Friday, December 17, 2010

Japan defence review warns of China's military might

Japan has unveiled sweeping changes to its national defence polices, boosting its southern forces in response to neighbouring China's military rise.

It said Beijing's military build-up was of global concern. Japan shares a maritime border with China.

It will also strengthen its missile defences against the threat from a nuclear-armed North Korea.

China has responded saying it is a force for peace and development in Asia and threatens no-one.

China's Foreign Ministry said no country had the right to make irresponsible comments on China's development.


The National Defence Programme Guideline has been approved by the cabinet and will shape Japan's defence policy for the next 10 years.

Japan is changing its defence policy in response to the shifting balance of power in Asia, analysts say.

Ivory Coast: Gbagbo under pressure to stand down

International pressure is growing on Ivory Coast incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo to cede power to opposition leader Alassane Ouattara after last month's disputed presidential election.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy says Mr Gbagbo must stand down by "the end of the week" or face EU sanctions.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has called for African nations to remove Mr Gbagbo by force if necessary.

Mr Gbagbo's refusal to stand down has sparked fears of renewed civil war.

The United Nations, Washington, African states and others say the election on 28 November was won by Mr Ouattara.

Mr Gbagbo insists the result was rigged by rebels who still hold the north after the civil war in 2002-03.

Ouattara supporters threatened to take to the streets, a day after gun battles in the main city, Abidjan, left at least 20 people dead.

However, the BBC's John James in Abidjan says the city is quiet, although many businesses are closed.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

20 pc Khi people supported MQM: Leaks quotes Zardari

20 pc Khi people supported MQM: Leaks quotes Zardari

Updated at: 0350 PST, Sunday, December 05, 2010
20 pc Khi people supported MQM: Leaks quotes Zardari KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari told the then US ambassador Anne W Patterson that Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) hardly enjoyed support of 20 per cent population in Karachi, the capital city of Sindh, Geo News reported, quoting WikiLeaks.

Although, MQM had adopted an aggressive posture but we wanted to take them along, said Zardai to ex-US envoy Patterson, as reported by WikiLeaks.

According to leaked diplomatic memos, the party always emerged victorious only on the basis of delimitation of constituencies, Zardari further told her.

India plotted Mumbai attacks: Leaks quote Zardari Updated at: 0501 PST, Sunday, December 05, 2010 India plotted Mumbai attacks: Leaks quote Zardari

India plotted Mumbai attacks: Leaks quote Zardari

Updated at: 0501 PST, Sunday, December 05, 2010
India plotted Mumbai attacks: Leaks quote Zardari WASHINGTON: WikiLeaks has disclosed another key point regarding Pakistan-US ties, which is about putting a condition on Pakistan for securing a nuclear cooperation with superpower likewise India, Geo News reported.

During a meeting with President Zardari in 2009, a US’s Senator John Kerry placed a condition on Pakistan that the latter would have to ink a ‘New Security Arrangement’ accord with neighbour India, if it wanted a civil nuclear cooperation with US, according to leaked memos of US diplomatic cables, cited in a letter of the then US ambassador N.W Patterson.

Citing a letter of Patterson, WikiLeaks claimed that Senator Kerry wanted Pakistan to make agreement with New Delhi on New Security Arrangement, if latter was looking for winning a cooperation with US on Civil Nuclear deal.

Kerry also urged Pakistan to strengthen democratic institutions first for the purpose, leaked diplomatic cables disclosed.

Senator said AQ Khan network was key hurdle in way of progress of Pakistan.

While, during the same sitting, President Zardari told him that India itself plotted Mumbai Attacks in November 2008.

Senate showdown may pave way for year-end tax deal

Play Video AP – Senate blocks bill on upper income tax cuts
  • Senate blocks bill on upper income tax cuts Play Video Tax Season Video:Senate blocks bill on upper income tax cuts AP
  • Will High-Income Earners Get Extension? Play Video Tax Season Video:Will High-Income Earners Get Extension? FOX News
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Obama 'confident' in tax deal AFP/Getty Images/File – (L-R) Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Rep. Chris …

WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans derailed legislation Saturday to extend expiring tax cuts at all but the highest income levels in a political showdown that paradoxically clears a path for a compromise with the White House on steps to boost the economy.

"We need to get this resolved and I'm confident we can do it," President Barack Obama said shortly after the near party-line votes. The public must have "the peace of mind that their taxes will not go up" on Jan. 1, he added.

Obama has signaled that he will bow to Republican demands for extending tax cuts at all income levels, and his remarks capped a day that lurched between political conflict and talk of compromise on an issue that played a leading role in last month's elections.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., eyeing the 2012 campaign, accused Republicans of siding with "millionaires and billionaires" with their rejection of proposals that would let tax cuts passed during George W. Bush's presidency lapse on seven-figure incomes.

