Tag Archives: China

Ex-Con White Supremecist Caught with 40,000 Rounds and a List of Black and Jewish Leaders in Detroit

Federal agents were tracking Richard Schmidt’s counterfeit sports jersey imports when they stumbled upon his arsenal of eighteen guns, more than 40,000 rounds of ammunition, and bulletproof body armor. Schmidt, an ex-felon who killed a Hispanic man and wounded two others twenty-four years ago, also had lists of Jewish and black leaders in Detroit.

Before December, no one noticed that Schmidt, 47, was amassing weapons, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Federal investigators zeroed in on his sports memorabilia shop around September 2011, tracking his shipments of knock-off jerseys from China for over a year before they discovered the cache of firearms.

Schmidt plead guilty to federal gun charges and the counterfeit racket last month and will be sentenced in October.

Schmidt is banned from possessing a gun for the rest of his life. In 1989, he pulled a gun on three men during a traffic argument, killing one and wounding the other two. He was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and served twelve years in prison.

Scott Kaufman, the head of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, was spooked after discovering he was on Schmidt’s list. “For a convicted violent felon to amass an arsenal with 40,000 rounds of ammunition with no red flags popping up is problematic,” he told the Plain Dealer. “No matter where you stand on the gun issue, it makes you wonder. The moment I saw my name in this guy’s notebook, I freaked out.”

Indeed, Schmidt was able to stockpile firearms easily thanks to decades of hard work by the the gun lobby. Combating calls for stricter background checks on private gun sales, the National Rifle Association insisted the bill would create a national registry of gun owners which would be used to confiscate weapons and enact tyranny. This fear mongering has also hobbled federal law enforcement agents, who are forbidden from keeping any records of gun purchases. That means people like Schmidt can avoid background checks when they buy firearms, or they can get guns through a straw purchaser that law enforcement cannot track because records revealing the purchaser’s activities would have been destroyed. It was luck that Schmidt was caught before he could wreak havoc — but Americans won’t get so lucky every time.

Via ThinkProgress.

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Chinese Prime Minister Calls for End of Corrruption

Wen Jiabao, Premier of the People's Republic o...

Wen Jiabao, Premier of the People's Republic of China, speaks at the Opening Plenary session at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin, China 27 September 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao issued a new call on Monday for the government to end a culture of graft lest it lead to the end of Communist rule.

In an article in the Communist Party journal Qiushi, or Seeking Truth, Mr. Wen said the government must hold officials more accountable for corruption that occurs on their watch.

The article is the latest in a string of anti-corruption broadsides aired since the former Politburo member Bo Xilai was ensnared in a murder investigation.

Mr. Bo was removed from the Politburo after party officials issued a report accusing him of “serious disciplinary violations” and accusing his wife, Gu Kailai, of arranging the killing of Neil Heywood, a British business person.

Via The New York Times.

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On This Day…

Soviet Premier Nikita Khruchchev in Vienna.

Soviet Premier Nikita Khruchchev in Vienna. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1958, Nikita Khrushchev became Soviet premier in addition to first secretary of the Communist Party.

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Ban Ki-Moon Concerned about Tibetan Hunger Strikers

English: Ban Ki-moon, South Korean politician

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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced concern for the well-being of three Tibetan activists who launched a hunger strike more than three weeks ago.

Mr. Ban said he “affirms the right of all people to peaceful protest.” However, he said he remains concerned about the health of the strikers.

The three wheelchair-bound protesters, weakened by their fast, said they were visited by top U.N. human rights official Ivan Simonovic on Monday. The protesters said they told Mr. Simonovic they want Chinese authorities to ease the ongoing crackdown on Tibetan dissent in their homeland.

At least twenty-six Tibetan Buddhists have set themselves on fire in the past year to protest China’s ongoing crackdown. Protesters are also demanding the safe return of their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Activists accuse Beijing of suppressing Tibetan culture, religion and other freedoms. For its part, Beijing calls the Dalai Lama a “splittist” (separatist), and accuses him of fomenting rebellion in Tibetan regions.

Via VOA.

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Death Row Reality Show a Hit in China

Map of death penalty

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Think American television programming leaves something to be desired?

“Interviews Before Execution” is a sensation in China, with 40 million viewers tuning in Saturday nights to watch the last moments of death-row prisoners and their families. Forty million is nearly every living soul in Paris, New York, Los Angeles, and London.

The Chinese government approved the show as a deterrent, a way to show the misery that awaits those convicted of capital crimes.

The host of the show is a journalist, Ding Yu, who has now interviewed more than 225 murderers, rapists, drug dealers, and other felons. Half her interviewees are women.

Ms. Ding is hardly passive in her role. Face to face with one prisoner, she says, “Fortunately, you’re in jail. You’re dangerous to society. You’re shit.’’

China last year removed thirteen nonviolent offenses from the list of crimes punishable by death. About forty-seven crimes now carry possible death sentences.

Although the exact number of annual executions is a state secret, China remains by far the leading executioner in the world.

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China Sends North Korean Refugees Back Over South Korean Objection

China repatriated at least nine North Korean refugees last weekend, despite requests by Seoul not to send them back.

