Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Billionaire Zuckerman: We are Headed for a Deep Recession

Mort Zuckerman is a real estate mogul and publisher. So he knows a little bit about the economy. He describes a very serious state of the economy. We need to worry. This is going to affect you.

Tibet Unrest Continues Despite China Crackdown

The press is starting ignore the Tibet resistance because of the lack of videos. That doesn't mean that the Chinese military have squashed the rebellion:

A mob wielding stones and knives killed a police officer in a Tibetan part of Western China, state media said on Tuesday, a sign of ongoing unrest despite a massive influx of police and troops.

The latest news of unrest comes after protesters seeking to put pressure on China tried to disrupt the Beijing Olympic torch lighting ceremony in Greece.

In Tibet's capital Lhasa, meanwhile, 13 people were arrested for a monk-led protest on March 10, the first announcement of consequences for those involved in that largely peaceful march.

The march came on the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese Communist rule, days before rioting and looting that authorities say killed at least 19 people shook Lhasa.

China's assertion that protests have since faded after a massive influx of troops across Tibet and nearby areas was shaken when state media announced the death of the police officer in a fresh riot.

The Chinese rulers know that the key to making this problem go away is limiting the international press' access to the unrest in Tibet. If isn't reported then it isn't happening:
China will allow over 10 foreign reporters to visit Lhasa from Wednesday, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday, after facing international pressure to give the media access to the area hit by deadly rioting earlier this month.

"During their stay in Lhasa, the sponsoring authority will arrange visits to areas that were struck by rioters' destruction and interviews with concerned parties and victims," Qin Gang said at a regular press conference.

Foreign governments have pressed China to give foreign media access to Tibet, after it was struck by violence earlier this month.

China had so far not allowed foreign reporters to visit Tibet to report on the riots, citing physical danger as one of the reasons. International journalists who had been in Tibet at the time had left at the insistence of the Chinese authorities.

When asked about the reason behind the limited number of reporters to be allowed on the trip to Tibet and the standard of their selection, Qin only said, "We cannot satisfy every single media and reporters' wishes."

The protesters know that they must keep up their disrupting of the Olympic festivities in order keep their cause in the minds of the world. The Olympics are a big deal for the Chinese. If pro-Tibetan activists disrupt the torch relay it will be an embarrassment to the Chinese authorities:
The prospect of demonstrations throughout the 85,000-mile Olympic torch relay route leading to the Beijing games loomed Tuesday, a day after protesters of China's human rights policies disrupted the solemn flame-lighting ceremony.

Forecasts of clouds and rain had been considered the main threat to the pomp-filled torch-lighting. But it was the protesters who turned the joyful bow to the Olympics' roots into a political statement about China's crackdown in Tibet and other rights issues.

Three men advocating press freedom evaded massive security and ran onto the field at the ceremony in Ancient Olympia before they were seized by police. Minutes later, a Tibetan woman covered in fake blood briefly blocked the path of the torch relay.

[...] Protests are bound to follow the torch throughout its 136-day route across five continents and 20 countries. China pledged strict security measures to ensure its segment of the relay won't be marred by protests.

Tibetan activists have already said they plan to demonstrate elsewhere on the route.

"Later we will do protests in London and Paris," said Tenzin Dorjee, a member of Students for a Free Tibet who protested in Ancient Olympia.

Protests of China's rule turned violent March 14 in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, sparking waves of unrest in surrounding provinces. China reported a death toll of 22 from the violence, but Tibet's exiled government says about 140 Tibetans were killed. Nineteen died in subsequent violence in Gansu province, it said.

A rising chorus of international criticism and floated calls for a boycott have unnerved the Chinese leadership, which has turned up efforts to put its own version of the unrest before the international public. China has blamed the riots on followers of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader.

Cease-fire in Iraq Unravels as Death Toll Mounts

Chaos is returning to Iraq:

A cease-fire critical to the improved security situation in Iraq appeared to unravel Monday when a militia loyal to radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al Sadr began shutting down neighborhoods in west Baghdad and issuing demands of the central government.

Simultaneously, in the strategic southern port city of Basra, where Sadr's Mahdi militia is in control, the Iraqi government launched a crackdown in the face of warnings by Sadr's followers that they'll fight government forces if any Sadrists are detained. By 1 a.m. Arab satellite news channels reported clashes between the Mahdi Army and police in Basra.

The freeze on offensive activity by Sadr's Mahdi Army has been a major factor behind the recent drop in violence in Iraq , and there were fears that the confrontation that's erupted in Baghdad and Basra could end the lull in attacks, assassinations, kidnappings and bombings.

[...]On Sunday, a barrage of at least 17 rockets hit the heavily fortified Green Zone and surrounding neighborhoods, where both the U.S. and Iraqi government headquarters are housed, according to police. Most of them were launched from the outskirts of Sadr City and Bayaa, both Mahdi Army-controlled neighborhoods.

On Monday, the Sadrists all but shut down the neighborhoods they control on the west bank of Baghdad . Gunmen went to stores and ordered them to close as militiamen stood in the streets. Mosques used their loudspeakers to urge people to come forward and join the protest.

Fliers were distributed with the Sadrists' three demands of the Iraqi government: to release detainees, stop targeting Sadrist members and apologize to the families and the tribal sheiks of the men.

The Iraqi security forces issued a statement promising to deal with those who terrorized shopkeepers and students.

[...]As the troop presence has shifted, so has the violence. For the first time since January, a majority of U.S. troops were killed in Baghdad , not in outlying northern provinces. Indeed, the U.S. military reached the death of its 4,000th soldier in Iraq on Sunday, when four U.S. soldiers were killed in southern Baghdad .

So far, this month, 27 soldiers have been killed in Iraq . Of those, 16, or 59 percent, died in Baghdad . In January, 25 percent of U.S. deaths happened in Baghdad , or 10 of 40.

Civilian casualties in Baghdad are also on the rise, according to a McClatchy count. After a record low through November, when at least 76 people were killed and 306 were injured, the deaths began to rise. In December, it crept up to 88 people killed, in January 100 and in February 172. As of March 24 , at least 149 people were killed and 448 were injured.