Sunday, June 15, 2008

Is It the End of the Internet & Freedom of Speech?

Senate Bill Would Give President Emergency Control of Internet
Details of a revamped version of the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 show the Senate bill could give the president a "kill switch" on the Internet and allow him to shut out private networks from online access.
Friday, August 28, 2009
A Senate bill would offer President Obama emergency control of the Internet and may give him a "kill switch" to shut down online traffic by seizing private networks -- a move cybersecurity experts worry will choke off industry and civil liberties.
Details of a revamped version of the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 emerged late Thursday, months after an initial version authored by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., was blasted in Silicon Valley as dangerous government intrusion.
"In the original bill they empowered the president to essentially turn off the Internet in the case of a 'cyber-emergency,' which they didn't define," said Larry Clinton, president of the Internet Security Alliance, which represents the telecommunications industry.
"We think it's a very bad idea ... to put in legislation," he told
Clinton said the new version of the bill that surfaced this week is improved from its first draft, but troubling language that was removed was replaced by vague language that could still offer the same powers to the president in case of an emergency.
"The current language is so unclear that we can't be confident that the changes have actually been made," he said.
The new legislation allows the president to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" relating to "non-governmental" computer networks and make a plan to respond to the danger, according to an excerpt published online -- a broad license that rights experts worry would give the president "amorphous powers" over private users.
"As soon as you're saying that the federal government is going to be exercising this kind of power over private networks, it's going to be a really big issue," Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told CNET News.
A Senate source familiar with the bill likened the new power to take control of portions of the Internet to what President Bush did when he grounded all aircraft on Sept. 11, 2001, CNET News reported.
Spokesmen for Senator Rockefeller and the Commerce Committee did not return calls seeking comment before this article was published.
But Rockefeller, who introduced the bill in April with bipartisan support, said the legislation was critical to protecting everything from water and electricity to banking, traffic lights and electronic health records.
"I know the threats we face," Rockefeller said in a prepared statement when the legislation was introduced. "Our enemies are real. They are sophisticated, they are determined and they will not rest."
The bill would also let the government create a detailed set of standards for licensing "cybersecurity professionals" who would oversee a single standard for security measures.
But many in the technology sector believe it's a job the government is ill-equipped to handle, said Franck Journoud, a policy analyst with the Business Software Alliance.
"Simply put, who has the expertise?" he told in April. "It's the industry, not the government. We have a responsibility to increase and improve security. That responsibility cannot be captured in a government standard."
Clinton, of the Internet Security Alliance, praised President Obama's May science policy review, which he said would take cybersecurity in the right direction by promoting incentives to get the private industry to improve its own security measures.
But he faulted the Senate bill, which he said would centralize regulations for an industry that is too varied to fall under the control of a single set of rules without endangering the economy and security.
"We think a lot of things need to be done to enhance cybersecurity," he told, but this bill is "not something that we could support."
Judge Orders Google to Turn Over YouTube Records
Thursday July 3, 11:35 pm ET
By Miguel Helft
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in New York has ordered Google to turn over to Viacom a database linking users of YouTube, the Web’s largest video site by far, with every clip they have watched there.
The order raised concerns among users and privacy advocates that the online video viewing habits of tens of millions of people could be exposed. But Google and Viacom said they were hoping to come up with a way to protect the anonymity of YouTube viewers.
Viacom said that the information would be safeguarded by a protective order restricting access to the data to outside advisers, who will use it solely to press Viacom’s $1 billion copyright suit against Google.
Still, the judge’s order, which was made public late Wednesday, renewed concerns among privacy advocates that Internet companies like Google are collecting unprecedented amounts of private information that could be misused or could unexpectedly fall into the hands of third parties.
For every video on YouTube, the judge required Google to turn over to Viacom the login name of every user who watched it, and the address of their computer, known as an I.P., or Internet protocol, address. Both companies have argued that such data cannot be used to unmask the identities of individual users with certainty. But in many cases, technology experts and others have been able to link I.P. addresses to individuals using records of their online activities.
Google and Viacom said they had had discussions about ways to ensure the data is further protected to assure anonymity.
“We are disappointed the court granted Viacom’s overreaching demand for viewing history,” Catherine Lacavera, Google’s senior litigation counsel, said in a statement. “We are asking Viacom to respect users’ privacy and allow us to anonymize the logs before producing them under the court’s order.”
Michael Fricklas, Viacom’s general counsel said: “We are investigating techniques, including anonymization, to enhance the security of information that will be produced.”
Mr. Fricklas added that Viacom would not have direct access to the information Google produces, and that its use would be strictly limited. Viacom would not, for example, be able to chase down users who illegally posted clips from “The Colbert Report” on YouTube.
“The information that is produced by Google is going to be limited to outside advisers who can use it solely for the purpose of enforcing our rights against YouTube and Google,” Mr. Fricklas said. “I can unequivocally state that we will not use any of this information to enforce rights against end users.”
In a letter sent Thursday, Google’s lawyers asked their counterparts at Viacom to agree to allow Google to remove information from the data that could potentially be used to identify individuals.
“We request that plaintiffs agree that YouTube may redact usernames and I.P. addresses from the viewing data in the interests of protecting user privacy,” wrote David H. Kramer, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Viacom did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.
Privacy advocates said they welcomed Viacom’s commitment to using the information only for the purposes of the litigation, but they remained concerned about protecting user rights.
“Users should have the right to challenge and contest the production of this deeply private information,” said Kurt Opsahl, senior staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Such right is protected by law, he said.
Mr. Opsahl said that even records that did not include a user’s login name and I.P. address might be able to be associated with specific individuals. He said he believed the judge’s order violated the federal Video Privacy Protection Act.
Congress passed the law to protect the video rental records of individuals, after a newspaper disclosed the rental records of Robert H. Bork, then a Supreme Court nominee.
United States District Court Judge Louis L. Stanton, who is presiding over Viacom’s lawsuit against Google and YouTube, said that Google could “cite no authority barring them from disclosing such information in civil discovery proceedings, and their privacy concerns are speculative.” He said the information could help Viacom make its case.
“A markedly higher proportion of infringing-video watching may bear on plaintiff’s vicarious liability claim, and defendants’ substantial noninfringing use defense,” he wrote.
Corporations Plan To Pull Plug On The Free Internet
Web users naive about agenda to turn Internet into regulated cable TV modelPaul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet
Thursday, June 12, 2008
The Internet is the last true unregulated outpost of freedom of speech but moves are afoot to stifle, suffocate, control and eventually pull the plug on the world wide web as we know it. These threats are not hidden nor are they hard to deduce and yet a significant number of Internet users remain naive as to their scope.
Despite many questioning the authenticity of a report that claimed ISP's had resolved to restrict the Internet to a TV-like subscription model where users will be forced to pay to visit selected corporate websites by 2012, while others will be blocked, the march towards regulation of the web is clear and documented.
We have been warning about the plan to let the old Internet die and replace it with a restricted and controlled Internet 2 for years. In 2006, we published an article about how the RIAA were attempting to broaden intellectual property distinctions to a point whereby merely linking to external content is judged as copyright infringement.
At the time, the article was met with a mixed response. Many were aware of the imminent dangers that threaten to change the face of the Internet but others were more hostile to the supposition that the world wide web could be devastated by landmark copyright case rulings as well as plans to develop "Internet 2."
Some accused us of yellow journalism and scaremongering yet the warning that the Elektra vs. Barker case could criminalize the very mechanism that characterizes the Internet was not concocted by Alex Jones or Paul Joseph Watson, it was a statement made by the very lawyer fighting the case, Ray Beckerman.
It was a danger also reported on by one of the UK's biggest technology news websites, the Inquirer, which also highlighted the frightening development in an article entitled, RIAA wants the Internet shut down.
The RIAA's argument was that defendant Tenise Barker downloaded music files and made them available for distribution by placing them in a shared folder. Though Barker paid for the files and downloaded them legally, and the files were not copied by anyone, the RIAA's motion states that simply making the files available constitutes copyright infringement.
As Beckerman points out, the entire Internet is nothing more than a giant network of hyperlinks making files 'available' to other people. If we link to, we are making the file that constitutes the CNN homepage 'available' to other users. We don't own the copyright to any of CNN's material therefore if the RIAA's argument is accepted, by simply making that CNN file available from our website, even if no one clicks on the link, we are committing a breach of copyright.
At no point in our article did we suggest that the ruling definitely would shut down the Internet, we highlighted the fact that hundreds of transnational corporations like who solely rely on Internet trade would scream bloody murder. But what the ruling would grease the skids for is the move towards a strictly regulated Internet whereby government permission would be required to run a website and that website would be subject to censoring and deletion if it violated any "terms of use."
This wouldn't be much of a problem to giant transnational corporations, because their websites would remain accessible for everyone. Yet for thousands of political websites and blogs, the plug could be effectively pulled.
After a long legal fight, Elektra vs. Barker was decided largely in Elektra's favor, after a federal judge essentially validated the RIAA's position that having songs available in a KaZaA shared folder violates the distribution right under the Copyright Act.
The example that we cite in discussing what life would be like under "Internet 2" was that running a blog would be like having a You Tube account - any politically sensitive or controversial information that the owners dislike would immediately be removed as it is frequently on You Tube.
In addition, the slide towards a licensed Internet that will be sold using fear of identity and credit card fraud could lead to mandatory biometric thumb or finger scanning simply to access the world wide web.
This is hardly a stretch of the imagination, since numerous public services and functions of society are increasingly accessible only through providing some form of biometric identification. Credit passes for travel, ATM terminals and access to theme parks like Disneyland are just a few of the many services we use that are shifting towards mandatory biometric gatekeeping.
Furthermore, Pay By Touch Online and other companies have already developed and launched keyboard biometric finger scanning terminals that require users to submit their biometric print before they can access the Internet or buy online.
Piggybacking the net neutrality debate, Internet 2 is being shaped to replace the old Internet, which will be allowed to self-destruct as it labors under the pressures of being relegated to slower and slower pipes and users will simply desert a painstaking system.
More than two years ago in an article entitled, The End of the Internet?, The Nation magazine reported,
"The nation's largest telephone and cable companies are crafting an alarming set of strategies that would transform the free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet of today to a privately run and branded service that would charge a fee for virtually everything we do online."
U.S. Court Orders Whistleblower Website Shut Down
By Ann Shibler
Wikileaks, a whistleblower website created by journalists committed to transparency in the dissemination of information over the Internet, was shut down under a court order because of pressure from a Swiss bank.
The Swiss-owned Julius Baer Bank’s Cayman Island branch was perturbed about documents that were posted on Wikileaks by an unidentified whistleblower. The documents reportedly provided evidence that the Cayman Islands bank helps customers hide assets and wash funds — money laundering is the more common term. (The Cayman Islands are noted as an offshore haven for those wishing to minimize their exposure to the IRS.) When Wikileaks refused to take the posting down, the bank went after Wikileaks hosting service, Dynadot.
Internet's future in 2020 debated
24 September 2006
BBC News,
The internet will be a thriving, low-cost network of billions of devices by 2020, says a major survey of leading technology thinkers.
The Pew report on the future internet surveyed 742 experts in the fields of computing, politics and business.
More than half of respondents had a positive vision of the net's future but 46% had serious reservations.
Almost 60% said that a counter culture of Luddites would emerge, some resorting to violence.
The Pew Internet and American Life report canvassed opinions from the experts on seven broad scenarios about the future internet, based on developments in the technology in recent years.

Written responses

The correspondents were also able to qualify their answers with written responses giving more detail.
"Key builders of the next generation of internet often agree on the direction technology will change, but there is much less agreement about the social and political impact those changes will have," said Janna Quitney Anderson, lead author of the report The Future of the Internet II.
She added: "One of their big concerns is: Who controls the internet architecture they have created?"
Bob Metcalfe, founder of 3Com and the inventor of ethernet, predicted the net would be a global connection of different devices.
"The internet will have gone beyond personal communications," by 2020 he wrote.

