Archive for August, 2012

FUTURE BATTLEFIELDS WITH MORE TINY ROBOTS

August 29, 2012

Fox News on August 28, 2012, published an InnovationDailyNews article that “Star Wars” battlefields may seem imminent given the U.S. military’s enthusiasm for testing laser weapons on planes, ships and vehicles. But a Pentagon workshop found that lasers, cyberwarfare, 3D printers and biological tools seem unlikely to revolutionize the battlefield by 2025. Excerpts below:

Only one futuristic technology tended to stand out — swarms of tiny robots that could act as sneaky spies or clear enemy-held buildings without risking human lives. Still, that represented just one of many ideas considered during war games held among military officers and scientists at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., from Aug. 14-15.

The NeXTech workshop represented the second in a series focused on identifying game-changing technologies for tomorrow’s battlefields. A first workshop held in Washington, D.C., looked at the broader questions of what should count as a “game-changing” technology .

‘The Predator [drone was] … the Wright brothers flyer of this technology — the first generation.’

– Peter Singer, director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institute

The first scenario imagined a U.S. armored brigade assaulting a fortified city defended by enemy troops, tanks and armored vehicles. Fighting house-to-house in cities has historically led to a high number of deaths and injuries among attackers.

The big game-changer — voiced by many workshop participants — involved small robots or drones that could enter buildings and hunt down enemies without putting U.S. soldiers or Marines at risk. One expert even suggested tiny drones capable of injecting enemy soldiers with anesthetic drugs, rather than diverting their limited power supplies to mounted lasers or similar weapons.

Smaller, more powerful batteries or similar energy storage could also give the U.S. military freedom to move around without guarding vulnerable fuel convoys — a huge Achilles heel in Iraq and Afghanistan. But an energy expert said he did not see any game-changing technology for energy storage coming within a decade.

A second scenario put the U.S. military in the position of having to prevent an enemy invasion force from landing on small, inhabited islands surrounded by rich resources and claimed by several countries. That scenario resembled a worst-case result of the real-life drama involving small islands disputed by Asian countries such as China, Japan, South Korea and others.

Robots rode to the rescue once more in the Pentagon workshop’s collective thinking. Participants envisioned tiny robot spies listening in on conversations aboard enemy warships, or helping hack into the enemy fleet’s systems.

The future U.S. Navy might even send out a huge submarine as an underwater mothership for deploying a “family” of swimming or possibly flying robots, rather than risk more vulnerable aircraft carriers and their accompanying warships

A fourth scenario envisioned a “limited strategic strike” to neutralize an imaginary country’s biological weapons program or the program’s scientists. The details more or less mirrored the real-world dilemma confronting the U.S. in its attempts to discourage Iran’s nuclear weapons development.

Participants suggested a wide range of possibilities such as surveillance and espionage based on robots, cyberattacks or biological contamination. One possible “game-changer” arose from the idea of whipping up a vaccine that could be rapidly produced in huge quantities to protect military and civilian populations — a possibility limited by today’s vaccine production methods.

The workshop wrapped up with Singer reflecting upon possible mismatches between modern U.S. military values — using game-changing technologies to save the lives even among enemies — and the values of future commanders who may not have such self-restraint.

Singer also pointed out possible mismatches between what the workshop found to be truly game-changing and what the Pentagon invests in today. In that spirit, military planners may want to consider funding tiny drones research rather than focusing on aircraft-size drones or laser weapons.

Finally, Singer said that game-changing technologies have historically sped up the pace and chaos of warfare, but observed how most workshop participants had assumed future game-changers would enhance the U.S. military’s control over the battlefield.

The workshop scenarios had assumed the U.S. military would have the game-changing technologies and the enemy would simply react in a conventional manner. But many participants voiced the warning that the “enemy has a say” in how the battlefield turns out — a reminder of an upcoming Pentagon workshop that will consider the enemy’s viewpoints and reactions.

CONVENTION-BOUND PAUL RYAN SLAMS OBAMA FOR PRESIDING OVER “DEBT, DOUBT AND DECLINE”

August 28, 2012

Fox News on August 27, 2012, reported that GOP candidate for vice president, Paul Ryan, making one last stop in his hometown before flying to Tampa for the official nomination to the Republican ticket, slammed the current White House for putting the nation down a road of “debt, doubt and decline.” Excerpts below:

In an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier, Ryan teed up his speech at the Republican National Convention by stressing that the weather-delayed event will nevertheless provide a critical opportunity to draw a “contrast” with President Obama’s policies.

