Thursday, August 25, 2016

Beijing gave up South China Sea rights after signing UN treaty, Chuck Hagel says

Huileng Tan
Nyshka Chandran

Tuesday, 12 Jul 2016

Beijing gave up its rights to the South China Sea after signing up to a United Nations convention, a former U.S. Defense Secretary said Wednesday, a day after an international tribunal ruled that China's claims of historical rights over the disputed waters were not founded on evidence.

A tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, decided on Tuesday that China's claims to the disputed waters were counter to international law.

The Philippines had contested China's expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea, which Manila contended were invalid under international law.

China, however, said its historic rights predated the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and were not at odds with the provisions of the treaty , to which both countries were signatories.

But the East Asian giant relinquished those rights when it signed the UNCLOS, former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel said.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

South China Sea ruling: About the arbitral tribunal

Goh Sui Noi

East Asia Editor

Jul 17, 2016

The ruling on the South China Sea dispute has had critics questioning the authority of the tribunal, its source of legitimacy and the strength of its ruling. East Asia Editor Goh Sui Noi examines the processes that led to the findings and legal standing of the arbitration panel.

Millennials aren’t buying homes. Good for them.

By Catherine Rampell
Opinion writer

August 22, 2016

Washington Post

Millennial homeownership rates are way, way down. And believe it or not, that’s probably a good thing.

Across all age groups, the U.S. homeownership rate — at 62.9 percent — has now fallen to its lowest level in more than five decades. Among younger Americans only, things look especially paltry.

Homeownership rates among Americans under age 35 are barely more than half the national number, at just 34.1 percent. This too is a record low and about a fifth below its peak from the go-go years of the mid-2000s.

Young people, it seems, are finding themselves falling further and further away from the American dream of homeownership. As you’ve surely heard by now, not only are they not buying their own houses, but they’re also increasingly not even renting their own places. Instead, they’re returning to — or perhaps, never leaving — the nest.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The great powers and the rule of law

Tommy Koh

The Straits Times,
22 July 2016

PROFESSOR Graham Allison is a brilliant scholar. He is currently the director of the Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Harvard University. He had served previously as the dean of the Kennedy School. On July 16, this newspaper published an article by him entitled "Heresy to say great powers don't bow to international courts'"

He concluded that: "It is hard to disagree with the realists' claims that the Law of the Sea tribunals, the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court are only for small powers. Great powers do not recognise the jurisdiction of these courts - except in particular cases where they believe it is in their interest to do so."

Prof Allison also quoted, with approval, Thucydides' summary of the Melian mantra - "The strong do as they will; the weak suffer as they must..."

Friday, August 19, 2016

China’s empty oceans

[Why Chinese Fishing Boats are encroaching on other countries' water.]


AUGUST 19, 2016

On Wednesday, Indonesia celebrated its Independence Day with a bang — blowing up several Chinese boats that had been caught fishing illegally in its waters and impounded.

China does not dispute Indonesia’s territorial claims, but Chinese fishermen have more pressing concerns. According to reports in Chinese state media this week, overfishing and pollution have so depleted China’s own fishery resources that in some places — including the East China Sea —there are virtually no fish left.

That is a frightening prospect for an increasingly hungry country: China accounted for 35 per cent of the world’s seafood consumption in 2015. Seeking catches further afield — including in Indonesian waters — is not really a solution; fish stocks in the disputed South China Sea have themselves fallen by as much as 95 per cent from 1950s levels.

If China does not want the rest of Asia’s fisheries to suffer the same fate as its own, it is going to have to think much more ambitiously about how to create a sustainable food supply for the region.

Organic Food, GM Food, and their potential to feed the World

[Three articles. First a bold claim that Organic Farming can feed 10 billion people. Spoiler: Everyone will have to be vegan or vegetarian. Presumably land used for rearing beef and other meat as well as land used to grow animal feed will be converted to farms for human food. 

Second a list of myths about organic farming.

And third, an update on the dangers of GM Food. Spoiler: 50 years of studies found no dangers.]

Bacillus thuringiensis - Organic farming tool, or GMO food toxin?

Two articles.

The first is a pro-Organic food article from GMWatch which explains why it is ok to use Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt in Organic farming, but it becomes an abomination in GM foods.

The second is a rebuttal to the first, and explains that GM Watch (and the pro-organic/Anti-GM/Anti-science lobby) has no case.]

Bt in organic farming and GM crops - the difference

One of the favourite arguments of the pro-GM lobby in support of Bt-toxin GM crops is that the Bt toxin has been safely used for decades by organic farmers.

Many thanks to Susan Pusztai for the following information which precisely delineates the very considerable differences between the use of Bt in organic farming and the use of the Bt toxin as a transgene in GM crops.

This should be read in conjunction with Arpad Pusztai's recent comments, posted to the ngin list, on the gut lesions which have been found in several animal feeding studies on GM crops.