JBS CEO Art Thompson's weekly video news update for January 2-8, 2012.

A senior communist officer who helped bring an end to a standoff between local government officials and residents of the village of Wukan, located in China’s Guangdong province, warned Chinese officials to prepare for more protests and takeovers by Chinese citizens with grievances over government corruption that has included land confiscation and other abuses.

Zhu Mingguo, a deputy Communist Party secretary in the Guangdong province, led a team that met with Wukan village residents who had taken over the community in protest over a lack of compensation for lands co-opted by local government leaders. They also demanded an investigation into the death of one of the protest leaders while he was in police custody. According to Reuters News Service, for over a week the residents “had fended off police with barricades and held protests over the death in police custody of activist Xue Jinbo, whose family rejects the government’s position that he died of natural causes, and against the seizure of farmland for development.”

On December 21, following the meeting with Zhu and other provincial officials, leaders of the protests told residents to take down barriers and allow government officials into the village. For their part, the provincial government officials agreed to take a closer look at the dealings of local Communist Party bureaucrats in the sale of farmland to developers, as well as investigate the death of Xue Jinbo.

In a front-page editorial Thursday, the publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader told readers of the statewide daily that "Ron Paul is a dangerous man." While the Republican presidential candidate's libertarian views on domestic issues are attractive to some voters, the editorial conceded, "it is Paul's position on issues of our national security that are truly dangerous."

"He has repeatedly said that we should allow Iran to continue to develop a nuclear weapon," is one of the charges against Paul in the editorial, written by publisher Joseph W. McQuaid "This is the same country whose leadership vows death to America, the 'Satanic power,' and who wants Israel wiped from the map." Yet the editorial page of the same newspaper two days earlier featured a column by Patrick J. Buchanan, in which the columnist cited the statement of Pentagon spokesman George Little in clarifying recently televised comments by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

"The secretary was clear that we have no indication that the Iranians have made a decision to develop a nuclear weapon," Little said. While statements by President Obama and the other GOP presidential candidates have either alleged or implied that Iran is right on the verge of producing a nuclear bomb, Rep. Paul has argued against forcing a military confrontation over a weapon that might not even be in the developmental stages — one that, according to the Pentagon spokesman, the Iranian government may not have even decided to build. Paul insists that our nearly nine-year war in Iraq over alleged "weapons of mass destruction" should be instructive in that regard.

The government of Japan and the communist dictatorship ruling mainland China announced a landmark agreement this week to facilitate trade between the two powers without using the U.S. dollar, relying instead on the Japanese yen and the Chinese yuan.

According to the terms of the deal, the two governments agreed to encourage trade directly in yen and yuan without having to use American dollars as an intermediary — the current practice. Companies in Japan and China will soon be able to convert the currencies directly. And the Japanese government also agreed to hold Chinese yuan in its foreign-reserves portfolio.

It remains unclear exactly how and when the agreement will be implemented. But according to news reports, both governments have already set up a working group to iron out the details. Officials said the move was aimed at reducing risk and transaction costs.

The new currency deal comes as the communist Chinese dictatorship has been taking increasingly bold steps to expand the international role of the yuan. The regime’s officials have also become ever-more vocal in attacking the dollar’s global reserve status, calling instead for a more international system managed by a world entity such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 
 

How did your U.S. Representative and Senators vote on last summer's debt deal that raised the national debt limit while promising to reduce future spending and deficit projections? How did your Representative vote on a measure that would have repealed the federal phaseout of the ubiquitous incandescent light bulb? And how did your Senators vote on an amendment to prohibit U.S. citizens  from being held indefinitely in the ongoing war against terrorism without being given a trial?

The answers to all three questions above are in our latest "Freedom Index" in the January 9, 2012 issue of The New American and also available online as a downloadable PDF.

The New American's "Freedom Index" is a congressional scorecard that rates all members of the House and Senate based on their adherence to constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty, and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements. The index is published four times each two-year congressional term; each index rates Congressmen based on 10 key votes.

Last week, the Republican presidential contenders slugged it out in Iowa. As usual, Ron Paul’s remarks concerning American foreign policy have drawn heat.  Paul is by far the most honest of the candidates. At the same time, he is also the most unpolished. In fact, chances are better than not that the former accounts for the latter.

Substantively speaking, Paul’s ideas are more cogent, and certainly more consistent with liberty, than any of those bandied about his rivals. But stylistically, he is at a disadvantage. Like or not, we are living in an imagistic age in which, as far as the electability of a candidate is concerned, style means at least as much, and often much more, than substance.

Paul, that is, needs to package his eminently sensible ideas so as to make them more palatable to both the base of his party as well as the rest of the country.

Fortunately, this is hardly as formidable a task as some may think. In fact, it isn’t particularly formidable at all.

When it comes to Israel, for example, imagine something like these words springing from the lips of Congressman Paul:
 

On Monday, Gordon Chang, the author of The Coming Collapse of China and regular contributor at Forbes.com, was interviewed on Yahoo’s Daily Ticker, where he observed, “If you look at all of [China’s] indicators, they all point down.”

Among those indicators were electricity consumption (flat), car sales (flat), property prices (collapsing), and industrial orders (down). And there is more to come, much more. The Chinese communist government is slowing the rate of growth of the money supply in order to “fight inflation,” the natural result of nearly 30 years of expanding that money supply in order to catapult the Chinese agrarian economy into the 21st century. And such slowing is having the same expected effect: As the economy slows down, bankruptcies increase, tax revenues decrease, and the economy slows down further.

Chang added, “We’ll see more obvious signs of deterioration in the Chinese economy over the next six months.” He noted that one of those signs is the increasing civil unrest including riots, bombings, and insurrections taking place across the country.

Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul engaged in sharp exchanges during the December 15 Fox News debate with fellow GOP presidential candidates Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum on whether the United States should attack Iran.

Fox News Channel host Bret Baier started the discussion on Iran in the Sioux City, Iowa, debate with a question that claimed "GOP nominee Paul would be running left of Obama on the issue of Iran." Baier had noted that Paul proposes removing economic sanctions against Iran, including the sanctions that Obama had imposed.

Paul responded by claiming the war-weary American people would be on his side. "But I would be running with the American people because it would be a much better policy," Rep. Paul replied, stressing that there's no evidence Iran is near to obtaining a nuclear weapon. "To me, the greatest danger is that we would overreact." Paul also likened the anti-Iran propaganda to the lead-up to the Iraq war, a war he opposed because he discounted exaggerated claims that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein possessed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. "That’s how we got involved in the useless war in Iraq and lost so much in Iraq."

Here's the latest "Freedom Index: A Congressional Scorecard Based on the Constitution."

The U.S. government lost a spy drone over Iran. Is it part of an ongoing covert war?  Either Iranian forces shot it down or it fell out of the sky. We may never know which, but now the Obama administration wants it back. Iran says no. It is apparently studying the craft’s advanced stealth and other technology — and perhaps attempting to reverse engineer it.
 
This is not analogous to playful kids who accidentally throw a baseball into a neighbor’s yard and ask for it back. The U.S. government has been making war sounds in Iran’s direction for years, and these belligerent noises have grown louder in recent months. While there are grounds for believing the U.S. military does not want to attack Iran, which is far larger and more populous than Iraq and would require a long, bloody involvement throughout the region, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insist that “all options are on the table.”
 

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