“Shocking” disclosure of extreme wealth at pinnacle of capitalist China’s power elite

[While the socialist fig-leaf of China no longer has the power to confuse all who have watched, from near and from afar, the discarding of socialist  — peasant and workers’ — power for over three decades, the Western bourgeoisie have continued to slam the emergent exploitative and oppressive Chinese capitalist system as characteristic of “socialism” — in hopes that once overthrown, socialism will not rise again.  But all this exposure in the New York Times does, is describe a common feature of capitalist systems worldwide.  Such “investigative journalism” is a good example of “the pot calling the kettle black.” “If you live in a glass house, you should not throw stones at other glass houses.”  The bourgeois Chinese state, in response, has blocked access in China to the New York Times online, in hope, no doubt, that the tattered and shredded socialist fig-leaf  may yet be a useful cover.  But, to use another analogy, “the Emperor has no clothes” that serve to disguise the reality. — Frontlines ed.]

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October 25, 2012

Billions in Hidden Riches for Family of Chinese Leader

By

BEIJING — The mother of China’s prime minister was a schoolteacher in northern China. His father was ordered to tend pigs in one of Mao’s political campaigns. And during childhood, “my family was extremely poor,” the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, said in a speech last year.

But now 90, the prime minister’s mother, Yang Zhiyun, not only left poverty behind, she became outright rich, at least on paper, according to corporate and regulatory records. Just one investment in her name, in a large Chinese financial services company, had a value of $120 million five years ago, the records show.

The details of how Ms. Yang, a widow, accumulated such wealth are not known, or even if she was aware of the holdings in her name. But it happened after her son was elevated to China’s ruling elite, first in 1998 as vice prime minister and then five years later as prime minister.

Many relatives of Wen Jiabao, including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have become extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership, an investigation by The New York Times shows. A review of corporate and regulatory records indicates that the prime minister’s relatives — some of whom, including his wife, have a knack for aggressive deal making — have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion.

Deng Xiaoping, who led the new and resurgent capitalists to seize power from the working people of China after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976. He popularized the slogan promoting individual greed against social and collective advance: “To get rich is glorious!”

In many cases, the names of the relatives have been hidden behind layers of partnerships and investment vehicles involving friends, work colleagues and business partners. Untangling their financial holdings provides an unusually detailed look at how politically connected people have profited from being at the intersection of government and business as state influence and private wealth converge in China’s fast-growing economy.

Unlike most new businesses in China, the family’s ventures sometimes received financial backing from state-owned companies, including China Mobile, one of the country’s biggest phone operators, the documents show. At other times, the ventures won support from some of Asia’s richest tycoons. The Times found that Mr. Wen’s relatives accumulated shares in banks, jewelers, tourist resorts, telecommunications companies and infrastructure projects, sometimes by using offshore entities.

The holdings include a villa development project in Beijing; a tire factory in northern China; a company that helped build some of Beijing’s Olympic stadiums, including the well-known “Bird’s Nest”; and Ping An Insurance, one of the world’s biggest financial services companies.

As prime minister in an economy that remains heavily state-driven, Mr. Wen, who is best known for his simple ways and common touch, more importantly has broad authority over the major industries where his relatives have made their fortunes. Chinese companies cannot list their shares on a stock exchange without approval from agencies overseen by Mr. Wen, for example. He also has the power to influence investments in strategic sectors like energy and telecommunications. Continue reading

China: Over 30 years since capitalism seized power, the slow discard of socialist fig-leaf

[While the  use of “reform” language undoubtedly refers to the planned bourgeois “democratic” invigoration of capitalist forces — and to no hope for “democratic” relief for the peasants and workers suffering greater impoverishment (as fruit of their removal from socialist power) — the discarding of Maoist imagery by the billionaire capitalist rulers of “reform” China is unmistakeably clear. — Frontlines ed.]

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Reuters:  “China hints at reform by dropping Mao wording”

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

* Removal of wording about Mao Zedong signals push for reform – analyst

* Internal debate about direction of incoming leadership

* Others say it may be too soon to write off Mao’s deep legacy

By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING, Oct 23 (Reuters) – The subtle dropping of references to late Chinese leader Mao Zedong from two policy statements over the last few weeks serves as one of the most intriguing hints yet that the ruling Communist Party is planning to move in the direction of reform.

Mao has always been held up as an ideological great in party communiques, his name mentioned almost by default in homage to his role in founding modern China and leading the Communist Party, whose rule from the 1949 revolution remains unbroken.

Which is why the dropping of the words “Mao Zedong thought” from two recent statements by the party’s elite Politburo ahead of a landmark congress, at which a new generation of leaders will take the top party posts, has attracted so much attention.

Also absent were normally standard references to Marxism-Leninism. Continue reading

New York: Police program stalking Muslims denounced by whistleblower

NYPD informant who tracked militants quits, denounces police

Police barricade in NYC (Mario Tama, Getty Images)
Police barricade in NYCBy Mark Hosenball, Reuters, October 22, 2012

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An informant recruited by the New York Police Department to collect information on suspected Islamic militants has quit and denounced his police handlers, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the case.

