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Last week Taiwan students occupied their legislature in protest over the ruling party's undemocratic railroading of a trade pact with China through a committee. The pact, deeply unpopular, is a follow-on to the previous ECFA pact which is not seen as a success by the public. Yesterday another group of students occupied the Executive offices before being evicted by police using water cannons and violence. The government made the usual claims that the protesters were being violent, refuted by the copious video and on-the-scene reporting by literally hundreds of people. Come below the curlicue and we'll explore this critical moment in the second Administration of President Ma Ying-jeou, whose popularity ratings were around 10% even before this event.....

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Map from Taipei Times.

China cranked up the pressure on Japan this week, promulgating a newly defined air defense zone that overlaps Japan's in the East China Sea. It includes the "disputed" Senkaku Islands of Japan. This new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) is yet another signal of how China is pushing the region towards war. Join me below the DKOS infinity sign for discussion of the situation...

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Diaoyu Ad
At this moment, for example, in 1984 (if it was 1984), Oceania was at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia. In no public or private utterance was it ever admitted that the three powers had at any time been grouped along different lines. Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened to possess because his memory was not satisfactorily under control. Officially the change of partners had never happened. Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia.

This ad and variants appeared in US newspapers this week. What is going on? It's quite simple: a case of naked expanionist aggression that began in the early 1970s and is starting to crescendo as China's leaders are now trapped in claims they cannot support and no longer wholly control. Come below the fold to for a post-mortem on the past and a pre-mortem on the future.....

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Probably most of you on social network sites have seen that truly stupid image that the explains the government budget "simplified."

Not simplified. Simpleminded.

Oh the stupid. It buuurrrrrnnnnnnss.

Anyway, I created an image over that one to fight the stupidity, just to inspire ya'll. Feel free to download, link, alter, send around.

updated balanced budget

Krugman adds details in the NYTimes a while back.

Click on the pic to be taken to its Flickr link.


Service and rescue ships for oil platforms in the South China Sea at anchor off Labuan Island, Malaysia, Jan, 2011

A few days ago limpidglass diaried on Michael Klare's piece over at TomDispatch entitled Playing with fire: Obama's Risky Oil Threat to China. Unfortunately, Klare's piece is a highly misleading ideological construct whose appeal to progressives critical of American's often heinous foreign policy relies Klare's willingness to withhold reality from the reader. Come below the fold and we'll have a look at what's really going on with Klare, oil, and Obama's alleged new Cold War in Asia....

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I don't buy into the idea that Obama is playing 11-dimensional chess while the rest of us are slogging around in 3-D. But in this case I think a lot of people have misunderstood the implications of the White House release of the Long Form. I think we should follow our disappointment to its logical conclusion....

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Last week I get an email from someone representing the county government of Pingtung in Taiwan, where I am a fairly well known blogger. Would I like to participate in a blogger activity -- travel in Pingtung County, stay there as a guest of the local government for 15 days, and blog on my experiences? For bucks? I couldn't say yes fast enough. Sounded like heaven. Read on for my first few days of adventuring in Pingtung county. (WARNING: Picture heavy. Give it some time to load up).
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This weekend my biking buddy Drew and I headed through the mountains of central Taiwan to enjoy the stunning beauty of the Alishan region, where tea farms and mountain peaks combine to truly transcendent riding. Come below the fold for more on biking in one of the most beautiful areas of one of the best places to ride in the world. WARNING: Photo intensive!

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After these things I saw, and behold, a door opened in heaven, and the first voice that I heard, a voice as of a trumpet speaking with me, one saying, Come up hither, and I will show thee the things which must come to pass hereafter.

"What is he? And what was on that data crystal he gave you?"
"Reflection. Surprise. Terror. For the future."

See that red box on the map? That's our generation's "damned foolish thing in the Balkans." Only this time it is called the Senkaku Islands, and it is where the future is being revealed even as we speak. Come below the fold to peer into the crystal ball...

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Another weekend, another awesome ride in southern Taiwan. I've been on the road working for the Taiwan government around the island and needed a vacation. What better spot than the playground of Taiwan, the beaches and hills of Kenting peninsula? Come below the fold for history, culture, kitsch, scenery -- a three day swirl of southern Taiwan.


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South China Sea
BBC map of competing claims in the South China Sea

Huge news in Asia this week as the China-US relationship received another jolt when Sec of State Clinton announced that the US would help mediate in the disputes over the islands in the South China Sea. This was a slap in the face to China, a reassuring support for the nations now confronting Chinese expansion around its borders, and a signal that US regional hegemony is not going to go gently. Come below the fold to see why the Obama Administration jumped into this mess.

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I was reading a piece at Alternet the other day that discussed a report from Brookings -- itself a center-right Establishment institution -- on the continuing influence of the neo-cons on Obama and on US foreign policy. It observed:

According to a May report (pdf) from the Brookings Institution, a Washington, DC think tank, neoconservatives associated with prominent figures like former Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol and pundit Richard Perle are still broadly active, despite policy failures associated with the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Why do neocons remain influential? Let's behold below the fold.....

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