'Embedded micros'

"Many more of today's 10 billion new embedded micros per year will be on the internet."
Louis Nauges, president of Microcost, a French information technology firm, saw mobile devices at the forefront of the net.
"Mobile internet will be dominant," he explained. "By 2020, most mobile networks will provide one-gigabit-per-second-minimum speed, anywhere, anytime.
"Dominant access tools will be mobile, with powerful infrastructure characteristics. All applications will come from the net."
But not everyone felt a "networked nirvana" would be possible by 2020.
Concerns over interoperability (different formats working together), government regulation and commercial interests were seen as key barriers to a universal internet.
Ian Peter, Australian leader of the Internet Mark II Project, wrote: "The problem of the digital divide is too complex and the power of legacy telco regulatory regimes too powerful to achieve this utopian dream globally within 15 years."
'Real interoperability'
Author and social commentator Douglas Rushkoff agreed with Mr Peter.
The less one is powerful, the more transparent his or her life. The powerful will remain much less transparent
NetLab founder Barry Wellman on issues of privacy versus transparancy
He wrote: "Real interoperability will be contingent on replacing our bias for competition with one for collaboration.
"Until then, economics do not permit universal networking capability."
Many of the surveyed experts predicted isolated and small-scale violent attacks to try and thwart technology's march.
"Today's eco-terrorists are the harbingers of this likely trend," wrote Ed Lyell, an expert on the internet and education.
"Every age has a small percentage that cling to an overrated past of low technology, low energy, lifestyle."
"Of course there will be more Unabombers," wrote Cory Doctorow of blog BoingBoing.
Some commentators felt that the violence would either be tied to the effects of technology, rather than the technology itself, or possibly civil action around issues such as privacy.
"The interesting question is whether these acts will be considered terrorism or civil disobedience," wrote Marc Rotenberg or the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
Of course there will be more Unabombers
Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing
More than half of respondents disagreed that English would become the lingua franca of the internet by 2020 and that there would be dangers associated with letting machines take over some net tasks such as surveillance and security.
Internet Society Board chairman Fred Baker wrote: "We will certainly have some interesting technologies.
He added: "Until someone finds a way for a computer to prevent anyone from pulling its power plug, however, it will never be completely out of control."
The repondents were split over the whether the impact of people's lives becoming increasingly online, resulting in both less privacy but more transparency, would be a positive outcome.
'Access information'
Tiffany Shlain, founder of the Webby awards, said such transparancy would be a benefit to society.
The dramatic growth of the internet shows no sign of abating
"Giving all people access to our information and a context to understand it will lead to an advancement in our civilisation."
But NetLab founder Barry Wellman disagreed: "The less one is powerful, the more transparent his or her life. The powerful will remain much less transparent."
Mr Doctorow wrote: "Transparency and privacy aren't antithetical.
"We're perfectly capable of formulating widely honored social contracts that prohibit pointing telescopes through your neighbours' windows.
"We can likewise have social contracts about sniffing your neighbours' network traffic."
By 2020 an increasing number of people will be living and working within "virtual worlds" being more productive online than offline, the majority of the respondents said.
Ben Detenber, an associate professor at Nanyang Technological University, responded: "Virtual reality (VR) will only increase productivity for some people. For most, it will make no difference in productivity (i.e., how much output); VR will only change what type of work people do and how it is done."
Glenn Ricart, a board member at the Internet Society, warned also of potential dangers.
He envisaged "an entire generation opting-out of the real world and a paradoxical decrease in productivity as the people who provide the motive economic power no longer are in touch with the realities of the real world".

How Respondents Assessed Scenarios for 2020
Agree Disagree No response
A global, low-cost network thrives
56% 43% 1%
English displaces other languages
42% 57% 1%
Autonomous technology is a problem
42% 54% 4%
Transparency builds better world, even at the expense of privacy
46% 49% 5%
Virtual reality is a drain for some
56% 39% 5%
The internet opens worldwide access to success
52% 44% 5%
Some Luddites/Refuseniks will commit terror acts
58% 35% 7%
Source: Pew Center
Freedom of Speech Under Siege
By Janet Wollstein

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." - Francois Voltaire

No right is more fundamental than freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech you can't communicate your ideas and feelings, decry a social injustice, pursue an artistic vision, investigate scientific truth, practice a religion, or criticize government. If freedom of speech is destroyed, self-development is crippled, social progress grinds to a halt, and official lies become the only "truth."
Although freedom of speech can be inhibited by intolerant people, it can only be destroyed by brute force, particularly government force.
If fundamentalists demand that "Playboy" magazines be removed from store shelves, that is not censorship. Others are free to demand - just as forcefully - that "Playboy" be kept on shelves. And merchants can reject the fundamentalists' demands. But when government sends in police to close down bookstores, arrest musicians, artists, and photographers, burn videotapes, or shut down computer networks, that is censorship.

Censorship is the Handmaiden of a Police State
Censorship is the use of force to control what you can say, read, or see. Although occasionally private individuals and groups engage in censorship - for example by stealing "insensitive" newspapers (which has occurred on several U.S. college campuses) or threatening to kill "indecent" artists, like "Satanic Verses" author Salman Rushdie - the primary agent of censorship is government.
In Nazi Germany, the works of Jewish writers were seized and burned by storm troopers. Resisters were beaten and shot. Merely criticizing the government could mean being sent to a concentration camp. In the Soviet Union and Communist China, the government burned bibles and churches, as well as unapproved books and art.
But censorship does not only exist in police states. In England, since 1974, 6,246 people have been imprisoned without trial under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, for such "crimes" as suspicion of supporting an illegal organization or providing a forum for banned ideas. That hasn't stopped IRA bombings. But it has made the people of England much less free. In Panama, after the U.S.-sponsored overthrow of dictator Manuel Noriega, journalists were rounded up, shot and killed (see the film "The Panama Deception").

The Rise of Censorship in America
Censorship has been growing in the United States as well. The First Amendment to our Constitution unequivocally states that "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."
Yet during the last decades, with ever-growing zeal, our legislatures have been censoring books, films, photography, art, music, news, and even scientific information. And our courts - all the way up to the Supreme Court - have said it's legal.
"Dirty" Pictures. On November 2, 1995, Toni Marie Angeli was arrested at Zona Photo Labs in Massachusetts. She was picking up pictures of her 4-year-old son Nico in their bathtub. The photos were for a photography course she was taking at Harvard.
Detective W. Phillips of Cambridge accused her of being a child pornographer and threatened: "if you don't cooperate, I will take that kid away from you on the spot."
Under the 1990 Comprehensive Crime Act, nude pictures of your own children can be prosecuted as "child pornography." U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brennan warns that the law is so broad, you could even be prosecuted for having "pictures of topless bathers at a Mediterranean beach."
Burning Books. In June of 1993, the Supreme Court said it was constitutional to destroy over 100,000 books and tapes, and seize all of the assets of a chain of bookstores without trial because eleven of the books and tapes sold by the chain were judged obscene. (Alexander v. United States). Under this decision, federal police could destroy the entire inventory of every major chain of bookstores in the nation - like Crown or B. Dalton - if only a few of the items they sell are judged obscene.
Politically-Correct Speech. If freedom of speech means anything at all, it means the right to express ideas others disagree with. Yet the political-correctness movement has resulted in thousands of students and workers being punished for such "offenses" as the use of derogatory names, inconsiderate jokes, "misdirected" laughter, and "conspicuous exclusion" from conversation. Punishments for saying the wrong thing include expulsion, loss of jobs, and mandatory "sensitivity" indoctrination classes.
Health Police Armed With Machine Guns. In 1991, an FDA magazine warned, "the agency will not tolerate the practice of promoting drugs and medical devices for unapproved uses . . . [the] FDA is prepared to enforce this law through legal steps such as seizure, injunction and prosecution."
On May 6, 1992, heavily-armed police and FDA agents kicked down the door of Dr. Jonathan Wright's Tacoma medical clinic in Washington State. For 14 hours, employees were held at gunpoint while FDA agents smashed medical equipment and ransacked the offices. Dr. Wright's "crime"? Making unapproved claims about high-potency vitamins.
In 1994 alone, the FDA launched over 200 violent raids on vitamin stores, clinics, and doctors for such "crimes".
As a result of FDA policies, the free flow of medical information has been reduced to a trickle. According to former Federal Trade Commission official and Boston University professor John Calfree, "Cancer newsletters have been shut down. Symposiums have nearly been brought to a halt . . . Press conferences announcing new applications . . . are for the most part eliminated." Hundreds of lifesaving uses for existing drugs and devices have been banned, and medical manufacturers have begun to leave America.
"Indecent" Speech Could Land You in Prison. Under Section 223 of the new Communications Decency Act, indecent speech via a telecommunications device (including your telephone, fax, computer and the Internet) is punishable by up to 2 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
But just what is "indecent speech"? No one knows. Congress didn't bother to define it. However the language of the Decency Act is so broad that it could include an explicit love note e-mailed to your spouse, or even saying one of "seven dirty words" banned by the FCC on the telephone .
Even worse, human-rights groups say electronic reporting of prison rapes or international atrocities such as massacres in Chechnya, could be a crime under this act.
The Decency Act is being challenged in court and will be reviewed by the Supreme Court. But if it is upheld, thousands of journalists, human-rights activists, and ordinary citizens could face imprisonment or a $100,000 fine for a slip of the tongue.
Criminalizing Political Speech. Enacted one year after the Oklahoma City bombing, the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act does a lot more than go after terrorists. Its "conspiracy" provisions are a threat to any American who has anything to do with a foreign or domestic political organization the government dislikes.
Under this law, any individual or group in America can be branded "terrorists" by the Attorney General. Then the government can seize all of the assets of the banned group, as well as the assets of anyone who contributes to it. If you pay $5 to attend a lecture by a Middle Eastern group, and the Attorney General later decides that they might have terrorist links, your home and business could be seized.
Government News Management. Increasingly, the government is controlling the news. According to the watchdog group Accuracy In Media, over 87% of national network news comes either from government bureaucrats or consultants.
Each year, government controls more of the news you hear, sometimes with deadly results. During the Gulf War, reporters were forced into carefully-controlled press pools and all images of dead soldiers and civilians were prohibited. Years later, how many Americans know that at least 6,000 Iraqi civilians were killed by U.S. "smart" bombs?
The same news control is now being used in the U.S. In Waco, Texas - where 86 innocent men, women and children were shot or burned alive by the FBI and BATF - all contact between the Branch Davidians and the press was cut off. The few reporters who tried to enter the Davidians' property were turned away at gunpoint by armed troops and told if they persisted, to expect "tragic consequences." As a result, to this day, not one American in 10,000 knows that close to half the Branch Davidians were black or that the CS-gas the FBI used is lethal in enclosed buildings.
Reclaiming Our Freedom of Speech. For the last 50 years, government assaults on freedom of speech in the U.S. have been growing. Today, not just sexual images, but health information, critical news reports, and even political expression are being censored.
People whose only crime is that they hold unpopular ideas or expose government lies, are being harassed, imprisoned and even killed.
In America, censorship is not only wrong, it is illegal. Our Bill of Rights is unmistakably clear. "Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech." It is time our legislatures and courts obeyed their own laws.
To preserve our freedom of speech, we must fight for it. Support groups like ISIL, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American PEN Society, and the ACLU, which are fighting for your freedom of speech. Challenge campus and office speech codes. Subscribe to independent newsletters and share them with others. And encourage others to do the same.
For over 200 years American has stood for liberty and freedom of speech. Today we can no longer take them for granted. We must act now to restore our heritage of liberty - or risk losing it forever.
International Society for Individual Liberty1800 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102Tel: (415) 864-0952 Fax: (415) 864-7506
Gingrich wants to restrict freedom of speech?Legal expert looks at constitutionality of former House Speaker's comments
By Keith Olbermann, MSNBC
updated 12:15 p.m. ET, Wed., Nov. 29, 2006
Newt Gingrich called for a reexamination of free speech at the Loeb First Amendment Award Dinner in New Hampshire this week, saying a “different set of rules to prevent terrorism” are necessary.
Gingrich’s call to restrict free speech is mainly focused on the Internet.
Keith Olbermann discussed the constitutionality of this with George Washington University law professor and constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley.
This is a transcript from the show.
It’s in the quintessential movie about this city, “Chinatown.” Morty the Mortician turns to Jack Nicholson’s character and says, “Middle of the drought, and the water commissioner drowns. Only in L.A.” Tonight, a real-life equivalent. Middle of a dinner honoring the sanctity of the First Amendment, and the former speaker of the House talks about restricting freedom of speech. Only in the Republican Party.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, it might have been his first attempt to fire up his base for a possible presidential run, or it might have been something more ominous. But Newt Gingrich has actually proposed a different set of rules and invoked the bogeyman of terror.
Gingrich was the featured speaker at the annual Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment Award Dinner in Manchester, New Hampshire, Monday night, where he not only argued that campaign finance reform and the separation of church and state should be rethought, because they allegedly hurt the First Amendment, but he also suggested that new rules might be necessary to stop terrorists using freedom of speech to get out their message.
Here is his rationalization:
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: My view is that either before we lose a city, or if we are truly stupid after we lose a city, we will adopt rules of engagement that we use every technology we can find to break up their capacity to use the Internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech, and to go after people who want to kill us, to stop them from recruiting people before they get to reach out and convince young people to destroy their lives while destroying us.
OLBERMANN: If you’re going to destroy freedom of speech, bub, you’ve already lost all the cities.
To paraphrase Pastor Martin Noemuller’s poem about Germany in the ‘30s and ‘40s: First they came for the Fourth Amendment, then they came for habeas corpus, then came for free speech, and there was no one allowed to speak up.
The politics in a moment.
OLBERMANN: So the conventional wisdom on this is, he’s to breathe life into the same scare tactics that worked so well for the president and the vice president until four weeks ago. But could this be more nefarious than just politics? Could any president really gut free speech in the name of counterterrorism?
TURLEY: They could. I mean, it’s bizarre it would occur in a First Amendment speech. God knows what he’d say at a Mother’s Day speech.
But, you know, this really could happen. I mean, the fact is that the First Amendment is an abstraction, and when you put up against it the idea of incinerating millions of people, there will be millions of citizens that respond, like some Pavlovian response, and deliver up rights. We’ve already seen that. People don’t seem to appreciate that you really can’t save a Constitution by destroying it.
OLBERMANN: We asked Mr. Gingrich’s office for the full speech. To their credit, they provided most of it to us, late relative to our deadline. But let me read you a little bit more of this that we’ve just gotten, Jonathan.
“I want to suggest to you that we right now should be impaneling people to look seriously at a level of supervision that we would never dream of, if it were not for the scale of this threat.” That’s one quote.
“This is a serious, long-term war,” Gingrich added, “and it will inevitably lead us to want to know what is said in every suspect place in the country. It will lead us to learn how to close down every Web site that is dangerous.”
Jonathan, are there not legal methods already in place to deal with such sites that do not require what Mr. Gingrich has here called “supervision that we would never dream of?”
TURLEY: Well, there are plenty of powers and authorities that could be used to monitor truly dangerous people. But what you see here, I think, is the insatiable appetite that has developed among certain leaders for controlling American society.
We saw that with John Ashcroft not long after 9/11, when he said the critics were aiding and abetting the terrorists. There is this insatiable appetite that develops when you feed absolute power to people like Gingrich.
And people should not assume that these are just going to be fringe candidates, and this could never happen. Fear does amazing things to people, and it could a sort of self-mutilation in a democracy, where we give up the very things, the very rights that define us, and theoretically, the very things that we are defending.
OLBERMANN: Also, when you talk about closing down Internet sites, who is the one who’s going to decide which those are? I mean, it could be the Daily Kos, it could be Citizens for Legitimate Government, it could be the sports Web site Dead Spin, for all we know, if he doesn’t like any one of them in particular.
TURLEY: Well, what these guys don’t understand is that the best defense against bad ideas, like extremism and terrorism, is free speech. That’s what we’ve proven. That’s why they don’t like us, is that we’re remarkably successful as a democracy, because we’ve shown that really bad ideas don’t survive in the marketplace, unless you try to suppress them, unless you try to keep people from speaking. Then it becomes a form of martyrdom. Then you give credence to what they’re saying.
OLBERMANN: Last question, the specific idea about the Internet. There was a story just today out of Toronto that researchers at a Canadian university developed some software that will let users in places like China that have Internet restrictions, the phrase they used were, “hop over government’s Internet firewalls.” Might it be that the technology will be our best defense against the Newt Gingriches of this country?
TURLEY: It may be. We may have to rely on our own creativity to overcome the inclinations of people like Newt Gingrich.
OLBERMANN: George Washington University law professor and constitutional law expert, and, I think it’s fair to say, friend of the Constitution, Jonathan Turley. Great thanks, Jon.
TURLEY: Thanks, Keith.
“Free-Speech Zone”
December 15, 2003
By James Bovard
On Dec. 6, 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft informed the Senate Judiciary Committee, “To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty … your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and … give ammunition to America’s enemies.” Some commentators feared that Ashcroft’s statement, which was vetted beforehand by top lawyers at the Justice Department, signaled that this White House would take a far more hostile view towards opponents than did recent presidents. And indeed, some Bush administration policies indicate that Ashcroft’s comment was not a mere throwaway line.
When Bush travels around the United States, the Secret Service visits the location ahead of time and orders local police to set up “free speech zones” or “protest zones” where people opposed to Bush policies (and sometimes sign-carrying supporters) are quarantined. These zones routinely succeed in keeping protesters out of presidential sight and outside the view of media covering the event.
When Bush came to the Pittsburgh area on Labor Day 2002, 65-year-old retired steel worker Bill Neel was there to greet him with a sign proclaiming, “The Bush family must surely love the poor, they made so many of us.” The local police, at the Secret Service’s behest, set up a “designated free-speech zone” on a baseball field surrounded by a chain-link fence a third of a mile from the location of Bush’s speech. The police cleared the path of the motorcade of all critical signs, though folks with pro-Bush signs were permitted to line the president’s path. Neel refused to go to the designated area and was arrested for disorderly conduct; the police also confiscated his sign. Neel later commented, “As far as I’m concerned, the whole country is a free speech zone. If the Bush administration has its way, anyone who criticizes them will be out of sight and out of mind.”
At Neel’s trial, police detective John Ianachione testified that the Secret Service told local police to confine “people that were there making a statement pretty much against the president and his views” in a so-called free speech area. Paul Wolf, one of the top officials in the Allegheny County Police Department, told Salon that the Secret Service “come in and do a site survey, and say, ‘Here’s a place where the people can be, and we’d like to have any protesters put in a place that is able to be secured.’” Pennsylvania district judge Shirley Rowe Trkula threw out the disorderly conduct charge against Neel, declaring, “I believe this is America. Whatever happened to ‘I don’t agree with you, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it’?”
Similar suppressions have occurred during Bush visits to Florida. A recent St. Petersburg Times editorial noted, “At a Bush rally at Legends Field in 2001, three demonstrators—two of whom were grandmothers—were arrested for holding up small handwritten protest signs outside the designated zone. And last year, seven protesters were arrested when Bush came to a rally at the USF Sun Dome. They had refused to be cordoned off into a protest zone hundreds of yards from the entrance to the Dome.” One of the arrested protesters was a 62-year-old man holding up a sign, “War is good business. Invest your sons.” The seven were charged with trespassing, “obstructing without violence and disorderly conduct.”
Police have repressed protesters during several Bush visits to the St. Louis area as well. When Bush visited on Jan. 22, 2003, 150 people carrying signs were shunted far away from the main action and effectively quarantined. Denise Lieberman of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri commented, “No one could see them from the street. In addition, the media were not allowed to talk to them. The police would not allow any media inside the protest area and wouldn’t allow any of the protesters out of the protest zone to talk to the media.” When Bush stopped by a Boeing plant to talk to workers, Christine Mains and her five-year-old daughter disobeyed orders to move to a small protest area far from the action. Police arrested Mains and took her and her crying daughter away in separate squad cars.
[Read entire article at:]
The Pentagon’s War on the Internet By Mike Whitney
02/13/06 "ICH' -- -- The Pentagon has developed a comprehensive strategy for taking over the internet and controlling the free flow of information. The plan appears in a recently declassified document, “The Information Operations Roadmap”, which was provided under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) and revealed in an article by the BBC. The Pentagon sees the internet in terms of a military adversary that poses a vital threat to its stated mission of global domination. This explains the confrontational language in the document which speaks of “fighting the net”; implying that the internet is the equivalent of “an enemy weapons system." The Defense Dept. places a high-value on controlling information. The new program illustrates their determination to establish the parameters of free speech. The Pentagon sees information as essential in manipulating public perceptions and, thus, a crucial tool in eliciting support for unpopular policies. The recent revelations of the military placing propaganda in the foreign press demonstrate the importance that is given to co-opting public opinion. Information-warfare is used to create an impenetrable cloud around the activities of government so that decisions can be made without dissent. The smokescreen of deception that encompasses the Bush administration has less to do with prevaricating politicians than it does with a clearly articulated policy of obfuscation.
The Pentagon’s focus on the internet tells us a great deal about the mainstream media and its connection to the political establishment. Why, for example, would the Pentagon see the internet as a greater threat than the mainstream media, where an estimated 75% of Americans get their news? The reason is clear; because the MSM is already a fully-integrated part of the corporate-system providing a 24 hour per day streaming of business-friendly news. Today’s MSM operates as a de-facto franchise of the Pentagon, a reliable and sophisticated propagandist for Washington’s wars of aggression and political subterfuge.

