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Due to a holiday, ATol will next upload on Tuesday, January 18.

Al-Qaeda to unleash Western jihadis

Twelve Caucasian Canadian militants are receiving jihadi training in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan's North Waziristan for terror attacks in their home country, Asia Times Online has learned. The men, who first went to Afghanistan for specialist instruction, are a part of Al-Qaeda's growing army of white recruits to spread the flames of the South Asian war theater to the West. - Syed Saleem Shahzad and Tahir Ali (Jan 14, '11)

Sino-US hatchet not buried yet
United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates ended his fence-mending mission to Beijing with at least some modest progress and a roadmap for the two militaries in the coming months. But serious Chinese-US tensions remain, including continued American arms sales to Taiwan, and what the Pentagon sees as a lack of transparency in Beijing's defense policy. - Jingdong Yuan (Jan 14, '11)

Gates changes stripes on Okinawa
In sharp contrast to just over a year ago, United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates has struck a conciliatory tone over the future of the US Marine base on Okinawa, bowing to the interests of the islanders. With an increasingly hawkish military in China gaining the upper hand, the about-turn could signal the US doesn't want to crack an important alliance over a single issue. - Kosuke Takahashi (Jan 14, '11)

Opposition makes its move on Hariri
The future of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri is in doubt. Hariri's government has collapsed, with 11 Hezbollah-linked opposition ministers stepping down. The rebels are trying to neutralize the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which appears set to blame Hezbollah for the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri. - Sami Moubayed (Jan 14, '11)

Why peace is the business of men
The significance of involving women in conflict resolution has been recognized as key to avoiding the type of "false peace" negotiated by powerful men that soon unravels back into warfare. While Afghanistan seems a perfect place to start, women are not only up against the intractable misogyny of the Afghan leadership - but also the distrust of powerbrokers in Washington. - Ann Jones (Jan 14, '11)

Not so special
The Eurasian Face
by Kirsteen Zimmern

This photographic exploration of the Eurasian experience treads too lightly on a tumultuous history of discrimination, violence and stigma, dismissing the identity crisis many Eurasians still feel as an amusing reminiscence. While its subjects are young and old, and drawn from all walks of life, their shallow portraits make the reconciling of ethnicities sound far too easy. - Kent Ewing (Jan 14, '11)

China tries to steal a march

Just as United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates was about to arrive on a fence-mending visit, a prototype Chinese stealth fighter called the J-20 took flight over Chengdu amid much media attention. Clearly Beijing is trying to send a message to Washington about how far its aviation industry has progressed. However, it's doubtful the J-20 is a serious threat to US air superiority. - Trefor Moss (Jan 13, '11)

Nation of 'wusses' gets wake-up call
An offhand comment by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has struck a nerve in the American psyche. Rendell saw a lack of national fortitude behind a decision to cancel a football game due to a blizzard, adding this "wussiness" helped explain why those pesky Chinese are beating the United States at a game it invented - national economics. - Benjamin A Shobert (Jan 13, '11)

IAEA has an Iran headache
Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has done nothing to dispel a cloud of suspicion that the United Nations nuclear watchdog has increasingly turned itself into an instrument of United States policy on Iran. That leaves him exposed to questions about the quality of evidence backing others' claims that Iran is in the process of acquiring nuclear weapons. - Kaveh L Afrasiabi (Jan 13, '11)

India's 'Mr Clean' in muddy times
With graft scandals in his ruling coalition undermining his corruption-free image and a food-price crisis deepening economic woes, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is fighting to save his government’s credibility. He faces a stark choice of sticking with graft-tainted elements to keep the coalition in power, or jettisoning them and risking early elections. - Raja Murthy (Jan 13, '11)

Don't ask, don't tell
Whereas South Korean and United States forces are well-prepared for any fallout should North Korea collapse, contingencies for dealing with China's response are non-existent. If the subject was taboo in US Defense Secretary Robert Gates' visit to Beijing this week, that's because China won't risk losing influence with Pyongyang over an event it thinks has slim chance of happening, and it doesn't trust the US. - Sunny Lee (Jan 13, '11)

Weapons giant becomes Big Brother
Have you noticed that Lockheed Martin, the giant weapons corporation that receives one of every $14 doled out by the Pentagon, is shadowing you? No? Then you haven't been paying much attention. Put it this way: If you have a life, Lockheed Martin is likely a part of it. - William Hartung (Jan 13, '11)

Iran deals itself into African game
With its abundant resources and fast-growing consumer economy, Africa has become a battleground for foreign investors, and much attention has been given to Chinese and American economic and strategic maneuvers on the continent. Iran has also become a player in Africa, where it sees a chance to sidestep sanctions and cement its role as a leader of the "non-aligned" world. - Chris Zambelis (Jan 12, '11)

