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Archive for September, 2006

Turkey and the EU

Two articles about the possibility of Turkey entering the Union. The first one, from Newsweek: Second Thoughts:

Once, Europe was a sweetshop, and Turkey was an eager kid with his face pressed to the window. Just two years ago, polls showed that more than 70 percent of Turks wanted to join the European Union, convinced that following the road to Brussels would make them richer, healthier and freer. Now, only months after long-delayed negotiations finally began, support for the EU has slipped to just 43 percent, and is falling fast.

Why? The cost and hassle of implementing the EU’s 80,000-page Acquis Communautaire—the vast canon of rules and regulations on everything from air quality to the size and shape of bananas (imports must not be “abnormally bent”). A new study by the politically powerful Turkish Industry and Business Association estimates the cost of reforming Turkey’s huge agriculture sector alone at up to $76 billion over the next decade, a significant hit for a $382 billion economy. Almost every clause of the Acquis Communautaire comes with a giant bill—for example, implementing European drinking-water standards will require digging up vast swaths of Turkey’s often haphazardly planned cities to replace crumbling piping.

Le Monde: For Jacques Chirac, Turkey must recognise the Armenian Genocide:

The French President Jacques Chirac has judged, on Sunday September 30th, in Erevan, that Turkey must recognise the Armenian Genocide before being able to adhere the European Union. Questioned at a Press conference if Turkey should recognise the character of genocide to the massacres of Armenians committed between 1915 and 1917 in the Ottoman Empire, he has answered that “honestly, I believe it”. “All the countries grow when the recognise their drames and errors”, he added.

Según Newsweek, los índices de apoyo de la población turca a entrar en la Unión Europea han decrecido de manera muy importante, de 70% hace dos años hasta un 43% ahora. El coste y la molestia de introducir en el país el “acervo comunitario” se ha estimado, por ejemplo, en la agricultura, en 76 billones de dólares sólo en la próxima década, lo que es excesivo para una economía con un valor estimado de 382 billones de dólares.

De viaje en Armenia, Jacques Chirac ha declarado que “honestamente cree” que Turquía debe reconocer el Genocidio Armenio.

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For Spanish-speaking readers

From now on, I will try to sum up each post at the end in Spanish for people who are not able to understand English.

De ahora en adelante, trataré de resumir al final de cada post la noticia en español, para aquellos que no entiendan el inglés. La parte en español irá con este formato.

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From The Times:

An investigation by The Times has disclosed that the South Koreans have been waging an aggressive campaign on behalf of Ban Ki Moon, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the front-runner to replace Kofi Annan as UN chief at the end of the year. The inducements range from tens of millions of pounds of extra funding for African countries to lucrative trade agreements in Europe – and even the gift of a grand piano to Peru.

Well, I do not think that the ballot should be modified by giving money or incentives to the countries who will vote. I would rather ask for someone really interested in assuring that Human Rights are really respected and Countries which do not respect them are punished. I would rather ask for someone who would strongly recommend a modification of the present UN, to make it an organization really fighting for democracy and freedom of all human beings. And of course, to really develop these values in under-developed countries, where UN is making very little, but protesting about First World’s injustices, but never about tyrans, dictators and so on, who are primarily -with few exceptions- the real reason of their state.

But that’s got nothing to do with UN nowadays. A place in which Chávez can insult another state’s President and people, instead of just critisizing him, just laugh about his ocurrences. In which Mr Morales, Bolivian President, who showed out a coca leaf, pondering his properties. When speaking before the UN General Assembly! So all the important people go somewhere to talk and all they speak about is nonsense.

South Korea is not interested that their candidate is stained by that alleged aid to countries which are going to vote, so they have denied it:

South Korea denied yesterday that it was using foreign aid as a means of buying votes in the Security Council. “I would like to stress that theallegations against Mr Ban Ki Moon and, moreover, the integrity of the Korean Government do not correspond with the facts,” In Joon Chung, the spokesman for the South Korean Embassy in London, said. He added that Seoul had decided in 2002 to increase aid to the developing world. He added that the state visit to Greece was planned a year ago because Athens had been an ally of Seoul in the Korean War.

But:

David Mepham, the associate director of the Institute for Public Policy Research, described the selection process for the secretary-general’s post as “untransparent and unprofessional”. He said: “Given the sensitivity and importance of the post we need root-and-branch reform to ensure that we get the best candidate.”