“The Information Operations Roadmap” is solely intended to undermine the principle of an informed citizenry.

The internet, on the other hand, is the last bastion of American democracy; a virtual world where reliable information moves instantly from person to person without passing through the corporate filter. Online visitors can get a clear picture of their governments’ depredations with a click of the mouse. This is the liberalization of the news, an open source of mind-expanding information that elevates citizen awareness of complex issues and threatens the status quo. The Pentagon program is just one facet of a broader culture of deception; a pervasive ethos of dishonesty that envelopes all aspects of the Bush White House.
In what way is “strategic intelligence” different from plain intelligence? It is information that is shaped in a way that meets the needs of a particular group. In other words, it is not the truth at all, but a fabrication, a fiction, a lie. Strategic intelligence is an oxymoron; a tidy bit of Orwellian doublespeak that reflects the deeply rooted cynicism of its authors.
The “Strategic Intelligence” Dept is a division of the Defense establishment that is entirely devoted to concealing, distorting, omitting and manipulating the truth.

The internet is a logical target for the Pentagon’s electronic warfare. Already the Downing Street memos, Bush’s bombing-threats against Al Jazeera, the fraudulent 2004 elections, and the leveling of Falluja, have disrupted the smooth execution of Bush’s wars. It is understandable that Rumsfeld and Co. would seek to transform this potential enemy into an ally, much as it has done with the MSM. The Pentagon’s plans for engaging in “virtual warfare” are impressive. As BBC notes: “The operations described in the document include a surprising range of military activities: public affairs officers who brief journalists, psychological operations troops who try to manipulate the thoughts and beliefs of an enemy, computer network attack specialists who seek to destroy enemy networks.” (BBC)
The enemy, of course, is you, dear reader, or anyone who refuses to accept their role as a witless-cog in new world order. Seizing the internet is a prudent way of controlling every piece of information that one experiences from cradle to grave; all necessary for an orderly police-state.
The Information Operations Roadmap (IOR) recommends that psychological operations (Psyops) “should consider a range of technologies to disseminate propaganda in enemy territory: unmanned aerial vehicles, "miniaturized, scatterable public address systems", wireless devices, cellular phones and the internet.” No idea is too costly or too far-fetched that it escapes the serious consideration of the Pentagon chieftains.
The objective is to challenge any tidbit of information that appears on the web that may counter the official narrative; the fairytale of benign American intervention to promote democracy and human rights across the planet. The IOR aspires to "provide maximum control of the entire electromagnetic spectrum" and develop the capability to "disrupt or destroy the full spectrum of globally emerging communications systems, sensors, and weapons systems dependent on the electromagnetic spectrum". (BBC) Full spectrum dominance. The ultimate goal of the Pentagon is to create an internet-paradigm that corresponds to the corporate mainstream model, devoid of imagination or divergent points of view. They envision an internet that is increasingly restricted by the gluttonous influence of industry and its vast “tapestry of lies”.
It provides a direct link between the explosive power of ideas and engaged citizen involvement. (aka; participatory democracy) The Pentagon is laying the groundwork for privatizing the internet so the information-revolution can be transformed into an information-tyranny, extending to all areas of communications and serving the exclusive interests of a few well-heeled American plutocrats.
The War Dept. is planning to insert itself into every area of the internet from blogs to chat rooms, from leftist web sites to editorial commentary.

The internet is the modern-day marketplace of ideas, an invaluable resource for human curiosity and organized resistance.

[under construction]

Sunday, June 08, 2008

China - the Sleeping Giant Starts to Awaken! (Part 1)

