Saturday, January 29, 2011

Egypt: Self-Organizing Citizens Arresting Looters and Thugs

and handing them over to the Army, according to Al Jazeera reports.

Leader-less, self-organizing, ordinary citizens of Egypt are defending their neighborhoods, their heritage, their cities from thugs, some of whom are apparently government-backed. They continue to demand one thing: Mubarak must go.

Earlier, there was a report that the police had completely withdrawn from the street. Then, a report on looters and thugs armed with government-provided guns appeared. Put these two reports together, and you get an ugly but totally predictable picture from a dictatorial corrupt regime: withdraw police, release thugs (aka police or private security force pretending to be looters) to create chaos, instill fear in the citizenry who will beg for "order and security" provided by the regime.

Instead, the Army has clearly sided with the citizens, and with the Army's advice the citizens have organized themselves to defend themselves, their families, their properties.

BBC Radio reported that in Alexandria citizens stopped a bank robbery. When the citizens went through what the robbers had on them, they found a police ID.

Al Jazeera also reported that young Egyptians formed a human chain at the front gate of the museum to prevent looters from escaping, until the Army arrived. (See picture below, taken from

The Mubarak government's tactics will so spectacularly backfire.

Go Egyptians!

Al Jazeera: Government Thugs Looting in Cairo

From Al Jazeera Live blog:

7:38pm Ayman Mohyeldin reports that eyewitnesses have said "party thugs" associated with the Egyptian regime's Central Security Services - in plainclothes but bearing government-issued weapons - have been looting in Cairo. Ayman says the reports started off as isolated accounts but are now growing in number.

Gee, where did they learn to do that? (Hint: This is a rhetorical question.)


11:06pm Cairo neighborhoods are being policed by local residents wielding kitchen knives and hunting rifles, after the military called for civilians to protect their own property.

8:49pm Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Doha Center tells Al Jazeera English that the protest movement is still leader-less but says that Mohamed ElBaradei is likely prepared to assume leadership of populist demonstrations.

Good luck with that, Mr. ElBaradei.

Protesters Set Egyptian Tax Authority Building on Fire

From Reuters Live Feed:

10:30pm in Egypt. Witnesses tell Reuters that protesters have set the Egyptian Tax Authority building in central Cairo on fire.

I would suggest they also go to the central bank and see if there's any gold left.

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire! Obama Tries to Choose Sides on Egypt

Now that one of the favorite dictators of America and her Middle East allies is about to go one way or another, Obama seems to have picked the winning side and the spin is on: (1) Obama has been top of it for 2 long years, and (2) the US is behind the popular uprising.

Yeah right.

One of the outsourced White House mouthpiece, aka ABC News, reports on the first, citing David Axelrod, Obama's departing senior advisor:

Axelrod: President Obama Has “On Several Occasions Directly Confronted” Mubarak on Human Rights for the Past 2 Years “To Get Ahead of This”

In a network exclusive interview to air on Nightline tonight [1/28], we sat down this afternoon with White House senior adviser David Axelrod, the president’s closest aide, whose last day at the White House is today.

We talked about a number of issues in this exit interview, but perhaps most news-worthy were his comments on Egypt in which Axelrod suggested President Obama has for two years “directly confronted” the Egyptian president over human rights issues in order to get ahead of growing discontent among his people – a stronger characterization of President Obama’s discussions with Mubarak than we’ve so far heard from the White House.

The relevant section of the interview is below.

TAPPER: Hosni Mubarak is not a good guy and that government tortures, is repressive, doesn’t believe in the same freedoms we do and they’re also one of our closest allies in the Middle East.

AXELROD: Obviously these are the challenges of the presidency in a very difficult world. And, but the way he’s confronted it, is he went to Cairo and talked about the need, the universal human rights of people. He’s -- on several occasions directly confronted Pres. Mubarak on it. And pushed him on the need for political reform --

TAPPER: To get ahead of this.

