwan belongs to the Taiwanese and their democracy.

This would not be so pleasant for the KMT nor to the Chinese Communist Party since, similarly to Chiang, these two parties continue to desire settling the matter on a Chinese party-to-party basis.

Nonetheless, in addition to preserving the current “status quo” of the nation’s democracy, this solution would be the most satisfactory to the US, Japan and Taiwanese, as well as offer a way to fit the tenets of self-determination stipulated by the UN.

Jerome Keating is a commentator in Taipei.

Vietnamese-Americans Marvel at The Happy Catholics in Poland

June 30, 2013

Today we were honored to speak to some folks on a Catholic Religious Pilgrimage in Krakow, Poland.

Just about everyone in this group was born in Vietnam and has watched the Communist Vietnamese government with great interest since 1975.

During their pilgrimage they discovered that Vietnam’s Catholics living in Vietnam are still unable to practice their faith fully and completely.

Among the things the Communist government of Vietnam denies its people is permission to visit  places like Poland – a nation that has proudly declared itself a nation dedicated to Faith in Jesus Christ.

Sadly, the unenlightened Communist government of Vietnam still believes it can keep its people from learning about what is going on in the rest of the world. Vietnam’s government is constantly trying to control what the Vietnamese see and learn on the Internet — and that includes tough controls on any type of religious institution.

Pope John Paul II showed the world that even Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin were unable to keep people from seeking and learning the truth.

Karol (Charles) Jósef Wojtyła  — despite many hardships in his own life and for Poland all around him during the Nazi years — found his way to Jesus.

Below from:

Young Wojtyła was in college in 1939 when the Nazi  government closed the university. This forced him in November 1940 to take a job as a stone-cutter at a quarry in Zakrzowek, near Kraków. Earlier that year, in February, he had met a man who would make a profound difference in his spiritual life. Jan Tryanowski was a tailor who was knowledgeable in the spirituality of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. He introduced his young protégé to these Carmelite authors, setting him on a deeper spiritual path.

A year later, on February 18, 1941, Karol was asked to carry the cross again with the death of his father. From this time he would be     alone, though never really so since his spiritual life was deepening under Jan Tryanowski’s direction in the ways of prayer.

The following year, 1942, would see two changes in Karol Wojtyła’s life. First he was transferred to the Solvay chemical works, which, as it turned out, would facilitate academic studies at the reopened Jagiellonian University. Thus, in October Karol Wojtyła entered the faculty of theology with the intention of becoming a priest.

This double life or work and study would continue for two years, until August 1944. At that time Cardinal Sapieha moved his seminarians into his episcopal residence to finish their training in an “underground” seminary he conducted there. Karol Wojtyła, who earlier in the year had been hit by a car and hospitalized while saving a man’s life, stopped going to work that summer, dropping out of sight of the Nazi occupiers. He continued his priestly studies  through the balance of the war, including the liberation (if it can be called that) of Kraków by Soviet forces on January 18, 1945.

Seminarian Wojtyła’s march toward the priesthood included all the stages called for under the Church’s discipline before the Second Vatican Council. On September 9, 1944, he was tonsured, in which a     circlet of hair was cut off the crown of his head to show that he     was now a cleric. On December 17 of that year he received the first     two minor orders, porter and lector. The following year on December 12, 1945, he received the two other minor orders, exorcist and acolyte. Finally in 1946 he completed his studies and the reception  of orders, with Sub-diaconate on October 13, Diaconate on October 20 and Priesthood on November 1, the Solemnity of All Saints. His  priestly ordination was performed by Adam Cardinal Sapieha in his private chapel. The next day he celebrated his first Mass in the crypt of St. Leonard, located in Wawel Castle, Kraków, the royal  residence of Poland.

My friends in Poland tell us that the Polish people are generally happy: in fact joyful. They attribute most of their joy to their struggles from the time of Adolph Hitler until the arrival of the friend and countryman: Pope John Paul II!

Everyone who believes knows: communism always fails. Communism will topple and fall someday in Vietnam and China. The communist system hasn’t got a prayer!

