VIENNA (AP) — Police arrested three people in Hungary overnight in connection with the deaths of 71 migrants found in a refrigerated truck abandoned on Austria’s main highway, a police official said Friday.
The migrants likely suffocated, said Hans Peter Doskozil, chief of police in eastern Burgenland province. A Syrian travel document was found, indicating that at least some of the dead were refugees fleeing violence in Syria, though it wasn’t clear if some were for elsewhere. The 71 included eight women and four children.
It was the latest tragedy in a year that has seen tens of thousands of people risking everything to seek a better life or refuge in wealthy European countries. Read the rest of this entry »
With Toronto the latest sprocket opera to add episodic programming to its lineup, our critics revisit the old film-vs.-TV debate.
PETER DEBRUGE: Looks like Toronto is the latest film festival to add a television section to its lineup. These days, everywhere from Sundance to SXSW to the Canadian “festival of festivals,” smallscreen content is getting a big push, which is intriguing — and even ironic — for all sorts of reasons (ironic because the state of distribution being what it is, many of the films in Toronto will end up trickling down to VOD, rather than ever getting a commercial theatrical run). On one hand, the trend isn’t exactly new: Classy longform features like “Carlos” (which premiered at Cannes in 2010), “Top of the Lake” (Sundance 2013) and “Olive Kitteridge” (Venice 2014) made their bows at top-tier film fests before going on to air as miniseries on Canal Plus, BBC Two and HBO, respectively.
“There are many, after all, who have argued that the traditional line separating TV and cinema has ceased to exist for some time now, and that the ongoing creative renaissance in television largely puts all but the very best new movies to shame.”
But Toronto’s Primetime program — like SXSW’s Episodics, which launched last year — represents something different: Rather than expanding the definition of “film” to include projects that were “made for TV” (such as Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace biopic, “Behind the Candelabra”), festivals are carving out dedicated sidebars to celebrate this competing medium. Since its invention, television has been luring eyes away from the cinema. And now, at Toronto, audiences can go watch an episodic series pilot on the bigscreen, after which they’ll have to patiently wait until the series arrives on TV to see what happens next.
[Read the full story here, at Variety]
JUSTIN CHANG: As someone who makes too little time for television even outside the film-festival circuit, I confess that the addition of Toronto’s Primetime slate (which, full disclosure, was curated by our mutual friend Michael Lerman) will have little bearing on my schedule this September — or yours, Peter, given that our assignment in Toronto will be to see and review as much in the way of new cinema as we possibly can. Read the rest of this entry »
Shootings are rare in China, which largely outlaws private gun ownership. But knifings have occurred there with some frequency in recent years, including an assault at a school in central China in December 2012 that injured 22 children and one adult.
Bethany Allen Ebrahimian writes: On the morning of August 26, a reporter and a cameraman for a local Virginia television station were fatally shot during a live television interview. The alleged gunman, now dead, apparently shot himself before being apprehended by police.
“The tragedy occurred shortly after 6:45 in the morning, Eastern Standard Time, or around 6:45 p.m., Beijing time. That’s significant, because despite the evening hour, media outlets across China were quick to provide front-page coverage of the breaking story.”
— Weibo user
The shooting quickly made national news in the United States, and outlets across the country have provided regular updates. The tragedy occurred shortly after 6:45 in the morning, Eastern Standard Time, or around 6:45 p.m., Beijing time. That’s significant, because despite the evening hour, media outlets across China were quick to provide front-page coverage of the breaking story.
State new agency Xinhua featured the shooting among its online list of top ten news items. By 10:30 p.m. in Beijing. Chinese news website NetEase had created a separate live-update webpage for the shootings. By 11 p.m. in Beijing, the state-run, often fervently nationalist Global Times had made a related photo its website’s cover photo, accompanied by a report with details of the shootings.
“The United States is a major preoccupation within China, often as a geopolitical rival held up as a kind of foil. It’s a focus for many everyday Chinese, as an object of scorn, an object of desire…or both.”
