Sunday, September 23, 2012

Blow Up More Ancient Buddhist Statues? (Link Round-Up 9/22/12)


[via BoingBoing via Ai Weiwei]

Chinese mining company to destroy ancient Buddhist site in Afghanistan, make land toxic
In 2007, MCC outbid competitors with a $3 billion bid to lease the area for 30 years. MCC plans to extract over $100 billion worth of copper located directly beneath the Buddhist site. Ironically, the Buddhists were also mining for copper albeit in a more primitive fashion.

MCC says they weren't told about the archaeology site's existence until after the contract was signed. Following significant international pressure and perhaps sensing an impending PR nightmare, MCC in 2009 gave archaeologists three years to attempt to excavate the site.

Archaeologists say they need at least 30 years to do the job but had no choice but to accept MCCs brief timetable. Specialists on site are working with extremely limited funding and the crudest of tools.
Iran threatens US bases in case of attack
Hajizadeh said no Israeli attack can happen without the support of its most important ally, the United States, making all U.S. military bases a legitimate target.

"For this reason, we will enter a confrontation with both parties and will definitely be at war with American bases should a war break out," Hajizadeh said in remarks that were posted on the website of Iran's state Al-Alam TV. U.S. facilities in Bahrain, Qatar and Afghanistan would be targeted, he said.

"There will be no neutral country in the region," Hajizadeh said. "To us, these bases are equal to U.S. soil."
Italy upholds verdict against 23 CIA agents in rendition trial
Twenty-two CIA officers and one US Air Force officers were ordered to serve jail time in Italy for the illegal kidnapping of Egyptian terror suspect cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr from a Milan street in 2003. Nasr was transported to Egypt by the CIA as part of their extraordinary rendition program, where he was allegedly tortured for seven months.

The trial has been ongoing for three-and-a-half years, and the Americans charged have never been in Italian custody. Convicted in absentia, the Italian court ordered the Americans to serve prison sentences of seven to nine years.
Who are the Salafis and why are they so powerful?
Although Salafis do not make up a majority of the population in any of these countries, they were able to set the political agendas there for the past week for several reasons. They punch above their weight because of the vast funding they receive from fellow travelers in the wealthy Gulf monarchies, particularly in Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Each year, millions of dollars flow out of the Gulf and into Salafi charities and satellite channels like the one that touched off the riots. (By comparison, liberal NGOs receive far less support from the wealthy countries in the region.) Salafi leaders spend this money on social programs and proselytizing, handy tools with which to gin up votes or whip up anger at perceived slights to Salafism or Islam.

Indeed, most of the Salafi groups do not aspire to take over the state through violence or even elections -- their numbers are too small. Instead, they seek to use public anger to pull these states to the right. Where they have strong political and cultural institutions behind them, as in Egypt, they can do so through political pressure and shows of strength in the street. Where such institutions are lacking, Salafis instead use vigilantism or preaching to challenge the powers that be.
Thailand's skin-whitening craze reaches woman's intimate areas
The launch of a similar product in India this year was met with international disdain after a TV advert insinuated that having a fairer vagina would make women more attractive to men. In Thailand, however, the companies responsible say they have been successful. "Products [have] evolved from face-whitening to body and deodorant solutions to even out dark areas in the armpits," said Louis-Sebastien Ohl of Publicis Thailand, which created the adverts. "Now an intimate toiletry also offers a whitening benefit, because research evidenced that … women [are] keen to have such a product."

In many countries across south-east Asia, fairer skin is equated with higher class as it suggests a life not spent toiling in rice paddies under the sun. The Thai language is peppered with expressions that denigrate dark skin, such as the insult dam mhuen e-ga – "black like a crow". These days, rice farmers wear long sleeves, trousers, wide-brimmed hats and gloves. According to DRAFTFCB, the agency behind many of Nivea's skin-lightening ads in Thailand, such labourers make up the bulk of the Thai market for Nivea's face- and body-lightening products.

Using pale Korean and Japanese pop stars as illustrations, Thai women's magazines are full of fair-skinned Asians promoting products that promise to whiten, lighten and "boost" the complexion, with slogans such as "Show off your aura" and "Get to know the miracle of white skin". Fair-skinned actors and singers dominate the media nearly all over the Asia-Pacific region, where the skin-lightening industry is expected to reach $2bn this year , with the fastest growing markets in China and India.
South Sudan accuses Sudan of supplying arms to rebel group
African and Western officials have been trying to mediate a border security agreement between the rivals which came close to war in April.

South Sudan's army spokesman Philip Aguer said Sudanese military aircraft parachuted eight parcels of weapons and ammunition to forces of militia leader David Yau Yau in the country's east on Friday and Saturday.

The rebels later attacked the town of Likuangole in Jonglei state, but were repulsed by the South's army (SPLA), he said.

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