Posted: April 22, 2014 Filed under: Asia, China, History, Japan, Think Tank, War Room | Tags: China, Deng Xiaoping, First Sino-Japanese War, Japan, Meiji Restoration, Qing dynasty, Reference News, Second Sino-Japanese War, Xi Jinping
A collection of essays on the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 has obvious implications for modern China.
For The Diplomat, Shannon Tiezzi writes; China is gearing up for the 120th anniversary of the First Sino-Japanese War, which began in 1894 and ended with China’s defeat in 1895. The war was a devastating blow to China’s then-rulers, the Qing dynasty, as China had always considered Japan a ‘little brother’ rather than a serious competitor. The war is often seen as the defining point when power in East Asia shifted from China to Japan, as Tokyo claimed control of the Chinese territories of Taiwan and the Liaodong Peninsula (site of the port city of Dalian) as well as Korea (which changed from being a Chinese vassal to an officially independent state under Japanese influence).
” The war was a devastating blow to China’s then-rulers, the Qing dynasty, as China had always considered Japan a ‘little brother’ rather than a serious competitor.”
To commemorate the 120th anniversary of the war, Xinhua published a special supplement to its Reference News newspaper. The supplement consisted of 30 articles by members of the People’s Liberation Army “analyzing what China can learn from its defeat” in the Sino-Japanese war. Summing up the articles, Xinhuasaid that “the roots of China’s defeat lay not on military reasons, but the outdated and corrupt state system, as well as the ignorance of maritime strategy.” This conclusion has obvious modern-day applications, as China’s leadership is currently emphasizing both reform and a new focus on China’s navy.
“Japan’s victory proved that its westernization drive, the Meiji Restoration, was the right path, despite its militarist tendency.”
The PLA authors laid the bulk of the blame for China’s defeat on the Qing dynasty’s failure to effectively modernize. “Japan’s victory proved that its westernization drive, the Meiji Restoration, was the right path, despite its militarist tendency,” Xinhua summarized. Political commissar of China’s National Defense University Liu Yazhou compared Japan’s reforms to China’s: “One made reforms from its mind, while another only made changes on the surface.”
Though these comments are referencing a conflict from 120 years ago, it’s easy to see the relevance for today. Xi Jinping is trying to spearhead China’s most ambitious reform package since the days of Deng Xiaoping, including not only difficult economic rebalancing but also an overhaul of the way China’s bureaucracy (both civilian and military) is organized. In other words, China still needs to finish the modernization project that the Qing half-heartedly began in the 19th century. Westernization (what today China would call modernization) remains “the right path.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 22, 2014 Filed under: Law & Justice, Think Tank, U.S. News, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, Edward Snowden, National Security Agency, NSA, Obama, Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, Reason, Ronald Bailey, United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms fail to safeguard civil liberties
For Reason, Ronald Bailey writes: In January, President Barack Obama made a much-anticipated speech at the Department of Justice outlining proposed reforms of the domestic surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency (NSA). The secretive spy agency has taken a public battering ever since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began blowing the whistle on its clandestine collection of basically every American’s telephone records.
“We will reform programs and procedures in place to provide greater transparency to our surveillance activities, and fortify the safeguards that protect the privacy of U.S. persons,” the president proclaimed. Unfortunately, Obama’s proposed changes to domestic surveillance programs are not nearly transparent enough, and fail to adequately protect the privacy of Americans.
In January, the federal government’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent agency charged by Congress with advising the president on the privacy and civil liberties repercussions relating to fighting terrorism, concluded that the NSA’s domestic surveillance “implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value.” How limited? “We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the telephone records program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation.”
The oversight board recommended that the surveillance program be terminated. In his speech, the president said that he had consulted with the board. Yet he did not heed its advice.
Instead of ending the unconstitutional domestic telecommunications spying program, Obama offered what he insisted were “a series of concrete and substantial reforms.” These include a new executive order on signals intelligence-that is, data connected with private communications-instructing surveillance agencies that “privacy and civil liberties shall be integral considerations.”
The order further admonishes intelligence bureaucrats to make sure their spying actually provides some benefit greater than the embarrassment officials will surely suffer should they be disclosed. This is the “front page test,” or how officials would feel if what they are doing were reported on the front page of a newspaper. If discovery equals discomfort, then maybe they shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 21, 2014 Filed under: China, Science & Technology, Think Tank | Tags: China, Coal in China, Electric vehicle, Greenhouse gas, Nissan Leaf, Particulates, Technology Review, Tesla Model S, Tesla Motors, University of Tennessee
China-bound: A Tesla Model S sedan.
