China Rules Out Open Election in Hong Kong, Setting Stage for ‘Occupy’ Protest

China Rules Out Open Election in Hong Kong, Setting Stage for ‘Occupy’ Protest

Originally posted on TIME:

On democracy, there will be no compromise. That’s the message Beijing sent the city of Hong Kong on Sunday. After months of rallies calling for free and fair elections, China’s legislature effectively shut the door on full democracy, ruling out open nominations for the planned 2017 election of the city’s chief executive (CE), the local government’s top leader.

Since Hong Kong returned to China in 1997, the CE has been chosen by an electoral commission dominated by establishment figures. In 2017, the CE will be elected by Hong Kong voters. But the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing has now confirmed that it will retain its gatekeeper role, making sure candidates are first vetted by a committee to gauge whether they demonstrate, among others things, sufficient “love for country.”

The announcement sets the stage for renewed conflict in the city of 7 million. On Sunday evening, local time, several…

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Iraqi Kurds Expand Autonomy as ISIS Reorders the Landscape

WASHINGTON — The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has thrown Iraq into crisis, precipitated the ouster of Nuri Kamal al-Maliki as prime minister and brought the American military back to the country it left more than two years ago.But the ISIS invasion has fundamentally changed the political geography of Iraq, senior American and Kurdish officials said, physically cutting off most of Iraqi Kurdistan from the rest of Shiite-dominated Iraq and encouraging the Iraqi Kurds in their drive for expanded autonomy.Masrour Barzani, the chief of intelligence for the Kurdish region of Iraq, said that the Obama administration, which carried out airstrikes to protect the regional capital, Erbil, against ISIS attacks, had made clear its “expectation” that the Kurds would participate in the process of forming a new government in Iraq.

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Pakistan anti-government protests turn deadly

Islamabad, PAKISTAN – Clashes between police and anti-government protesters have continued outside Pakistan’s parliament, resulting in the deaths of at least three people, and injuries to 494 more, witnesses and hospital officials have told Al Jazeera.

Police continued to fire tear gas and rubber bullets at hundreds of stone-throwing protesters, while thousands more remained behind the front lines outside the country’s parliament building in the capital Islamabad.

The protesters, supporters of opposition politician Imran Khan and anti-government cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, have been camped out outside the country’s parliament since August 15, calling for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government to resign.


Philippine troops pull ‘greatest escape’ in Golan

BEIRUT (AP) — Under cover of darkness, 40 Filipino peacekeepers escaped their besieged outpost in the Golan Heights after a seven-hour gunbattle with Syrian rebels, Philippine officials said Sunday. Al-Qaida-linked insurgents still hold captive 44 Fijian troops.The getaway, combined with the departure of another entrapped group of Filipino troops, marked a major step forward in a crisis that erupted on Thursday when Syrian rebels began targeting the peacekeeping forces. The United Nations Security Council has condemned the assaults on the international troops monitoring the Syrian-Israeli frontier, and has demanded the unconditional release of those still in captivity.The crisis began after Syrian rebels overran the Quneitra crossing — located on the de facto border between Syrian- and Israeli-controlled parts of the Golan Heights — on Wednesday. A day later, insurgents from the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front seized the Fijian peacekeepers and surrounded their Filipino colleagues, demanding they surrender.The Filipinos, occupying two U.N. encampments, refused and fought the rebels Saturday. The first group of 35 peacekeepers was then successfully escorted out of a U.N. encampment in Breiqa by Irish and Filipino forces on board armored vehicles.The remaining 40 peacekeepers were besieged at the second encampment, called Rwihana, by more than 100 gunmen who rammed the camp’s gates with their trucks and fired mortar rounds. The Filipinos returned fire in self-defense, Philippine military officials said.At one point, Syrian government forces fired artillery rounds from a distance to prevent the Filipino peacekeepers from being overwhelmed, said Col. Roberto Ancan, a Philippine military official who helped monitor the tense standoff from the Philippine capital, Manila, and mobilize support for the besieged troops.



Is Western media’s indifference to Ukraine dangerous for Lithuania?

Major English-speaking TV channels do not devote enough attention to the events in Ukraine, even though the battles are more blood-stained than in other countries, notes philosopher Gintautas Mažeikis.

According to him, it is an important lesson to learn for Lithuania and other Baltic countries: the media can be very ignorant, even though there is a massive war going on with vague Russian attempts to intervene, all resulting in great numbers of victims. People interviewed by believe that such information in the media is essential, as it helps to prepare and organize a collective political pressure, and it is easier for governments to make decisions accordingly.“I watch CNN, the BBC, and I have to admit that these [channels] no longer pay much attention to the events in Ukraine, which, if we follow the Ukrainian and Russian media, are far more blood-stained than the events we get to see in other places. Meanwhile, there is a lot of attention dedicated to the events in Israel and Libya,” said Mažeikis.In his opinion, one of the possible reasons for it is a common political decision. Also the fact that the above-mentioned media channels do not have their English- or Russian-speaking correspondents in Ukrainian conflict zones and do not trust others.Political scientist Nerijus Maliukevičius draws attention to the fact that this sort of insulation of information space has already become a traditional strategy in Russia‘s information wars.“This was particularly noticeable in Georgia’s war, during the second Chechen war, and during the Crimea campaign. Information space is thoroughly isolated, there is no access for the Western media, an artificial atmosphere of danger is created. We can see that this strategy has now moved to the Donbass region – there were situations when journalists were kidnapped or detained. The information space is simply eliminated, so we do not have examples of Western journalism in that area neither from CNN nor the BBC,” Maliukevičius explains.Mažeikis states that it is possible to provide high quality information even in the absence of one’s own correspondents in Ukraine. Media researchers may consult various experts working in Ukraine, which would give at least a couple of options among trusted Ukrainian media offices. It is also possible to find a reliable source of information in Russia.“This is usually the common practice, and then usually only the number of deaths does not fully correspond, but it is not a very large mismatch. Currently, we see almost complete ignorance regarding these events, in these last few days in particular, when the battles have intensified,” says Mažeikis.According to Mažeikis, the indifference with which major English-language channels treat Ukrainian events should be a very important lesson for Lithuania and other Baltic countries.“This is a lesson to learn, that the major media can ignore you, even though there is a massive war going on with vague Russian attempts to intervene, all resulting in great numbers of victims. Eastern Europe is still perhaps seen as the area of Russia’s interest, or it is still looked upon as colonies, inferior countries, which is quite rough to hear. Unfortunately, this lack of attention, especially at this moment, when the blood-stained battles are going on, is simply astonishing,” says Mažeikis.Politics editor Maliukevičius also notes that the consequences of the Ukrainian crisis are directly related to the security of the Baltic States, so it is important for us that the Ukrainian conflict remain a priority on the Western media’s agenda.“In order that the world community, the developed countries support your struggle for independence, most countries in the world need to be educated and persuaded. Getting attention from the major world media is very important. When there is none of that, it becomes unclear why governments apply sanctions or military interventions,” says Mažeikis.