AXELROD: -- in his country. Exactly to get ahead of this. This is a project he’s been working on for 2 years ...
... and this:

Egypt has been helpful in the region on some issues and there’s no question about that. Right now, we strongly, strongly believe that they need to restrain their security forces and police and set in motion a process to deal with the very legitimate grievances of people there.

On some issues?

Egypt has been one of the favorite places for Clinton, Bush the Lesser and Obama to send so-called "terrorists" for "rendition" (aka torture by proxy)
. Its military has been trained by Americans and equipped with American weapons, just like in many other troubled spots in the world. To the protesters on the streets of Egypt, the military and the police represent not just the corrupt, dictatorial regime of Mubarak but the United States.

Egypt was also the first Arab country to officially recognize Israel. (By the way, the Egyptian president who signed the accord, Anwar El Sadat, was assassinated in 1981 and the then-vice president succeeded him. Hosni Mubarak was that VP.)

On the second, citing WikiLeaks, UK's Telegraph reports (1/28/2011) that the US has been on top of it for not just 2 but 3 years (!) by supporting the dissidents and planning the regime change to take place in 2011. Uh huh.

The American government secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising who have been planning “regime change” for the past three years, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

The disclosures, contained in previously secret US diplomatic dispatches released by the WikiLeaks website, show American officials pressed the Egyptian government to release other dissidents who had been detained by the police.

...In a secret diplomatic dispatch, sent on December 30 2008, Margaret Scobey, the US Ambassador to Cairo, recorded that opposition groups had allegedly drawn up secret plans for “regime change” to take place before elections, scheduled for September this year.

The memo, which Ambassador Scobey sent to the US Secretary of State in Washington DC, was marked “confidential” and headed: “April 6 activist on his US visit and regime change in Egypt.”

It said the activist claimed “several opposition forces” had “agreed to support an unwritten plan for a transition to a parliamentary democracy, involving a weakened presidency and an empowered prime minister and parliament, before the scheduled 2011 presidential elections”. The embassy’s source said the plan was “so sensitive it cannot be written down”.

Well that looks as credible as Ahmed Chalabi, doesn't it?

So a revolution should be planned either by the CIA or George Soros and carried out by their favorite dissidents; otherwise it is just a terrorism.

Muslim Brotherhood didn't participate in the demonstration until Friday. El Baradei, a opposition figure, may be "prominent" in the eyes of Americans but not in the eyes of Egyptians on the street, as Robert Fisk indicates.

Judging by the disjointed, confused reaction coming from his administration (basically the effort to spin it to enhance their image, just a branding exercise again), the whole thing looks totally over the head of the ex-community organizer at the White House who increasingly rules by fiat (executive orders). Above his pay grade. This is for adults.

On top of it for two years? Give me a break.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Gold Price Drop Caused by One Single Trader Liquidating His Outsized Futures Positions

You've got to be kidding me, but that's what Zero Hedge is reporting.

Meet The Man Behind The Liquidating Hedge Fund That Blew Up The Gold Market

Over the past several weeks there had been rumors that the reason for the precipitous drop in gold was primarily driven by a hedge fund liquidating its futures positions. This has now been confirmed: "Yeah, that was just me liquidating my spread position," Mr. Daniel Shak, [of SHK Asset Management] 51 years old, said in an interview. "I had a significant, fully margined position. The dollar amount of the gold liquidation was very small, it was just a lot of contracts." Of course in the extremely jittery gold market, the kind of persistent marginal gross selling of contracts was all that was needed to spook weak hands into a consistent dump of the precious metal, which as we pointed out was beyond overdone. Judging by this morning's jump in the PM complex, SHK's liquidation is now not only over but about to promptly reverse as daytrading momos realize they were duped by one single guy. Look for gold to resume its upward advance as investors realize that the gold dump was nothing more than an ongoing futures position liquidation.