The United States is a major preoccupation within China, often as a geopolitical rival held up as a kind of foil. It’s a focus for many everyday Chinese, as an object of scorn, an object of desire — even Chinese President Xi Jinping sent his daughter to Harvard to study — or both. Within China, the high rate of gun violence in the United States is widely known and often seen as a flaw in the U.S. political system, a criticism repeated after the Virginia shooting.
Though Chinese media reports on the Virgina incident were strictly factual, the accompanying social media commentary quickly became a domestic political battleground. Around 9:20 p.m., Beijing time, Chinese web giant Sina began live-blogging about the shooting on its official news account on microblogging platform Weibo, with one post garnering more than 570 comments. Read the rest of this entry »
China’s stock market, a crude knockoff of Western versions, was practically slapped together overnight and featured countless obvious structural weak points.
“Sure, it looked fine from the outside, but anybody who saw it up close knew that it was of such poor quality that it wasn’t built to last.”
SHANGHAI—Proving to be just as flimsy and precarious as many observers had previously warned, the Chinese-made Shanghai Composite index completely collapsed Monday, sources confirmed. Read the rest of this entry »
Mike at RocketNews24 writes: There are a handful of accepted stages people go through when dealing with heartbreak. First, there is denial. Then, bargaining. Then, relapse. Anger. Acceptance. Then, finally, hope, as the subject of the breakup looks to the future and finally finds something worth looking forward to.
Or, if you’re this Chinese woman traveling in Hong Kong, you just lie down on the ground and shout at anyone and everyone who will listen until the police carry you away.
The scorned woman apparently received a text message from her boyfriend of several years with the news that it just wasn’t working out, and instead of confronting the reality of her ex kind of being a jerk and moving on with her life, she instead decided to just shut down completely, sprawling out on the ground in the middle of Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui disctrict, a major tourist hub famous for its shopping and nightlife.
She reportedly spent the next hour or more shouting nonsense at passersby, many of whom unfortunately possessed camera-equipped phones with which to record the poor woman’s meltdown, eventually landing the lady a spot on the Chinese news broadcasts, where her breakdown was treated as a sideshow not unlike a video of a pet doing something ridiculous… Read the rest of this entry »
The Dow Jones industrial average closed at session lows, off nearly 531 points and in correction territory for the first time since 2011 as all blue chips declined. The last time the index closed more than 500 points lower was on Aug. 10, 2011. In the last five years, the index has only had four instances with closing losses of more than 400 points.
“For investors the momentum and the drive of the market is now lower (than) it used to be because there’s no place to hide,” said Lance Roberts, general partner at STA Wealth Management. “Every time we hit the major technical points we kept selling.”
A trader noted that investors stopped looking at technicals and were plowing through them.
“It’s an expiration day and it looks like they’re to have for sale on the close maybe as much as a billion dollars,” said Art Cashin, director of floor trading for UBS.
The Nasdaq Composite lost 3.5 percent, also closing in correction territory and joining the other major averages in negative territory for the year.
“Right now there is a feeling of fear in the marketplace and all news is interpreted negatively and it’s interpreted indiscriminately,” said Tom Digenan, head of U.S. equities as UBS Global Asset Management…(read more)
What’s the real definition of socialism? How is it distinct from regulation and a social welfare state? Why are intellectuals still enamored of a system that brought us Stalin, Hitler, and more recently Hugo Chavez and Kim Jong-Il? And what can the United States learn from Sweden about free enterprise and capitalism?
Reason.tv’s Nick Gillespie sat down with Kevin Williamson, who is deputy managing editor of National Review and author of a new book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism, to discuss the meaning of socialism in history and the current moment.
“A fugitive is like a flying kite. Even though he is abroad, the string is held in China.”
WASHINGTON — Mark Mazzetti and Dan Levin write: The Obama administration has delivered a warning to Beijing about the presence of Chinese government agents operating secretly in the United States to pressure prominent expatriates — some wanted in China on charges of corruption — to return home immediately, according to American officials.
“American officials did not disclose the identities or numbers of those being sought by the Chinese in the United States. They are believed to be prominent expatriates, some sought for economic corruption and some for what the Chinese consider political crimes.”
