Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Sham trial in Burma"

Aung San Suu Kyi maintained under house arrest

"The struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma is a struggle for life and dignity. It is a struggle that encompasses our political, social and economic aspirations."
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

No, I won't talk about Mao Asada's silver medal at the Vancouver olympics... On my information hierarchy ladder, I don't see this relevant today. I'll focus on AASK (Aung San Suu Kyi), a martyr, victim of the tyranny and the hypocrisy of the Burmese junta and of failures of foreign governments to free the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.

Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition leader, failed yesterday in her latest legal attempt to put an end to over a decade of brutal house arrest. Burma's country's highest court rejected an appeal against her sentence. The supreme court's decision was widely expected. Her lawyer will now launch a final special appeal to the supreme court but first needs to know the reasons why the latest attempt had been rejected. "The court order did not mention any reasons," he said. Diplomats from Australia, France GB and the US attended.

The British envoy stated that "the decision comes as no surprise, it is deeply disappointing. We continue to believe that Aung San Suu Kyi should be released immediately, along with the other 2,000 and more prisoners of conscience." French ambassador Jean-Pierre Lafosse said the 64-year-old democracy leader was "the victim of a sham trial." United Nations top chief Ban Ki Moon declared he is "disappointed Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's appeal against her extended house arrest was dismissed."

Aung Din, executive director of the US Campaign for Burma lobby group condemned the Burmese judiciary system as "part of the regime's oppressive mechanism... The only way to make the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners in Burma is to keep putting maximum pressure on Than Shwe and his cronies until they feel the heat!"

Daw (honorific term as Madam) Aung San Suu Kyi, 64, is the General-Secretary of the National League for Democracy. Suu Kyi lead the NLD to a landslide victory in Burma's last national elections, in 1990*, which the junta refused to recognize since then, and jailed opponents. She was the recipient of the Rafto Prize and the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1990 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. In 1992 she was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding by the Government of India.

✍✍✍ World criticisms disapproved of yesterday's junta's move against democracy and criticize Burmese (Myanmar) dictators' lack of conscience, including the US, Europe, but no complains yet came from China who is Burma's main sponsor in the South East Asian region but not to defend human rights... you know... the western concept of humanitarian rights.

* Burma 1990 general election: In 1990, the military junta called a general election, which the National League for Democracy won by an overwhelming 82% of the votes. Being the NLD's candidate, Aung San Suu Kyi under normal circumstances would have assumed the office of Prime Minister. Instead, the results were nullified, and the military refused to hand over power. This resulted in an international outcry. Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest at her home on University Avenue in Rangoon. During her arrest, she was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1990, and the Nobel Peace Prize the year after. Her sons Alexander and Kim accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on her behalf. Aung San Suu Kyi used the Nobel Peace Prize's 1.3 million USD prize money to establish a health and education trust for the Burmese people.

Aung San Suu Kyi books
Here is a link collecting the books written by Aung San Suu Kyi

Campaign symbol "with the aim to encourage awareness of Aung San Suu Kyi and the human rights issues in Burma by growing sunflowers and spreading their seeds" by ASSK supporters' blog

(Sources: wire services, wikipedia, 651 articles of newspapers, reporter's notes)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Storytelling and myth about Toyota's crisis

"Toyota's success generated anxieties among car makers, medias, national interests
offering a perfect target for economic intelligence"

Since Toyota entered into a spiral of inflated statements
regarding the security of their cars, I felt like there
was a topic to investigate beyond the path of official
statements, both of the firm and the market. I read tons
of reports and sent my own stories to Paris, then days
after, seeing the increase of assassinating reports
shelled from the US targeting the Japanese firm, I
focussed even more on Toyota development. Curiosity?
There is more than a business story here and the man at
the helm is sincere. He's maybe the only one.

"I fear the pace at which we have grown may have been too quick"

I never really had a single look for such sedan vehicle,
privileging more the roadster type of cars, but the
crisis stirred my curiosity. So I took my pen, recorder
and asked a few people around a finance event, held since
Monday in a major hotel complex downtown Tokyo. Now,
reading papers, blogs and twitts, I found a hate campaign
and it was highlighted in this article blog title which
caught me by surprise: "Toyota Congressional Hearing
Theater by Daniel Farber" on CBS.