Seoul will bring up the issue at a meeting with the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva next week.

At least thirty North Koreans were detained in China in separate incidents this month.

The South has called on China to follow international law in its treatment of the refugees and has also adopted a resolution asking China to stop repatriating North Koreans.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak also spoke out on the issue earlier this week.

Activists in the South have urged China not to send the North Koreans back, saying they face severe punishment or even death.

China has said that the North Koreans are “illegal economic migrants” who must be returned home. It has sent back those it finds within its borders for many years.

More than 20,000 North Koreans have fled to the South since the 1950s. Most of them escape via China.

Via the BBC.

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Chinese Dissident Freed after 12 Years

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Qin Yongmin, co-founder of the China Democracy Party, was released after twelve years in prison for endangering state security. At his release, officers seized his notes and warned him not to speak to reporters or meet other dissidents.

Once home in Wuhan, his home city, Mr. Qin told friends by phone that he “tried to tell them it was illegal but they just stole everything I had written.”

Mr. Qin was one of the founders of the China Democracy Party as an alternative to the one party state led by the Chinese Communist Party.

In 1998, he and others tried to have the new party registered but were accused of anti-state activity and jailed.

Wang Youcai and Xu Wenli were convicted on the same charges but were given lighter sentences. After years of US diplomatic pressures, they were exiled to the United States.

Mr. Qin is now fifty-seven years old. He was given eight years for “anti-revolutionary propaganda and subversion” in 1981 for his activities in the pro-democracy movement.

In 1993, he was given two years of hard labor in a ‘re-education-through-labor’ camp for writing a ‘Peace Charter’.

Via AsiaNews.

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Apple to Audit Plants and Make Findings Public

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

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Responding to outcry over conditions at its factories, Apple said Monday that an outside organization would audit conditions at the plants where the bulk of iPhones, iPads, and other Apple products are built, and that the group would make its finding public.

For years, Apple has resisted calls for independent scrutiny of the suppliers that make its electronics. For the first time, it will begun divulging this information.

Last month, Apple released the names of 156 of its suppliers. Two weeks later, Apple’s chief executive sent an e-mail to the company’s employees pledging to go “deeper into the supply chain.”

Analysts say Apple’s shifts could incite changes throughout the electronics industry, since a lot of companies use the same suppliers.

Some labor groups applauded Monday’s announcement; others said that the auditor Apple chose, the Fair Labor Association, is not sufficiently independent. Critics questioned whether the inspections would sharply curtail problems.

The first inspections were conducted on Monday at a factory in Shenzhen, China, known as Foxconn City, one of the largest plants in China. Human rights advocates have long said that Foxconn City’s 230,000 employees are subjected to long hours, coerced overtime, and harsh working conditions, all of which Foxconn disputes.

Apple has said that if the companies manufacturing its products do not measure up to its labor and human rights standards, it will stop working with them.

If the Fair Labor Association conducts wide-ranging audits and publishes data on specific facilities, it could transform the attention brought to the worst performers.

Apple said the Fair Labor Association’s findings and recommendations from its inspections would likely be posted in early March on the group’s Web site, fairlabor.org.

At Apple’s request, the group will also conduct audits of Apple’s other main assembly factories. Those and other plants also build goods for almost every other major electronics company, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, I.B.M., Lenovo, Motorola, Nokia, Sony, Toshiba and others.

While other companies have been criticized for conditions at their operations overseas, Apple has received particular attention because it is the biggest.

Apple said Monday that its suppliers had pledged to give the auditors unrestricted access to their operations during the inspections. Apple said the organization would “interview thousands of employees about working and living conditions including health and safety, compensation, working hours and communication with management.” It will also inspect manufacturing areas, worker dormitories and other facilities, the company said.

In January, Apple announced it would be the first technology company to join the Fair Labor Association. The organization was founded in 1999, and evolved out a task force created by President Bill Clinton and a handful of apparel and footwear companies to combat child labor and other abusive working conditions.

When completed, Apple said, the association’s inspections will have covered factories where more than 90% of Apple’s products are assembled.

Via The New York Times.

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Syrian Army Steps Up Homs Offensive

Map of Syria with Homs highlighted

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The Syrian army has increased attacks on opposition fighters in Homs, a day after China and Russia blocked a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at ending the bloodshed.

Live pictures show smoke billowing into the sky.

 

The  Syrian Revolution General Commission, an opposition group, said that fifteen people were killed in Homs on Monday, and at least three others were killed in Aleppo.

Video from opposition activists on Sunday showed the devastation caused by a military offensive in the Bab Amr neighborhood of Homs.

Activists and witnesses said the army has shelled the neighborhood “indiscriminately” since Sunday morning.

Via Al Jazeera.

 

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BREAKING: U.N. Resolution on Syria Fails

Photo taken during a demonstration in Montreal...

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A United Nations Security Council resolution to pressure Syria to end its crackdown on anti-government demonstrators failed today after China and Russia voted against it.

At least 7,100 people, including 461 children, have died since the start of the Syrian uprising in March, according to a Syrian opposition group.

The U.N. estimated in December that more than 5,000 people had died since March, but the global body has not been able to update that figure because of the insecurity.

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