“The contrast between the President Obama plan, which has put us (down the road of) debt, doubt and decline, versus Mitt Romney’s vision and solutions for a better future, to get us back to prosperity, couldn’t be clearer,” Ryan said. “And what we want to do is highlight those contrasts.”

He went on to defend his tax policies, preparing for what will likely be an onslaught of Democratic attacks when the rival party holds its convention next week.

Ryan rejected the conclusion of a Tax Policy Center study, which calculated that Mitt Romney’s proposals to reform the tax code would require a tax hike on lower- and middle-income households. Obama has continually cited the study on the campaign trail.

“It’s not an accurate study, it’s actually not a study of the actual Romney plan,” Ryan said. The Tax Policy Center stated in its analysis that they do not score Romney’s plan “directly” since “certain components of his plan are not specified in sufficient detail.”

“We want to get rid of the corporate welfare, the crony capitalism stuff in the tax code,” Ryan said. “But we want Congress to participate in a transparent debate, in front of the public eye, so we can have a really good debate about how best to broaden the tax base and lower tax rates.”

“At the end of the day, it’s a choice between the president’s failed leadership, the big government that he’s offering, the borrowing that he’s offering, the spending and the regulating that he’s offering, which will give us a stagnant economy, a lost generation, not just a lost decade, and the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan plan of reclaiming our founding principles, getting back to economic freedom and liberty and reviving this economy.”

Monday’s hometown rally for Ryan was an emotional sendoff for the Janesville native, with 2,000 people gathering in his high school gym to celebrate the biggest political event the city has ever experienced.

“We’re fifth-generation Janesville, Wisconsin, natives,” a visibly moved Ryan said to the crowd, which featured the atmosphere of a pep rally profoundly colored by hometown pride. “And it’s not a unique story. It’s the American story. And the reason our family came here and the reason everybody else’s family came here is because of what this country stands for. America’s not just a piece of geography. It’s an idea.”

FREEDOM MANIFESTO: WHY FREE MARKETS ARE MORAL AND BIG GOVERNMENT ISN’T By Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames Crown Business, $26, 304 pages

August 27, 2012

Washington Times on August 26, 2012, published a review of a new book by Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames on the power of free markets. In their new book, “Freedom Manifesto,” Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames promise to explain “why free markets are moral and big government isn’t.” Excerpts below:

That’s a little bit misleading. “Freedom Manifesto” isn’t really about morals. It contains few Ayn Rand-style (or, for that matter, Gordon Gekko-style) defenses of the human instincts that propel capitalism forward. Instead, this book is about the practical effects of go ernment policy — its talk of “morality” does little more than reflect an assumption that good policy is moral and bad policy isn’t. A less bombastic subtitle might be, “why free markets make us better off and big government doesn’t.”

The basic argument here is simple, and very few Americans, conservative or liberal, would disagree with its broad contours: Free markets work. When people are able to create things and sell them, they compete with each other. As a result, prices fall, amazing new products become readily available and consumers are given countless options.

As simple as this is, Mr. Forbes and Ms. Ames are artful in explaining it. Particularly inspired is their choice of Steve Jobs, the late head of the tech giant Apple, as a prominent example of the benefits of capitalism.


In general, the book offers a solid and wide-ranging defense of the unregulated market, albeit a one-sided one. Readers should bear in mind that this is an introduction to a single point of view, not a full scholarly analysis: Mr. Forbes and Ms. Ames provide a steady stream of “noted” and “eminent” experts who agree with them…

Mr. Forbes and Ms. Ames do show an admirable willingness to dive into subjects that are difficult to address. For example, the authors give readers a respectable discussion of poverty, making two related points: First, in the absence of government, charities step up to ensure that the poor are given at least minimal accommodations. Second, the government often has done more harm than good to the poor, trapping them in cycles of dependency rather than boosting them into the middle class.

Mr. Forbes and Ms. Ames also spend a considerable amount of time pointing out the failures of government regulation and “investment.” For example, attempts to encourage lending to the poor contributed to the housing bust, and government attempts to promote environmentally friendly technologies have often gone bust, Solyndra being the most prominent example.

