November Links

I have had a busy month with some travels around Japan, and managed to catch Sumo in Fukuoka (Hakuho lost, then went on to win on Sunday against fellow yokozuna from Mongolia Harumafuji).

Here are some links: 

Asia Times: China 'pivot' trips over McMahon Line
By Peter Lee

China is looking for a "Western" pivot to counter the United States' diplomatic and military inroads with its East Asian neighbors such as Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Myanmar.

For China's strategists, as an interesting analysis in the Indian Express tells us, the "Western" pivot means nurturing the PRC's continental Asian relationships with the interior stans and, across the Himalayas, India...

Link: Photos of the new Communist Chinese passports

NHK World: India responds to new Chinese passports

India has retaliated against China over a map and picture depicted in new Chinese passports. Indian media have reported that the map shows a disputed area near the Himalayan Mountains as part of Chinese territory. India also claims sovereignty over the region. Chinese passports revised in May of this year display the map along with pictures of sight seeing spots. In response, the Indian government has begun to issue visas to Chinese citizens at the Indian embassy in Beijing with a map showing the disputed area as part of India.

China and India fought a war in 1962 over sovereignty of the Himalayan region. The 2 sides have continued negotiations over border demarcations, but have not come to an agreement. The new Chinese passports have also drawn protests from the governments of the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan because they show disputed areas of the South China Sea as belonging to China...

Foreign Policy: Apocalypse Mao


The outline of China's looming environmental challenges may be familiar, but the details are so staggering that they bear recounting: The dark side of being the world's factory for three decades is a landscape of rivers, fields, and smoggy cities now so degraded that the World Bank estimates pollution damages annually siphon off 5.8 percent of China's GDP. The poor are disproportionately affected, and 242 million rural residents -- roughly the entire population of Indonesia -- lack access to clean drinking water. Cancer is the country's leading cause of mortality, implicated in nearly one in four deaths.

China's major cities remain cloaked in smog. And though environmental officials have successfully shuttered many polluting factories, the fast-multiplying number of vehicles in the world's top auto market poses another air-quality challenge. Likewise, the environmental ministry knows that dangerous levels of heavy-metal pollution contaminates a tenth of China's farmland (prolonged exposure causes organ and nerve-damage, among other problems), but cleaning up is another matter.
If only China had the luxury of just focusing on existing problems. But water scarcity -- China is home to a fifth of the world's population, but just 7 percent of available freshwater resources -- is likely to become more dire, as another 350 million people transition from rural areas to urban lifestyles, and bustling metropolises rise in the country's arid west...

The Japan Times: For energy security, Japan urged to diversify sources

Japan needs not only to maintain a diverse energy mix — including nuclear power — but also diversify the ways of securing imported fuel in the face of the changing global supply-demand structure, a former executive director of the International Energy Agency said at a recent seminar in Tokyo.

News photo
Robert Dujarric (left) from Temple University's Japan Campus, discusses Japan's energy diplomacy during an Oct. 30 seminar in Tokyo as his co-panelist Nobuo Tanaka from the Institute of Energy Economics listens. SATOKO KAWASAKI PHOTOS
The Democratic Party of Japan-led government's plan to seek a phaseout in nuclear power lacks the perspectives of energy security for the country and fails to address international concerns such as the possible impact of a Mideast turmoil on oil supply, or the effects of rapidly growing energy consumption in countries like China and India, said Nobuo Tanaka, currently an associate at the government-affiliated Institute of Energy Economics...


by Dennis Posadas

In Japan, a cap and trade scheme was dropped in 2010 after strong pressure from industry. In its place, the government is planning a carbon tax that will kick in starting April 2016. Already, opposition to this has gathered as well from business groups. A Reuters report quotes a researcher at the government backed think tank Institute of Energy Economics of Japan as saying that the carbon tax will cost Japan about 80 billion Yen annually starting 2016...

Japan has its own J-VER scheme launched by the Ministry of the Environment as a domestic voluntary carbon offset system...

If the Doha COP18 conference cannot muster enough support for a new or extended Kyoto treaty, countries can still move mitigation and adaptation by supporting tax credits for voluntary carbon emission offset purchases. The money that flows into the voluntary carbon markets can augment existing carbon tax, cap and trade and actual mitigation efforts in many parts of the world.

While it is important for all countries to sign a worldwide binding climate treaty, the experience from the past high profile Conference of Parties from Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban has not been promising. As for carbon tax and cap and trade, oppositors are trying to gather steam against both measures. Thus it wouldn’t hurt to pass tax credits for voluntary purchase of emissions credits as a “break the glass plan” so that countries around the world can have something tangible to support the pronouncement they make for climate change avoidance...

And finally, Why I'm Voting Green

By Chris Hedges

Voting for the “lesser evil”—or failing to vote at all—is part of the corporate agenda to crush what is left of our anemic democracy. And those who continue to participate in the vaudeville of a two-party process, who refuse to confront in every way possible the structures of corporate power, assure our mutual destruction.

All the major correctives to American democracy have come through movements and third parties that have operated outside the mainstream. Few achieved formal positions of power. These movements built enough momentum and popular support, always in the face of fierce opposition, to force the power elite to respond to their concerns. Such developments, along with the courage to defy the political charade in the voting booth, offer the only hope of saving us from Wall Street predators, the assault on the ecosystem by the fossil fuel industry, the rise of the security and surveillance state and the dramatic erosion of our civil liberties. 

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any,” Alice Walker writes.

It was the Liberty Party that first fought slavery. It was the Prohibition and Socialist parties, along with the Suffragists, that began the fight for the vote for women and made possible the 19th Amendment. It was the Socialist Party, along with radical labor unions, that first battled against child labor and made possible the 40-hour workweek. It was the organizing of the Populist Party that gave us the Immigration Act of 1924 along with a “progressive” tax system. And it was the Socialists who battled for unemployment benefits, leading the way to the Social Security Act of 1935. No one in the ruling elite, including Franklin Roosevelt, would have passed this legislation without pressure from the outside...


Bonus image from Kyodo: Noda, Obama meet

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda (L front) and U.S. President Barack Obama (R front) chat via interpreters ahead of the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Nov. 20, 2012. (Pool photo by Kyodo News)(Kyodo)...

Which reminded me of this old image... 

At the first US/Soviet summit of the Reagan / Gorbachev era, in Geneva in November, 1985 (and no, I can’t actually BELIEVE its 24 years) I was one of the stills guys present. We were few enough that you could put us on the head of large pin. Kennerly, Dirck, Diana Walker, Ficara, the usual run of magazine folks, and the wires. We were less than 15 from the US side, I believe. A large handful. On the Russian (oops, Soviet) side, there were a bunch of former rugby players with wide lapelled suits and Nikon’s with potato masher flash units...

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