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom



By ; November 26, 2012

Pope John Paul II

Standing in front of one million Poles in Warsaw, Poland on June 2, 1979, Pope John Paul II had just declared that Christ is an inherent part of man’s life and “cannot be kept out of the history of man in any part of the globe” when he was suddenly interrupted by fourteen minutes of unabated applause from the entire crowd (John Paul II, “Homily in Victory Square”). Such a poignant moment demonstrates that Poles were completely enthralled with the pope and his uplifting message. This powerful homily is just one of several that John Paul II gave during his historic pilgrimage to Poland from June 2-10, 1979. During this time, thirteen million Poles—one third of the country—would see him in person, and his inspirational and nonpartisan messages would captivate nearly every Catholic in Poland, particularly at a time of increasing discontent with communist rule (Kubik, The Power of Symbols, 139). The papal visit of 1979 intensified concepts like unity, human dignity, and optimism in Poland, and as a result, anti-communist sentiment could strengthen and coalesce, leaving the country ripe for a peaceful revolution at a time of political unrest and discontent.

In order to understand the significance of the pope’s visit, it is important to first understand the history of Catholic opposition in communist Poland prior to 1979. After WWII, the communists imposed restrictions on the Church and declared that Marxism, not Catholicism, would be the national identity. This was a problem, considering that Poland had identified itself as a strongly Catholic nation for centuries. In opposition to the state’s restrictions, Catholicism  continued to grow within private homes and churches. In 1956, the regime temporarily liberalized their policies and allowed the first Catholic opposition group to be represented in Parliament, but by 1957, the Church-state relationship had deteriorated again. By the 1960s, Vatican II, which allowed the vernacular to be used in Mass, helped spread Catholicism to even more Poles, much to the chagrin of the state.  During the 1970s, more priests began to speak out in defense of human rights and family values, and they increasingly criticized the immorality of totalitarianism; not surprisingly, this sentiment appealed to the people of Poland (Kubik, The Power of Symbols, 180).  By the end of the 1970s, Catholic opposition to communism was already in existence, it just needed to be electrified, and that is exactly what the pope would do. Eight months after his election, John Paul II—born as Karol Wojtyla—returned to his homeland of Poland for a nine day pilgrimage of prayer and almsgiving from June 2-10, 1979. The Polish nation, being over 90% Catholic, was extremely excited to welcome home the first Polish pope. The regime was less than thrilled. They saw John Paul II as an enemy who would demand equal rights and meddle with the entire communist system. Although they begrudgingly agreed to broadcast the pope’s visit, the state censored coverage in an attempt to minimize the pope’s impact (Kubik, The Power of Symbols, 137). In reality, however, the effect of his pilgrimage was anything but minimal. The papal message would be received by almost every Pole, and although it was mainly intended to be a purely spiritual message, it would end up having huge political implications, as well.

One million Poles attend Mass in Victory Square on June 2, 1979.

By emphasizing the links between Catholicism and Poland, the pope was able to inspire a stronger sense of Catholic-Polish unity that resonated at a time when Catholics felt alone in an officially secular state. Prior to the papal visit, Catholics constituted a vast majority in Poland, but they lacked a strong sense of cohesion. This changed after 1979. The fact that the leader of the Catholic Church was a fellow Pole deepened the connection between Catholicism and Poland, and John Paul II made sure to remind the people of this relationship by calling himself “a son of the land of Poland” and referring to the people as “beloved sons and daughters of my motherland” (John Paul II, “Homily in Victory Square”).  Upon hearing reminders of his roots, Catholic Poles felt that they were not alone anymore because their pope, a fellow Pole, would say special prayers on their behalf. John Paul II also increased unity between the Church and Poland by reiterating just how central Christ was in Polish culture and heritage. In one homily, he stated that “from its beginnings Polish culture bears very clear Christian signs…It is still so today. Christian inspiration continues to be the chief source of the creativity of Polish artists” (John Paul II, “Homily for Young People at Gniezno”). According to John Paul II, God was ingrained in the identity of Poland, and that union could not be erased. By drawing on these connections between religion and Poland, the pope strengthened a sense of spiritual solidarity. Poles felt, now more than ever, that they were all united with each other in Christ.  Although the pope never explicitly mentioned communism, his emphasis on religion certainly contradicted the communist regime’s idea of a secular state. As a result of his visit, the nation’s intensified sense of religious unity would pose a formidable threat for the communist state.