As November approaches, open-minded voters will want to read up on economic issues to ensure they make the right choice. “Freedom Manifesto” is a good starting point for understanding the pro-free-market point of view. It makes the case for less government in readable English, with examples galore of how an intrusive state can make us worse off.

The reviewer is Robert VerBruggen, a deputy managing editor of National Review.

ADVISE FOR ROMNEY AND RYAN ON CHINA

August 25, 2012

Weekly Standard on August 17, 2012, quoted Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan saying on China (excerpts below):

“Free trade is a powerful tool for peace and prosperity, but our trading partners need to play by the rules,” Ryan said. “This challenge focuses on China. They steal our intellectual property rights, they block access to their markets, they manipulate their currency. President Obama promised he would stop these practices. He said he’d go to the mat with China. Instead, they’re treating him like a doormat. We’re not going to let that happen. Mitt Romney and I are going to crack down on China cheating and we’re going to make sure that trade works for America.”

Patrick Chovanec, a business professor at Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management in China, wrote in to say that Ryan and presidential candidate Mitt Romney should know this about China:

1) China’s economy is not just slowing, it is entering a serious correction. The investment bubble that has been driving Chinese growth has popped, and there are no quick “stimulus” fixes left.

2) China is in the midst of a once-in-a-decade leadership transition that has not been going smoothly. The transition will take place, but it has paralyzed the Chinese leadership’s ability to respond to the country’s growing economic troubles.

3) China’s economic problems spell trouble for the U.S. on several fronts.

* First, China is flirting with devaluing its currency to boost exports—a move that will put it in direct conflict with Mitt Romney’s commitments on this issue.

* Second, China is already dumping excess capacity in steel and other products onto the export market, a tactic that is likely to inflame trade tensions and reinforce imbalances in the global economy.

* Third, in a worst case scenario, China may be tempted to provoke a conflict in the South China Sea to redirect popular discontent onto an external enemy.

All of these things are happening now and could unfold before the end of the year, or the end of the campaign.

THE COMMUNIST: FRANK MARSHALL DAVIS: THE UNTOLD STORY OF BARACK OBAMA’S MENTOR By Paul Kengor. Threshold Editions/Mercury Ink, $27, 400 pages

August 24, 2012

Washington Times on August 20, 2012, published a review of a new book on Barack Obama’s possible influence by Frank Marshall Davis, a member of the American Communist Party. The reviewer, Wes Vernon, wonders initially if Americans really know Barack Obama when they voted to make him their 44th president? Many of them had never heard of the man until he came forward to challenge Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. Excerpts below:

Paul Kengor has tracked down some history that might help explain what has led to the present-day thinking of that president, who is in a tight race to keep his job at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

In “The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor,” Mr. Kengor, a political science professor at Grove City College, identifies Davis, who died in 1987, as Mr. Obama’s mentor from boyhood well into the future president’s teens.

It took considerable digging to unearth the life story of a man who, likely far more than any other single individual, molded President Obama’s worldview — culturally, politically and about life in general.

In Mr. Obama’s autobiographical “Dreams From My Father,” Davis is identified only as a poet named “Frank.” No last name is given, nor is he mentioned in that book’s index.

Mr. Kengor produces evidence that Davis was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party USA. (His actual membership card number is cited.)

Almost 75 percent of the book goes into every available detail of Davis‘ long history of adherence to the objectives of the Soviet Union. Clearly, he was much more than a poet. Interestingly, since the connection was exposed by analysts including Trevor Loudon and Cliff Kincaid and cited by intelligence expert Herbert Romerstein, the audio version of Mr. Obama’s autobiography has eliminated all references to “Frank.”

Davis wrote for and edited communist controlled newspapers for years, first the Chicago Star, then the Honolulu Record. He faithfully toed the Communist Party line. His paper even secured an exclusive interview with then- Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, indicating “a direct line to the Soviet Central Committee.”

Much of “The Communist” reads like a history of Cold War propaganda in the United States. Readers of recent generations will be fascinated. Older students of Cold War investigations of infiltration of our institutions will want to keep the book as an updated research document on information that has emerged more recently regarding that era.