The word chosen here --theater-- might actually be the
right word for a horde of journalists who decided that
the Nagoya firm had lived long enough and that it had to
die, now.

Smeary campaigns

There are right now industrial and financial empires
which are on course of collisions, following the drowning
of GM, the US car market was ready to shoot at Japan Inc.

The misleading of the Nagoya firm came after the recall
of 8 million cars and the death of 5 people in cars
accidents in the US. From there the critics are mostly
vociferous. Still, there is no more probability of
dangers with Toyota than with an other car maker, and the
high standard of vehicles are guarantees that the firm
produce quality cars. But some don't buy it.

Quotes: Buzz and craze

"The reason is that the Toyota story is a fabricated
tale." "Toyota Calamity Presents Fresh Opportunity For
Rivals." "Toyota PR needs to quit clowning around." "Will
the Prius Brake Scandal Mean the End of Toyota?"

There even is a sense of holly war, as transpacific
writers and evangelists alike entertained. More, serious
university such as the Harvard Business School" entered
into the craze: "Tragedy at Toyota: How Not to Lead in

This other one mixed with some sense of crusade: "You
live by the sword, you die by the sword. Toyota's weapon
of choice has always been quality, a competitive
advantage that prompted many Americans to stop buying GM
and Ford brands. Toyota can only regain its footing by
transforming itself from top to bottom to deliver the
highest quality automobiles." etc...

"Schadenfreude is joy at the misfortune of others"

Could it be that there is a media myth behind Toyota
problem? Any dirty hand in the tool box?

According to a source, expert in Japan automobiles
manufacturing, the current shot on Toyota technical
recall is nothing else than an operation that was set by
spooks: "Toyota's success generated anxieties among car
makers, medias, national interests offering a perfect
target for economic intelligence" one source said.

"Toyota is a threat to car makers, the firm has a top
position and any technical trouble in this period of
depression and economic crisis, it's good to get a
villain," according to an other source specialized in

But an other expert of the car industry went even further
yesterday telling me there is a probability that the "US
intelligence manages now the Toyota crisis to manipulate
media and facts." No wonder, there are some who seem to
be smoking their own office carpets to deliver such
crackbrained statement but who can deny that Toyota's
pain is the other car makers gain...?

Well, not exactly: "Many “Buy American” backers are
besides themselves with glee at the potential downfall of
a smug Japanese giant. And GM is trying to take
advantage of the Toyota crisis by offering $1,000 to
people trading in Toyotas, Nathan Hegedus writes in


Three congressional hearings called to investigate how
Toyota and federal safety officials handled the sudden
acceleration problem. Other Toyota officials, including
Chief Executive Akio Toyoda, are then scheduled to appear
today and next week.

Why Toyota president accepted to testify? "Why other
regions in the world did not enter into a media,
politics, industry triangle of interests" my source
added. EU did not.

While we do not know why the car accelerates suddenly.
Toyota president Akio Toyoda agreed that the "expansion
of the firm safety and volume might have confused the car

Already, in response to what he characterized as a
communications breakdown between customers and company
safety engineers, Toyota's US COO Jim Lentz told the
congress that the automaker would soon implement a "swat
team" of specialists who would investigate vehicles with
safety troubles within 24 hours.

And then I found this peace from CBS again pinpointing
rightly the target:

"Jim Lentz told the House Energy & Commerce Oversight
Subcommittee yesterday that the company will share
results of a "comprehensive evaluation" of the
automaker’s ETCS-i system (Electronic Throttle Control
System with intelligence) that is has commissioned from
an outside engineering consultant, Exponent, as soon as
those results are complete. CBS News Investigative
Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has obtained a
confidential copy of the Exponent report, dated Feb. 4,
2010. The report attempts to exonerate the electronic
throttle controls system in Toyota vehicles."

Company sales grow...