I agree. Only look back to Koffi Annan’s importance in all the conflicts of the last times. For example, the case about the map which eliminated Israel, the Oil-for Food Scandal or his denial to receive Cuban dissidents, because they were not “aligned with truth, liberty and justice” in the recent Non-Alligned Countries Summit -via La Ventanita-. In this comment, you can see some of the very important things Mr Annan has been involved in.
It strucked me that the ousted Prime Minister of Thailand was a candidate.

CSM is writing about what kind of leader the UN should have now.

“The UN under Kofi Annan has begun to adapt to a very different world and a very different mission” than that of the world body’s first half century, says Lee Feinstein, a UN expert at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. “It’s much less a talk shop, much more a place that does things.”

But the UN’s reputation is also badly tarnished in the wake of the oil-for-food probe and other scandals. Some critics believe the UN under Annan has aligned itself too closely with American foreign policy, while others, notably among US conservatives, say Annan has presided over the transformation of the UN into a den of inefficiency, corruption, and anti-Western thinking. President Bush recently noted that support for the UN among Americans is at it lowest level ever.

Annan has not shied away from addressing previously “taboo” topics for the secretary-general, such as the promotion of democracy, individual rights versus those of government, the individual’s right to protection, inequitable wealth distribution, and genocide, Mr. Feinstein says.

Yet despite that, the UN has suffered from failing to operate effectively or efficiently as it has expanded its workload, he adds. “And part of that is because Kofi Annan has not been an effective and efficient manager,” he says.

That view, widely held among Annan admirers and detractors alike, has led many analysts to conclude that what the UN needs most now is not so much the “world’s top diplomat” as a manager with a laser focus on internal operations who will make the organization work better.

“Yes, you need the well-respected international figure, but beyond that, what is needed as secretary-general is someone who is tremendously focused on reforming a highly flawed institution,” says Nile Gardiner, an expert in international institutions at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.

“You need someone who won’t just preside over a deep well of corruption but will dig in and do something about it,” he adds, “someone who will challenge time-honored practices like hiring and promotion rules that too often yield the lowest common denominator.”

I agree.

BBC -we know its tendency by now…- reports:

A consensus has developed that it will be Asia’s turn to provide a new secretary general, Jordan counting as part of the Asia group at the UN.

If the Jordanian ambassador [eventually in the 4th place] were eventually to beat the other candidates, he would be the first Muslim to head the world body.

Is it me or looks like BBC wants a Muslim to head the world body? Has any shintoist/confucian… or whatever religion Ban Ki Moon has -if he has any- been the head of the UN? Why that statement then?

You can also check: Sacredscoop.

Sent to Dumb Ox Open Trackbacks, Third World County, Right Wing Nation, Pursuing Holiness, Basil’s Blog, Blue Star Chronicles.

UPDATE: Thanks to a comment in the About page, I discover that Washington Post is handling a debate about the new UN Secretary General. There are several commentators about this issue. The first of them, King-Min Liu writes:

For a failed organization like the U.N., it doesn’t really matter who becomes its next Secretary General, especially when the world body seems to have adopted affirmative action in selecting the candidate. Ban Ki Moon, South Korea’s foreign minister and the forerunner, should ask himself: Am I the favorite because I’m good or simply because I’m Asian?

Among all the factors contributing to the UN as a failed organization, China is a key obstacle. And as long as China remains one of the five permanent members with veto power at the Security Council, the UN has no hope of becoming a more decent body. One example: When China finally invades Taiwan, do you expect the Security Council will be able to discuss this “domestic affair” before the eyes of Beijing?

Christine Ockrent considers that Indian candidate should be granted the job. And, lastly, a Palestine from Jordan, Daoud Kuttab, praises the Jordanian candidate -what can he do, hein?-.

From my part, I would not consider the Muslim Jordanian candidate. It is true that Jordan has played an important role in the Middle East, but I would never trust him as been really impartial in the solution of the Middle East problem. What is more, there are a lot of problems caused by Islamic population nowadays -Chechenya, Sudan, Nigeria, Pakistan, etc…- and we cannot forget the Iranian question with nuclear weapons and the Iraqi war.

Anyway, that is my view. I encourage my readers to think what would be their best candidate and, if they can, to comment about it in the blogs of the mentioned journalists.

UPDATE 2 : There are two things I have to add:

  1. the anti-Americanism breathed by South-Koreans, even if it was USA who freed them from communists in the 50’s. Looks they are even planning to end the permanence of US Army in South Korea. You can also read The Korea Liberator’s opinion about Ban Ki-Moon. He says South Korea is not interested in how this man will do his job, but in how South Korea will look in an international level.
  2. Secondly, I forgot yesterday to speak about another of the UN’s lack of action, which is going to be inherited by Koffi Annan’s succesors: the situation in Darfur, from the Telegraph [via EN] . Nothing has been done, but genocide continues and looks like inaction is going to be the ongoing policy of the UN.