China experts warn of expanding space arms race
Tue Jun 3, 2008
By Chris Buckley
BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese military experts have warned of an expanding arms race in outer space as Beijing and other rival powers seek to counter U.S. ambitions to dominate the heavens.
The United States and other Western nations have criticized China's efforts to build a presence in space, especially a test in January 2007 when it shot down one of its own aged satellites.
But in a book issued by the state-run China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, two People's Liberation Army experts said Washington's bid for enduring security domination in outer space was pressing Beijing and other powers into competition, even confrontation.
"Strategic confrontation in outer space is difficult to avoid. The development of outer space forces shows signs that a space arms race to seize the commanding heights is emerging," wrote Wu Tianfu of the Second Artillery Corps Command College. The Corps controls China's nuclear arsenal.
"We can say that weaponization of outer space ... is already unstoppable."
Chinese diplomats have repeatedly said they want stronger international rules to avoid an expensive and destabilizing arms race in space. But the PLA analyses suggest that at least some in China's military take a bleak view of prospects for such efforts and believe their country must get ready for escalating rivalry.
"In the not too distant future, outer space will certainly become a stage for struggle between countries," wrote Xu Nengwu of China's National Defense Science and Technology University. He nonetheless called for urgent efforts to halt the weapon zing of space.
"The shared ideals or moral norms needed to bring about cooperation in outer space security are very difficult to form in a short time," Xu added.
China: manufacturer for the world?
With vast amounts of slave labor to employ and the help of Western corporate leaders to build manufacturing plants, China is fast becoming the manufacturer for the worldNew American, The, Oct. 2, 2006 by John F. McManus
In a gambit few could have predicted, China is becoming a foil in the game to create a North American Union. Since the liberalization of China's economy after the Tiananmen Square massacre, China's manufacturing sector has shifted into high gear.
According to some, the upsurge in China's economy is the reason why the Mexican economy has not performed better since the signing of NAFTA. "The 'giant sucking sound' Ross Perot used to talk about is back, only this time it is not Mexico sucking away American jobs. It is China sucking away Mexico's jobs," William Greider, the national affairs correspondent for The Nation, wrote in that magazine in 2001. This, Greider argued, could provide an impetus to integrate Mexico and the United States. "This is an opportunity to change the politics in both countries," he wrote. "The relationship would borrow a lot from the European Union's economic integration of rich and poor nations ranging from wealthy Germany to low-wage Portugal and Spain. The European Union delivers substantial aid conditioned on democratic standards and labor rights, implicitly encouraging rising wages in the poorer countries .... A North American union, in addition to North/South development aid, would require concrete legal obligations: If U.S. taxpayers are asked to invest in Mexico's future, U.S. commerce cannot be allowed to enjoy NAFTA benefits, then pick up and leave whenever it sees fit." Greider has not been alone in seeing Mexican competition with the Chinese as a rationale for forming a North American Union (NAU).
This has been noted as well by Robert Pastor, the chief intellectual architect of the current scheme to create the NAU. Discussing the options for deepening the integration of the North American nations in the article "North America's Second Decade," in the January/February 2004 issue of Foreign Affairs, Pastor alleged that several types of "reform" in U.S. policy would be needed. "The reforms," he said, "would also make Mexico more competitive with China."
China has had a devastating effect not only on the Mexican economy but, more importantly, on the American economy. Twenty-five years ago, our nation could point to 19 million manufacturing jobs. The number today has shrunk to less than 14 million. Jobs are going overseas at an increasingly rapid rate, mostly to China. A look at what has occurred in the textile industry alone is instructive. According to the National Council of Textile Organizations, China now controls half of the U.S. apparel market in product areas where quotas have been removed.
It's reasonable to wonder how a communist-led nation could become an economic power. The answer is that, by itself, it could never have accomplished what it has done. China has become a significant producer because U.S.-based corporate interests have infused it with money, infrastructure, technology, and business savvy. They have even moved their plants to China. They have done so, in large part, because they have been actively encouraged to do so by the U.S. Commerce Department; because their China ventures are bankrolled by U.S. taxpayer-subsidized entities such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank; because their loans are guaranteed by the Export-Import Bank, a U.S. government agency; and because heavy U.S. taxes and regulations add significantly to the cost of manufacturing goods in the United States.
U.S. government officials not only encourage the export of American jobs and industry to China, they even ignore existing U.S. law. Last month, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) brushed off the AFL-CIO's call for an investigation into labor practices in China. Pointing to a 1974 law that restricts trade with countries who enslave their workers, the labor giant tried to have restrictions placed on Chinese imports. They received a rebuff by the USTR. The USTR's spokesman, Sean Spicer, was forced to admit the existence of "serious concerns with labor rights and working conditions in China," but he refused to initiate any action.
A "Background" paper issued by USTR claims that "data compiled by China's National Bureau of Statistics suggests that real wages, adjusted for inflation, rose 10-11 percent per year between 1996 and 2004." But the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that manufacturing workers in China receive the equivalent of 57 cents per hour. Manufacturing and Technology News calculated that increasing a wage of 57 cents per hour by 11 percent per year would take until 2037 to bring a Chinese laborer to the $16.08 U.S. pay level for manufacturing workers. By then, sad to say, there wouldn't be many manufacturing workers left in the United States. And the AFL-CIO even claims that China's 57-cent per hour wage rate is for urban workers only, not for the lower-paid migrant workers who comprise the vast majority of China's labor force.
In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) distributed deceptive indications that no real problem exists as to the loss of American jobs. Columnist Paul Craig Roberts noted that a July report from BLS listed 113,000 new jobs. The administration exulted over the new jobs. But, wrote Roberts, "all are in services" such as waitresses, bartenders, educators, health workers, and business service personnel. During the same month, manufacturing lost 15,000 jobs.
[Read entire article:]
China Says Abusive Child Labor Ring Is ExposedBy David Barboza
Published: May 1, 2008
SHANGHAI — China said Wednesday that it had broken up a child labor ring that forced children from poor, inland areas to work in booming coastal cities, acknowledging that severe labor abuses extended into the heart of its export economy.
Authorities in southern China’s Guangdong Province, near Hong Kong, said they had made several arrests and had already “rescued” more than 100 children from factories in the city of Dongguan, one of the country’s largest manufacturing centers for electronics and consumer goods sold around the world. The officials said they were investigating reports that hundreds of other rural children had been lured or forced into captive, almost slavelike conditions for minimal pay.
The children, mostly between the ages of 13 and 15, were often tricked or kidnapped by employment agencies in an impoverished part of western Sichuan Province called Liangshan and then sent to factory towns in Guangdong, where they were sometimes forced to work 300 hours a month, according to government officials and accounts from the state-owned media. The legal working age in China is 16.
The labor scandal is the latest embarrassment for China as it prepares to host the Olympic Games this summer. For much of the past year, the country has been plagued by damaging reports about severe pollution, dangerous exports, riots in Tibet and the ensuing disruptions to its Olympic torch relay by Tibet’s sympathizers, among other groups.
The abuses may also reflect the combined pressures of worker shortages, high inflation and a rising currency that have reduced profit margins of some Chinese factories and forced them to scramble for an edge — even an illegal one — to stay competitive.
The child labor ring, which was first uncovered by Southern Metropolis, a crusading newspaper based in Guangzhou, came less than a year after China was rocked by exposure of a similar problem in a less developed part of central China. Last June, labor officials in Shanxi and Henan Provinces said they had rescued hundreds of people, including children, from slave labor conditions in rural brick kilns. Many of those workers said they had been kidnapped.
The earlier case, which local officials initially sought to keep quiet, set off a national uproar in China and prompted a sharp response from President Hu Jintao, who vowed a broad crackdown on labor abuses. Local officials in Guangdong may have moved quickly to acknowledge the latest incident to keep it from becoming a running scandal as the Olympics approach.
[Read entire article:]
Hong Kong Reports Mainland Chinese Eating Infants The Next MagazineMar 29, 2007
You have to be kidding right? Unfortunately this is really happening!
The Next Magazine, a weekly publication from Hong Kong, reported that infant corpses and fetuses have become the newest supplements for health and beauty in China. Not only is the placenta considered a beauty remedy, but also aborted fetuses are much sought after delicacies. In Guangdong, gourmet body parts are in high demand and can even be purchased through hospitals. The magazine's investigations into this form of cannibalism took them to Liaoning province.
According to The Next Magazine, during a banquet hosted by a Taiwanese businessman, a servant Ms Liu from Liaoning province on the mainland inadvertently revealed the habit of eating infants/fetuses in Liaoning province and her intention to return for the supplement due to health concerns. The Taiwanese women present were horrified.
Ms Liu also disclosed that even though people can afford the human parts there are still waiting lists and those with the right connections get the "highest quality" human parts, which translates to the more mature fetuses. A male fetus is considered the "prime" human part.
At the The Next Magazine's request, Ms Liu personally escorted the reporter to a location where a fetus was being prepared. The reporter observed a woman chopping up a male fetus and making soup from the placenta. During the process, the woman even tried to comfort everyone by saying, "Don't be afraid, this is just the flesh of a higher animal."
The boy's remains were cremated in the mountains in accordance with the customs of the region.
In fact, in China, reports about meals made from infant flesh have surfaced from time to time. A video is on the Internet for people to view. In the introduction, the Chinese claim that eating a human fetus is an art form.
On March 22, 2003, police in Bingyan, Guangxi Province seized 28 female babies smuggled in a truck from Yulin, Guangxi Province going to Houzhou in Anhui Province. The oldest baby was only three months old. The babies were packed three or four to a bag and many of them were near death�none were claimed by their parents.
On the morning of October 9, 2004, a person rifling through the garbage on the outskirts of Jiuquan city in the Suzhou region, found dismembered babies in a dumpster. There were two heads, two torsos, four arms, and six legs. According to the investigation, these corpses were no more than a week old and they had been dismembered after cooking.
Although China has laws that prohibit the eating of human fetus, the regime's forced abortions to ensure the one child policy is strictly adhered to thereby creating many opportunities for these sorts of atrocities to occur.
What would make people do such a thing without any fear of condemnation? Since Mao's Cultural Revolution, a complete lack of morality and respect for human life has become the norm in China. Over time, domination by the Chinese Communist regime has led to inhuman behavior and human rights violations resulting in abnormal practices such as cannibalism.
Chinese Rights Lawyer Suffers Unimaginable TortureBy Stephen Jones, Epoch Times Staff
A much-loved Chinese human rights lawyer has been subject to forms of torture “beyond anyone’s imagination”, a high-level government source has disclosed.
Gao Zhisheng was arrested in November last year and tortured for nearly two months before being released into house arrest. Now in a taped interview, a senior Chinese government whistleblower has revealed the extent of the torture and humiliation the lawyer suffered. In one case he was stripped and beaten with electric batons and when he lost consciousness prison guards urinated on his head. His family, in particular his young children are also believed to have suffered forms of torture. The revelations are all the more poignant given that he disappeared from house arrest on August 7, the eve of the Olympics and his whereabouts are currently unknown. Vice president of the European Parliament Edward McMillan-Scott recently wrote to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, urging him to try to get guarantees of Mr. Gao’s safety when he met with Communist Party bosses at the Olympics. “Gao Zhisheng is known as the conscience of China, as Russian dissidents were in the Soviet era,” McMillan Scott said. “The difference between the Soviet Union and China today is the ‘widespread’ use of torture in China’s gulag, according to the UN’s rapporteur on torture, Dr Manfred Novak. “These are believed to hold up to seven million Chinese and I have met many survivors of torture for their religious beliefs.” Mr. Gao was once among China’s top-ten lawyers and defended the rights of house-church members, coal miners, petitioners, home-demolition victims, and Falun Gong adherents. In 2006 he penned several letters to the Communist Party leadership calling for an end to the persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual group, which was outlawed in 1999 after the regime grew paranoid over its popularity. His arrest came after he wrote to Mr. McMillan-Scott and US Congress raising concerns about growing human rights violations in the run-up to the Olympics. A well-placed Chinese government source told The Epoch Times’ sister station Sound of Hope radio that he was tortured in the same way as Falun Gong practitioners were. In a taped telephone interview the source said that the purpose of the tortures were to make him wish he was dead and break his spirit. He was held in a re-education camp rather than sent to prison.
“The tortures are beyond anyone’s imagination,” the source said.
“Gao is well known in the West, a highly admired person, and if anything else happens to him I think that it will contribute significantly to establishing the 2008 Games in the minds of people as being the second Berlin Games of 1936,” said David Kilgour, former Canadian Secretary of State. “It’s utterly indefensible what they’re doing. It just makes the point that it’s a totalitarian government rather than an authoritarian government and that human life—unless you’re one of the party apparatchiks—means as much to the Party state in China as does a cigarette ash,” said Kilgour.
Kilgour added, "We have a report that he is being tortured in Beijing. David Matas and I nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. He is one the bravest human beings on this earth and he is being tortured, I gather, right now."
Chinese Prison Covers up Death Caused by Torture
The Epoch Times, Nov 27, 2008
During the Beijing Olympics, Shoujun Zheng, a Falun Dafa practitioner from Liaozhong County of Liaoning Province, was found dead at the Liaoning Prison General Hospital on August 19. Officials at the hospital described the death as having occurred due to “natural causes.” After Zheng’s family questioned hospital officials regarding the “natural causes” surrounding his death, hospital staff at the prison injected medicines into his body in an effort to create the false impression that they had tried to save his life. According to, 44-year-old Shoujun Zheng was a Falun Dafa practitioner. He was arrested on February 26, 2006, by the Panjiabao police as he was distributing pamphlets describing the principles of Falun Dafa and why the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) persecutes Falun Dafa practitioners. Several months later, he was secretly sentenced to four years at Liaozhong Detention Center by the Liaozhong County Court. The police did not notify Zheng’s family of his arrest and/or sentence. His wife had to use her own limited connections to find out where he was being detained by the police. Except for having loss a lot of weight, Zheng was found to be in a very good state of mind when his wife and daughter visited him in June 2008. They were refused permission to see him afterwards, due to a new policy that prohibited all visits to prisoners during the Beijing Olympic Games. His family had never imagined that their visit in June would be the last time they would see Zheng alive.
His Family’s Grief
Unexpectedly, Zheng’s family received a phone call from the Dongling Prison in Shengyang City around 8:00 a.m. on August 19, saying that Zheng had been transferred to Dongling Prison on August 6 and was now very ill.
When his family arrived at the Liaoning Prison General Hospital they immediately requested to visit with him. Their requests were denied because of the new policy that prohibits visits to prisoners during the Beijing Olympics. Twelve hours later, his family received a phone call from the Dongling Prison and was informed that Zheng had been found dead by other prisoners and all rescue measures by prison authorities had failed to revive him.
Police Had Nothing to ExplainZheng’s family rushed to the hospital the very next morning. His daughter could not even recognize her father’s body, which was almost naked except for a pair of shorts. The swollen and misshapen head, bruised face, enlarged abdomen, and clenched hands all indicated that Zheng did not die due to natural causes. There was no sign that prison authorities had made any attempt to save his life.
Zheng’s daughter had asked the police, “You said my dad died of natural causes, and that you had tried to save his life. How come there are no intravenous needle marks on his body or any other signs of treatment?” The police had nothing to say to her. Zheng’s family also asked the police, “You told us Zheng had cirrhosis of the liver. How could a person die of cirrhosis within 12 hours? Why didn’t you notify us of his illness in advance? Why didn’t you find the problem during his initial medical examination when he was first sent to prison?” Again, they received no reply from the police.
Giving Injection to a Dead Body
Because the prison hospital has only limited space in the morgue, Dongling Prison told Zheng's family that they would have to transfer Zheng's body to the Wenguantun Crematorium's morgue. When his family recovered Zheng’s body from the hospital in the afternoon, they were shocked to see that the body was different from the one they had seen only several hours ago. The once naked upper body was now covered with an old gray vest and his right arm had a bandage on it underneath which they found the entry point of an intravenous needle.
Zheng's brother got angry and told the police, "How could you do such a thing as to give shot to a dead body?"All of the police at the scene appeared to have known nothing and did not respond.
China Enacting a High-Tech Plan to Track People
By Keith Bradsher August 12, 2007
SHENZHEN, China, Aug. 9 — At least 20,000 police surveillance cameras are being installed along streets here in southern China and will soon be guided by sophisticated computer software from an American-financed company to recognize automatically the faces of police suspects and detect unusual activity.Starting this month in a port neighborhood and then spreading across Shenzhen, a city of 12.4 million people, residency cards fitted with powerful computer chips programmed by the same company will be issued to most citizens.
Data on the chip will include not just the citizen’s name and address but also work history, educational background, religion, ethnicity, police record, medical insurance status and landlord’s phone number. Even personal reproductive history will be included, for enforcement of China’s controversial “one child” policy. Plans are being studied to add credit histories, subway travel payments and small purchases charged to the card.
Security experts describe China’s plans as the world’s largest effort to meld cutting-edge computer technology with police work to track the activities of a population and fight crime. But they say the technology can be used to violate civil rights.
The Chinese government has ordered all large cities to apply technology to police work and to issue high-tech residency cards to 150 million people who have moved to a city but not yet acquired permanent residency.
Both steps are officially aimed at fighting crime and developing better controls on an increasingly mobile population, including the nearly 10 million peasants who move to big cities each year. But they could also help the Communist Party retain power by maintaining tight controls on an increasingly prosperous population at a time when street protests are becoming more common.
“If they do not get the permanent card, they cannot live here, they cannot get government benefits, and that is a way for the government to control the population in the future,” said Michael Lin, the vice president for investor relations at China Public Security Technology, the company providing the technology.
Incorporated in Florida, China Public Security has raised much of the money to develop its technology from two investment funds in Plano, Tex., Pinnacle Fund and Pinnacle China Fund. Three investment banks — Roth Capital Partners in Newport Beach, Calif.; Oppenheimer & Company in New York; and First Asia Finance Group of Hong Kong — helped raise the money.
Shenzhen, a computer manufacturing center next to Hong Kong, is the first Chinese city to introduce the new residency cards. It is also taking the lead in China in the large-scale use of law enforcement surveillance cameras — a tactic that would have drawn international criticism in the years after the Tiananmen Square killings in 1989.
But rising fears of terrorism have lessened public hostility to surveillance cameras in the West. This has been particularly true in Britain, where the police already install the cameras widely on lamp poles and in subway stations and are developing face recognition software as well.
New York police announced last month that they would install more than 100 security cameras to monitor license plates in Lower Manhattan by the end of the year. Police officials also said they hoped to obtain financing to establish links to 3,000 public and private cameras in the area by the end of next year; no decision has been made on whether face recognition technology has become reliable enough to use without the risk of false arrests.
Shenzhen already has 180,000 indoor and outdoor closed-circuit television cameras owned by businesses and government agencies, and the police will have the right to link them on request into the same system as the 20,000 police cameras, according to China Public Security.
Some civil rights activists contend that the cameras in China and Britain are a violation of the right of privacy contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Large-scale surveillance in China is more threatening than surveillance in Britain, they said when told of Shenzhen’s plans.
“I don’t think they are remotely comparable, and even in Britain it’s quite controversial,” said Dinah PoKempner, the general counsel of Human Rights Watch in New York. China has fewer limits on police power, fewer restrictions on how government agencies use the information they gather and fewer legal protections for those suspected of crime, she noted. [Read full article at:]
China's All-Seeing Eye: A Nation Under Surveillance