Masters of hate
locked and loaded

A right-wing gunman shoots a US congresswoman as part of a kill spree; the American gulag at Guantanamo Bay celebrates nine years of extra-legal repression; WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange prepares his legal defense amid calls for his assassination. There are connections here, and they aren't pretty. But in an America rushing headlong towards fascism, they are barely making a ripple. - Pepe Escobar (Jan 12, '11)

North Korea's end is nigh - or is it?
South Korea is awash with reports that North Korea is about to collapse, and all that South Korea and the United States have to do is remain "patient" and the peninsula will be reunited. The gloom-and-doom scenario fits with Seoul's desire for regime change in Pyongyang, but all the hype could be little more than wishful thinking. - Sunny Lee (Jan 12, '11)

Trust is a must for
superpower summit

As he meets Chinese President Hu Jintao soon in Washington, the challenge facing United States President Barack Obama is not simply how to deal with a rising superpower, but how to start coping with a world in which there are too many centers of power. The US and China have to take the lead to defuse most of the tensions building up, but the mutual trust that requires could be hard to muster. - Francesco Sisci (Jan 12, '11)

Sodomy and Sufism
in Afgaynistan

Researchers from a US Marine battalion in southern Afghanistan have made a disturbing discovery about Pashtun sexuality: that for the men, most of their sexual contact is with males. The marine report blames cultural restrictions on contact between men and women, but this ignores the broader role of homosexuality in Islamic (and especially Sufi) culture. (Jan 10, '11)

India cotton curb
spices onion row

India is to introduce subsidies to halve the price of onions, an essential part of the subcontinent's diet, as Pakistan continues a ban on overland exports of the bulb. Unseasonal rains are blamed for shortages, but an Indian ban on cotton exports to Pakistan is now appearing in the stew of negotiations. - Syed Fazl-e-Haider

No hunger at the Fed
While US policymakers at the Federal Reserve appear unconcerned, if not entirely oblivious, to the danger of rising inflation, people in India and elsewhere are suffering as food and energy prices rise - in no small part as a consequence of Federal Reserve actions. - Hossein Askari and Noureddine Krichene

Strong enough for hope
Modest overall gains in Asia's stock markets should please investors even as volatility remains high. But with central banks having to confront the threat of inflation, rate increases could affect future progress.
R M Cutler runs his eye over the ups and downs in the week's markets.


Small, smart and painful
Hewlett Packard and its big-box rivals are feeling the pain as consumers opt for small and lightweight computing solutions. Gaming console sales are also sliding, with Internet alternatives offering savings on space and spending.
Martin J Young surveys the week's developments in computing, science, gaming and gizmos.


Inflation arsenal
If there is one thing that a Junior Mogambo Ranger knows, it is to buy gold and silver when inflation is rising, as it is, and it will continue to, because the Federal Reserve is creating more and more money. Guns and cannons, and a few James Bond devices, should be part of your inflation arsenal too.

Alisher Usmanov - An Apology
On 12 January 2011 we published an article entitled "Two toxic bubbles in one" which falsely alleged that Russian businessman Alisher Usmanov had a criminal record and would misuse Facebook user data.

We now accept that these allegations are false and should not have been made.
Mr Usmanov unjustly spent six years in an Uzbek jail after he had been unlawfully and unfairly convicted in 1980 on fabricated evidence. In 1989, a Soviet court removed his criminal record. In 2000, the Supreme Court of Uzbekistan ruled that the original conviction was unjust, no crime was ever committed, and that the evidence was fabricated. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of 1980 and terminated the case for the absence of the constituent elements of a crime. Mr Usmanov was thus conclusively found to be innocent of the crimes which were alleged to have been committed.

As a result, Mr Usmanov has no criminal record, and it was determined by the court of law that he had never committed a crime. We apologise to Mr Usmanov for any distress caused by the publication of these false allegations.

Just the facts
The dollar, stocks and bond markets began the year strongly, but a former central banker warns that as governments struggle to control deficits the sovereign debt crisis is moving into its third act, with fears of a sovereign default "manifest" in Europe and soon to spread to Japan and the US.
Doug Noland looks at the previous week's events each Monday. (Jan 10, '11)

[Re Sodomy and Sufism in Afgaynistan, Jan 10] Why is Spengler so obsessed with sex in the Muslim world?
Lester Ness
   Go to Letters to the Editor

1. China tries to steal a march

2. Weapons giant becomes Big Brother

3. Sodomy and Sufism in Afgaynistan

4. Masters of hate locked and loaded

5. Nation of 'wusses' gets wake-up call

6. North Korea's end is nigh - or is it?

7. Don't ask, don't tell

8. Iran deals itself into African game

9. IAEA has an Iran headache

10. Tajikistan gas find a game changer

(24 hours to 11:59pm ET, Jan 13, 2011)

Tributes to Allen Quicke
Editor-in-Chief of Asia Times Online who died on August 17, 2010.


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