For MIT Technology Review, Mike Orcutt writes: Sales of electric vehicles in China, the world’s largest auto market, have beenminuscule despite government incentives meant to put five million of the cars on the nation’s roads by 2020. Tesla Motors hopes to begin changing that as it makes its first deliveries of Model S sedans to customers in China this month. But while having more EVs might help China reach its transportation goals, it probably won’t improve the environment, given the country’s reliance on coal for more than 70 percent of its electricity. Making matters worse, coal in China is often dirtier than it is elsewhere, and many power plants don’t employ modern emission-control technologies.
Because China relies so heavily on coal for power, electric vehicles aren’t necessarily an improvement over gasoline-powered cars.
Recent research led by Christopher Cherry, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Tennessee, has shown that in much of the country, an electric vehicle the size of a Nissan Leaf accounts for roughly the same amount of carbon dioxide per mile driven as a comparable gasoline-powered car. On top of that, EVs in China account for a larger amount of dangerous particulate emissions than conventional cars. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 21, 2014 Filed under: Mediasphere, Russia, Think Tank, White House | Tags: Daniel Ellsberg, George Will, National Security Agency, New York Times, Pentagon Papers, Pulitzer Prize, Snowden, Washington Post
Washington Post columnist George Will on “Fox News Sunday”:
“Lenin, whose spirit still infuses the government of Russia had a name for people like Mr. Snowden – ‘useful idiots,’ he said, idealists so-called who served the interests of Lenin’s country,” Will said. “We don’t need to listen to Snowden anymore giving us lectures about the virtues of an open society when he chooses to go to earth in Putin’s Russia…”
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Posted: April 21, 2014 Filed under: Diplomacy, Russia, Think Tank, War Room, White House | Tags: Crimea, KIEV, Putin, RUSSIA, Russians, Ukraine, United States, Vladimir Putin
ForWorld Affairs Journal, Michael Totten writes: If Vladimir Putin invades Poland, I’ll eat my hat.
It’s not going to happen.
Even so, American ground troops are being deployed there as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. This is the West telling him STOP. He’s not going to invade a European Union or NATO state either way, but we’d end up sending a crazy-weak signal if all we did was collectively shrug.
“Even an unspoken threat of invasion, occupation, and annexation is enough to make Ukraine act with tremendous caution toward Moscow, but if Putin pulls the trigger, Kiev would have nothing left to lose.”
Ukraine still isn’t in NATO, however, and probably never will be, so it’s still vulnerable. Putin can slice it and dice it all over again. The US won’t physically stop him for the same reason he won’t invade Poland. Nobody wants to blow up the world, especially not over this.
So Ukraine’s vulnerable. Pro-Russian militiamen are occupying dozens of government buildings, city halls, and police stations in the eastern part of the country where many ethnic Russians live. It’s hard to say for sure if Putin is egging these people on or if they’re acting on their own, envious of their cousins in Crimea who got to go “home” without moving. Either way, they’re serving Putin’s agenda.
By annexing Crimea, he proved to the world that he’s willing to mutilate Ukraine when it displeases him, which it very much did when it cast off his vassal, Viktor Yanukovych, in February. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 21, 2014 Filed under: Education, Think Tank | Tags: Academia, Academic freedom, Edward Said, Harvard, Harvard Crimson, Harvard University, Islam, Islamic culture, Middle East, United States
For The Federalist, M.G. Oprea writes: Harvard student Sandra Y.L. Korn recently proposed in The Harvard Crimson that academics should be stopped if their research is deemed oppressive. Arguing that “academic justice” should replace “academic freedom,” she writes:
“If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of ‘academic freedom’?”
In other words, Korn would have the university cease to be a forum for open debate and free inquiry in the name of justice, as defined by mainstream liberal academia.
“This does not mean that westerners are excluded from writing about the Middle East and Islam .A westerner can do so successfully so long as their research is void of criticism. Write anything else and you will find yourself labeled an orientalist and no graduate course will touch your work with a ten-foot pole.”