The informant, a 19-year-old American citizen of Bangladeshi descent, was recruited by the NYPD recently as part of an expansive intelligence-gathering program the department launched after the al Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001. His assignment was to make contact with suspected Islamic extremists to try to determine if they had any inclinations to engage in violence, the source said.

On October 2, however, the informant, whom the source did not name, posted a message on his personal Facebook page exposing himself as an informant to people he had been in contact with. He declared that he had quit as a police informant.

“I was jus (sic) of pretending to be friends with ya cuz I honestly thought i was fighting terrorism, but let’s be real, it’s all a f…king scheme,” the informant wrote, according to the source. “It was all about the money,” he added.

The source said that the informant was not involved in an investigation that led to the arrest of a Bangladeshi man last week in connection with an alleged scheme to bomb the New York Federal Reserve Bank in Lower Manhattan. Continue reading

India: Tribal villagers displaced by fire set by Forest Department

Forest Department Burns Tribal Village to Ashes

Oct 12, 2012 by VideoVolunteers

On the morning of 15th June 2012, without any prior notice, the Forest Department broke into the houses of 18 tribal families. They used force to drive the families out before setting their homes on fire. When the men, women and children of the community tried protesting and pleading with the officials, they were threatened with consequences. In the end there wan’t much they could do. They ran with their lives and behind them, their homes and belongings — ration cards, school books, clothes, rations – were being reduced to ash.

The people of the Kiri Kasai Dorho tribal village in District Sundargarh, Odisha had been living in the region for over four generations. They used to live up the hill slope before but were forced to move downhill because years and years of the state’s promises of electricity, health centers and schools never materialized. They couldn’t move too far away because they rely on the forests for their livelihood.

This grievous violation would pass as yet another unheard atrocity committed by the state against the tribals. But IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent Amita Rahil Tuti, a tribal and an activist, came over from the neighboring state of Jharkhand to document the violation and the anguished voices of the people. Continue reading

China: Yinggehai Coal Power Plant Brings Chinese Villagers Clashes With Police Over Pollution

By LOUISE WATT, Associated Press,  10/22/12

BEIJING — Residents of a south China town protesting the building of a coal-fired power plant threw bricks at police who fired volleys of tear gas and detained dozens in the country’s latest unrest over an environmental dispute, townspeople said Monday.

At least 1,000 people in the small town of Yinggehai on China’s Hainan island launched several days of protests starting last week after construction resumed on the plant, which had been halted by earlier demonstrations. Dozens have been injured and many detained by police, who have put the town under strict surveillance, residents said.

Police and local officials declined to comment.

“They fired tear gas to disperse the crowds in the past few days,” said a resident who gave only his surname, Xian, because he didn’t want to be identified by authorities. “We don’t want a power plant here that will cause serious pollution.”

Yinggehai Coal Power Plant

Three decades of rapid economic expansion in China have come at an environmental price, and residents have become increasingly outspoken about pollution in their backyards. In July, a southern town in Sichuan province scrapped plans for a copper plant after thousands clashed with police, and another community in eastern Jiangsu province dropped a waste water plant after similar demonstrations.

The protests are especially sensitive because they come ahead of next month’s change in China’s top leaders, who will have to balance a push for economic growth with maintaining public stability. Meanwhile, local leaders must balance their desire to attract industry with a public who do not want it in their neighborhoods. Continue reading

US: Pesticide Threat Looms Large Over Farmworker Families

Saturday October 20, 2012

By Michelle Chen, In These Times

[Among agricultural workers such as these fruit pickers in Oxnard, Calif., birth defects and cancers are alarmingly high.   (Alex E. Proimos / Flickr / Creative Commons)]

No matter how good your next meal tastes, it’s likely it made society ill.

A new analysis by the Pesticide Action Network North America (PAN) draws a disturbing connection between pesticides in our food system and serious health problems among women and children. The report reviews empirical research linking agricultural chemicals to birth defects, neurological disorders, childhood cancers and reproductive problems.

Some of these chemicals make their way into the foods we eat, but they are more acutely concentrated in the environments surrounding farmlands. Children in or near farming areas can be exposed through myriad channels, from contaminated soil to the air in playgrounds. Continue reading

Police on playback — copwatch in New York City

by The New York Video League | October 22, 2012

Stories of police brutality are often told in a way that casts victims as helpless bystanders of cops run amok. We met with Sean Pagan, a recent victim of police violence, and found that his story changes how we think about policing in New York. Sean’s story shows that communities are finding new and innovative tactics for dealing with discriminatory policing, beyond waiting for legislative reform. One such tactic is copwatch, in which individuals or teams film police officers in action. But what’s the history of the tactic? What are the risks, limitations and impact of filming the police? And how do these videos change the way we understand narratives of police violence?