12 thoughts on “South Koreans protest Bush’s mad cows, mad wars

  1. SKorea mounts huge security operation as Bush arrives

    August 6, 2008, 12:37 am

    SEOUL (AFP) – South Korea mounted a massive security operation Tuesday as US President George W. Bush arrived for a two-day visit and opponents of American beef imports took to the streets.

    Bush touched down at a military airport south of Seoul and was driven to a luxury hotel after a welcoming ceremony including a 21-gun salute.

    A few miles away, drum-beating and flag-waving protesters streamed into a downtown plaza ringed by hundreds of riot police and police buses.

    Conservative activists earlier in the day had staged a far larger show of strength in support of the visit.

    Police said about 7,000 officers would guard Bush, while 17,000 more were being deployed during his stay to control the beef protests — the latest in a months-long series sparked by the supposed dangers of mad cow disease.

    Thousands of troops will also be mobilised, the defence ministry said.

    President Lee-Myung Bak, a pro-US conservative, ordered tight security. The close US relationship is “the backbone of South Korean diplomacy,” he told his cabinet.

    After a decade of sometimes strained relations under liberal presidents, Lee has made stronger US ties his top foreign priority. But his first summit with Bush, at Camp David in April, ushered in a summer of discontent at home.

    His government’s decision on the eve of the summit to resume US beef imports, in a bid to pave the way for a broader free trade agreement (FTA), led to months of occasionally violent rallies.

    The rallies largely subsided after Seoul secured extra health safeguards for US beef imports. Police estimated the Tuesday evening protest at the Chonggye plaza numbered only 2,000, while organisers put it at 5,000.

    “Down with Lee Myung-Bak!” and “We oppose Bush’s trip,” demonstrators chanted. A student trampled on a picture of Bush and Lee bearing the slogan: “No Bush. No mad cow.”

    Riot police briefly fired water cannon and detained about 30 people when protesters tried to occupy a street after marching from the plaza.

    Earlier Tuesday, some 30,000 military veterans, rightwing activists and conservative Christians prayed for a strong alliance, according to a police estimate.

    “Welcome President Bush — Let’s strengthen US-Korea alliance” read a giant banner suspended from balloons. Hymns blared through loudspeakers.

    Polls show many South Koreans have a favourable view of the United States, which fought for the South in the 1950-53 war and keeps 28,500 troops in the country to counter any threat from North Korea .

    Lee and Bush will meet Wednesday for talks expected to be short on substantive developments, given that the US leader is near the end of his term.

    The two will press for early ratification of the FTA, but US officials concede there are no guarantees it can pass Congress in an election year.

    US and South Korean officials say efforts to push the denuclearisation of North Korea through six-nation negotiations will figure prominently.

    After the North handed over a declaration of its nuclear programme in June, Bush announced his intention to remove it from a terrorism blacklist.

    But Washington says the communist regime must first agree to a comprehensive protocol on ways to verify the declaration.

    Pyongyang ‘s ties with Seoul are icy following the killing of a South Korean housewife at the North’s Mount Kumgang resort in July.

    South Korea is expected to seek support for its demand to mount an on-site investigation into the killing, which happened after the tourist strayed into a military area.

    Dennis Wilder, a top aide to Bush on Asian affairs, said the US president wants the North to hold an open investigation in which the South can take part.

    The two leaders will also discuss a “21st-century strategic alliance” and global issues including Iraq and Afghanistan .

    South Korea has about 500 troops in Iraq on reconstruction work. It withdrew medical and engineering military units from Afghanistan last year.

    Wilder said the United States would like to see a greater role for Seoul in Afghanistan if Korean public opinion supported this.

  2. South Korean “Unlikely” to Send Troops to Afghanistan

    Posted on: Tuesday, 5 August 2008, 06:00 CDT

    Text of report in English by South Korean news agency Yonhap

    SEOUL, Aug. 5 (Yonhap) – The South Korean government is unwilling to consider sending troops to Afghanistan, even if US President George W. Bush puts the issue on the agenda of his summit talks with President Lee Myung-bak [Ri Myo’ng-pak] slated for Wednesday in Seoul, an informed source here indicated Tuesday.

    Ahead of Bush’s arrival in South Korea on Tuesday evening, a ranking White House official said the US president will ask South Korea to play a greater role in Afghanistan during his meeting with Lee.

    “Obviously we’d like to see a greater role for South Koreans in Afghanistan, if the South Korean people are willing to move in that direction… I think that is going to be at the heart of their discussion,” Dennis Wilder, senior director for Asian affairs at the US National Security Council, told reporters aboard Air Force One while en route to South Korea.

    South Korea withdrew about 250 medical and engineering troops from Afghanistan last year after 23 South Korean missionaries were kidnapped by Taleban insurgents. Two of the missionaries were killed, with the rest released weeks later.

    According to the source in Seoul, the Lee government is open to discussions with the US on resending troops to Afghanistan, but unlikely to respond to Bush’s potential summit proposal for a South Korean troop dispatch to the country.