And what kind of positions did this punk liquidate? Citing WSJ:

A huge trade by a tiny hedge fund has sent shudders through the gold market.

Thanks to the nature of futures trading, Daniel Shak's $10 million hedge fund held gold contracts valued at more than $850 million, more than 10% of the main U.S. futures market, and the equivalent of South Africa's annual gold production.

But as gold prices started falling this year, the trade, which was a combination of being long and short gold contracts—bets that prices will both rise and fall—started going bad. Monday, he liquidated his position, and is returning money to clients.

As a result, the number of gold contracts on CME Group Inc.'s Comex division plunged more than 81,000, to about 500,000, the biggest single reduction ever. While his trade didn't account for all of the contracts, an average daily move is about 3,000 to 5,000 contracts.

Yes, position limit is so unnecessary, isn't it?

And this is Mr. Shak, in case you see him on the street and want to talk to him about his career-ending trade.

Live Feed from Al Jazeera

Video: Egyptian Protesters Clash with Riot Police

Footage from Russia Today.

It looks like people of all ages, not just young men. Looks very different from those color-coded so-called "revolutions" funded by George Soros. This is a real one.

You wouldn't want to be a cop in Egypt...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Robert Fisk: Egypt's Day of Reckoning

From The Independent (1/28/2011):

A day of prayer or a day of rage? All Egypt was waiting for the Muslim Sabbath today – not to mention Egypt's fearful allies – as the country's ageing President clings to power after nights of violence that have shaken America's faith in the stability of the Mubarak regime.

Five men have so far been killed and almost 1,000 others have been imprisoned, police have beaten women and for the first time an office of the ruling National Democratic Party was set on fire. Rumours are as dangerous as tear gas here. A Cairo daily has been claiming that one of President Hosni Mubarak's top advisers has fled to London with 97 suitcases of cash, but other reports speak of an enraged President shouting at senior police officers for not dealing more harshly with demonstrators.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the opposition leader and Nobel prize-winning former UN official, flew back to Egypt last night but no one believes – except perhaps the Americans – that he can become a focus for the protest movements that have sprung up across the country.

Already there have been signs that those tired of Mubarak's corrupt and undemocratic rule have been trying to persuade the ill-paid policemen patrolling Cairo to join them. "Brothers! Brothers! How much do they pay you?" one of the crowds began shouting at the cops in Cairo. But no one is negotiating – there is nothing to negotiate except the departure of Mubarak, and the Egyptian government says and does nothing, which is pretty much what it has been doing for the past three decades.

People talk of revolution but there is no one to replace Mubarak's men – he never appointed a vice-president – and one Egyptian journalist yesterday told me he had even found some friends who feel sorry for the isolated, lonely President. Mubarak is 82 and even hinted he would stand for president again – to the outrage of millions of Egyptians.

The barren, horrible truth, however, is that save for its brutal police force and its ominously docile army – which, by the way, does not look favourably upon Mubarak's son Gamal – the government is powerless. This is revolution by Twitter and revolution by Facebook, and technology long ago took away the dismal rules of censorship.

Mubarak's men seem to have lost all sense of initiative. Their party newspapers are filled with self-delusion, pushing the massive demonstrations to the foot of front pages as if this will keep the crowds from the streets – as if, indeed, by belittling the story, the demonstrations never happened.

But you don't need to read the papers to see what has gone wrong. The filth and the slums, the open sewers and the corruption of every government official, the bulging prisons, the laughable elections, the whole vast, sclerotic edifice of power has at last brought Egyptians on to their streets.

Read the entire article at the link.

Biden: Mubarak No Dictator, Should Not Step Down

So that's the official stance of the Obama administration?

Try to tell that to Egyptians...

From Christian Science Monitor:

Joe Biden says Egypt's Mubarak no dictator, he shouldn't step down...

... and wonders what the Egyptian protesters want.