The author shines some light on early communist support for Planned Parenthood, whose founder, Margaret Sanger addressed a Ku Klux Klan rally in 1926. Planned Parenthood, which has received taxpayer dollars since 1970, provides abortion services and is widely criticized by pro-life groups.

We also learn of communist and pro-communist influences in the lives of two of today’s closest Obama confidants. Valerie Jarrett’s father-in-law and maternal grandfather worked with Davis in communist front activities. David Axelrod was mentored by a man who was “nurtured in the USSR under Stalin’s collectivization” and then refused to answer a congressional committee’s questions as to his Communist Party membership.

As we get down to the actual role “Frank” played in the life and outlook of the future most powerful man on the planet, it is established that the two met frequently not for just a few years, but a full decade; the influence was “lasting.”

Finally, Mr. Kengor makes the point that his goal “is not to declare President Obama is a communist or a card-carrying member of CPUSA.” Nonetheless, he wonders “if Barack Obama had once been a communist, which is certainly not unusual for someone of his age, then what and where and why and how did he change and why have we not heard about it?”

Wes Vernon is a journalist whose career included 25 years with CBS Radio

U.S. IS PLANNING A MAJOR EXPANSION OF MISSILE DEFENSES IN ASIA

August 23, 2012

Wall Street Journal on August 23, 2012, reported that the U.S. is planning a major expansion of missile defenses in Asia, a move American officials say is designed to contain threats from North Korea, but one that could also be used to counter China’s military. Excerpts below:

The planned buildup is part of a defensive array that could cover large swaths of Asia, with a new radar in southern Japan and possibly another in Southeast Asia tied to missile-defense ships and land-based interceptors.

It is part of the Obama administration’s new defense strategy to shift resources to an Asian-Pacific region critical to the U.S. economy after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The expansion comes at a time when the U.S. and its allies in the region voice growing alarm about a North Korean missile threat. They are also increasingly worried about China’s aggressive stance in disputed waters such the South China Sea, where Asian rivals are vying for control of oil and mineral rights.

“The focus of our rhetoric is North Korea,” said Steven Hildreth, a missile-defense expert with the Congressional Research Service, an advisory arm of Congress. “The reality is that we’re also looking longer term at the elephant in the room, which is China.”

A centerpiece of the new effort would be the deployment of a powerful early-warning radar, known as an X-Band, on an undisclosed southern Japanese island, said U.S. defense officials. The Pentagon is discussing that prospect with Japan, one of Washington’s closest regional allies. The radar could be installed within months of Japan’s agreement, American officials said, and would supplement an X-Band the U.S. positioned in Aomori Prefecture in northern Japan in 2006.

Officials with the U.S. military’s Pacific Command and Missile Defense Agency have also been evaluating sites in Southeast Asia for a third X-Band radar to create an arc that would allow the U.S. and its regional allies to more accurately track any ballistic missiles launched from North Korea, as well as from parts of China.

Some U.S. defense officials have focused on the Philippines as the potential site for the third X-Band, which is manufactured by Raytheon Co. Pentagon officials said a location has yet to be determined and that discussions are at an early stage.

Without commenting on specific plans, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said: “North Korea is the immediate threat that is driving our missile defense decision making.”

In April 2012, North Korea launched a multistage rocket that blew up less than two minutes into its flight. It conducted previous launches in August 1998, July 2006 and April 2009.

The Pentagon sent a sea-based X-Band, normally docked in Pearl Harbor, to the Pacific to monitor the most recent North Korean launch as a precaution.
The Pentagon is particularly concerned about the growing imbalance of power across the Taiwan Strait. China has been developing advanced ballistic missiles and antiship ballistic missiles that could target U.S. naval forces in the region.

China has between 1,000 and 1,200 short-range ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan, and has been developing longer range cruise and ballistic missiles, including one designed to hit a moving ship more than 930 miles away, says the Pentagon’s latest annual report on China’s military.

The proposed X-Band arc would allow the U.S. to not only cover all of North Korea, but to peer deeper into China, say current and former U.S. officials.

One goal of the Pentagon is to reassure its anxious regional allies, which are walking a fine line. Many want the U.S.’s backing but also don’t want to provoke China, and they aren’t sure Washington can counter Beijing’s rapid military modernization because of America’s fiscal constraints.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said during a visit Wednesday to the USS John C. Stennis warship in Washington state that the U.S. would “focus and project our force into the Pacific.”