Pope John Paul II prays at the “Death Wall” at Auschwitz.

By remarking upon Nazi atrocities and discussing the philosophy of work, John Paul II also strengthened notions of human rights and dignity; this was particularly powerful, considering the oppression faced under the communist regime in Poland. On his visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps on June 7, the pope held Mass in honor of the Holocaust victims. During his homily, he was quick to emphasize that such a camp was “built to…trample radically not only on love but on all signs of human dignity, of humanity. A place built on hatred and on contempt for man in the name of a crazed ideology” (John Paul II, “Homily at Brzezinka”). Without overtly referencing a specific ideology, these remarks evoked uncomfortable similarities between fascism and communism; both were restricting basic freedoms to promote their respective ideologies. Such a parallel did not fall on deaf ears, and it led Poles to examine how their own state was disrespecting human rights by censoring media, restricting religious freedoms, and forcing workers to work long hours in dangerous conditions for low wages (Lukowski and Zawadzki, A Concise History of Poland, 307). John Paul II furthered this narrative on human rights by addressing groups of workers across Poland. While praising the virtues of a strong work ethic, he also warned people, “do not let yourselves be seduced by the temptation to think that man can fully find himself by…remaining only a worker, deluding himself that what he produces can on its own fill the needs of the human heart” (John Paul II, “Homily for the Workers at Jasna Gora”). His belief that human dignity, or self-respect, came from a well-rounded life contradicted the communistic focus on work and productivity. During his pilgrimage, John Paul II gave dignity new significance; he made it seem like something all men should have, and as a result, Poles began to long for human rights and respect with even more vigor than they had in the past.  Naturally, this heightened the anti-communist wave that was already growing in Poland.

Finally, at a time when many Poles were fearful about where their country was heading, the pope offered a refreshing hope for the future by calling on the country to have faith in God, who was guiding and protecting Poland. By the 1970s, the economic hardships of rising prices, food shortages, and smaller wages coupled with the discontent over the communist regime, and as a result, the outlook for the country looked increasingly bleak (Lukowski and Zawadzki, A Concise History of Poland, 312). The papal pilgrimage helped alleviate some of this pessimism.  In his first homily of the visit, John Paul II appealed to God: “Let your Spirit descend and renew the face of the earth, the face of this land” (John Paul II, “Homily in Victory Square”). This remark strengthened the sense that God was protecting the people of Poland.  The pope also urged the people to not be afraid, to put their faith in God, and to “never be defeated” (John Paul II, “Homily in Krakow”).  This uplifting message was well received by the nation. They were motivated, now more than ever, to stand up to the regime and demand a better future.

John Paul II’s love of Poland is evident in this photo. The pope weeps as he prepares to leave Krakow, Poland on June 10, 1979.

Because unity, dignity, and optimism are all abstract feelings, it is difficult to say with certainty exactly how John Paul II’s visit is linked to the fall of communism in Poland; many scholars, however, do their best to explain this connection. One scholar argues that the pope’s simple, precise language allowed for strong Catholic discourse to emerge on the public sphere after years of being confined to churches. As a result, the people chose to rally behind this coherent, refreshing Catholic platform, and the old rhetoric of communism no longer dominated the public arena (Kubik, The Power of Symbols, 150). Although a change in discourse may have been extremely important in the dissolution of communism, there was another, more concrete, effect of the papal visit on the regime.  The 1980 creation of Solidarity, the first independent trade union in Poland, was a crucial factor in forcing the state to negotiate with the people, and the leader of Solidarity, Lech Walesa, cites John Paul II’s pilgrimage as a major force in the union’s creation. According to Walesa, “the pope showed us how numerous we were and showed us the…power we had if we joined together as one. We stopped being afraid and gathered together 10 million people in our trade union, Solidarity, which changed the face of this earth” (Walesa, “Rescuing Morality”). Solidarity serves as a concrete example of how Poles were able to channel their newfound energy in a productive way.

Prior to 1979, Poles were already longing for reform; they just needed a spark to galvanize their movement, and the pilgrimage of Pope John Paul II provided such a spark.  Because of Pope John Paul II’s emphasis on unity, human dignity, and optimism in Poland, opponents of communism now had a strong, focused lens through which to demand change. They were no longer plagued by weak unity, uncertainty, and pessimism.  Rather, they felt firmly united by Christ, focused on human rights, and optimistic about the future. Armed with these strong ideas, Poles could finally pursue a clear agenda that would eventually come to fruition in the 1980s.