Toyota sold 537,454 vehicles in January, excluding
subsidiaries Hino and Daihatsu Motors. 416,411 Toyota
cars, buses and trucks overseas and 121,043 units in
Japan. In Japan, sales jumped 45.3 percent during the
same month from the previous year, while they gained 8.8
percent overseas, Toyota said... The new figures
underlined robust demand for the iconic Japanese
automaker although it faces a deep crisis over its flawed
accelerator and brake systems that have forced it to pull
8.7 million vehicles worldwide... Earlier this month the
company said it expects to burn two billion dollars in
earnings in the year to March 2010 due to the recalls,
but still sees a net profit of 80 billion yen for the
year against an earlier forecast of a loss...." Afp

Toyota dead-end or power ups opportunity?

A few things appear as sure things eventually : 1) Toyota
needs a crisis team 2) consumer sentiment in February
might be influenced by the publicity given to Toyota
defects and 3) wouldn't it be time to use such painful
blunders to enhance technologies and harmonize these with
current time : clear cars, EV and their declination of
car types and brands and make those more profuse on the
market? Our media rush into hanging hundreds of
engineers bizarrely has a smell of witch-hunt, it is not
helped by the arrogance of a firm that forgot what
quality meant. Will it end?


How to win a cause when you are party to it? Here is the
point: "Unfortunately USA Government owns Toyota’s
biggest competitors."

Media's daredevils shows usually end in embarrassment

Monday, February 22, 2010

Korea asks France to return Joseon relics

Memory damaged or just populist politics?

Korean martyrs. Faith and war, when Koreans massacred their own
Christians and French missionaries.

The French campaign against Korea of 1866, known as
Byeonginyangyo (Korean: Western Disturbance of the
byeong-in year (1866), refers to the French occupation
of Ganghwa Island in retaliation for the execution of
French Jesuit priests and thousands of the converts.

The Confucianist establishment, including the Joseon
Dynasty rulers, did not embrace Christianity. The
largest massacre of Catholics was carried out in 1866,
under Daewongun, while he served as regent for King
Gojong. In the Catholic Persecution of 1866, nine French
missionaries and Korean converts, numbering in the
thousands were killed. The killings in 1866 attracted
the attention of the French, who began to visit Korea
seeking retaliation for the murder of their priests.

French campaign against Korea, 1866

The first French missionary to Korea, Father Philippe
Maubant, arrived in the country in 1836. After that
date, missionaries would continue to come to Korea from
China, often at great risks. In September 1846, the
French Admiral Jean-Baptiste Cécille sailed to Korea in
order to obtain the release of an imprisoned Korean
priest named André Kim, but Kim was soon executed. In
1847, after various involvements in Vietnam and Okinawa,
Cécille again sailed to Korea to try to infiltrate some
missionaries, but his ship ran aground and he had to be
rescued by a British ship.

In 1866, reacting to greater numbers of Korean converts
to Catholicism as well as the humiliations suffered by
China at the hands of Westerners during the Opium Wars,
the Korean court clamped down on the illicit French
missionaries, massacring French Catholic missionaries and
Koreans converts alike.

French frigate "La Guerriere" commanded by Admiral Roze.
Source "Soie et lumieres" Christian Polak of Seric K.K.

That same year France launched a punitive expedition
against Korea, invading and occupying portions of Ganghwa
Island in the fall of 1866. At the first battle, the
Korean infantry division lost heavily, and General Yang
Heon-su concluded that only a large cavalry division
could stand up to French firepower. An ambush by Korean
forces on a French party attempting to occupy the
strategically located Cheondeung Temple on the island‘s
south coast resulted in French casualties. French
realization that they were far outnumbered and outgunned
forced them to abandon the island and their expedition.
The entire incident later became known as the byeong-in
yang-yo, or foreign disturbance of the byeong-in year

France and Korea established their first official
relations in 1886 after a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce
and Navigation was signed between the two countries. In
1887 , France sent its first official representative,
Victor Collin de Plancy along with his translator,
Maurice Courant. Courant would later be known as the
"father" of Korean studies in France. In France, the
first records of a Korean living there permanently, Hong
Jong-u, who arrived there not too long after official
relations were established. Arriving in Marseille in
1890, he will spend a few years working in France in a
museum where he would be very helpful in establishing the
first Korean Art and Culture section. Yet, it would not
be until the 1900 Paris World's Fair Exposition
Universelle that Korea would be "introduced" to the
French public.