Analysts say it is unclear how effective U.S. missile defenses would be against China. A 2010 Pentagon report on ballistic missile defenses said the system can’t cope with large-scale Russian or Chinese missile attacks and isn’t intended to affect the strategic balance with those countries.

The senior U.S. official said the new missile defense deployments would be able to track and repulse at least a limited strike from China, potentially enough to deter Beijing from attempting an attack.

Mr. Hildreth of the Congressional Research Service said the U.S. was “laying the foundations” for a regionwide missile defense system that would combine U.S. ballistic missile defenses with those of regional powers, particularly Japan, South Korea and Australia.

U.S. officials say some of these allies have, until now, resisted sharing real-time intelligence, complicating U.S. efforts. Territorial disputes between South Korea and Japan have flared anew in recent weeks, underlining the challenge of creating unified command and control systems that would be used to shoot down incoming missiles.

Once an X-Band identifies a missile’s trajectory, the U.S. can deploy ship-or-land-based missile interceptors or antimissile systems.

The Navy has drawn up plans to expand its fleet of ballistic missile-defense-capable warships from 26 ships today to 36 by 2018, according to Navy officials and the Congressional Research Service. Officials said as many as 60% of those are likely to be deployed to Asia and the Pacific.

In addition, the U.S. Army is considering acquiring additional Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, antimissile systems, said a senior defense official. Under current plans, the Army is building six THAADs.

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT HITS ASSANGE’S ‘WILD ASSERTIONS’

August 22, 2012

Washington Times on August 20, 2012, reported that the State Department accused WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of making “wild assertions” about the United States in an attempt to divert attention from Sweden’s investigation into whether he should be charged with rape. Excerpts below:

“He is clearly trying to deflect attention away from the real issue, which is whether he’s going to face justice in Sweden,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. “That case has nothing to do with us.”

Her remarks came in response to a speech delivered Sunday by Mr. Assange, who assailed the United States for engaging in a “witch hunt” against WikiLeaks for publishing thousands of classified U.S. military and diplomatic documents.

Mr. Assange made no mention of the rape accusations during the speech delivered from the balcony the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he remains holed up to avoid British authorities seeking to extradite him to Sweden.

WikiLeaks supporters have long claimed that the Sweden’s investigation is actually a front for a wider international attempt driven by Washington’s desire to have him stand trial in the United States.

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is awaiting trial in Virginia on charges related to obtaining and then passing archives of classified documents to WikiLeaks.
Last week, Ecuador granted asylum to Mr. Assange, who has been living in the Latin American nation’s London embassy since June.

The Obama administration has said the question of whether Mr. Assange should be forcefully extracted from the embassy or allowed safe passage to Ecuador is one to be resolved by the governments of Britain, Sweden and Ecuador.

JAPANESE LANDING SPARKS OUTRAGE

August 20, 2012

Wall Street Journal on August 19, 2012, reported the landing by Japanese activists on an island claimed by Japan, China and Taiwan that sparked anti-Japanese protests across China, as tensions continued in a pair of territorial spats roiling relations in East Asia. Excerpts below:

The disputes—involving two sets of islands whose sovereignty is contested—are stirring nationalist sentiments throughout the region in a way that hasn’t been seen since 2010, when Japan’s detention of a Chinese fishing-boat captain who had collided with a Japanese patrol vessel in disputed waters sparked demonstrations throughout China.

10 Japanese activists on August 19, 2012, defied Japanese coast-guard warnings, the coast guard said, and swam to one of the group of East China Sea islands called the Senkakus by Japan and Diaoyu by China. The islands are controlled by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan as well. The landing followed one last week by a group of activists from Hong Kong; the Japanese government deported those activists on August 17.

The landing sparked anti-Japanese protests in several Chinese cities on the 19th. About 1,000 demonstrators in the southern city of Shenzhen, across the border from Hong Kong, paraded through the city’s streets, waving Chinese flags and calling for the government to defend the country’s territorial claims against Japan. A number of Japanese-brand cars were overturned or smashed.

Protesters staged a sit-in in front of the Japanese consulate in nearby Guangzhou, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported, and a similar protest in China’s northeast city Shenyang also targeted the Japanese consulate.

