The death of a watermelon seller in China’s south-central Hunan province, allegedly at the hands of law enforcement officials known as chengguan, has touched off a new flood of outrage over the often-thuggish municipal code enforcers.
Deng Zhengjia and his wife were attempting to sell melons Wednesday morning near a bridge in Linwu county when a dozen chengguan appeared and fined them for selling without a license, state-run media reported. The couple then moved their cart to a different area.
Shortly thereafter, Deng and his wife clashed again with a group of chengguan, who are a rung below police. Local government officials released a statement saying Deng suddenly fell down and died, but witnesses say a fight ensued and Deng was beaten to death with his own scale.Sponsored Ads
Photos widely circulated online showed what looked like the crumpled I.D. card of one chengguan near Deng’s body.
Another prominent microblogger even compared Deng to the Tunisian vegetable seller whose cart was confiscated by police in 2010 and later immolated himself in protest over the harassment. His death helped trigger protests leading to the fall of Tunisian President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was sentenced to five years in jail for theft on Thursday, an unexpectedly tough punishment which supporters said proved President Vladimir Putin was a dictator ruling by repression.
Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner who led the biggest protests against Putin since he took power in 2000, hugged his wife Yulia and his mother, shook his father’s hand and then passed them his watch before being led him away in handcuffs.
Putin is Stalin: http://goo.gl/YLF0Q
Brazil has experienced an economic awakening in recent years, but democracy has had to race to catch up. With political corruption widespread, protests have spread across the country, exposing an enraged middle class.
The protests this summer, vast and angry, is the Brazilian parallel to the 2011 Arab spring. It is a leaderless movement organized through social networks, which is its strength. It may not be able to shape politics, but it can certainly exert pressure. It can mobilize the street.
It began in São Paulo on June 6 with a march of only 500 people protesting against an increase in bus fares. Since then, however, it has grown into a conflagration of discontent. On June 17, 200,000 people protested in Rio de Janeiro, Belém and about 20 other cities, and by June 20 some 1.4 million protesters had taken to the streets in more than 120 cities. Protesters danced on the roof of the congress building in the capital Brasília, creating images that have since been broadcast around the world. They are the tour dates of a popular uprising that newspapers are presenting as proudly as they do the victories of the Seleção. The people are agitated, and the political world is afraid.
In statement broadcast on state TV, army says Morsi has two days to reach agreement with protesters or it will draw up a new ‘roadmap’ for the country; five Egyptian ministers tender resignation; Obama warns of violence
“Now here’s the problem,” Buck continued, “nothing can really legally come of these massive demonstrations. And we’re talking millions, Glenn. We’re not talking about thousands. They think there will be millions of people Countrywide who will demonstrate in some way. This could lead to bloody clashes in Cairo. The military who sort of has been standing on the sidelines and watching the Muslim Brotherhood just completely run this country into the ground. The military has said, “Oh, we might step in.” Well, guess what. If the military steps in, the possibility of an actual coup becomes very high. If they don’t step in, you have very powerful factions in this country that are warring on the streets and nothing to stop them.”
Buck went on to explain that he doesn’t know who will step in — he’s not sure that they know either…but the protests or “rallies” are coming.
He also spoke of the civil unrest in Turkey — the four weeks of protests that started over a rally against a park development and escalated into violent clashes with police about the government — and said the United States was largely to blame. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan should never have worked so closely with Washington, D.C., and other Western allies, he said.
But while the fare increases might have been the spark that incited the protests, they unleashed a much broader wave of frustration against politicians from an array of parties that the government has openly acknowledged it did not see coming.
“It would be a presumption to think that we understand what is happening,” Gilberto Carvalho, a top aide to President Dilma Rousseff, told senators on Tuesday. “We need to be aware of the complexity of what is occurring.”
By this week, it was clear how thoroughly officials had miscalculated. At one point on Tuesday night, protesters tried to break into the Municipal Theater, where operagoers were watching Stravinsky’s “Rake’s Progress.” The doors to the elegant theater remained shut and as the show went on, they spray-painted the outside of the recently renovated structure with the words “Set Fire to the Bourgeoisie.”
utin has pledged that this is only the beginning. He and his advisers know well that attacks on corruption are popular with the public. They are counting on the campaign to shore up support after the protests and to mobilize Putin’s supporters. What the Kremlin is neglecting, however, is that the campaign could be a double-edged sword that ultimately delegitimizes the regime, as Putin’s own acolytes are swept out while the government’s house is cleaned.Putin faces a critical moment and is at risk of losing his sway over the elites.
FROM GORBACHEV TO PUTIN
The fate of Mikhail Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign in the last years of the Soviet Union should have provided a warning. …
The United States and China have a very sharp disagreement on whether U.S. warships must first seek Beijing’s permission to operate in China’s economic zone. Beijing thinks they do, and has passed domestic legislation making such activity illegal. The United States thinks they do not, and continues to operate its warships in China’s zone, as it has always done. Most experts think the United States is on firmer legal footing and a majority of the world’s capitals align with the U.S. position, but China is not alone: 26 other countries insist on “home state consent” for foreign military activities in their zone.
However, China is the only state that has “operationally challenged” U.S. warships on multiple occasions. Where other countries lodge diplomatic protests, Chinese ships have forced dangerous confrontations at sea, and at least one in the air. For example:
From January through May, the South China Sea dispute continued to trend in a negative direction. Consistent with the pattern of developments over the past several years, the dispute continued to be characterized by an action-reaction dynamic in which attempts by one or other of the claimants – most notably, China, the Philippines and Vietnam – to uphold its territorial or jurisdictional claims led to protests and countermoves from the other claimants.
Although the United Nations appointed a panel of judges to examine a Philippine legal challenge to China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea, and tentative steps were taken by China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to begin talks on a code of conduct (CoC), there was little optimism that either of these processes would reduce tensions in the short term or provide an environment conductive to a resolution of the problem in the medium to long term.
Despite agreement by ASEAN and China to initiate talks on a CoC, developments in the first half of 2013 demonstrated that the overall trajectory of the South China Sea dispute keeps moving in the wrong direction. So long as the actions of the principal actors continue to be motivated by nationalist rhetoric, an unwillingness to compromise sovereignty claims and competition over access to maritime resources, there is little prospect that this trend will be reversed any time soon.