    Originally published by Yonhap news agency, Seoul, in English 0804 5 Aug 08.

    (c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

  3. Convicted tycoons granted amnesty

    August 12, 2008

    SOUTH Korea has announced a sweeping amnesty for convicted business tycoons including the Hyundai Motor boss, citing a need to reinvigorate the economy.

    The aim is “to help strengthen national unity and provide momentum for business leaders and all the people to make joint efforts to reinvigorate the economy and create new jobs,” the presidential Blue House said in a statement.

    The pardons granted by President Lee Myung-bak include 74 leading business people. Among them are Hyundai Motor chairman Chung Mong-koo, SK group chairman Chey Tae-won and Hanwha group chairman Kim Seung-youn.

    Presidents have traditionally granted amnesties to celebrate Liberation Day marking the end of Japanese colonial rule over Korea on August 15, 1945.

    Critics say the pardons show the nation is not serious about cleaning up its corporate culture. Most of the convicted businessmen on the list are already free after receiving suspended jail terms.

    Hyundai’s Chung was convicted last year of raising a slush fund to bribe government officials and others. An appeal court in June upheld a suspended three-year jail sentence on him.

    Hanwha’s Kim was jailed for kidnapping and beating up bar employees after his son sustained injuries in a bar brawl. His sentence was suspended last September.

    Chey of SK received a suspended sentence for irregular business practices, including illicit stock dealing and book-keeping irregularities involving 1.5 trillion won (now $A1.2 billion).

    Former Samsung group chairman Lee Kun-hee was not included because he is still on trial. He has appealed against a suspended prison sentence imposed in July for tax evasion after he quit the nation’s biggest business group.

    Lee, the country’s first president from a business background, won office in December with a pledge to boost economic growth.

    He acknowledged the pardons would attract criticism and said he himself was “also negative” about the process.

    “However, I made the bold decision considering that business leaders face difficulties travelling abroad and they are being deterred from making new investment,” he was quoted as telling a cabinet meeting.

    “This amnesty will only strengthen the public belief that the rich always get away with any wrongdoing,” the main opposition Democratic Party said in a statement.

    In all, the pardon covers almost 342,000 people, many of them convicted of minor traffic offences.

    – AFP

  4. Stop War on Iran
    ALERT: Take Action Now to Stop War on Iran
    U.S. Naval Armada heading towards Iran

    Growing threat – Join us in mobilizing to Stop War on Iran!

    As we write, the arrival of new U.S. warships will mark the largest build-up of Naval forces in the Gulf since the 1991 Gulf War.

    The aircraft carriers USS Theodore Roosevelt and the USS Ronald Reagan, along with the USS Iwo Jima, an Amphibious Assault Ship are sailing toward the Persian Gulf to reinforce the US strike forces in the region, along with a British Royal Navy carrier battle group and a French nuclear hunter-killer submarine.

    This move follows the ominous Operation Brimstone, a massive military exercise involving more than a dozen warships from the US, England, and France in the Atlantic Ocean in preparation for a possible confrontation with Iran.

    The USS Roosevelt, which participated in the just-concluded exercise, and the USS Ronald Reagan will join two US naval battle groups in the area: the USS Abraham Lincoln with its Carrier Strike Group Nine ; and the USS Peleliu, and Amphibious Assault Ship with its expeditionary strike group.

    Naval forces now heading towards the Gulf include:

    Carrier Strike Group Nine:
    USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN72) nuclear powered carrier with its Carrier Air Wing Two
    Destroyer Squadron Nine:
    USS Mobile Bay (CG53) guided missile cruiser
    USS Russell (DDG59) guided missile destroyer
    USS Momsen (DDG92) guided missile destroyer
    USS Shoup (DDG86) guided missile destroyer
    USS Ford (FFG54) guided missile frigate
    USS Ingraham (FFG61) guided missile frigate
    USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG60) guided missile frigate
    USS Curts (FFG38) guided missile frigate
    Plus one or more nuclear hunter-killer submarines
    Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group:
    USS Peleliu (LHA-5) a Tarawa-class amphibious assault carrier
    USS Pearl Harbor (LSD52) assult ship
    USS Dubuque (LPD8) assult ship/landing dock
    USS Cape St. George (CG71) guided missile cruiser
    USS Halsey (DDG97) guided missile destroyer
    USS Benfold (DDG65) guided missile destroyer

    Carrier Strike Group Two:
    USS Theodore Roosevelt (DVN71) nuclear powered carrier with its Carrier Air Wing Eight
    Destroyer Squadron 22:
    USS Monterey (CG61) guided missile cruiser
    USS Mason (DDG87) guided missile destroyer
    USS Nitze (DDG94) guided missile destroyer
    USS Sullivans (DDG68) guided missile destroyer
    USS Springfield (SSN761) nuclear powered hunter-killer submarine
    IWO ESG ~ Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group
    USS Iwo Jima (LHD7) amphibious assault carrier with its Amphibious Squadron Four
    and with its 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit
    USS San Antonio (LPD17) assault ship
    USS Velia Gulf (CG72) guided missile cruiser
    USS Ramage (DDG61) guided missile destroyer
    USS Carter Hall (LSD50) assault ship
    USS Roosevelt (DDG80) guided missile destroyer
    USS Hartfore (SSN768) nuclear powered hunter-killer submarine

