China Dips Toes in Arctic Waters

By Christoph Seidler

You didn’t hear much Chinese spoken on the Mackenzie River until the summer of 1999. But then excitement swept through the sleepy Tuktoyaktuk settlement in Canada’s Northwest Territories, when a vast ship with a crew from the Asia-Pacific unexpectedly docked in the port. Local authorities were caught off-guard by the arrival of the research icebreaker Xue Long, which means “snow dragon.” The vessel — 170 meters (550 feet) long and weighing 21,000 metric tons — had in fact informed faraway Ottawa of its intention to sail into Canada’s arctic waters, but the message hadn’t been passed on.

Today, such an incident probably wouldn’t happen. States around the North Pole keep careful and regular watch on visitors from China. Its “growing interest in the region raises concern — even alarm —

Read more » Spiegel
Link – http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/growing-chinese-interest-in-the-arctic-worries-international-community-a-879654.html

A perfect day for democracy – By Arundhati Roy

WASN’T it? Yesterday I mean. Spring announced itself in Delhi. The sun was out, and the law took its course. Just before breakfast, Afzal Guru, prime accused in the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, was secretly hanged, and his body was interred in Tihar jail.

Was he buried next to Maqbool Butt? (The other Kashmiri who was hanged in Tihar in 1984. Kashmiris will mark that anniversary on Monday.)

Afzal’s wife and son were not informed. “The authorities intimated the family through speed post and registered post,” the Home Secretary told the press. “The Director General of J&K police has been told to check whether they got it or not.”

No big deal, they’re only the family of a Kashmiri terrorist.

In a moment of rare unity the nation, or at least its major political parties, the Congress, the BJP and the CPM, came together as one (barring a few squabbles about ‘delay’ and ‘timing’) to celebrate the triumph of the rule of law.

The conscience of the nation, which broadcasts live from TV studios these days, unleashed its collective intellect on us — the usual cocktail of papal passion and a delicate grip on facts. Even though the man was dead and gone, like cowards that hunt in packs, they seemed to need each other to keep their courage up. Perhaps because deep inside themselves they know that they all colluded to do something terribly wrong.

Continue reading A perfect day for democracy – By Arundhati Roy

Miss a Traffic Ticket, Go to Jail? The Return of Debtor Prison (Hard Times, USA)

Thought debtor prison ended in the 18th century? Think again.

Editor’s note: America has a long history of treating the poor like criminals, from legislation banning the transportation of poor people across state lines to anti-vagrancy laws that could land you in jail if you didn’t have a job or a home. We’ve come to rely on the criminal justice system to deal with the poor, even as more and more Americans fall into poverty. The following is part of a series that looks at the diverse ways poverty is criminalized in America, such as laws targeting the homeless, the surveillance of welfare recipients, the re-emergence of debtor’s prisons, and extreme policing tactics like stop-and-frisk.

Kawana Young, a single mother of two kids, was arrested in Michigan after failing to pay money she owed as a result of minor traffic offenses. She was recently laid off from her job, and could not pay the fees she owed because she couldn’t find another source of employment. So a judge sentenced her to three days in jail. In addition, Young was charged additional fees for being booked and for room and board for a place she did not want to be. In total, she has been jailed five times for being unable to pay her debts.

“It doesn’t make sense to jail people when they can’t pay because they definitely can’t pay while they’re in jail,” said Young.

Continue reading Miss a Traffic Ticket, Go to Jail? The Return of Debtor Prison (Hard Times, USA)