UPDATE 3: INSTAPUNDIT links to a Sunday Times’ article about Srebrenica and Ruanda disasters:

Annan was the head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) between March 1993 and December 1996. The Srebrenica massacre of up to 8,000 men and boys and the slaughter of 800,000 people in Rwanda happened on his watch. In Bosnia and Rwanda, UN officials directed peacekeepers to stand back from the killing, their concern apparently to guard the UN’s status as a neutral observer. This was a shock to those who believed the UN was there to help them.

[I am sorry: a part of the article was lost when I was trying to correct some expressions. 😦 )

Parece que el sucesor de Koffi Annan será el surcoreano Ban Ki-Moon, que ha obtenido 14 y 13 votos de 15 en las votaciones ya realizadas. The Times informó de que Corea del Sur, muy interesada en que se elija a su candidato ha pagado donaciones millonarias a países del Tercer Mundo, sobre todo en créditos al desarrollo, acuerdos lucrativos comerciales con Europa (¡!) e inclusive ha regalado un piano a Perú.

Por supuesto, los surcoreanos lo niegan y señalan que ya habían planeado incrementar la ayuda al desarrollo desde hace mucho, lo que, sin embargo, no parece muy probable dada la coincidencia de las fechas.

El problema es determinar qué características debe tener el nuevo Secretario General de Naciones Unidas. Después de una dirección que ha dejado bastante que desear por parte de Koffi Annan, la ONU se enfrenta a la necesidad de adaptarse a los nuevos tiempos, con la incorporación de nuevos miembros -India o Japón, entre otros- y la necesidad de controlar a los soldados destacados en misiones humanitarias -conocidos como los cascos azules- y su propio presupuesto, después del escándalo financiero del Petróleo por Alimentos. También necesita clarificar sus ideas frente a los disidentes que estén a favor de la democracia y de los derechos humanos, a diferencia del todavía Secretario General, que incluso se negó a recibir a los disidentes cubanos señalando que “no estaban cerca de la verdad, de la justicia y de la paz” o que posó al lado de un mapa del Próximo Oriente en el que Israel había desaparecido.

Entre los candidatos se encuentra el depuesto primer ministro de Tailandia, Surakiart Sakirathai, y el príncipe Jordano Raad Zaid al Hussein. La BBC, en otra muestra más de su alienamiento ideológico, indica al final de su noticia, que, al estar considerada Jordania como país asiático, si saliera elegido alHussein -ha quedado cuarto en la votación- sería el primer musulmán en dirigir las Naciones Unidas.

Por un comentario en la página “About” de este blog, me entero de que en PostGlobal, el Washington Post está llevando a cabo una discusión sobre el próximo Secretario General. Tres periodistas han dado su opinión. King Ming Liu considera que la ONU está acabada desde el momento en que China todavía tiene veto en el Consejo de Seguridad. La periodista francesa Christine Okhrent alaba al candidato indio, mientras que el jordano Daoub Kouttab considera que deben elegir al candidato jordano “por su gran conocimiento del conflicto del Medio Oriente“. Os animo a todos a participar en la discusión.

Podeis leer también El Diario Exterior.com.

ACTUALIZACIÓN 1: Ayer se me olvidaron dos cosas: la primera es el anti-americanismo que Corea del Sur ha venido desarrollando durante los últimos tiempos, hablándose desde hace tiempo que se quieren retirar de allí el contingente que todavía queda, eso sí, muy reducido. La segunda, es que el “heredero” de Koffi Annan herederá el conflicto de Darfur, convertido ya en genocidio, del que no se habló seriamente en la 61 Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas y que continuará olvidado a pesar de que cada día es peor.

ACTUALIZACIÓN 2: Annan era el jefe del Departamento de Operaciones de Paz (DPKO) entre marzo del 1993 y diciembre 1996. La masacre de Srebrenica -8.000 hombres y niños fueron asesinados- y el asesinato de 800.000 personas ocurrieron bajo su mandato. En Bosnia y Ruanda, los oficiales de Naciones Unidas ordenaron a los cascos azules que se apartaran de los asesinatos, aparentemente preocupados por conservar su status de observador neutral. Fue un shock para los que creyeron que la ONU estaba allí para ayudarles. [artículo en The Times].