Vice President Joe Biden spoke to the PBS NewsHour tonight with the most direct US governent comments yet about the gathering Egypt protests against President Hosni Mubarak's 29-year reign.

Mr. Biden's comments are unlikely to be well-received by regime opponents, as they fit a narrative of steadfast US support for a government they want to bring down. About eight protesters and one policeman have died this week as Egypt has sought to bring down the heavy hand of the state against opponents. Since the US provides about $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt a year, the repressive apparatus of the state is seen by many in Egypt as hand in glove with the US.

Egypt Goes Blank on the Net

Just a hunch, but I think Marc Faber is right on this: long US Treasuries and long US dollar for the next 3 months.



The authorities there have apparently shut down Twitter, Facebook along with the Internet connection. Text messaging is not working, and landlines are reportedly down, too.


A massive anti-Mubarak protest planned for Friday.

From Huffington Post:

Reports are emerging that Internet has gone down in Cairo and throughout Egypt, only hours before the largest planned protests yet.

According to a report from The Arabist, "Egypt has shut off the internet."

Multiple Internet Service Providers are affected according to the report, which states:

I just received a call from a friend in Cairo (I won't say who it is now because he's a prominent activist) telling me neither his DSL nor his USB internet service is working. I've just checked with two other friends in different parts of Cairo and their internet is not working either.

The news of the Internet outage came minutes after the Associated Press published a video of an Egyptian protestor being shot.

CNN reporter Ben Wedeman confirmed Internet is down in Cairo and writes, "No internet, no SMS, what is next? Mobile phones and land lines? So much for stability. #Jan25 #Egypt"

The Los Angeles Times is also reporting that BlackBerry Internet has been taken offline in Egypt.

I have a feeling that the Obama White House is very carefully monitoring the situation to see if it is ever possible to "shut down the Internet" (if not actively advising Egypt on how to...).

Here's the latest update at Huffington Post:

UPDATE: (9:45 p.m. ET) Internet intelligence authority Renesys has just weighed in with a blog post on recent developments:

Confirming what a few have reported this evening: in an action unprecedented in Internet history, the Egyptian government appears to have ordered service providers to shut down all international connections to the Internet. Critical European-Asian fiber-optic routes through Egypt appear to be unaffected for now. But every Egyptian provider, every business, bank, Internet cafe, website, school, embassy, and government office that relied on the big four Egyptian ISPs for their Internet connectivity is now cut off from the rest of the world. Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr, and all their customers and partners are, for the moment, off the air.

At 22:34 UTC (00:34am local time), Renesys observed the virtually simultaneous withdrawal of all routes to Egyptian networks in the Internet's global routing table. Approximately 3,500 individual BGP routes were withdrawn, leaving no valid paths by which the rest of the world could continue to exchange Internet traffic with Egypt's service providers. Virtually all of Egypt's Internet addresses are now unreachable, worldwide.

This is a revolution.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Massive Demand from Asians for Euro Bailout Bond

Chinese and Japanese, that is. According to the UK's Telegraph, the demand was so massive and unprecedented that they would need to apply for the Guinness world record.

From Telegraph (Ambrose Evans-Pritchard):

Asian and Middle-East investors have thronged to buy the first issue of AAA-rated bonds by the eurozone's new bail-out fund, marking a key moment in the evolution of Europe's monetary union.

The auction of €5bn (£4.3bn) of five-year bonds to fund the first stage of the Irish loan package was nine times subscribed, reflecting appetite for bonds ranked with core German or French debt but offering higher returns. The yield was 2.89pc, compared with 2.31pc for Bunds.

The outcome was not in doubt after Japan said it would buy 20pc of this month's total issue by the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), and China emerged as a white knight for EMU debt. Asian investors bought 38pc of the issue.

"It is the biggest order book ever. We will check before notifying the Guinness Book of Records but nobody can remember anything like that in the world," said Klaus Regling, head of the EFSF. Ralf Umlauf from Helaba said the auction was "a step in the direction of a eurobond".