    Carrier Strike Group Seven:
    USS Ronald Reagan (CVN76) nuclear powered carrier with its Carrier Air Wing 14
    Destroyer Squadron 7:
    USS Chancellorsville (CG62) guided missile cruiser
    USS Howard (DDG83) guided missile destroyer
    USS Gridley (DDG101) guided missile destroyer
    USS Decatur (DDG73) guided missile destroyer
    USS Thach (FFG43) guided missile frigate
    USNS Rainier (T-AOE-7) fast combat support ship

    This massive deployment means that hundreds of nuclear-armed warplanes, thousands of troops, and destroyers capable of launching cruise missiles carrying nuclear weapons, bunker busters, or fragmentation bombs will be available for a strike on Iran. While Russia is bogged down with the crisis in Georgia, and China is occupied with the Olympics, the Bush Administration may believe that this is an opportune time to strike. This massive deployment is occurring as both Houses of Congress are set to approve resolutions that would mandate a U.S. blockade (which is an act of war under international law).

    The time to act is now:

    Please sign the petition online at http://stopwaroniran.org/petition.shtml

    And please help us get the word out – use the Tell a Friend Link at http://stopwaroniran.org/friend.shtml

    Also, in the next few days and weeks, we will be mobilizing in the streets against an attack on Iran. As we write, we are preparing placards, banners, and printed material to take to the Republican and Democratic national conventions. We know that the only force that will stop the warmongers in Washington is a grassroots peoples movement. We need your help to take the message to the conventions and to mobilize for other emergency actions. Please consider making a donation to help with expenses at http://stopwaroniran.org/donate.shtml

    What you can do:

    Sign the Petition at http://stopwaroniran.org/petition.shtml

    Tell a Friend
    http://stopwaroniran.org/friend.shtml

    DONATE

    HELP US STAY IN THE STREETS!
    The Stop War on Iran Campaign will be at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions with placards, banners, and literature. Please consider making an emergency donation so we can stay in the streets to help build a movement to Stop War on Iran.
    http://stopwaroniran.org/donate.shtml

    The US Naval forces heading towards the Gulf include the following:

    Carrier Strike Group Nine
    USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN72) nuclear powered supercarrier
    with its Carrier Air Wing Two
    Destroyer Squadron Nine:
    USS Mobile Bay (CG53) guided missile cruiser
    USS Russell (DDG59) guided missile destroyer
    USS Momsen (DDG92) guided missile destroyer
    USS Shoup (DDG86) guided missile destroyer
    USS Ford (FFG54) guided missile frigate
    USS Ingraham (FFG61) guided missile frigate
    USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG60) guided missile frigate
    USS Curts (FFG38) guided missile frigate
    Plus one or more nuclear hunter-killer submarines
    Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group
    USS Peleliu (LHA-5) a Tarawa-class amphibious assault carrier
    USS Pearl Harbor (LSD52) assult ship
    USS Dubuque (LPD8) assult ship/landing dock
    USS Cape St. George (CG71) guided missile cruiser
    USS Halsey (DDG97) guided missile destroyer
    USS Benfold (DDG65) guided missile destroyer

    Carrier Strike Group Two
    USS Theodore Roosevelt (DVN71) nuclear powered supercarrier
    with its Carrier Air Wing Eight
    Destroyer Squadron 22
    USS Monterey (CG61) guided missile cruiser
    USS Mason (DDG87) guided missile destroyer
    USS Nitze (DDG94) guided missile destroyer
    USS Sullivans (DDG68) guided missile destroyer
    USS Springfield (SSN761) nuclear powered hunter-killer submarine
    IWO ESG ~ Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group
    USS Iwo Jima (LHD7) amphibious assault carrier
    with its Amphibious Squadron Four
    and with its 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit
    USS San Antonio (LPD17) assault ship
    USS Velia Gulf (CG72) guided missile cruiser
    USS Ramage (DDG61) guided missile destroyer
    USS Carter Hall (LSD50) assault ship
    USS Roosevelt (DDG80) guided missile destroyer
    USS Hartfore (SSN768) nuclear powered hunter-killer submarine

    Carrier Strike Group Seven
    USS Ronald Reagan (CVN76) nuclear powered supercarrier
    with its Carrier Air Wing 14
    Destroyer Squadron 7
    USS Chancellorsville (CG62) guided missile cruiser
    USS Howard (DDG83) guided missile destroyer
    USS Gridley (DDG101) guided missile destroyer
    USS Decatur (DDG73) guided missile destroyer
    USS Thach (FFG43) guided missile frigate
    USNS Rainier (T-AOE-7) fast combat support ship

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