With the help of U.S. defense contractors, China is building the prototype for a high-tech police state. It is ready for export.Naomi Klein, Posted May 29, 2008 3:24 PM
Many of the big American players have set up shop in Shenzhen, but they look singularly unimpressive next to their Chinese competitors. The research complex for China's telecom giant Huawei, for instance, is so large that it has its own highway exit, while its workers ride home on their own bus line. Pressed up against Shenzhen's disco shopping centers, Wal-Mart superstores — of which there are nine in the city — look like dreary corner stores. (China almost seems to be mocking us: "You call that a superstore?") McDonald's and KFC appear every few blocks, but they seem almost retro next to the Real Kung Fu fast-food chain, whose mascot is a stylized Bruce Lee.
Thirty years ago, the city of Shenzhen didn't exist. Back in those days, it was a string of small fishing villages and collectively run rice paddies, a place of rutted dirt roads and traditional temples. That was before the Communist Party chose it — thanks to its location close to Hong Kong's port — to be China's first "special economic zone," one of only four areas where capitalism would be permitted on a trial basis. The theory behind the experiment was that the "real" China would keep its socialist soul intact while profiting from the private-sector jobs and industrial development created in Shenzhen. The result was a city of pure commerce, undiluted by history or rooted culture — the crack cocaine of capitalism. It was a force so addictive to investors that the Shenzhen experiment quickly expanded, swallowing not just the surrounding Pearl River Delta, which now houses roughly 100,000 factories, but much of the rest of the country as well. Today, Shenzhen is a city of 12.4 million people, and there is a good chance that at least half of everything you own was made here: iPods, laptops, sneakers, flatscreen TVs, cellphones, jeans, maybe your desk chair, possibly your car and almost certainly your printer. Hundreds of luxury condominiums tower over the city; many are more than 40 stories high, topped with three-story penthouses. Newer neighborhoods like Keji Yuan are packed with ostentatiously modern corporate campuses and decadent shopping malls. Rem Koolhaas, Prada's favorite architect, is building a stock exchange in Shenzhen that looks like it floats — a design intended, he says, to "suggest and illustrate the process of the market." A still-under-construction superlight subway will soon connect it all at high speed; every car has multiple TV screens broadcasting over a Wi-Fi network. At night, the entire city lights up like a pimped-out Hummer, with each five-star hotel and office tower competing over who can put on the best light show.

American commentators like CNN's Jack Cafferty dismiss the Chinese as "the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years." But nobody told the people of Shenzhen, who are busily putting on a 24-hour-a-day show called "America" — a pirated version of the original, only with flashier design, higher profits and less complaining. This has not happened by accident. China today, epitomized by Shenzhen's transition from mud to megacity in 30 years, represents a new way to organize society. Sometimes called "market Stalinism," it is a potent hybrid of the most powerful political tools of authoritarian communism — central planning, merciless repression, constant surveillance — harnessed to advance the goals of global capitalism.