The American officials said that Chinese law enforcement agents covertly in this country are part of Beijing’s global campaign to hunt down and repatriate Chinese fugitives and, in some cases, recover allegedly ill-gotten gains.
The Chinese government has officially named the effort Operation Fox Hunt.
The American warning, which was delivered to Chinese officials in recent weeks and demanded a halt to the activities, reflects escalating anger in Washington about intimidation tactics used by the agents. And it comes at a time of growing tension between Washington and Beijing on a number of issues: from the computer theft of millions of government personnel files that American officials suspect was directed by China, to China’s crackdown on civil liberties, to the devaluation of its currency.
“That reluctance reflects divisions with the Obama administration over how aggressive to publicly confront China on a number of security issues.”
Those tensions are expected to complicate the state visit to Washington next month by Xi Jinping, the Chinese president.
The work of the agents is a departure from the routine practice of secret government intelligence gathering that the United States and China have carried out on each other’s soil for decades. The Central Intelligence Agency has a cadre of spies in China, just as China has long deployed its own intelligence operatives into the United States to steal political, economic, military and industrial secrets.
In this case, said American officials, who discussed details of the operation only on the condition of anonymity because of the tense diplomacy surrounding the issue, the Chinese agents are undercover operatives with the Ministry of Public Security, China’s law enforcement branch charged with carrying out Operation Fox Hunt.
“For instance, the White House has gone out of its way to avoid making any public accusations that the Chinese government ordered the computer attack on the Office of Personnel Management, which led to the theft of millions of classified personnel files of government workers and contractors.”
The campaign, a central element of Mr. Xi’s wider battle against corruption, has proved popular with the Chinese public. Since 2014, according to the Ministry of Public Security, more than 930 suspects have been repatriated, including more than 70 who have returned this year voluntarily, the ministry’s website reported in June. According to Chinese media accounts, teams of agents have been dispatched around the globe.
American officials said they had solid evidence that the Chinese agents — who are not in the United States on acknowledged government business, and most likely are entering on tourist or trade visas — use various strong-arm tactics to get fugitives to return. The harassment, which has included threats against family members in China, has intensified recently, officials said. Read the rest of this entry »
NEW YORK — cassyfiano writes: With a countdown of “five, four, three, two, one, smooch,” couples from across the world puckered up in Times Square on Friday to mark the 70th anniversary of the famous kiss celebrating the end of World War II.
“Ellie and I are deeply honored and privileged to represent the greatest generation here today.”
— Ray Williams, 91, of Blairsville, Georgia
A 25-foot sculpture depicting Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photograph of a sailor kissing a white-uniformed nurse towered over the commemoration of V-J Day, when Japan’s surrender to Allied forces was announced.
“It’s very beautiful to commemorate such an incredible event. Especially for us. We come from a country which was occupied by the Germans … and we’re still faced with all the horrifying stories of the war.”
— Roel van Dalen, visitors from Amsterdam
Ray and Ellie Williams, Navy veterans who married the day after V-J Day, kicked off the anniversary of the kiss Aug. 14, 1945. Read the rest of this entry »
Digital News Sites Continue To Flourish
WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Online outlets are the number one source of news in the United States, surpassing both television and print, according to a new study.
The Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2015 found that 43 percent of Americans identified online sources as their “main source” of news, as reported by Tap Into. Television trails slightly behind with 40 percent of Americans citing it as their main source of news.
“We see the smart phone more clearly as the defining device for digital news with a disruptive impact on consumption, formats, and business models.”
— Nic Newman, Research Associate, Reuters Institute
Research indicates that seven out of ten magazines have lost subscribers in recent years. About half of news magazines analyzed received more visits via mobiledevices than desktops, according to Pew Research Center. The Pew study also found that print newspapers continue to struggle with circulation dropping 3 percent from 2013 to 2014.
“The U.S., United Kingdom, and Japan showed the most growth in news accessed via smartphones. Average weekly usage has grown from 37 to 46 percent across all countries, with two-thirds of smartphone users now accessing news through their devices every week.”