(Lo siento: he tenido que volver a copiar el post porque una parte había desaparecido al intentar corregir unas faltas 😦 ).

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Looks like Prodi is also having problems with illegal immigration: 16.000 illegal immigrants have arrived only this year, to the Italian and little island of Lampedusa. His proposals, “ambiguous and contradictory“, are a good reflection of the several political parties which conform Italian Government nowadays. “Il Professore” has reduced from 10 to 5 years the time to grant Italian citizenship to foreigners. But this is the first step: the Social Security Minister, the Communist Paolo Ferrero, announced unilaterally a regularization which would be greater than the one Zapatero made in Spain [my goodness… another non-existent human being…].

Yesterday, Giuliano Amato, Italian Interior Minister , announced a new law. Spanish newspaper writes that it consists, basically, in abolishing the “Fini-Bossi” Act, but without any alternative measures to contain the arrival of the illegal immigrants to Italy. Yahoo News! Italy has titled their information “Amato: Sponsor per immigrati“, that is, “Amato: the immigrants’ sponsor” (via Italian blog Fard Times).

Italian Newspaper Il Corriere della Sera also writes about this: Italian immigrants will need an sponsor. According to Italian newspaper,

the Government is going to let enter in Italy only the immigrants that have taken Italian classes, a formation course for the job. Only immigrants in those lists could be admitted. BUT, instead of letting immigrants come only from countries  that would readmitting their citizens [as it is now], now this wouldn’t be necessary.

There will also be “sponsors that engage themselves financially with guarantees“. If they arrive to Italy and do not work, then these sponsors, whether associations, Chambers of Commerce, etc. would have to pay their contributions.

He also announced system of “voluntary repatriations“, which would be of a lower cost than to have them in jail.

Firstly, I think these measures are a little bit naïf: Does he really think they are going to return voluntarily to their countries of origin once they have arrived to El Dorado? I am not really sure. And what methods are they going to use if they are not willing to return?

Secondly, who is going to pay the guarantees of these sponsors? Italian contributor? Countries of origin? This is important to know, because of the cost to the average citizen the measure can have.

Thirdly, the idea of making the would-be immigrants take classes of Italian and to specialise in their future jobs, is a very good one. But, do they think that if people can arrive without any kind of these requirements and stay in the country, are they going to fulfill them? I mean, you want to come to Europe where jobs are very easy to find and everyone lives really well [or so they are saying to the would-be immigrants]. There are some friends of yours who have arrived here without any requirements and are working here. Remember Mohammed,  the Moroccan immigrant in Spain:

France is a racist country. Italy, on the contrary is ideal. If you work without bothering, Police just leaves you alone. In Spain, by contrast, if you are detained, you are thrown into jail“.

If you work, whether being legal or illegal, -should be added- without bothering… I do not know, I am not very optimistic about this. And what would be the solution if instead of entering through Italy they have entered through Spain and have gone to Italy afterwards?

And lastly, what is going to say Paolo Ferrero, the regularization man, about this “restrictive” law?

Thanks to enzo, for the help with translation.

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Yesterday I wrote about Russians being accused of a coup which intended to change the Georgian Government. Today, from the blog Taking Aim, Georgia has surrounded the Russian Army Headquarters in Tbilisi.

Have found two blogs which seem to be really good.

  1. The first one about Venezuelan reality called Venezuelan News and Views. The blogger profile says: Written from the Venezuelan provinces, this blog started as private letters to my friends overseas, letters narrating the difficult days of the 2002/2003 strike in Venezuela. These letters became this mix of news, comments, pictures of the Venezuelan situation. Unknowingly, I have written the diary of Venezuela slow decent into authoritarianism, the slow erosion of our liberties, the takeover of the country by a military caste, the surrendering of our soul to our inner demons. You should read about Anti-Semitism in Venezuela or Chavez’s concept of democracy: not applicable.
  2. The second one is about Belarus. Belarus -Bielorrusia en español- is a very unknown country in Spain. And information is always useful. But if this does not convince you, what about this photo?

If you want to laugh, Bill [Clinton] and Belinda [Stronach]’s excellent adventure. Looks like Clinton is now with the Canadian Conservative-turned-out-Liberal Stronach. Or so it is rumoured.

Newsweek: China’s Wealth Woes.