[Photo: Shenzhen, China]
Now, as China prepares to showcase its economic advances during the upcoming Olympics in Beijing, Shenzhen is once again serving as a laboratory, a testing ground for the next phase of this vast social experiment. Over the past two years, some 200,000 surveillance cameras have been installed throughout the city. Many are in public spaces, disguised as lampposts. The closed-circuit TV cameras will soon be connected to a single, nationwide network, an all-seeing system that will be capable of tracking and identifying anyone who comes within its range — a project driven in part by U.S. technology and investment. Over the next three years, Chinese security executives predict they will install as many as 2 million CCTVs in Shenzhen, which would make it the most watched city in the world. (Security-crazy London boasts only half a million surveillance cameras.)
The security cameras are just one part of a much broader high-tech surveillance and censorship program known in China as "Golden Shield." The end goal is to use the latest people-tracking technology — thoughtfully supplied by American giants like IBM, Honeywell and General Electric — to create an airtight consumer cocoon: a place where Visa cards, Adidas sneakers, China Mobile cellphones, McDonald's Happy Meals, Tsingtao beer and UPS delivery (to name just a few of the official sponsors of the Beijing Olympics) can be enjoyed under the unblinking eye of the state, without the threat of democracy breaking out. With political unrest on the rise across China, the government hopes to use the surveillance shield to identify and counteract dissent before it explodes into a mass movement like the one that grabbed the world's attention at Tiananmen Square.
Remember how we've always been told that free markets and free people go hand in hand? That was a lie. It turns out that the most efficient delivery system for capitalism is actually a communist-style police state, fortressed with American "homeland security" technologies, pumped up with "war on terror" rhetoric. And the global corporations currently earning superprofits from this social experiment are unlikely to be content if the lucrative new market remains confined to cities such as Shenzhen. Like everything else assembled in China with American parts, Police State 2.0 is ready for export to a neighborhood near you.
Zhang Yi points to an empty bracket on the dashboard of his black Honda. "It used to hold my GPS, but I leave it at home now," he says. "It's the crime — they are too easy to steal." He quickly adds, "Since the surveillance cameras came in, we have seen a very dramatic decrease in crime in Shenzhen."
After driving for an hour past hundreds of factory gates and industrial parks, we pull up to a salmon-color building that Zhang partly owns. This is the headquarters of FSAN: CCTV System. Zhang, a prototypical Shenzhen yuppie in a royal-blue button-down shirt and black-rimmed glasses, apologizes for the mess. Inside, every inch of space is lined with cardboard boxes filled with electronics parts and finished products.
Zhang opened the factory two and a half years ago, and his investment has already paid off tenfold. That kind of growth isn't unusual in the field he has chosen: Zhang's factory makes digital surveillance cameras, turning out 400,000 a year. Half of the cameras are shipped overseas, destined to peer from building ledges in London, Manhattan and Dubai as part of the global boom in "homeland security." The other half stays in China, many right here in Shenzhen and in neighboring Guangzhou, another megacity of 12 million people. China's market for surveillance cameras enjoyed revenues of $4.1 billion last year, a jump of 24 percent from 2006.
Zhang escorts me to the assembly line, where rows of young workers, most of them women, are bent over semiconductors, circuit boards, tiny cables and bulbs. At the end of each line is "quality control," which consists of plugging the camera into a monitor and making sure that it records. We enter a showroom where Zhang and his colleagues meet with clients. The walls are lined with dozens of camera models: domes of all sizes, specializing in day and night, wet and dry, camouflaged to look like lights, camouflaged to look like smoke detectors, explosion-proof, the size of a soccer ball, the size of a ring box.
The workers at FSAN don't just make surveillance cameras; they are constantly watched by them. While they work, the silent eyes of rotating lenses capture their every move. When they leave work and board buses, they are filmed again. When they walk to their dormitories, the streets are lined with what look like newly installed streetlamps, their white poles curving toward the sidewalk with black domes at the ends. Inside the domes are high-resolution cameras, the same kind the workers produce at FSAN. Some blocks have three or four, one every few yards. One Shenzhen-based company, China Security & Surveillance Technology, has developed software to enable the cameras to alert police when an unusual number of people begin to gather at any given location.
In 2006, the Chinese government mandated that all Internet cafes (as well as restaurants and other "entertainment" venues) install video cameras with direct feeds to their local police stations. Part of a wider surveillance project known as "Safe Cities," the effort now encompasses 660 municipalities in China. It is the most ambitious new government program in the Pearl River Delta, and supplying it is one of the fastest-growing new markets in Shenzhen.
But the cameras that Zhang manufactures are only part of the massive experiment in population control that is under way here. "The big picture," Zhang tells me in his office at the factory, "is integration." That means linking cameras with other forms of surveillance: the Internet, phones, facial-recognition software and GPS monitoring.
This is how this Golden Shield will work: Chinese citizens will be watched around the clock through networked CCTV cameras and remote monitoring of computers. They will be listened to on their phone calls, monitored by digital voice-recognition technologies. Their Internet access will be aggressively limited through the country's notorious system of online controls known as the "Great Firewall." Their movements will be tracked through national ID cards with scannable computer chips and photos that are instantly uploaded to police databases and linked to their holder's personal data. This is the most important element of all: linking all these tools together in a massive, searchable database of names, photos, residency information, work history and biometric data. When Golden Shield is finished, there will be a photo in those databases for every person in China: 1.3 billion faces. [Read full article at:]
Two elderly Chinese women who sought to protest during Olympics ordered to labor camp
By Audra Ang The Associated Press
BEIJING — Two elderly Chinese women who applied to hold a protest during the Olympics were ordered to spend a year in a labor camp, a relative said Wednesday.
The women were still at home three days after being officially notified that they would have to serve a yearlong term of re-education through labor, but were under surveillance by a government-backed neighborhood group, said Li Xuehui, the son of one of the women.
Li said no cause was given for the order to imprison his 79-year-old mother, Wu Dianyuan, and her neighbor Wang Xiuying, 77.
"Wang Xiuying is almost blind and disabled. What sort of reeducation through labor can she serve?" Li said. "But they can also be taken away at any time."
Beijing announced last month that it would allow protests in three parks far from the Olympic venues during the games but they had to be approved in advance. Of the some 77 applications lodged so far, none has been approved, and rights groups have called the zones a charade.
The elderly women, Wu and Wang, small and gray-haired, make unlikely activists. Wang, who used to sell ice cream, walks with a wooden cane, one hand holding onto Wu for support. But Li said they have been fighting since being kicked out of their Beijing homes in 2001 to make way for redevelopment.
They complained to district officials, then to city authorities, and finally demonstrated 16 times this year in two of Beijing’s most sensitive areas — Tiananmen Square and Zhongnanhai, the compound where China’s leaders live and work.
After Beijing announced the Olympic protest zones, Wu and Wang applied repeatedly for a permit but failed to get one.
The cases of Wu and Wang "show that while China has now proven it is able to host international events to perfection, it still has a long way to go before it respects even minimal international human rights standards," said Nicholas Bequelin of the New York-based Human Rights Watch.
"China is riding roughshod over its promises to allow lawful protests during the games," he said.
Foreigners Get Ten Days in Beijing Prison for Covering Pro-Tibet ProtestBy Jan Jekielek, Epoch Times Staff Aug 22, 2008
Five foreigners were sentenced to a “10-day administrative detention” on Tuesday after the group attempted to document a pro-Tibet protest in Beijing. Among the group were video bloggers Brian Conley and Jeff Rae, cited for their previous footage and photography of protests in Beijing which have been published on pro-Tibetan websites.
Students for a Free Tibet report that the group is being held with James Powderly, artist and co-founder of the Graffiti Research Lab who planned to debut a new protest technology. The L.A.S.E.R. Stencil technology is designed to put messages on buildings and walls using light.
“The heavy-handed treatment by police of anyone holding a camera to gather news during the Olympics is of great concern,” said the Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ)'s Asia program coordinator Bob Dietz in a press release. “Authorities in China must accept that the world wants to see documentation of incidents they would rather play down. Detentions and harassment are not the answer.”
According to CPJ, two Associated Press (AP) photographers were roughed up on Thursday, August 21, while covering a separate pro-Tibet protest in Beijing. The memory cards from their cameras were confiscated.
Eowyn Rieke, wife of the sentenced blogger Brian Conley, said in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer that they had suspected the Chinese Communist regime could lash out against any effort to let the world know about Tibet.
“We knew that the Chinese government is extremely repressive and that they might respond to any effort to get the word out about Tibet strongly," said Rieke, a doctor who is pregnant with her first child. "I have been stressed and worried, but overall, in the context of things, what he is experiencing is pretty minor compared to what many people have at the hands of the Chinese government."
On Thursday international media rights organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in a press release that they had received documents sent to Chinese police stations at the end of July about handling foreign media. "The rules for the foreign press adopted in January 2007 were simple and explicit - freedom of movement and freedom to interview," RSF said.
RSF said the documents, dated July 25, said police should investigate Chinese citizens who talk to the foreign press even while allowing these journalists the freedom to conduct interviews.
But there have been many incidents of direct interference in the work of foreign journalists. On August 13 Chinese police arrested and manhandled British reporter John Ray when he and his cameraman attempted to cover a pro-Tibet protest.
Police also destroyed the materials and equipment of a photographer for the London-based Guardian newspaper, while in Xinjiang AP photographers were forced to delete the photos they had taken.
One of the official documents, by the Criminal Affairs Bureau (CAB), analyzes three events involving pro-Tibet activists, Christians and a delinquent. Police are instructed to carry out a thorough investigation and avoid bad publicity. The CAB recommends arresting foreign demonstrators and deporting them as quickly as possible while doing everything to “de-politicize” the situation.
Another document says religious cases should be dealt with “as quickly as possible,” and police should “keep the crowd at a distance, devise all sorts of ploys to defuse the situation and immediately inform the Religious Affairs Department.”
Trouble for Chinese Who Speak to Foreign MediaBy James Burke Epoch Times Staff Aug 22, 2008
Beijing police have been ordered to investigate Chinese civilians who have been interviewed by western media during the Olympics, official documents reveal.
The claims have been made by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and are backed up by copies of the official directives published on the media watch-dog’s website.
RSF said that the instructions clearly told police to investigate Chinese people who talk to foreign media. Another directive, dated the day before the games began, gave clear directions to the police on how to quickly deal with any religious demonstrations.
"The recent arrests of Chinese who wanted to stage demonstrations or express themselves during the Olympic Games were examples of this desire on the part of the authorities to target their own citizens rather than the thousands of foreign journalists," said RSF via their website.
The Paris-based media group also said that the documents suggest that there could be reprisals against civilians who spoke to foreign press after journalists depart at the games’ conclusion.
One official document gives instructions for what to do if the interviewee “talks about subjects such as Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan and Falun Gong or criticises the Party or government but is not behaving outrageously”. The police are then required to "speak to the interviewee in accordance with Chinese legislation and to follow and monitor the journalist."
Reports have already been made of Chinese civilians being arrested for talking to foreign press about issues deemed sensitive by communist authorities.
RSF gave the example of two elderly Beijing women who were sentenced for one year to a re-education through labour camp on August 17 for seeking permission to demonstrate during the Games at one of the officially designated protest parks.
Another Beijing woman Zhang Wei was arrested on August 9 after complaining to Western media about how she lost her house due to Olympic developments.
RSF pointed out that the communist authorities’ campaign to intimidate local human rights activists prior to the Olympics meant many local calls for social, religious and political demands had been pre-empted. Over 40 Beijing activists, RSF notes, have been put either under house arrest, forced to leave Beijing or are in hiding.
Another point in the directive ordered Beijing police to deal with any protests or activities by religious groups or individuals as quick as possible.
The police were ordered to "keep the crowd at a distance, devise all sorts of ploys to defuse the situation and immediately inform the Religious Affairs Department."
Dave Lindorff: The Land of the Silent and the Home of the Fearful
Submitted by BuzzFlash on Thu, 08/28/2008 - 9:00am
What I find discouraging is the widespread acceptance, even on the left, of this effort to intimidate us, and the pervasive attitude of fear that has grown up around us. I spent a year and a half living in a truly fascistic society in China, where there are real, concrete threats to life and liberty faced by those who stand up and say what they are thinking, and yet sometimes I think that ordinary people I met in China were braver about stating their minds than many, or even most Americans are. I'm not talking here about saying things like that you think the Post Office is dysfunctional, or that you think federal bureaucrats are corrupt or that taxes are too high. I'm talking about questioning the system, or challenging the war, or protesting military spending. Chinese people would tell me all the time that the Chinese Communist Party was a corrupt gang of thugs or that you could not get justice in a Chinese court. Chinese people are closing down factories that short them on their pay. They have rallied in the thousands and burned down police stations when corrupt police have raped, killed, and then covered up the death of a young girl. They have marched in massive impromptu protests at the theft of their homes through eminent domain.
Call for More Doctors to Help End Organ Pillaging by Chinese Regime
Kilgour and Matas update Health Conference on China’s ‘Bloody Harvest’By Cindy ChanEpoch Times Ottawa Staff Oct 12, 2008
For over two years, David Matas and David Kilgour have travelled the world seeking support to end forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience in China.
The international human rights lawyer and former Canadian cabinet minister toured over 40 countries after releasing their 2006 report confirming large-scale organ seizures from Falun Gong practitioners since the communist regime banned the spiritual discipline in 1999.
Since 2001, the regime has killed thousands of imprisoned practitioners and sold their organs for large profits, often to “organ tourists” from wealthy countries, said Mr. Kilgour.
In January 2007 he and Mr. Matas published Bloody Harvest, an updated report documenting new evidence.
They have won support not only from parliamentarians and government bodies but also medical communities worldwide. Earlier this month they were in Kingston urging more doctors to help.
Speaking for the second year in a row at Queen’s University’s annual Health and Human Rights Conference, they outlined some notable successes so far.
Doctors’ Support in Canada and Worldwide
The most recent support came from the American Society of Nephrology (ASN), which published an article in the September edition of its clinical journal saying that “All countries should take steps to govern organ donation and transplantation, thereby ensuring patient safety and prohibiting unethical practices.”
That was the consensus of more than 150 representatives of scientific and medical bodies from 78 countries, government officials, social scientists, and ethicists, who met in Istanbul, Turkey from April 30 to May 2 this year.
At the Istanbul Summit, participants finalized a declaration opposing organ trafficking (illicit sale of human organs), transplant commercialism (treatment of organs as commodities), and transplant tourism (when organs given to foreign patients undermine a country’s ability to provide organs for its own population).