Poor citizens of China and Japan. The result of their hard work goes to Europe to bail out PIIGS so that their large corporations continue to sell junks (in case of China) and increasingly junky products (in case of Japan) in Europe. The Japanese government actually took 20%, or 1 billion euro, according to Irish Examiner.

FYI, today's US Treasury bond auction happened to be 5-year notes, and the bid to cover ratio was 2.97. That means it was 2.97 times subscribed. But then, Timmy's Treasury Department manages to raise $35 billion every single month, at least so far.

January FOMC: Unanimous Consent to Continue the Path to Eternal Credit Bubble

or whatever they think they are doing.

January FOMC Minutes: Unanimous Vote, No Opposition To Fed's Relentless Hewlett Packard Policy (Full Redline Comparison)

Not even a token dissent from supposed monetary hawks (Dallas Fed Chief Fisher and Philly Fed Chief Plosser, and Warsh), now that Hoenig is gone.

The stock market is moving up, gold shot up, Treasurys tanked.

Just keep AAPL (for Nasdaq) and IBM (for Dow Jones) up, and we're all set.

FASB Capitulates (of Course They Do), and Perpetuates Mark-To-Fantasy for TBTF Wall Street Banks

The US stock market continues to levitate (thanks Ben), and now the FASB (Financial Accounting Standard Board) will make sure that it will levitate forever by forever securing the "solvency" of the TBTF Wall Street banks so that they can work their magic on the market forever.

From Zero Hedge's Tyler Durden citing the WSJ article and an outrageous comment by the former FDIC chairman Bill Issac, who blames the MTM (mark to market) as the reason for 2008 financial collapse:

As Bankers Kill Off Mark-To-Market For Good, Former FDIC Chairman Gloats

By now everyone is aware that following tremendous pressure by the banker lobby, which knows too well the Ponzi jig will be immediately up if Quantitative Easing's TBTF Madoffs are forced to disclose the true value of their worthless assets (yes, true value comes from asset cash flow generation, not from diluting money), the FASB decided to stop its push for a return to MTM. From the WSJ: "Accounting rule makers, bowing to an intense lobbying campaign, took a key step Tuesday to reverse a controversial proposal that would have required banks to use market prices rather than cost in order to value the loans they hold on their balance sheets." Transparency? What moron would propose that in an economy that is so obviously healthy and surging. After all, the only way to validate a surging stock market, er, economic recovery, is through bullshit numbers pulled out of the ass. That way they can pretend to tell us the truth, we can pretend to believe them, and everyone will frontrun the Fed who pretends not to be buying stocks. And it would have been great if it ended there. Alas no. Following the announcement, none other than Bill Isaac, current Chairman of LECG, but far more importantly, former Chairman of the FDIC under Ronald Reagan decided to send out a gloating email to his entire address book explaining what a moral victory it is to kill the MTM monster that is the sole reason for the near collapse of capitalism in 2008, and how truly wonderful it is for everyone to live in perpetual lack of knowledge of what the true value of any company's assets really is. Unfortunately, this just goes to show what the existing, extremely bribed, leaders of the nation's most vital organizations really think.

And before we present Isaac's note, here is some more on how the banker lobby scored one more over the US peasantry, from the WSJ:

The Financial Accounting Standards Board preliminary vote would allow banks to continue valuing many of their loans at amortized cost, an adjusted version of their original cost, as they do now. That backtracks on an FASB proposal last May to expand fair value to bank loans. The reversal is a victory for the banking industry, which says it would have hurt lending and unfairly reduce banks' book value. Supporters of the FASB fair-value proposal say it would have improved transparency and unmasked potential weakness at banks.

The FASB indicated the overwhelmingly negative reaction to its proposal from companies and investors played a large role in prompting the board to change its mind. The board received more than 2,800 comment letters on its fair-value proposal, most of them opposed to the move.