Beijing’s growing dollar hoard represents the most dangerous imbalance in today’s global economy. The United States is both importing heavily from China and borrowing heavily from the country to finance those purchases, pushing the dollar down and putting the two economic superpowers on a collision course. Washington politicians demand that Beijing raise the value of the yuan against the dollar, and Chinese officials have hinted that if pushed too hard they might shift their near-trillion-dollar reserve out of U.S. Treasury bonds, which could trigger a U.S. and global recession. The main thing preventing this confrontation is the fact that both sides have too much to lose. Former U.S. Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers once called this “the balance of financial terror.” What has gone widely unremarked is that, increasingly, this balance is threatening China as much as the United States.

The United States has been worrying for the past 25 years about a mounting trade deficit and the threat it poses to America’s financial pre-eminence. But China now views its surplus with growing alarm, too. Its dollar mountain reflects huge demand for Chinese goods and the Chinese currency needed to buy those goods.

Also from Newsweek: Silent Games.

Beijing’s goals are far more sweeping than the chicken-and-monkey metaphor could encompass. Today’s targets are not just domestic media and foreign correspondents, not just our Chinese sources and local assistants. Less than two years before Beijing hosts the 2008 Summer Olympics, authorities are in the midst of a concerted—and disturbing—effort to slam stricter controls on what Chinese know and how they know it. The aim of the recent crackdown is not only to silence individual “troublemakers,” but also to beef up institutional controls over the free flow of information. This is a grim portent for the 2008 Games, when some 20,000 international journalists are expected to descend on Beijing. “These latest measures sound a wake-up call to the international community that a closed, state-controlled Olympics is on the horizon,” warns Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China, an NGO.

Asia’s Mistery Man, about Shinzo Abe, likely to be the new Japanese leader:

What will the world see when the cameras are finally trained on Abe? The problem is that no one—not even the Japanese—really knows. At the tender age of 51, Abe is decades younger than most of his predecessors. He has no high-level government track record, and his policy views in some areas, especially in terms of economic reform, are vague. That’s caused observers to latch onto what little they do know about his ambitions—which, despite the muted reaction to his Yasukuni visit, are worrying to many outside Japan.

He’s got at least two big goals, and they’re both risky. The first is revising the Constitution to eliminate Japan’s pacifist postwar military tradition, and the second, which could be a function of the first, is defying China’s bid for regional pre-eminence. A generation ago, the first idea would have struck mainstream Japanese voters as irresponsibly radical; the second even now strikes many as fraught with uncertainty.

Rights group Slams Legal System as China Jails Blind Activist. via Causes of Interest.

Last week, authorities in the eastern province of Shandong handed a four-year jail term to Chen Guangcheng, a social activist who blew the whistle on official abuses under China’s one-child policy. Lawyers and Chen’s relatives called the trial an illegal and retaliatory move by local officials.

Background about Chen: Cina et dintorni. Chinese authorities had to postpone his judgement as his supporters gathered to protest his arrest.

Lastly, I am going to direct you to a post by Díaz Villanueva in which he quotes Danish-American-Argentinian actor Viggo Mortensen saying, about his new film, Alatriste:

“US Health system is nearly at the same level as it was in XVIth century Spain. Really, this film (Alatriste), it’s not history but plain present”.

I think it deserves no comments…

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Yesterday there was a Government’s control session in Congress. Spanish right-wing newspaper LA RAZÓN writes about it:

Nicholas Sarkozy, French Interior Minister, Otto Chilly, German Interior Minister; Rita Verdonk, Dutch Immigration Minister; Dominique de Villepin, French Prime Minister; Nicholas Schimit, Vicepresident from Luxembourg; Günther Beckestein, representative of the Interior Ministers from the German Länder; Wolfgang Schuable, Federal German Interior Minister and Franco Frattini, European Minister of Justice and Security. There can be foreign responsibles that speak about some sort of EU’s problems, but not with such unanimity and in such a contusive manner as these responsibles have been doing these past weeks about the Spanish immigration policy. And not to praise it. The long list of critical voices was shown yesterday in Congress by Mariano Rajoy.

But Mr Rajoy also extracted two political consequences:

The first, that the credit of the Spanish Government “could certainly be better”; and the second, that it’s “impossible to understand how the Minister for Labour and Social Matters (Mr Caldera or “immigrants do not read the laws”) has not been dismissed”.

The answer from Mr. Zapatero was that he:

did not admit any lectures from nobody of EU, and less from Sarkozy, remembering the riots who were “caused by citizens of foreign extraction in Paris”.