Mr. Kilgour also referred to an August 2008 Australian news article noting “useful pressure.” The article reported that Jeremy Chapman, the Australian president of The Transplantation Society (TTS), promised that his members would ask Chinese authorities for an explanation when a non-Chinese person travelled to China to acquire an organ.
The TTS convened the Istanbul Summit along with the International Society of Nephrology.
A July 2008 commentary in The Lancet, U.K.’s medical journal, said the Istanbul Declaration “will reinforce the resolve of governments and international organizations to develop laws and guidelines to bring an end to wrongful practices.”
However, “Still, more is needed from the transplant and medical communities,” it said, including professional societies, journals, drug companies, and funding agencies.
Prior to Istanbul, Israel’s legislature approved a new organ donation law in March 2008 stipulating that brokering sales of organs in Israel or overseas is a criminal offence.
To stop Mainland Chinese and Taiwanese doctors from brokering Taiwanese patients’ organ transplants in China, in October 2007 the Taiwanese government announced it will ban Chinese doctors engaged in this brokering from visiting Taiwan.
And the U.S. National Kidney Foundation issued a statement against transplant tourism in January 2007.
Canadian doctors and parliamentarians have also spoken up.
Last December in the House of Commons, Manitoba MP Steven Fletcher tabled a petition from doctors across Canada urging the federal government to issue travel advisories warning that “organ transplants in China are sourced almost entirely from non-consenting people, whether prisoners sentenced to death or Falun Gong practitioners.”
More recently, Ontario MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj introduced Bill C-500, a ground-breaking piece of legislation that would make it illegal for Canadians to get an organ transplant abroad if the organ was bought or taken from an unwilling victim.
Part of Wrzesnewskyj’s motivation for drafting the bill came from reading the Kilgour-Matas report, which found that Canadians are among the organ tourists who travel to China for transplants.
Mounting Evidence“David Matas and I have assembled more than 50 pieces of evidence over the past two years which indicate that our conclusions about ongoing organ-pillaging across China are valid,” said Mr. Kilgour.
In their travels, the pair has continued to receive additional evidence including “new examples of Falun Gong practitioners who in Chinese detention were systematically blood tested while their co-prisoners who were not practitioners were not blood tested,” said Mr. Matas.
Falun Gong practitioner He Lizhi also spoke at the conference. He was jailed for three and a half years in China and spoke of “forced heavy slave labour, electric shocks, [and] frequent deprivation of sleep and use of the toilet” in prison.
Most practitioners withheld their identities to protect relatives and friends from persecution under the regime’s policy of “guilt by association,” Mr. He said. They “were soon sent to unknown places”—officially “relocated.”
What happened to them remained a mystery to him until news about organ harvesting broke.
“They could have been killed by organ harvesting crime—the [greatest] evil ever on this planet,” he said.
The Kilgour-Matas report cites 41,500 unexplained organ transplants from 2000 to 2005—the six-year period since the persecution of Falun Gong began—that do not come from convicted executed prisoners, the brain-dead, or family donors.
While the Chinese regime continues denial, peer review has supported the conclusions of the Kilgour-Matas report.
University of Minnesota Associate Director of the Program in Human Rights and Medicine Kirk Allison, British transplant surgeon Tom Treasure, and Yale University thesis student Hao Wang “have all independently from us and each other confirmed the conclusions of the Report and supported its accuracy,” said Mr. Matas.
In 2008, United Nations Special Rapporteurs Manfred Nowak and Asma Jahangir reiterated their previous year’s request that China fully respond to the charges of organ harvesting.
Referring to China’s “toxic consumer practices” such as melamine-contaminated milk and toys made with lead paint, Mr. Kilgour had this advice for all importers from China: “don’t trust,” but “do much more rigorous inspections of made-in-China products in future.”
“The use of poisons in export products illustrates well the values of China’s party-state. If they could do that, it is not hard to believe that they use human bodies as bio mass for organ harvesting,” said Mr. Kilgour. Last UpdatedOct 13, 2008
Magazine Breaks News on Organ Harvesting in China
Weekly Standard cover story reports Chinese Christians also targeted
The Epoch Times, Nov 21, 2008
[...] In early 2006, the first charges of large-scale harvesting--surgical removal of organs while the prisoners were still alive, though of course the procedure killed them--of Falun Gong emerged from Northeast China. The charges set off a quiet storm in the human rights community. Yet the charge was not far-fetched.
Harry Wu, a Chinese dissident who established the Laogai Foundation, had already produced reams of evidence that the state, after executing criminals formally sentenced to death, was selling their kidneys, livers, corneas, and other body parts to Chinese and foreigners, anyone who could pay the price. The practice started in the mid-1980s. By the mid-1990s, with the use of anti-tissue-rejection drugs pioneered by China, the business had progressed. Mobile organ-harvesting vans run by the armed services were routinely parked just outside the killing grounds to ensure that the military hospitals got first pick. This wasn't top secret. I spoke with a former Chinese police officer, a simple man from the countryside, who said that, as a favor to a condemned man's friend, he had popped open the back of such a van and unzipped the body bag. The corpse's chest had been picked clean.
Taiwanese doctors who arranged for patients to receive transplants on the mainland claim that there was no oversight of the system, no central Chinese database of organs and medical histories of donors, no red tape to diminish medical profits. So the real question was, at $62,000 for a fresh kidney, why would Chinese hospitals waste any body they could get their hands on?
Yet what initially drew most fire from skeptics was the claim that organs were being harvested from people before they died. For all the Falun Gong theatrics, this claim was not so outlandish either. Any medical expert knows that a recipient is far less likely to reject a live organ; and any transplant dealer will confirm that buyers will pay more for one. Until recently, high volume Chinese transplant centers openly advertised the use of live donors on their websites.
It helps that brain death is not legally recognized in China; only when the heart stops beating is the patient actually considered dead. That means doctors can shoot a prisoner in the head, as it were, surgically, then remove the organs before the heart stops beating. Or they can administer anesthesia, remove the organs, and when the operation is nearing completion introduce a heart-stopping drug--the latest method. Either way, the prisoner has been executed, and harvesting is just fun along the way. In fact, according to doctors I have spoken to recently, all well versed in current mainland practices, live-organ harvesting of death-row prisoners in the course of execution is routine.
The real problem was that the charges came from Falun Gong--always the unplanned child of the dissident community. Unlike the Tiananmen student leaders and other Chinese prisoners of conscience who had settled into Western exile, Falun Gong marched to a distinctly Chinese drum. With its roots in a spiritual tradition from the Chinese heartland, Falun Gong would never have built a version of the Statue of Liberty and paraded it around for CNN. Indeed, to Western observers, Falun Gong public relations carried some of the uncouthness of Communist party culture: a perception that practitioners tended to exaggerate, to create torture tableaux straight out of a Cultural Revolution opera, to spout slogans rather than facts.
For various reasons, some valid, some shameful, the credibility of persecuted refugees has often been doubted in the West. In 1939, a British Foreign Office official, politely speaking for the majority, described the Jews as not, perhaps, entirely reliable witnesses. During the Great Leap Forward, emaciated refugees from the mainland poured into Hong Kong, yammering about deserted villages and cannibalism. Sober Western journalists ignored these accounts as subjective and biased.
The yammering of a spiritual revivalist apparently counts for even less than the testimony of a peasant or a Jew. Thus, when Falun Gong unveiled a doctor's wife who claimed that her husband, a surgeon, had removed thousands of corneas from practitioners in a Northeastern Chinese hospital named Sujiatun, the charge met with guarded skepticism from the dissident community and almost complete silence from the Western press (with the exception of this magazine and National Review).
As Falun Gong committees kicked into full investigative mode, the Canadian lawyers Kilgour and Matas compiled the accumulating evidence in their report. It included transcripts of recorded phone calls in which Chinese doctors confirmed that their organ donors were young, healthy, and practiced Falun Gong; written testimony from the mainland of practitioners' experiences in detention; an explosion in organ transplant activity coinciding with a rise in the Falun Gong incarceration rate, with international customers waiting as little as a week for a tissue match (in most countries, patients waited over a year). Finally, Kilgour and Matas compared the execution rate in China (essentially constant, according to Amnesty International) and the number of transplants. It left a discrepancy of 41,500 unexplained cases over a five-year span.
This report has never been refuted point by point, yet the vast majority of human rights activists have kept their distance. Since Falun Gong's claims were suspect, their allies' assertions were suspect. Transplant doctors who claimed to have Falun Gong organ donors in the basement? They were just saying what potential organ recipients wanted to hear. Written testimony from practitioners? They'd been prepped by activists. The rise in organ transplant activity? Maybe just better reporting. The discrepancy between executions and transplants? As a respected human rights scholar asked me, why did Kilgour and Matas use Amnesty International's estimate of the number of executions in China to suggest the execution rate had stayed constant for 10 years? Even Amnesty acknowledges their numbers might represent a gross understatement. There might be no discrepancy at all.
Finally, why had no real witness, a doctor or nurse who had actually operated on Falun Gong practitioners, come forward? Without such proof (although such an individual's credibility can always be savaged, even with supporting documents), human rights advocates argued there was no reason to take the story seriously. There certainly were not sufficient grounds for President Bush to mention organ harvesting in his human rights speech on the eve of the Beijing Olympics.
The critics had hinted at legitimate points of discussion. But so had the Chinese government: Fresh off the confession in 2005 that organs were being harvested from ordinary death-row prisoners, and after issuing their predictable denials of harvesting organs from Falun Gong, Beijing suddenly passed a law in July 2006 forbidding the sale of organs without the consent of the donor.
Three things happened. The organ supply tightened. Prices doubled. And transplants continued. So unless there has been a dramatic cultural shift since 2004, when a Chinese report found that only 1.5 percent of transplanted kidneys were donated by relatives, the organs being sold must still come from somewhere. Let's assume it's prisoners--that's what Taiwanese doctors think--and theorize that the new law was a signal: Get your consent forms and stop harvesting from Falun Gong. For now.
And the critics had one thing exactly right: Precision is an illusion. No taped conversation with a mainland doctor is unimpeachable. All witnesses from China have mixed motives, always. And, again, no numbers from China, even the one in the last paragraph, can be considered definitive. [Read entire article at:]
Massive riot in northwestern China
Does Economic Meltdown Threaten Chinese Regime?
Can the Chinese market save us? Can the Chinese government dominate us? We trim and blend two 2008 articles, on from the Los Angeles Times of Nov 18 on rioting and the other from Newsmax, apologists for the elite, of Nov 23, a summary of recent events.
By John M. Glionna and by sources for Newsmax
Massive riot in northwestern China
A crowd of 2,000, many of whom had come to petition government officials over the loss of their homes and land, rioted in northwest China's Gansu province, torching cars and attacking a local Communist Party office, injuring 60 officials.
At one point, rioters met a surging wall of armed police officers with a hail of rocks, bricks, bottles, and flowerpots. The crowd later confronted police with iron bars, axes, and hoes as they tried to hijack a fire truck and smashed windows and office equipment in two government buildings.
The violence, one of the most marked instances of social unrest to grip China in recent months, was sparked by government plans to relocate the city of Longnan's administrative center after May's devastating earthquake, according to the Xinhua news agency.
State-run press has reported on numerous pickets and demonstrations that have broken out across China in recent weeks, including a two-day strike by disgruntled taxi drivers in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing.
Earlier this month, a crowd of 400 in the southern boomtown of Zhenzhen threw stones and set fire to a police car after officers tried to stop a motorcyclist at a checkpoint. The cyclist fled and was killed when he hit a lamppost.
In June, 30,000 people demonstrated in the southwestern province of Guizhou, setting fire to cars and the local Communist Party building following rumors that officials had tried to cover up the death of a teenage girl.
Joshua Rosenzweig, a Hong Kong manager of research at the Dui Hua Foundation, a human rights group, said "I don't think we're even close to seeing the real impact of the global financial crisis on Chinese society.”
Chinese economists say that rising wages throughout China have led many laborers to expect better working conditions and residents to demand more accountable government.
Hu Xingdou of Beijing Institute of Technology said, "There is no channel to allow people to express their will. They lack the right to speak, the right to organize and unionize to represent their interest, therefore they can only use an irrational way by demonstrating or rioting to solve problems."
Government officials have recently began to forego a decades-old policy of swift repression to meet public demonstrations. Following a two-day strike, Chongqing taxi drivers were able to air their grievances in a three-hour meeting with government officials that was available online across China.
And officials in Zhenzhen moved quickly to counteract claims of police violence following the motorcyclist's death -- promising compensation of nearly $30,000 to the victim's family.
Rosenzweig said, "Fewer labor leaders have been detained and prosecuted for criminal offenses. There's much more emphasis on trying to mediate disputes."
Economic Meltdown Could Threaten Chinese Regime
After years of stupendous economic growth, China is suffering a downturn that has sparked widespread labor protests and could ultimately threaten the Chinese regime.
Some 10,000 factories have closed in the Pearl River Delta, a manufacturing center in southern China, and angry workers -- many owed back pay -- have taken to the streets in protest. In one incident, around 300 suppliers and creditors attacked a factory whose owners had vanished.
Writing in The New Republic, Joshua Kurlantzick observes, “For years, the Beijing regime has stayed in power using a basic bargain with its citizens -- tolerate our authoritarian rule and we’ll make you rich. And for years, this seemed to work … But as the financial crisis shows, and if Beijing breaks its end of the deal, its people may well break theirs.”
The Chinese government announced a $586 billion economic stimulus package of spending, subsidies, looser credit policies, and tax cuts to try to overcome:
* Foreign orders for Chinese products are plummeting, and exports account for 40 percent of the country’s gross domestic product -- compared to 10 percent for the U.S. for most years.
* In addition to the 10,000 factories already shuttered in the Pearl River Delta, another 20,000 are likely to close by next summer, and worker demonstrations are spreading.
* In one main exporting city, Wenzhou, about 20 percent of the workforce has been idled.
* In the third quarter of 2008, China reported its fifth consecutive quarterly drop in growth, and a sharper slowdown is forecast for next year.
* The Shanghai stock market has dropped from 6,000 points to just over 1,800 in the past year, dwarfing the downturn in U.S. stocks.
* Chinese banks are said to be holding some $1 trillion in bad loans.
* The value of homes -- the only major asset held by many Chinese -- has dropped more than 50 percent in some cities within the past year.
With such problems, can China dominate the century?
Post-Olympics China Turns Its Back on Internet Censorship Promises
Jason Mick Daily Tech Friday, Dec 19, 2008
Just when you thought China had softened on web crack-downs, it returns to its old ways
China has not exactly been known for its great freedom of speech. Its citizens' internet access is tightly controlled by a vast firewall -- a digital Great Wall of sorts. Those that voice their dissent on the internet are swiftly arrested.
However, with its bid for the summer Olympics on the line, China made promises to the international community that it would change. After winning the right to host the Summer 2008 games, it indeed began to quietly unblock American websites, and make good on promises to allow its guest unrestricted access to the web.