The new Reuters study suggests that mobile news and video news consumption online are experiencing substantial growth…(read more)
— The Economist (@EconAmericas) August 12, 2015
There might be giants sleeping in your city. They’re called Sommeils Lourds, which means ”Heavy Sleep” in French. They’re enormous and they’re napping the day away on rooftops thanks to French street artists Ella & Pitr (previously featured here). The best way to find them is from high up in the air.
But for now you can see more simply by visiting Ella & Pitr’s website.
Bi Fujian, a popular satirist and China Central Television host, came under fire in April when a video of him mocking the Communist Party leader during a private dinner was mysteriously leaked online.
Felicia Sonmez reports: A well-known Chinese TV personality who joked about revolutionary leader Mao Zedong behind closed doors will face “serious” punishment, according to state-run media, months after a video of the remarks went viral online.
Bi Fujian, a popular satirist and China Central Television host, came under fire in April when a video of him mocking the Communist Party leader during a private dinner was mysteriously leaked online. Mr. Bi swiftly apologized, but CCTV suspended him from his job and announced that it would be investigating the incident, which it said had “led to grave social consequences.”
“Before a word leaves your mouth, you are its master. Afterwards, it is your master. You can pull a nail out from a board, but it’s impossible to take a word back once it has been uttered.”
— Weibo user
Little has been heard about Mr. Bi’s case in the months since. But on Sunday, a newspaper affiliated with the Communist Party’s internal watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, sternly warned that authorities view the host’s quip as no laughing matter.
“…this is not just an ordinary disciplinary problem but rather a serious violation of political discipline.”
— China Discipline and Supervision Daily
“(Party authorities) believe that this is not just an ordinary disciplinary problem but rather a serious violation of political discipline,” the aptly-named China Discipline and Supervision Daily wrote, adding that Mr. Bi’s case would be “seriously dealt with.” It did not give further details.
The episode comes as China’s top media regulator, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, is tightening control over the TV industry with a series of new regulations aimed at keeping presenters and content in line with “socialist core values.” Read the rest of this entry »
How North Korea made the Iran deal inevitable.
Michael Auslin writes: The deal between Iran, the United States, and the European Union on Tehran’s nuclear program, if it becomes operationalized as scheduled, will ensure that Iran will have nuclear weapons by 2025, if not well before. As Michael Mandelbaum has explained , the Obama Administration’s unwillingness to credibly threaten the use of force against Tehran resulted in the abandonment of decades of U.S. nuclear principles designed to prevent the spread of uranium enrichment, combined with the removal of effective sanctions that squeezed the regime.
“With U.S. diplomacy having midwifed one failed deal and generated a new flawed one, the future will almost certainly see the further spread of nuclear weapons to dangerous regimes.”
By any account, the Vienna negotiations were an unqualified success for Iran. The reason for that is simple: America’s failed bipartisan North Korean policy set a model for would-be proliferators on how to negotiate one’s way to a nuclear weapon. Now, the unwillingness or inability of Washington to learn the lessons of the past appears to ensure that regimes desiring to proliferate have a proven roadmap to follow.
“By any account, the Vienna negotiations were an unqualified success for Iran. The reason for that is simple: America’s failed bipartisan North Korean policy set a model for would-be proliferators on how to negotiate one’s way to a nuclear weapon.”
With U.S. diplomacy having midwifed one failed deal and generated a new flawed one, the future will almost certainly see the further spread of nuclear weapons to dangerous regimes.
At almost every step of the Iran negotiations, the Obama Administration repeated past mistakes made by it, the Bush, and the Clinton Administrations. To paraphrase Barbara Tuchman, we are witnessing a nuclear march of folly. In order to prevent future similar outcomes, it’s of paramount importance that we understand the North Korean case.
The first mistake made by successive U.S. administrations, Democratic and Republican alike, in dealing with North Korea was perhaps the fatal one. Each set of U.S. negotiators assumed, or convinced itself, that a deal could be reached that would ultimately persuade Pyongyang to abandon its goal of achieving a nuclear or ballistic missile capability. Read the rest of this entry »
These Are the Finalists?