He could have charged against any other European minister critical with his Government, that there a lot, but he chose the French Interior Minister -right-, the principal defender of a harder European immigration policy. Zapatero does not support Sarkozy, but integration and multicultural pluralism seriously questioned in some countries of EU. He is so sure about this that the lectures of European politicians are not valuable for him. “They could be valuable for you” -he shouted at Rajoy- but not for this Government,  and they are not convenient for this country”. He added that “there haven’t been any critics. The European Governments and the European Commission try to cooperate in front of this challenge that for some countries has a great range”.

Surprised at the answer, Rajoy censured Zapatero for denying evidence, and demanded him a little humility to recognize his errors, and to take a look at the PP’s proposals regarding immigration. After that, Acebes showed the most shivering figures about immigration: for each illegal immigrant returned to their country of origin, 7 remain in Spain; thousands of them are not even taken to temporal living centers as they are too crowded; the calling effect has already taken to Spain 690.000 illegal immigrants and only 12.000 have been returned to their countries of origin.

Pride is one of the seven capital sins and this laic Government of us have a good proportion of it. The reason why he charged against Sarkozy can be that he is coming to Spain to participate in an interministerial conference on immigration matters. I would like to know what it is said on it… it would be funny.

The Madrid’s Autonomous TV Channel showed a report in which some immigrants were escaping easily from the temporal living center in which they were held. That same day we were told that Interior Minister has instructed Policemen not to write down or make any statistics about the immigrants who escape from those centers. When questioned yesterday about this order, the Government did not contradict it. Vice President Fernández de la Vega only answered that now immigration is more “human and noble“.

Tell that to the approximately 5.000 immigrants who have died in the trip. Tell it to the immigrants who are not granted even a health control when they are held to provide them with medicines and appropriate diagnose and treatment. Finally, look into the eyes of normal people and tell them that an invasion of nearly 1.400.000 (the 700.000 who were legalized last year and the 690.000 who have come because of the calling effect) without any control, job or even perspective of having one (if an illegal immigrant is employed by Spanish firms, the responsibles of the latter will have to face criminal punishment, aggravated by socialist laws, so they have it very difficult to be admitted in one), are not going to cause any type of security problems, not only to citizens but also to legal immigrants.

And after everything happens, laments are not necessary. Politicians should know they are experimenting with people’s lives, dreams, desires, families, jobs, etc. So please before any type of “I’m so good and clever, my critics are idiot and are not worth even the time I am dedicating them“, think a little bit. I think, so I am, said Descartes. Several political figures today do not exist -as they do not think at all-, but they harm citizens and societies a lot for being non-existent human beings from Descartes perspective.

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Some time ago, I wrote about prisoners in China being removed several parts of their bodies to sell them in the international organ market. An investigation from BBC has concluded that the market of organs appears to be thriving in China.

Organs from death row inmates are sold to foreigners who need transplants.

One hospital said it could provide a liver at a cost of £50,000 ($94,400), with the chief surgeon confirming an executed prisoner could be the donor.

China’s health ministry did not deny the practice, but said it was reviewing the system and regulations.

‘Present to society’

The BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes visited No 1 Central Hospital in Tianjin, ostensibly seeking a liver for his sick father.

Officials there told him that a matching liver could be available in three weeks.

One official said that the prisoners volunteered to give their organs as a “present to society”. [Oh, yes, and I am just so stupid as to believe it…]

He said there was currently an organ surplus because of an increase in executions ahead of the 1 October National Day.

China executes more prisoners than any other country in the world. In 2005, at least 1,770 people were executed, although true figures were believed to be much higher, a report by human rights group Amnesty International said.

In March, China’s foreign ministry admitted that organs from prisoners were used, but said that it was only in “a very few cases”.

Spokesman Qin Gang said that the organs were not taken forcibly, but only with the express permission of the convict.

But whether prisoners really are free to make up their own minds on organ donation just before they are executed is not at all clear, our correspondent says.

In April 2006, top British transplant surgeons condemned the practice as unacceptable and a breach of human rights.

But the No 1 Central Hospital carried out 600 liver transplants last year, our correspondent says, and the organ transplant industry has become big business.

So Europeans, we are so good to be opposing death penalty, but then use their organs to save lifes -nowadays this reason looks like that is OK for everyone-. The problem is that some of this organs are removed before the condemned has been killed, especially if he is a dissident -in the case of the link, Falung Gong prisoners-. Of course, BBC has not told that. So if it’s terrible that people are made to give their organs if they have not decided to, this is much more terrible, as the prisoners are “donatingalive their organs.

UPDATE: Le Monde: In China, the fight against corruption boosts the influence of the President Ju Hintao. In French, but very interesting.

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