FASB changed direction on how to value loans because of "strong signals from the board's constituents," FASB Chairman Leslie Seidman said during a webcast Tuesday. She also noted that some loans—including those that banks trade actively instead of retaining in order to collect the payments on them—will have to be valued at market prices.

And the reason for why opacity rules:

At some large banks, their loans' fair value is billions of dollars less than their carrying amount.

That would dramatically reduce their shareholder equity—or assets minus liabilities—if the loans had to be carried at fair value.

Investors have said fair-value information is important to them even if they don't think it should be the criteria for valuing loans on the balance sheet, FASB members said.

Simply said, if everyone knew the truth, everyone would be insolvent.

For Bill Issac's gloating, go to the article.

Powers that be are so counting on the average Americans to remain financially ignorant so they shrug everything off.

"Fair value", if I recall, is not even a "mark to market" value. It is a value that the banks think they would get if the market were "normal". Who defines "normal"? Banks, of course.

Just like the Federal Reserve who just recently re-wrote its own accounting rules so that any loss on their toxic holdings (MBS, agency, and Treasurys) will be passed on directly to the Treasury Dept (aka US taxpayers, in case you haven't figured that out), TBTF banks write their own rules.

So why can't we write our own rules? Let's see. I think my house is worth $1.7 million, just as it was supposedly worth (so said these fine TBTF banks and their shills like Zillow) back in 2006 when the market was "normal" at 3 standard deviations away from the historical norm. And I demand that one of those fine banks give me a refi at 2% (they're getting free money, so the spread of 2% is very generous), and I want to take out equity up to 90% of the value of the house.

I have one nagging question, though.

These loans are carried on WHOSE book? The loan servicers' books? They are usually the ones who either bought or originated the loans and supposedly SOLD THEM TO REMICS. On the books of the REMICS, then? They supposedly purchased those loans but technically they didn't, as there was no proper transfer of loans in many cases (if not most, if not all - I'm leaning toward the last one).

It's all charade. Banks pretend that their loans, which they already sold long time ago, are as good as the day of origination; REMICs pretend that they actually own the loans, MBS/CDO investors pretend that their worthless paper is backed by real assets.

The only people who have taken the hit are the homeowners. It's just so sadly typical.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Protesters Are Getting Killed in Egypt, As President's Son Flees the Country

It's not being reported much in the US, but Egypt is in turmoil after the event in Tunisia. (What event in Tunisia, you ask? Where's Tunisia? Oh boy.) Protesters want the Hosni Mubarak's regime of 30 years to end, just like Tunisians ended the 23-year rule of their president. They have taken to the streets, and things are getting dicey.

From Telegraph UK (by Samer al-Atrush in Cairo):

Egyptians call for Tunisian-style revolution in 'day of wrath'

Thousands of demonstrators calling for a Tunisian-style revolution in Egypt brought the centre of Cairo to a halt last night after a "day of wrath".

The anti-government protesters demanded President Hosni Mubarak to stand down as they descended on Tahrir Square in the city centre, clashing with police who fired plastic bullets, tear gas and water cannons to prevent them marching on parliament.

"Mubarak – Saudi Arabia is waiting for you," they chanted, a reference to the former Tunisian president Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali, who flew to the Saudi city of Jeddah in the face of anti-government protests 12 days ago.

The protest was the largest seen in Cairo for years, if not decades. Mr Mubarak, 82, has been in power for 30 years, even longer than Mr Ben Ali, who was ousted after an authoritarian 23-year rule.

He has not ruled out standing for re-election again this year, or passing on power to his son, Gamal.

There were also protests in Alexandria and Suez, where two people were killed.

Police normally stamp down quickly on dissent, but reacted calmly at first. "We are all Egyptians," said one senior officer.

But as protesters started hurling stones and stormed through barricades, police moved aggressively to contain them.

Many of those who took to the streets said they were first-time demonstrators, encouraged by the revolution in Tunis. "We should make a stand like men for once," said Akram Suleiman, 28, a lawyer.