Republicans noted that unemployment rose to 9.8 percent last month and said it made no sense to raise taxes on anyone in a weak economy. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., jabbed that Democrats were undergoing a "political catharsis" in public after losing control of the House and surrendering several seats in the Senate in the Nov. 2 election.

But the rhetoric subsided quickly after the votes, and Senate leaders in both parties said they hoped political clashes would give way to compromise in the next several days.

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the GOP leader, said he was relatively confident there would be a deal with the White House "not to raise taxes in the middle of a recession." He said talks were continuing on the length of an extension to be enacted for the cuts that were put in place in 2001 and 2003.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he hoped for an agreement by the middle or end of next week on legislation that would combine an extension of tax cuts with a renewal of expiring jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

Officials have said that in addition to tax cuts and unemployment benefits, the White House wants to include renewal of several other tax provisions that are expiring. They include a break for lower- and middle- class wage earners, even if they don't make enough to pay the government, as well as for college students and for companies that hire the unemployed.

Obama later spoke with Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. A White House official said the president told them he was open to a temporary extension of the tax cuts if the Democratic priorities were included in the deal.

Key lawmakers and administration officials have been at work negotiating the terms of a possible deal for several days.

But many congressional Democrats privately have expressed anger at Obama for his willingness to surrender to Republican demands to let the tax cuts remain in place at upper incomes, and numerous officials said no compromise would be possible until they had engineered votes in both the House and Senate.

Any deal would mean a reversal for Obama, who said in the 2008 presidential race and this year that he wanted to let cuts expire above incomes of $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples.

In the Senate, a bill to enact Obama's original position was blocked on a vote of 53-36, seven votes short of the 60 needed to advance. Republicans were unanimous in their opposition, and were joined by Democratic Sens. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Jim Webb of Virginia and independent Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.

The second measure would have let taxes rise on incomes over $1 million. It appeared crafted to appeal to senators from states with large high-income populations, as well as cast Republicans as protectors of the rich.

It was blocked on a vote of 53-37, also seven short of the 60 needed. A slightly different lineup of Democrats sided with Republicans, including Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Feingold. Lieberman also opposed it.

The White House opposed the second measure bill, and given the president's willingness to sign a bill to extend all the expiring tax cuts, there was never any doubt about the outcome of the day's proceedings in the Senate.

But Democrats said that even with elections nearly two years away, they intended to try and depict Republicans as defenders of the rich whose policies contribute to rising deficits.

"Do we want to extend those tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires at a time of huge deficits. I would argue vociferously we shouldn't, said Schumer.

Referring to the 2012 elections, he said about Republicans: "I'm going to be here for the next year, next two years, to remind my colleagues that they were willing to increase the deficit $300 billion to give tax breaks to people who have income over a million dollars."

Republicans sounded alternately bemused and offended.

"It is the most astounding theory I have ever seen. Raise taxes to create jobs," said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Democrats perhaps viewed the votes as a gift to their political constituents. But, he added, "two years of wall to wall Democratic rule has only made the situation worse" in the economy.

The day's events capped a week that included a meeting at the White House at which Obama and top congressional Republicans sat down together for the first time since the elections.

Both the president and GOP lawmakers pledged afterward they would try to work together for the good of the economy, and agreed to set up a small negotiating group to discuss the tax issues.

The White House, Reid and Republicans have been negotiating quietly, and McConnell made a point of saying he had been in frequent touch with the administration in recent days.

In addition to tax cuts, Obama has made ratification of a new arms control treaty with Russia a priority of the postelection session of Congress, reducing his leverage with Republicans in the struggle over taxes.

Senior Senate Republicans have indicated they will not try to interfere with a debate on the issue as long as government spending and tax cut issues have been resolved to their satisfaction.

A two-thirds majority is required for ratification, meaning the White House will need the support of at least nine Republicans to prevail. Vice President Joseph Biden and other officials have been involved in talks with several GOP senators in hopes of lining up the votes needed.

US cable: China leaders ordered hacking on Google

AP – In this photo taken Monday, March 22, 2010, a Chinese woman cleans the Google logo outside the Google …
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BEIJING – Sources told American diplomats that hacking attacks against Google were ordered by China's top ruling body and a senior leader demanded action after finding search results critical of him, leaked U.S. government cables show.

The American Embassy sent a cable to Washington saying a source told diplomats the Chinese government coordinated late last year's attacks on Google under the direction of the Politburo Standing Committee.

It was impossible to verify the details of the cables, but if true, they show the political pressures facing Google when it decided in March to close its China-based search engine.

The cable about the hacking attacks against Google, which was classified as secret by Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Goldberg, was released by WikiLeaks to The New York Times and The Guardian newspapers.

It notes that it is unclear if Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao were aware of these reported actions before Google went public about the attacks in January.

