One of the most memorable sights of the Admiralty site during Occupy was the study room, built of wood and decked out with furniture, lights and Wi-Fi.
Isabella Steger writes: Six months have passed since the outbreak of the pro-democracy Occupy protests in Hong Kong, and a small but determined group of activists wants to make sure their struggle isn’t forgotten.
On the sidewalks by the legislative chamber and government offices in Admiralty, a collection of tents has remained since police cleared the site in December. It was here on Sep. 26 that students scaled a wall to try to enter Civic Square, a place that had been sealed off by the government. Two days later, tens of thousands poured into the main roads, prompting police to use tear gas, on a day now remembered as “928” by activists.
Over the weekend, crowds turned out at the encampment, and to a second protest site in Mong Kok, to observe the anniversary of the protests. There were seminars on democracy and photo and art exhibitions to commemorate the date.
The tents have been growing in number, from about 70 in December to over a hundred now, stretching back out on to the side of the main thoroughfare on Harcourt Road. Some of the more permanent occupants are familiar faces to the protesters, such as Bob Kraft, an American pastor. Others drop in and out.
One of the most memorable sights of the Admiralty site during Occupy was the study room, built of wood and decked out with furniture, lights and Wi-Fi. Even that has been reconstructed in recent days at the new encampment, albeit much smaller and away from its previous location the middle of the road.
On Sunday evening, a group of students sat studying for their university entrance examinations, nibbling on Japanese snacks and breaking out into occasional discussions over Occupy-related family strife and a proposed third runway at Hong Kong’s airport, which some have criticized for cost and environmental reasons.
“We want to recreate the feeling of being at the study room,” said Joyce Lo, 18 years old, who was set to take an exam in Chinese reading and writing on Monday. “It’s that feeling when people walked past us in the study room and they fed us and told us they support us, even though the food wasn’t always great, like sometimes the dessert was a bit watery.” Read the rest of this entry »
Government opens another front in public relations battle with China, South Korea
TOKYO— Peter Landers writes: Japan’s government is paying to have Japanese-language nonfiction books translated into English, with the first works to be produced under the program arriving in American libraries this month.
“Japan is among the top nations in the world in terms of books published, but unfortunately, they’re just published in Japanese. If they were known around the world, there are a lot of books that people would find really interesting.”
The move is one of several nontraditional public-relations steps by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration, which is trying to enhance Japan’s profile among U.S. opinion leaders and the general public as it engages in a public relations battle with China and South Korea.
“Some efforts have been overtly political. South Korea has created a website in seven languages to make its case that two islets claimed by both Tokyo and Seoul rightly belong to South Korea, and last year sponsored an exhibit in France on forced prostitution by the Japanese military during World War II.”
Japan’s foreign ministry has boosted its public diplomacy budget. Measures include spending $5 million to fund a professorship in Japanese politics and foreign policy at Columbia University. Another program, begun last year, sends Japanese people from various walks of life to places like Lawrence, Kan., and Lexington, Ky., to talk about life in Japan.
The books translated into English with Japanese government funds will carry the imprint “Japan Library” and be published by the government itself—a different approach from that of some other nations that subsidize private translations. Read the rest of this entry »
Bardo Museum Attack: ISIS Claims Responsibility for ‘Killing and Wounding Dozens of Crusaders and Apostates’Posted: March 19, 2015
Randy Kreider and Rym Mumtaz report: ISIS today claimed responsibility for the Wednesday massacre at the Bardo Museum in Tunisia that killed 22 people, many of them Western tourists, and the two attackers.
“The blessed immersing operation led to killing and wounding dozens of Crusaders and apostates, and the failed security forces did not dare to approach but after the two heroes ran out of ammunition.”
— From an audio message disseminated on twitter accounts associated with ISIS
In a 3 minute, 10 second audio message disseminated on twitter accounts associated with ISIS, the terror group said that the two dead gunmen, who it named Abu Zakaria al-Tunisi and Abu Anas al-Tunisi, “launched and were heavily equipped with machine guns and hand grenades to target Bardo Museum.”
“The blessed immersing operation led to killing and wounding dozens of Crusaders and apostates,” the message said, “and the failed security forces did not dare to approach but after the two heroes ran out of ammunition.”
“Four of the arrests were directly related to the attack, and five others were made under strong suspicion of relation to the attack.”
— Aida Klibi, a spokeswoman for the Tunisian presidential office
ISIS also threatened more attacks to come, saying “what you have seen today is the first drop of the rain, Allah permitting. You will not enjoy security nor be pleased with peace while the Islamic State has men like these who do not sleep amidst grievances.”
The unverified claim, which is being analyzed by U.S. officials for authenticity, came after Tunisian authorities said they had arrested nine people in connection with the attack. Read the rest of this entry »
Speaking after the attack, Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi said the country was “in a war with terror”.
A gunman who carried out an attack that killed 17 tourists at Tunis’s Bardo museum was known to the authorities, Tunisia’s prime minister has said.
Habib Essi told RTL Radio that security services had flagged up one of the attackers, Yassine Laabidi, but were not aware of “anything specific”, or of any links to known militant groups.
“Tunisia has managed to avoid the larger wars which have hit other Arab states, but this attack…reveals its vulnerability.”
— The BBC’s James Reynolds
Two Tunisians, a police officer among them, also died in Wednesday’s attack.
Both gunmen were also killed. A search is on for suspects linked to them.
Two or three accomplices are still at large, an interior ministry spokesman told AFP news agency. The spokesman said both attackers were “probably” Tunisian. The second gunman has been named as Hatem Khachnaoui.
The tourists killed in the attack include visitors from Japan, Italy, Colombia, Australia, France, Poland and Spain, officials said.
“These monstrous minorities do not frighten us. We will resist them until the deepest end without mercy. Democracy will win and it will survive.”
— Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi
Officials say more than 40 people, including tourists and Tunisians, were injured.
Speaking after the attack, Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi said the country was “in a war with terror”.
“These monstrous minorities do not frighten us,” he said in remarks broadcast on national TV. “We will resist them until the deepest end without mercy. “Democracy will win and it will survive.”
At the time of the attack, deputies in the neighbouring parliamentary building were discussing anti-terrorism legislation.
Who were the victims?
According to Prime Minister Essid, 19 people were killed, although some of the countries involved have different totals:
- Two Tunisians, including a police officer involved in the security operation
- Five Japanese were killed, according to Mr Essid – although Japan says it has only confirmed the deaths of three citizens
- Four Italians
- Two Colombians
- Two Spaniards
- One national each from Australia, France and Poland
- One victim who was not immediately identified
Parliament was evacuated, but later reconvened for an extraordinary session in the evening.
Sayida Ounissi, an MP, told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme that the security services had said parliament was the original target of the attack. Read the rest of this entry »
Ennahda, the Tunisian Islamist party affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, has been forced from power by an overwhelming secular opposition.
Michael J. Totten writes: I didn’t know this was going to happen, but I had a pretty strong sense that it would. Tunisia is a modern, pluralistic, civilized place. It’s striking liberal compared with most Arab countries. A person couldn’t possibly show up in Tunis from Cairo and think the two are remotely alike. Egypt is at one extreme of the Arab world’s political spectrum, and Tunisia is at the other.
The Islamists won less than half the vote two years ago, and the only reason they did even that well is because Ennahda ran on an extremely moderate platform. They sold themselves to voters as Tunisia’s version of Germany’s Christian Democrats.
It was a lie, of course, and once Tunisians figured that out, support for Ennahda cratered. Read the rest of this entry »
Fundamentalist clerics are encouraging women to hook up with lonely Syrian militants
Theunis Bates writes: The jihadists fighting on the frontlines of the Syrian civil war are the rock stars of fundamentalist Islam. Fans make internet videos compiling their greatest hits, and Islamist-run TV stations extol the fighters’ manliness and fighting prowess.
And just like rock stars, these religious fanatics also attract groupies.
Scores of young Tunisian women have been traveling to Syria to wage “sex jihad” and boost the morale of love-starved Islamists, according to Tunisian Interior Minister Lotfi ben Jeddou. “[The women] have sexual relations with 20, 30, 100 [rebels],” the minister claimed in an address before the country’s constituent assembly, adding that many of the girls return home pregnant. “They come back bearing the fruit of sexual contacts in the name of sexual jihad and we are silent doing nothing and standing idle.”
The minister didn’t say how many girls have headed to Syria with dreams of making out with a mujahideen, but the local media claims hundreds* have done so, says Agence France-Presse.
*(though, as Glenn Reynolds notes, maybe this story is just being spread by the Tunisian government as a ploy to lure local jihadi-wannabes off to Syria, where they will likely die.)
Such promiscuity might sound like a flagrant breach of Sharia law, the Koran-inspired religious code that bans the faithful from indulging in everything from premarital sex to cigarettes and alcohol. Yet some fundamentalist preachers are more than happy to bend the rules for their religious warriors. Read the rest of this entry »
‘Sequester” may be your word for the week, but it’s not mine. I’ve been diverted from the Beltway theater by an enterprise equally fraudulent, the “Arab Spring.” No, the plot line does not feature an Armageddon of budget slashing after which, somehow, Leviathan manages to land on his drunken feet and binge up an even higher tab this year than last. The Arab Spring, instead, is the tyranny of Islamic supremacism cruelly masqueraded as the forward march of “freedom.”
On Tuesday, the dead-tree version of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, my book on the subject, finally hit the bookstores after previously being available only as an e-book. Despite the digital age, people still love their paperbacks, so I’ve had the good fortune to spend this week talking about it.
Though seemingly unrelated, the sequester contretemps have provided a useful context. In the tortured argot of Washington, “sequestration” connotes “a reduction in government spending.” It is thus an exquisite weasel word, the kind that fraud-construction thrives on. Of course, the disease sequestration is meant to treat is only too real — our metastasizing cancer of debt. But the political class that lives today’s high life on tomorrow’s stolen prosperity naturally prefers the illusion of action to the pain that must accompany any real, surgical remedy. So it peddles placebos that have the ring of earnestness and effectiveness: “cuts,” “balanced approach,” and the like.
On examination, these words are seen for the nonsense that they are. In Washington a “cut” is not what your family does when it becomes over-extended — a spending slash, a commitment to live within one’s means. It is a nominal decrease in the rate at which government plans, despite our straits, to increase spending. So a “cut” lards debt on debt . . . just not quite as quickly.
And a “balanced approach”? It sounds so admirably Greek — as in the ancients, not the contemporary Athenians we sadly prefer to emulate. Balance, “moderation in all things,” is great . . . as long as you have a multifaceted problem. But what if your problem, very simply, is that you spend goo-gobs more money than you earn? That does not call for a “balanced” approach. If you think it does, try explaining to the waiter that you’ve decided to pay only half the check for the meal you just devoured because, after all, there should be more “balance.”
Like the sequester molesters, “Arab Spring” devotees have their own fantasy vocabulary. The whoppers are “freedom” and “democracy,” the ideals, we’re told, that have swept the Middle East, even as it sinks into repression, social unrest, and the persecution of religious minorities. Islam and the West use the same words, but we are not conveying the same concepts — just as a “cut” in your budget means something very different from a “cut” in Washington’s.
Freedom? “Let it be known to you that the real meaning of freedom lies in the perfection of slavery,” explained al-Qushayri, a celebrated eleventh-century scholar of Islam…