A huge crowd gathers at a papal Mass in the town of Nowy Targ on June 8, 1979.

Above: This Sept. 10, 1987 file photo shows President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II talking as they walk during a visit by the pope to the United States. Polish officials have unveiled a statue of former President Ronald Reagan and John Paul II, honoring two men whom many Poles credit with helping to topple communism in Gdansk on Saturday July 14, 2012. The bronze statue, is a slightly larger than life rendering of the two late leaders. It is based on this Associated Press photograph taken in 1987 on John Paul’s second pontifical visit to the U.S. (AP Photo/Scott Stewart, File)

Above: People look at a new statue of President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II that was unveiled in Gdansk, Poland, on Saturday, July 14, 2012. The statue honors the two men whom many Poles credit with helping to topple communism. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)


As In Philippines, In Vietnam Top International Issue is China in the South China Sea

June 30, 2013

Vietnam’s Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong meets voters in Ha Noi yesterday after the fifth session of 13th National Assembly.—VNA/VNS Photo Tri Dung

HA NOI (VNS)— Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong yesterday declared that the Party, National Assembly and Government always pay close attention to settling issues in the East Sea.

Trong made the statement after being questioned by Ha Noi voters concerned by the situation.

The Party leader said that the issues were integral to the country’s sovereignty and peace and stability in the region, maritime security and free navigation, concerning many countries, so it was essential to solve these in a calm and sound way.

The sea strategy and the Law on the Sea of Viet Nam had been approved along with the establishment of the Steering Committee on the East Sea, he said, adding that the country always stressed its stance on settling the East Sea issues through peaceful methods, based on international law.

Voters Tran Viet Hoan and Luong Quan Ngoc of Ba Dinh District asked Trong about the progress made towards the goal of turning Viet Nam into a modern and industrial nation by the year 2020.

Trong emphasised that the country had made progress to a new development status, with three key areas of focus: human resources, infrastructure systems and institutions.

The country was mobilising resources to implement restructuring of the economy, control inflation and stabilise the macro-economy and ensure sustainable development, he said.

He also affirmed that the Central Committee’s resolution on Party building continued being implemented to reinforce the strength of the Party.

Voters voiced their appreciation for the results of the National Assembly session which ended last week. They were particularly happy with the vote of confidence held for key positions of power.

Yesterday, Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung met with the voters in Thach Ha Commune of central Ha Tinh Province.

He was asked in detail about draft amendments to the Land Law, which is likely to affect the many of them who are farmers.

According to the voters, relevant agencies should soon issue guidance for the people who have had their agricultural land revoked to help them find other jobs, settle outstanding complaints and petitions.

Hung agreed with these suggestions and requested the voters to keep on contributing their opinions about the draft amendments. — VNS


Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang, back center, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, back right, watch as military officers shake hands during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday, June 19, 2013. AP/Mark Ralston, Pool



Map of South China Sea
Above: China has recently claimed the majority of the South China Sea as its own — and has recently stepped up harassment of Filipino and Vietnamese fishermen.

In this July 20, 2012 photo Chinese fishing boats sail in the lagoon of Meiji reef off the island province of Hainan in the South China Sea. China had rolled out the red carpet for its newest city, on a small, remote island in the South China Sea that was also claimed by Vietnam. (Photo credit: Associated Press)

Chủ tàu Trần Văn Quang và chiếc mỏ neo bị tàu lạ đâm lút vào mũi tàu. Ảnh: Đức Nguyễn.

Chủ tàu Trần Văn Quang và chiếc mỏ neo bị tàu lạ đâm lút vào mũi tàu. Ảnh: Đức Nguyễn.

Photo: Captain Pham Quang Thanh on the fishing boat that was fired at by a Chinese naval boat off Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands of Vietnam on March 20, 2013

Above map: This is how Vietnam views the South China Sea; often called the “East Sea” in Vietnamese

Vietnam maintains that China’s claim of sovereignty in the South China Sea is a “sudden” and “new” idea