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Things Are Good: The Aral Sea Rises Again

The Aral Sea was once one of the largest lakes in the world, but today all that remains is just two small lakes. Insanely bad environmental practices killed the lake which has had negative impacts on nature (obviously) and on humans who used to live on the shore. Since the sea was declared dead years […]

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Canadian Dimension: Corporate and military plunder in the Philippines

Photo by Keith Bacongco

For many in the Global North, certain countries only appear on our radar screens as discount winter vacation hotspots. Other times, when natural disaster strikes, these countries serve as empathy-building backdrops to raise millions for charities that, after skimming some off the top, may distribute some of the contributions for the clean-up effort.

One such country is the Philippines, which made Canadian news headlines this month because of a typhoon, and which may again generate some news coverage if Justin Trudeau decides to attend the Asia-Pacific economic summit next month. The Philippines might be mentioned in (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension: China: Reformers and Compradors

18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, November 2012 • Photo by 东方

China’s wealthiest classes have secured their recent fortunes through various means, both legal and illegal: These include (1) the privatization of public enterprises; (2) the savage exploitation of cheap labor after destroying workers rights, protections and social welfare legislation; (3) large-scale, long-term corruption of government officials; (4) the often violent state-sponsored land-grabs from towns, villages and farmers and the land transfer to private investors; (5) real estate speculation; (6) changes in state regulatory policies leading to oligopolistic control of markets; (7) large-scale tax evasion, money (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: Asia’s Dreadnoughts

Dreadnoughts.  The first modern battleship – big guns and steam turbine power. Prior to WWI these new super-warships triggered a major naval arms race between Britain and Germany.

Something similar is underway today across Asia and the South Pacific only this time its a naval arms race focused on submarine superiority.  We don’t hear much about it but just about every player from the Sea of Japan, the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean and the south/central Pacific is rapidly rearming with submarines.

Even the city state of Singapore has a fleet of six subs, some of which are soon (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: When the Shooting Starts, It’ll Probably be Here

Sure this is a bummer to start the new year but arms races are a major cause of war, often unintended and undesired.  It’s not just the country buying all the new hardware that starts this sort of war but also the country that fears it will be even more vulnerable in the years ahead so it might as well take its best shot now and hope for a favourable peace settlement.  That thinking, after all, was instrumental in Japan’s decision to attack US bases in WWII.

This same dynamic is in play now across Asia.  (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension: China’s Second ‘Cultural Revolution’

Photo by Daderot


China is in the midst of its second ‘cultural revolution’ in a half century. While the first (under Chairman Mao Tse Tung) was intended to ‘revitalize socialism’, the current is directed to ‘moralizing’ capitalism.

The first cultural revolution was a frontal attack on the hierarchy of power and privilege inside and outside of the Communist Party, launched from above by Mao Tse Tung, but taken up from below by Red Guards in order to bring about a more egalitarian society.

The current ‘cultural revolution’, launched by President Xi Jinping, is directed at ending widespread corruption, theft (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: The Tibetan Plateau – Asia’s Armageddon?

To Asia’s three nuclear powers, the Tibetan plateau represents life or death. China, India and Pakistan are all dependent on the headwaters of rivers that are fed by the glaciers in Tibet.  The geo-political enormity of these rivers drove China to invade and occupy Tibet in 1950.

What happens in the Himalayas powerfully impacts the security of these three Asian powers.  That’s why a new study on the state of the plateau is particularly worrisome.

The report from the Chinese Academy of Sciences concludes that the Tibetan plateau has experienced double the average level of global warming and that the (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension | Articles: A dangerous lurch to the extreme Right: India’s new Prime Minister

This piece was originally published on Dissident Voice and was republished here with permission.

The landslide election earlier this month of Narendra Modi does not bode well for the 800 million or so Indians living in destitution, or the 120 million minority Muslims in the country, or the Adivasi (indigenous) people and Dalit groups sitting on resource-rich land in Orissa, Jharkhand and elsewhere. He may well come from a humble background, but Mr. Modi’s loyalties lie firmly with the corporations of India, not the chai wallahs working the train station at Vadnagar in Gujarat State like his father once did. (Read more…)

The Wandering Joe: Crimea and Misdemeanours

Bad puns aside, the recent intrigue in Crimea has been responsible for more nonsensical political blustering than any single international incident in the past decade. It has been a curious exercise to sit back and watch everyone work themselves up and deliver half-baked analyses based on laughably outdated assumptions. Please note that all of my assumptions are fully baked.

Lest I sound arrogant, I’m not going to excoriate everyone who has commented on the new ‘Cold War’, nor should I. But I am going to address those people who are attempting to understand this as a Russia vs. the West (Read more…)

Bill Longstaff: U.S. feeds Japanese militarism

China, with its paltry aid to the Philippines and its announcement of a new air-defense zone over the East China sea, has not been making friends in its region these days. But the country to worry about in the Far East is not China. It is Japan.

Countries such as China and South Korea that have suffered the horrors of Japanese imperialism must feel chills up their spines as they take note of

Polygonic: Old Entish Soldier

Along the base of Emeishan in Sichuan Province, a network of forest trails connect temples, pavilions, and spots of tranquil contemplation (despite the heaving crowds!). This solitary figure continues to stand tall – though the tree has died, it’s a home to lots of other new life.

The Canadian Progressive: Human Rights Watch To Thailand: Investigate Environmentalist’s Murder

Prajob exposed toxic waste dump; more than 30 activists killed since 2001 By: Human Rights Watch (Press Release)| Feb. 27, 2013: BANGKOK – Thai authorities should immediately investigate the murder of Prajob Nao-opas, a prominent environmentalist in Chachoengsao province, Human Rights Watch said today. The government’s measures to protect human rights defenders, including environmentalists, who stand up READ MORE

The Disaffected Lib: The Jewel in the Crown – India

India has nothing but friends these days, that is if you leave out Pakistan.   Russia’s her friend, has been for generations.   China wants to be India’s BFF.   And America is also courting India’s affections.

US Def-SEc Panetta was in New Delhi, laden with roses and chocolates, to proclaim India the “linchpin” in America’s new strategy for Asia.

Panetta swept away America’s historic distrust of India during the Cold War when America chose to shop weaponry to Pakistan, saying, “Our two nations I believe have finally and irreversibly started a new chapter of our history“.


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The Disaffected Lib: Why Tibet Will Never Be Free

This map says it all:

The Tibetan plateau is key to controlling the headwaters of just about every major river in East and South Asia.   China controls Tibet, it controls most of the water that it and its neighbours depend upon.

As written on this blog for years, it was always going to come down to this.  It’s all about water, who can take what and the nations that will emerge was “water haves” and “water have-nots.”   Right now it’s China that holds the whip hand.   And Tibet is the key to China’s water security.   End of story.

Polygonic: The emperor’s new clothes: North Korea keeps on marching

Sometimes, you just want to give them a hug.

Pyongyang put on this earnest show of transparency around its rocket launch, inviting foreign journalists into the heart of their futuristic Space Control Centres (SCCs).

Witness the marvels of our microcomputers and our, umm, extraordinarily large antennae!

It was one part quaint, one part chilling. The display was clearly designed to flummox Western voices that North Korea has something to hide, and, if lucky, to also alert the world as to the advanced state of North Korean spacefaring, and the military implications of that.

The problem with Pyongyang’s approach is that

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