Meanwhile, Mr. Noda’s government is continuing to apply pressure in a separate territorial dispute triggered by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s recent visit to the Liancourt Rocks, controlled by South Korea but claimed by Japan as well.

Mr. Lee further raised the tension with remarks in a talk to students last week that if Japan’s emperor visited Korea, he should “make a genuine apology” over the Koreans who died fighting the Japanese. The remarks were widely reported in Japan, where they were taken to mean that the emperor should offer up an apology if he wanted an invitation from South Korea.

The Japanese government said on the 17th that it wanted to take the territorial dispute to the International Court of Justice. Seoul quickly dismissed the idea, as it had when Japan proposed it in 1954 and 1962. The court requires that both parties agree to its hearing any dispute.

Foreign-affairs experts say the escalating tit-for-tat is at least partly driven by domestic politics.

On the 19th, some opposition lawmakers blasted the government’s decision to deport rather than prosecute the Hong Kong activists who had landed on the disputed island.

Sadakazu Tanigaki, president of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, said in a speech in central Japan on the 18th that the current government has proved itself incapable of diplomacy, and that his party will consider submitting no-confidence and censure motions against Mr. Noda, according to business daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun.

ISRAEL STRIKE PLANS INCLUDE IRAN CYBER-ATTACK

August 19, 2012

Washington Times on August 15, 2012, reported that any Israeli attack on Iran will open with a “coordinated strike, including an unprecedented cyber-attack which will totally paralyze the Iranian regime and its ability to know what is happening within its borders,” American blogger Richard Silverstein wrote. Excerpts below:

Silverstein claims to have obtained an Israeli briefing document outlining the Jewish state’s war plans against Iran, which, according to him, include the launching of dozens of missiles, an aerial attack, a sophisticated cyber attack and even the assassination of senior Iranian military and intelligence officials.

In the blog, Tikkun Olam, Silverstein said the document was leaked to him by a high-level Israeli source.

JAPAN IS SET TO DEPORT PROTESTERS

August 18, 2012

Wall Street Journal on August 16, 2012, reported that Japanese authorities are expected to deport 14 activists from Hong Kong arrested for landing on a disputed island, avoiding a trial that could fuel the growing territorial tensions in the region and infuriate neighbors such as China. Excerpts below:

The Japan coast guard said on the 15th that they have handed over custody of nine of the activists to immigration officials in Naha, Okinawa prefecture. Okinawa police, who have been questioning the remaining five, said those activists were still with them.

Authorities have a deadline of Friday evening, in accordance with local procedure, to decide whether to send the case to prosecutors or hand the protesters over to immigration authorities to be sent out of the country.

Japanese media reported on the 15th that the activists would likely be deported. A final decision is expected from the cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda at its regularly scheduled meeting on August 16.

The islands are controlled by Japan, which calls them the Senkaku, and claimed by China and Taiwan; they are known as Diaoyu in Chinese.

The coast guard’s inability to stop the landing was a further embarrassment to Japan, embroiled in a separate territorial dispute with South Korea over islets, halfway between the two countries and controlled by South Korea, known as Liancourt Rocks by the U.S. and other parties outside the dispute. South Korea calls them Dokdo; Japan calls them Takeshima.

Tokyo’s response contrasts with a 2010 incident when the captain of a Chinese trawler was arrested and detained more than two weeks after his boat collided with Japanese coast-guard vessels near the Senkaku islands. The government first said it would put the captain on trial, sparking a strong reaction from Beijing and triggering anti-Japanese violence in China. The Japanese government then appeared to do a U-turn and chose deportation, drawing criticism from Japanese conservatives.

Of the activists—who all traveled from Hong Kong but whose nationalities haven’t all yet been confirmed—the five initially arrested by police have been charged with violating immigration control and refugee law, an official at the Okinawa Prefectural Police said Thursday, adding that they were separately interrogated at several police stations in and near Naha. The nine other activists arrested on the same charges were questioned on a coast-guard vessel en route to Naha, before being handed over to immigration authorities.

While the activists planted Chinese and Taiwanese flags on the island, there appeared to be no physical confrontation with the Japanese authorities…

Some of the activists shouted: “The islands aren’t Japan’s, they belong to China!” as they were led off to a vessel after arriving at a port in Naha.