There really isn’t much by which to distinguish the flags of New Zealand and Australia. The former comes with a Union Jack flag in the top left against a deep blue background with red stars. The latter includes a Union Jack flag in the top left against a deep blue background with — wait for it! — white stars.
That’s resulted in quite a bit of confusion — usually to the disadvantage of smaller New Zealand. That country’s prime minister, John Key, has spoken of being seated in front of Australia’s flag at multilateral fora, a wonderful bit of small-country anxiety that HBO’s John Oliver recently satirized to great effect…(read more)
Better Informed Than Congress: China’s Cyber Spies Reading Emails of Senior Obama Administration Officials Since 2010Posted: August 10, 2015
The email grab — first codenamed ‘Dancing Panda’ by U.S. officials, and then ‘Legion Amethyst’ — was detected in April 2010, according to a top secret NSA briefing from 2014. The intrusion into personal emails was still active at the time of the briefing and, according to the senior official, is still going on.
Robert Windrem reports: China’s cyber spies have accessed the private emails of “many” top Obama administration officials, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official and a top secret document obtained by NBC News, and have been doing so since at least April 2010.
The email grab — first codenamed “Dancing Panda” by U.S. officials, and then “Legion Amethyst” — was detected in April 2010, according to a top secret NSA briefing from 2014. The intrusion into personal emails was still active at the time of the briefing and, according to the senior official, is still going on.
In 2011, Google disclosed that the private gmail accounts of some U.S. officials had been compromised, but the briefing shows that private email accounts from other providers were compromised as well.
The government email accounts assigned to the officials, however, were not hacked because they are more secure, says the senior U.S. intelligence official.
The senior official says the private emails of “all top national security and trade officials” were targeted.
The Chinese also harvested the email address books of targeted officials, according to the document, reconstructing and then “exploiting the(ir) social networks” by sending malware to their friends and colleagues.
The time period overlaps with Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account while Secretary of State from Jan. 21, 2009 to Feb. 1, 2013. The names and ranks of the officials whose emails were actually grabbed, however, were not disclosed in the NSA briefing nor by the intelligence official. Read the rest of this entry »
‘A Good Day’s Work’: SAS sniper gunned down a knife-wielding Islamic State maniac just as he was trying to brutally behead a father and his young son.
Nick Gutteridge reports: The brave British marksman saved the terrified eight-year-old and his father after taking out the crazed jihadi with a head shot from 1,000 metres away.
The special forces crack shot then killed two other members of the hated terror group, who were also taking part in the sick planned execution.
“Through binoculars the soldiers could see that the crowd were terrified and many were in tears….They were both wearing blindfolds and looked terrified…A tall bearded man emerged and drew a long knife…He began addressing the crowd and slapping the father and his son around the head and kicking them on to the floor.”
ISIS militants had decreed that the little boy and his father must die after branding them “infidels” because they refused to denounce their faith.
They were just seconds from death when the hero sniper intervened to stop the barbaric killing in the Syrian desert. The pair were part of the minority Shia sect of Islam which ISIS considers to be heretical.
“Standing either side of the executioner were two other Isis fighters, both armed with AK47s…The ISIS thug who was about to decapitate the father was shot in the head and collapsed…Everyone just stared in confusion. The sniper then dispatched the two henchmen with single shots – three kills with three bullets…”
They were saved from a cruel and painful death at the hands of the fanatics after an Iraqi spy tipped off British special forces to the planned execution.
Special forces troops who arrived at the killing site, where ISIS was carrying out a series of rigged ‘trials’ of locals, discovered a gruesome scene with several headless bodies already lying bloodied on the desert floor.
The dramatic rescue operation took place last month near the Syrian border with Turkey, where an elite SAS unit had been conducting covert patrols.
Defence sources described how the SAS unit moved into a position just outside a village where ISIS members were holding the ‘trial’ in front of a crowd of locals who had been forced to attend at gunpoint.
The crack team considered calling in an air strike using a Reaper Drone, but the elite troops feared many of the innocent civilians who had been forced to watch the executions might also be killed.
Instead the SAS unit decided on a risky long-range kill using the team’s sniper.