In the meantime, Gamal Mubarak, the son of Hosni Mubarak who was widely seen as the successor to his father, fled to the UK with his family. (Joining other notable exiles like Russian oligarchs and ex-Pakistani president...)

Let's see if he has managed to grab some gold like the Tunisian president's wife did...

In-Your-Face SOTU: Obama Mocks TSA Pat-Downs

Or I should say he mocked those of us outraged by the TSA groping and molesting and harassment, which are all being done under HIS order.

"... it will be faster than flying – without the pat-down."

So the President of the United States is promoting high-speed rail so that the rest of us (remember, he is exempt) can go from place to place without being molested by the government. That's inspiring, isn't it?

The text was in the speech draft, so either he or his 20-something former campaign worker-turned speech writer actually had written it. As what? A joke?

Watch the video. For a moment or two, even the Dems in Congress weren't sure whether to laugh and applaud, which they eventually did. What's there to laugh? What's so funny? What am I missing?

This president's idea of being funny is so foreign to me that I've long concluded that he is indeed an alien, a space alien just like that former prime minister of Japan who babbled about a foreigner-friendly Japan when he couldn't even take decent care of the citizens.

For those of us with earth-bound humor, here's Jessie Ventura suing the TSA.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

In-Your-Face Insult by Chinese at State Dinner (and Most Americans Don't Even Know It)

Lang Lang, a pianist from mainland China who plays piano as if it were a circus act, played an anti-American propaganda piece at the White House State Dinner the other day. And it seems the entire Communist China is laughing heartily, thinking it has enhanced China's standing.

Chinese Pianist Plays Propaganda Tune at White House (1/22/2011 The Epoch Times)

Lang Lang the pianist says he chose it. Chairman Hu Jintao recognized it as soon as he heard it. Patriotic Chinese Internet users were delighted as soon as they saw the videos online. Early morning TV viewers in China knew it would be played an hour or two beforehand. At the White House State dinner on Jan. 19, about six minutes into his set, Lang Lang began tapping out a famous anti-American propaganda melody from the Korean War: the theme song to the movie “Battle on Shangganling Mountain.”

The film depicts a group of “People’s Volunteer Army” soldiers who are first hemmed in at Shanganling (or Triangle Hill) and then, when reinforcements arrive, take up their rifles and counterattack the U.S. military “jackals.”

The movie and the tune are widely known among Chinese, and the song has been a leading piece of anti-American propaganda by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for decades. CCP propaganda has always referred to the Korean War as the “movement to resist America and help [North] Korea.” The message of the propaganda is that the United States is an enemy—in fighting in the Korean War the United States’ real goal was said to be to invade and conquer China. The victory at Triangle Hill was promoted as a victory over imperialists.

...Whether Lang Lang’s decision to play “My Motherland” was entirely his own is impossible to confirm. That his choice was known in advance to CCP officials is very likely.

Cheng Xiaonong is a former assistant to former CCP General Secretary Zhao Ziyang. He now lives in New Jersey and is a commentator on Chinese politics.

Cheng said that “The White House had to report in advance to the Chinese delegation and so the Chinese delegation would have certainly known Lang Lang’s program.”

Cheng believes, however, that the Chinese delegation would see no reason to suggest a change in the program. “The program is not against the interests of China. In fact, it is the opposite.”

I don't think so, Mr. Cheng. It is the opposite of what you say.

The Obama White House had probably known what the repertoire was going to be; so either he (or his staff) didn't know what the piece was about or he didn't care, or he approved it. (After all, speaking badly about the US is his forte.)

A pianist from any civil country might have played an American song loved by Americans, as a goodwill gesture. It's just my humble opinion, and being humble is totally out of favor these days. An official from a civil country would have gently suggested to the pianist it might not be the best of songs to play in front of the generous host.

Needless to say, civility is not Communist China's style.