Another source said in that cable he believed an official on the top political body was "working actively with Chinese Internet search engine Baidu against Google's interests in China."

Google's relations with Beijing have been tense since the U.S.-based search giant said in January it no longer wanted to cooperate with Chinese Web filtering following computer hacking attacks on Google's computer code and efforts to break into the e-mail accounts of human rights activists. Google closed its China-based search engine March 22 and began routing users to its unfiltered Hong Kong site.

Google's spokeswoman in Tokyo, Jessica Powell, said the company had no comment on the cables released by Wikileaks, and on the hacking attacks, referred to a January statement that said it had evidence that the attack came from China. Google did not release any details then.

A man who answered the phone at the spokesperson's office of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said no one was around to comment Sunday. Calls to the State Council Information Office and the Foreign Ministry rang unanswered.

A separate cable released by WikiLeaks showed a Politburo member demanded action against Google after looking for his own name on the search engine and finding criticism of him.

The May 18, 2009, cable did not identify the leader but The New York Times reported it was propaganda chief Li Changchun, the fifth-ranked official in the country.

The cable classified as confidential cited a source as saying the Chinese official had realized that Google's worldwide site is uncensored, capable of Chinese language searches and search results, and that there is a link from the home page of its China site,, to

The official "allegedly entered his own name and found results critical of him," and asked three government ministries to write a report about Google and "demand that the company ceases its 'illegal activities,' which include linking to," the cable said.

The cable said American officials could neither confirm nor deny the details given by the source about the Chinese leadership's action.

Thabo Mbeki to mediate in Ivory Coast president crisis

The African Union says it is sending former South African President Thabo Mbeki to Ivory Coast to help mediate the current political crisis.

Laurent Gbagbo and opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara have both sworn themselves in after claiming victory in a presidential run-off.

Mr Ouattara was initially declared the winner but the result was overturned in the incumbent's favour.

The AU has warned the crisis could have "incalculable consequences".

In a statement, the organisation rejected "any attempt to create a fait accompli to undermine the electoral process and the will of the people".

It called on all parties to "show the necessary restraint and to refrain from taking actions which will exacerbate an already fragile situation".

Several countries and international organisations - including the US, UN, France and the IMF - have backed Mr Ouattara as the true winner of last Sunday's run-off.

Conflict fear

The AU has not said when Mr Mbeki is likely to travel to Ivory Coast, but the BBC's John James in the capital Abidjan says his arrival is being widely discussed.

Protesters on the streets of Abidjan, Ivory Coast (4 Dec 2010) The crisis has already led to unrest on the streets of the capital

When he was president of South Africa, Mr Mbeki helped to mediate a peace deal in Ivory Coast.

But he was seen by the opposition as being uncomfortably close to Mr Gbagbo.

It is difficult to see what scope there is for Mr Mbeki to mediate, says our correspondent, as both men are adamant that they legitimately won the poll.

The fear is that if he fails to find a way out, rebel groups in the north who support Mr Ouattara will take up arms in protest.

Mr Ouattara was declared the winner by the Election Commission on Thursday, but on Friday, its ruling was overturned by the Constitutional Council, which is led by an ally of the incumbent, Mr Gbagbo.

Mr Gbagbo, who has the backing of the head of the country's armed forces, was sworn in for a third term in office at the presidential palace on Friday afternoon.

He repeated the accusations of fraud that had led the Council to discount large number of ballots in the north, where Mr Ouattara's supports is strongest.You think that you can cheat, stuff ballot boxes and intimidate voters and that the other side won't see what is going on," Mr Gbagbo said.

He also said he had noted "serious cases of interference" in recent days, referring to international disapproval of his return to power.

"We didn't ask anyone to come and run our country. Our sovereignty is something I am going to defend," he said.

'Brief episode'

But within hours, Mr Ouattara, a former rebel from the predominantly Muslim north of the country, was himself sworn in, at an Abidjan hotel guarded by UN peacekeepers.

He said the election had been "historic" and that he was proud of it, but that the last few days had been "difficult".

"But it's just a brief episode - I want to tell you that Ivory Coast is now in good hands," he said.

Mr Ouattara immediately re-appointed Guillaume Soro as his prime minister. Mr Soro had tendered his resignation in Mr Gbagbo's administration just hours earlier.

Mr Soro - who is the head of the New Forces rebels in the north - has warned that overturning the results threatens to derail attempts to stabilise and reunify the country after the 2002 war.

The political crisis has led to protests on the streets of the country's main city of Abidjan, with opposition supporters saying Mr Gbagbo's investiture amounts to a coup d'etat.

At least four people have been killed in election-related clashes in Abidjan this week.

Ivory Coast has closed its borders and stopped broadcasts of international news media into the country. An overnight curfew remains in place over the weekend.