With the glow of the Olympics fading, though, China has already begun to turn its back on its promises to support a free internet, slamming the door shut once again. Reporters in China have found that China has begun re-blocking foreign news websites, including the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) and Voice of America, along with the Hong Kong-based media Ming Pao and Asiaweek. Reporters Without Borders slammed China's behavior in a statement, saying, "Right now, the authorities are gradually rolling back all the progress made in the run-up to this summer's Olympic games, when even foreign Web sites in Mandarin were made accessible. The pretense of liberalization is now over."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao defended his country's decision this week, saying that foreign news agencies have broken Chinese laws. Among their alleged offenses was calling Taiwan a nation, a crime in China. Taiwan separated from China and its sovereignty is not recognized, in fact China has at times threatened to use force to reclaim this state. Mr. Liu stated, "I hope that these Web sites exercise self-discipline and abide by the Chinese laws, in order to pave the way for better Internet cooperation." [Read entire article at:]
Beijing Arrests Acting Chairman of the China New Democracy Party
By Gu Qing’er and He Tong, Epoch Times Staff
Dec 24, 2008
The Nanjing Procuratorate issued an official arrest warrant for Guo Quan, a former associate professor at Nanjing Normal University and the acting chairman of the newly established China New Democracy Party. Police officers arrested Guo in Nanjing on November 13, 2008, accusing him of national subversion. His mother Gu Xiao received an official arrest warrant from the Procuratorate at 3:00 p.m. on December 19. Regime officials warned her not to post the information on ‘hostile’ websites, or visit Guo’s friends. Her home phone is often cut off or disconnected. She fears being under the regime’s surveillance.Ms. Gu stated, “(They) arrested my son and forbade us to visit him and hire a lawyer. Does that mean they are going to try him secretly? I am upset! My son was arrested for being a human rights activist; now who is going to protect his human rights? I love my son, so I hired a lawyer, but the regime would not let the lawyer accept the case. How could his only act, writing an open letter to Hu Jintao, be deemed subversion?”Guo’s wife Li Jin confirmed having received a call from the police department on the 19th, informing her of Guo’s official arrest. The authorities denied Guo’s family attorney’s request to visit him.Guo’s defense lawyer Guo Lianhui commented that Guo made his differing political views public, and the authorities mobilized the state machinery to suppress him. Nanjing Police Department agents sent Guo’s mother a letter on December 16 and denied her request to hire a lawyer because Guo’s case involved "state secrets."Attorney Guo Lianhui added, “My client published a series of articles called ‘Democratic Voice’ and pointed out that there is no democracy and observance of human rights in China. Now the police made up pretexts to stop lawyers from becoming involved in the case. This incident itself- how the officials deal with it- is undemocratic and violates human rights. Guo wrote 347 articles and offered constructive suggestions to the Chinese Communist Party. He should be rewarded and not suppressed.”
Parents of China Milk Scandal Victims DetainedReuters Jan 1, 2009
BEIJING—A group of parents whose children fell ill from drinking tainted Chinese milk have been detained by police apparently trying to block them from holding a news conference, one of the fathers said on Friday.
At least six children have died from kidney stones and more than 290,000 made ill from the melamine-contaminated milk, battering already dented faith in China-made products and prompting massive recalls around the world.
Tian Wenhua, 66-year-old former general manager of the now bankrupt Sanlu Group, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges of "producing and selling fake or substandard products". She is expected to be sentenced to life imprisonment, the Beijing News said.
One of the fathers, whose 13-month-old son suffers from severe kidney stones, said some parents, including himself, were taken to a labor camp on the outskirts of Beijing.
"We are under house arrest now, and they did not give us any reasons why they kept us here," the father told Reuters by phone.
Five parents had been detained, but the rest of the group held a news conference on Friday, calling attention to the plight of the children.
"The government said all the medical care is free, but when it comes to the local level, things change. I have already paid more than 50,000 yuan ($7,300) for the operation and cure," said the father, a migrant worker from Sichuan province.
Melamine, an industrial compound used in plastic and fertiliser, was added to milk to cheat protein tests.
Some 22 dairy firms, led by Sanlu, have apologised and asked forgiveness for the contamination.
"We are deeply sorry for the harm caused to the children and society," they said in a New Year text message to millions of phone subscribers.
"We sincerely apologise for that and we beg your forgiveness."
Cadre Convicted for Melamine Poisoning Now PromotedEpoch Times Staff
Apr 11, 2009
An article titled “Cadre 'Punished' for Melamine Powered Milk Incident Promoted to Other Government Posts” showed up on China’s Internet around April 8. Chinese Surfers were surprised to find two cadre, who were “severely punished,” now working at different posts with similar or even higher rank.The article was originally published in the Southern China Metropolitan. It reported that one of the two cadre is the former Deputy Director-General at the Department of Supervision on Food Production, Mr. Bao Junkai, who was punished with an administrative demerit this past March. However, Bao has been transferred to the position of Party Chief and President of the Anhui Provincial Entry-Exit Inspection & Quarantine Bureau at a half rank higher than his original post according to the regime's cadre ranking system.Another cadre, the former Director-General of the Hebei Provincial Agriculture Bureau, was also transferred and is now the Deputy Party chief in Xintai City, Hebei Province in November 2008. The Hebei Provincial Party Discipline Committee and Provincial Supervision Bureau jointly announced Liu's punishment of an administrative demerit this March. However, it seems this is just a cover-up, because Liu was also elected Mayor of Xintai City in January. In an apparent misstep, the regime's mouthpiece, Xinhua News Agency also reported this.Some surfers commented that the incident is nothing strange, because they have seen this all too often. However, those who cannot bear such news are particularly the victims of the melamine incident. The parent of a child victim told Radio Free Asia in a Chinese interview dated April 9 that such incidents cause him to loose hope in the communist regime's accountability system. This allowed him to see that the so-called punishment is merely a way to appease the public. In reality, not even Chinese criminals dare to touch high ranking cadre, this is an unwritten law.This parent also stated that the regime lied about the melamine victim compensation program. He thinks that orders from the regime’s top levels caused local regimes to pressure parents into accepting unfair compensation agreements from the government and that those who would not accept the compensation agreements were not paid. Within China, the official media claim that all victims were compensated.
Falun Gong Artist Sentenced to Five Years in Prison
By An NaEpoch Times Staff
Dec 30, 2008
Zhou Ning, an artist who provided free art classes for disabled children, was put in prison for five years when authorities discovered that he practiced Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese cultivation method based on the principles of "truthfulness, compassion and forbearance." His wife was denied rights to visit him. In 1997, Zhou Ning and his wife, Xiao Yixia, used their own savings to set up the Truth Art Studio in Jinan city to teach young deaf-mutes sculpture lessons free of charge. On the morning of September 12, 2007, Officer Guo Hongtao from the Jinan Public Security Bureau and officials from the city’s 610 office (a special agency specifically created to persecute Falun Gong practitionres) broke into Zhou’s home, kidnapped him, his wife, and their two-year-old son, plus two students, and four other Falun Gong practitioners who were visiting the couple.
Zhou Ning was taken to the local police station where he was handcuffed and had his legs locked to an iron chair. Officers repeatedly questioned Zhou and he was later transferred to Jining Medical College Hospital for force feeding.
A picture of Zhou Ning’s wooden artwork, which he would teach deaf-mute children to make. (The Epoch Times)
Xiao, Zhou’s wife said that during her first visit to the Tai’an prison she was denied a visit with her husband even though she brought her attorney. When she tried to visit the second time she brought along his father; Zhou’s father was allowed to meet his son, but Xiao was not. .During Zhou’s trial on July 14, 2008, defense lawyers Li Subin and Wen Haibo told the court that according to the Chinese Constitution, Zhou was innocent.
However, the court still found him guilty. His art studio was destroyed and his students were force to return home. Zhou’s house was confiscated, personal property seized, and his wife is now living with relatives.
Xiao has been appealing to the media in hopes of freeing her husband. “This persecution of Falun Gong in China has lasted nearly 10 years,” said Xiao. “This should not happen, because Falun Gong practitioners are good people. This persecution continues every day and good people are still being imprisoned.” Xiao says she hopes her appeals will help end the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners as soon as possible.
Suicide Now Major Cause of Death Among Rural Chinese Women
The Epoch Times
Jan 12, 2009
A new study in China shows that suicide has become the major cause of death among rural Chinese women.
According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), China’s official paper, the Beijing Daily, reported that findings showed that an average of 150,000 commit suicide and over one million attempt suicide each year in rural China. The information was released at a recent media seminar on suicide among rural Chinese women held at Tsinghua University. According to Professor Jing Jun from the Department of Sociology at Tsinghua University, in China, the suicide rate is three times higher in rural areas than in urban areas, and 25 percent higher for women than men. Suicide is actually the leading cause of death in the 15 to 34 year-old age group. The RFA report also stated that Xu Rong, Project Director of Beijing’s Rural Women’s Cultural Development Center, said that the actual number of suicides among rural Chinese women is higher than published. She believes the numbers that the experts are using actually came from 1999 statistics and that no similar investigations have been done nationwide since. She believes the suicide attempts among rural women to be approximately two million per year nationwide. She said that amidst constant financial difficulties, in a less than harmonious marriage, a tiny event may trigger conflicts and lead to suicide, as statistics show that 70 percent of suicides to be on impulse. She also said that, the male-dominated Chinese marriage system leaves rural women no room for appeal on a problem, especially since the “Reform and Opening Up” which took place in the 1980s and since collective production has been replaced by “individual family production.” Professor Jing Jun’s investigation among those who had attempted suicide concluded that most of the time the suicide was committed on a spontaneous impulse. This is much different from developed Western countries, where 90 percent of the suicides and suicide attempts are said to be made by people with “mental illness,” while that number in China is only 60 percent. According to the report, Ms. Liao Tianqi, vice publisher of the of the US-based China Information Center, said that social problems have increased the mental pressure on rural Chinese women. She said, “Statistics reveal the social background of this problem. In China, there is the one-child policy and family-planning policy. Human trafficking, which targets women and children, remains a constant social problem. In addition, rural Chinese women lack independence of personality and social status. All these contributed to their extremely intense mental pressure.” She believes that thorough research into the rural Chinese women’s suicide issue and adjusting policies and women’s work in the government and society are necessary steps in preventing more tragic suicides from occurring.
AP: Up to 100K Houses Built With Contaminated Drywall from ChinaBy Susie Madrak Sunday Apr 12, 2009 2:00pm can't be the only one who's avoiding just about anything made in China:
At the height of the U.S. housing boom, when building materials were in short supply, American construction companies used millions of pounds of Chinese-made drywall because it was abundant and cheap.
Now that decision is haunting hundreds of homeowners and apartment dwellers who are concerned that the wallboard gives off fumes that can corrode copper pipes, blacken jewelry and silverware, and possibly sicken people.
Shipping records reviewed by The Associated Press indicate that imports of potentially tainted Chinese building materials exceeded 500 million pounds during a four-year period of soaring home prices. The drywall may have been used in more than 100,000 homes, according to some estimates, including houses rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina.
“This is a traumatic problem of extraordinary proportions,” said U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, a Florida Democrat who introduced a bill in the House calling for a temporary ban on the Chinese-made imports until more is known about their chemical makeup. Similar legislation has been proposed in the Senate.
One of the ingredients they used was fly ash. You remember fly ash, don't you?
Neither the authority nor the E.P.A. has released the results of tests of soil or the ash itself. Authority officials have said that the ash is not harmful, and the authority has not warned residents of potential dangers, though federal studies show that coal ash can contain dangerous levels of heavy metals and carcinogens.
“You’re not going to be endangered by touching the ash material,” said Barbara Martocci, a spokeswoman for the T.V.A. “You’d have to eat it. You have to get it in your body.”
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation also released a statement saying there was no indication of risk unless the ash was ingested.
Personally, I think breathing in particulate matter counts as ingested. But that's just me! Oh, and look out for leather furniture, too.
New sofas to blame for rash of allergies
Kelly Burke, Consumer Affairs Reporter, April 12, 2009
AN unexplained rash could be a sign that your couch is making you sick.
A toxic fungicide in imported furniture is behind an outbreak of chronic dermatitis, skin burns, eye irritation and breathing difficulties across the world. Medical experts here are warning consumers to watch for symptoms.
The international journal Allergy has confirmed what thousands of British and mainland European citizens have known for more than a year: new leather sofas imported from China are a hotbed of allergens.
Dimethyl fumarate, in the form of a fine, white crystalline powder, was found in sachets embedded in the furniture sourced to China. It is believed the body heat generated from sitting on a contaminated couch causes a toxic vapour to seep out.
Rosemary Nixon, from Melbourne's Skin and Cancer Foundation, said although there have been no reported cases in Australia, people may not have made a link between a skin outbreak and their couch.
"The rashes can be quite severe, this chemical is a really strong allergen," Dr Nixon said.
"It can make the skin itchy enough to prevent sleep, and cortisone creams and sometimes even cortisone tablets are needed to calm it down."
About 200,000 of the suspect couches have been imported by 15 furniture retailers in Britain alone and compensation for victims, some of whom required hospital treatment, could be in the tens of millions of dollars.
The European Union and British governments ordered a recall of all products containing dimethyl fumarate late last month.
An Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority spokesman said dimethyl fumarate was not registered for use here but given the unusual situation of the chemical being secreted in sachets built into imported furniture, it was unclear which authority would be required to investigate if the problem were identified. People who believe they may have been affected should contact consumer affairs bodies such as the NSW Office of Fair Trading.
Another toxic rash-producing chemical came under the microscope in the US last week, as its authorities reconsider whether to compel dry cleaners to phase out the hazardous air pollutant perchloroethylene.
"Perc" is used by the majority of Australian dry cleaners, despite alternatives that are safer for machine operators, whose higher incidence of cancer and neurological damage has been linked to the chemical. Consumers may suffer skin irritations from wearing clothes treated with perc.
Jim Janakis, of Blue & White Dry Cleaners in Crows Nest, switched to a safer, hydrocarbon alternative but he said the cost of $60,000 for each machine probably put it out of reach for many suburban operators.
The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme said it reassessed perchloroethylene in 2001 and concluded the risks to workers and the public were low.
Another toxic rash-producing chemical came under the microscope in the US last week, as its authorities reconsider whether to compel dry cleaners to phase out the hazardous air pollutant perchloroethylene.
"Perc" is used by the majority of Australian dry cleaners, despite alternatives that are safer for machine operators, whose higher incidence of cancer and neurological damage has been linked to the chemical. Consumers may suffer skin irritations from wearing clothes treated with perc.
Jim Janakis, of Blue & White Dry Cleaners in Crows Nest, switched to a safer, hydrocarbon alternative but he said the cost of $60,000 for each machine probably put it out of reach for many suburban operators.
The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme said it reassessed perchloroethylene in 2001 and concluded the risks to workers and the public were low.