Partners with time

Today both countries have excellent relations. On the
matter of North Korea, France is one of the few European
countries to not have official diplomatic relations with
the DPRK. France supports the Six-party talks as well as
the role of the IAEA in finding solutions to the nuclear
issue on Korean peninsula. Korean Foreign Minister Yu
Myung-hwan will welcome French Foreign Minister Bernard
Kouchner next month in Seoul.

One issue still divides both countries. A total of 297
ancient books that dictate the protocols of royal
ceremonies and rites of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910)
were taken by the French military from a library on
Ganghwa Island off the country’s west coast during an
1866 invasion after the massacre of French priest by

A single book was returned to Korea on a permanent lease
in 1993 by France’s then-President Francois Mitterand.
At that time in 1993 this issue created a stir of anger
in France as actress Sophie Marceau had taken the side of
Korea, while the actress was on a guests' list of
Mitterrand during the official visit in Korea, prompting
strong remarks from officials and the press on the tune
of " what the hell does she know about history"...

Not only France. Japan's Imperial Household Agency holds
hundreds of historic books of Korea's Joseon Dynasty
(1392-1910), according to South Korean government survey.
The books have been stolen by Japan's Government General
of Korea during Japanese colonial rule of the Korean
Peninsula from 1910 to 1945. Similar calls were made for
a collection of documents known as the Royal Protocols of
the Joseon Dynasty, confirmed to have been kept by the
Imperial Household Agency.

Under a Unesco convention signed in 1970, cultural
properties obtained through illegal means since that year
are subject to restoration, but those obtained prior to
the convention - regardless of how they were acquired -
can lawfully be registered as national properties by the
country that possesses them, as are the Korean texts at
France’s national library, according to officials at
Seoul’s foreign ministry. There are approximately 7,000
South Koreans living in France, more if one recounts
Korean French adoptees, and 6,000 French people living in
South Korea.

Korea's memory troubled by 40 years of dictatorship

Lee Han-yeol

On this picture a fellow Yonsei university student holds
Lee Han-yeol, injured in the head by a tear gas shell
used by riot police during a demonstration at Yonsei
University in Seoul against the military dictatorship of
then President Chun Doo-hwan in Seoul June 9, 1987. Lee
Han-yeol's injury became a trigger for mass rallies all
around ROK South Korea. Lee died in hospital on July 5th
1987 after the military regime gave in to democratization
demands on June 29, following mass pro democracy
demonstrations across the country ending Chun Doo-hwan

All of these events happened prior to the Olympic Games
of 1988. As I reported for the French national radio, I
can testify that at that time the Korean police and thugs
with them shot at students and journalists without
warning. I was myself shot at during a demonstration
during the democratization with my colleague Roberto
near the Lotte Hotel, down town. We saved a Korean
demonstrator life who fell in the staircase while the
police ran behind kicking viciously all witnesses. I'll
write about these historic events related to Asia post
80's I have been following in a book to come.
(Reporter's notes and SK media).

I spent exciting professional time working in ROK first
during the democratization that crumbled the US sponsored
military dictators Chun Doo Hwan and Noh Tae Woo, and
often visited Korea during the olympic games, and
witnessed the prowess of Koreans during the Asia Football
world cup of 2002, and am a watcher of technologies
blossoming of Korean's way of life. Last but not least,
I'm still very found of Sorak-san chain of mountains
which I toured with my KBS and Seoul national university
rumbling 's friends. I even witnessed bears over there
but did not see any of them eating any roots or garlic,
just fresh flesh hunt in the wild mountains, not so far
from the North...

Sources: archives of Korean newspapers, reporter's notes)

A VDO about Korea Joseon dynasty

Seoul today