World View: South Africa Racial Tensions Revived

This morning's key headlines from

  • South Africa racial tensions revived with bloody mine workers confrontation
  • BBC's Humphrey Hawksley scammed by HSBC bank
  • Japanese officials to visit disputed islands after 'stunt' by Chinese activists
  • China protests visit by Japanese nationalists to disputed islands

South Africa racial tensions revived with bloody mine workers confrontation

 At least 34 people were killed, 78 injured and over 200 people arrested on Thursday in a confrontation between police using live ammunition and protesting mine workers at the Lonmin Marikana platinum mine in South Africa. Two of the dead are policemen, and police claimed that they were defending themselves from striking miners who were carrying sticks and machetes. The entire country is shocked by the incident, because it recalls the "Sharpeville Massacre" of March 21, 1960, when white policemen fired at a crowd of black protesters, killing 69.

Thursday's incident does not involve white vs black violence, but it involves racial violence nonetheless. The strike was called by the rock drillers, who earn the lowest pay (about $500 per month) and perform the hardest and most dangerous job, and who are mostly from the Basotho tribe, immigrants from the country Lesotho. The better paying and safer jobs are done by groups from the elite Xhosa tribe. The rock drillers are asking that their pay be tripled, to around $1500 per month. Independent Online (Cape Town) and BBC

BBC's Humphrey Hawksley scammed by HSBC bank

This is from the blog of BBC commentator Humphrey Hawksley:

"I have just looked too closely into a regularly renewed household insurance policy run by HSBC and uncovered an underbelly of the life of a British consumer.

The premium was increased by 100 per cent without notice or explanation. The policy which I thought was with HSBC had been outsourced to Premium Scanner which had re-outsourced it to BDML which is owned by Capita. The insurance company is Prestige which on the Internet has a telephone number in Spain. A premium charge is made on the 0845 number which begins with a lengthy rambling message. But this is not stated and the staff do not know what the charge is. In my first call to an rival insurance company, I was quoted less than half the HSBC premium for twice as much cover. HSBC claims to ‘search the most competitive price from our panel of insurers.’

In two hours of household admin this morning, I have found hundreds of pounds in small bills here and there that are being wrongly charged."

As we reported in July, HSBC Holdings is the largest bank in Europe, and has admitted to criminal money-laundering. In today's society, where fraud and extortion are rampant, it pays to check everything. Humphrey Hawksley

China protests visit by Japanese nationalists to disputed islands

A flotilla of 20 ships carrying about 150 Japanese nationalists and eight lawmakers arrived Sunday on the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, whose sovereignty is claimed by both China and Japan. The flotilla visit comes just days after Japan's coast guard arrested, and then released, a group of 15 Chinese activists from Hong Kong who visited the same islands to establish China's sovereignty. China issued a strong protest about the visit on Saturday. The flotilla visit was sponsored by Tokyo's Metropolitan Government and not approved by the Japanese government. Some of the Japanese nationalists plan to fish in the disputed waters to try to catch their breakfast. Reuters and Xinhua and Asahi (Tokyo)

Although China appears to be using its vast military power to enforce claims against practically everything in the Pacific Ocean and central Asia, there is quite a big difference between the status of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea and the Paracel and Spratly islands in the South China Sea. As we've reported, China has established "Sansha City" in the South China Sea, along with a military force that apparently plans to kill anyone that challenges China's claims to the entire South China Sea. But China can't really do something similar with the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. The reason is that, in 2010, Hillary Clinton reaffirmed that the Senkaku/Diaoyu are considered Japanese territory under the mutual defense treaty that the United States and Japan signed in 1960. Thus, the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands have the same status as Taiwan. China claims both as their sovereign territory, and we're obligated to go to war with China to defend either of them.

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