Unfortunately, this is already a reality in most universities across America, where academics and university administrators alike are trying, often successfully, to discredit and prohibit certain ideas and ways of thinking. Particularly in the humanities, many ideas are no longer considered legitimate, and debate over them is de facto non-existent. In order to delegitimize researchers who are out of line, academics brand them with one of several terms that have emerged from social science theory.
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Posted: April 17, 2014 Filed under: Politics, Think Tank | Tags: Declaration of Independence, Democracy, George Will, James Madison, Liberty, Pacific Legal Foundation, Stephen Breyer, United States
George F. Will writes: In a 2006 interview, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said the Constitutionis “basically about” one word — “democracy” — that appears in neither that document nor the Declaration of Independence. Democracy is America’s way of allocating political power. The Constitution, however, was adopted to confine that power in order to “secure the blessings of” that which simultaneously justifies and limits democratic government — natural liberty.
The fundamental division in U.S. politics is between those who take their bearings from the individual’s right to a capacious, indeed indefinite, realm of freedom, and those whose fundamental value is the right of the majority to have its way in making rules about which specified liberties shall be respected.
Now the nation no longer lacks what it has long needed, a slender book that lucidly explains the intensity of conservatism’s disagreements with progressivism. For the many Americans who are puzzled and dismayed by the heatedness of political argument today, the message of Timothy Sandefur’s “The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty” is this: The temperature of today’s politics is commensurate to the stakes of today’s argument.
The argument is between conservatives who say U.S. politics is basically about a condition, liberty, and progressives who say it is about a process, democracy. Progressives, who consider democracy the source of liberty, reverse the Founders’ premise, which was: Liberty preexists governments, which, the Declaration says, are legitimate when “instituted” to “secure” natural rights.
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Posted: April 17, 2014 Filed under: Science & Technology, Think Tank | Tags: Illinois, Magnetic resonance imaging, Mind Research Network, New Mexico, Psychopathy, Ted Bundy, University of New Mexico, Wired
For WIRED, Greg Miller writes: Ted Bundy, shown here in 1978, unwittingly had a role in sparking Kent Kiehl’s interest in psychopaths. Photo: Donn Dughi/Bettmann/CORBIS
Kent Kiehl was walking briskly towards the airport exit, eager to get home, when a security guard grabbed his arm. “Would you please come with me, sir?” he said. Kiehl complied, and he did his best to stay calm while security officers searched his belongings. Then, they asked him if there was anything he wanted to confess.
Kiehl is a neuroscientist at the Mind Research Network and the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and he’s devoted his career to studying what’s different about the brains of psychopaths — people whose lack of compassion, empathy, and remorse has a tendency to get them into trouble with the law. On the plane, Kiehl had been typing up notes from an interview he’d done with a psychopath in Illinois who’d been convicted of murdering two women and raping and killing a 10-year old girl. The woman sitting next to him thought he was typing out a confession.
[Order The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience from Amazon]
Kiehl recounts the story in a new book about his research, The Psychopath Whisperer. He has been interviewing psychopaths for more than 20 years, and the book is filled with stories of these colorful (and occasionally off-color) encounters. (Actually, The Psychopath Listener would have been a more accurate, if less grabby title.) More recently he’s acquired a mobile MRI scanner and permission to scan the brains of New Mexico state prison inmates. So far he’s scanned about 3,000 violent offenders, including 500 psychopaths.
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Posted: April 17, 2014 Filed under: Law & Justice, Think Tank | Tags: Bureau of Land Management, Endangered Species Act, Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, Nevada, Old Testament, United States
The Rule of the Lawless
For NRO, Kevin D. Williamson writes: Deserts always feel like my natural habitat, and I am very fond of them. That being said, I have, for my sins, spent a fair amount of time in Clark County, Nev., and it is not the loveliest stretch of desert in these United States, or even in the top twelve. Protecting the pristine beauty of the sun-baked and dust-caked outskirts of Las Vegas and its charismatic fauna from grazing cattle — which the Bureau of Land Management seems to regard as an Old Testament plague — seems to me to be something less than a critical national priority. At the same time, the federal government’s fundamental responsibility, which is defending the physical security of the country, is handled with remarkable nonchalance: Millions upon millions upon millions of people have crossed our borders illegally and continue to reside within them. Cliven Bundy’s cattle are treated as trespassers, and federal agents have been dispatched to rectify that trespass; at the same time, millions of illegal aliens present within our borders are treated as an inevitability that must be accommodated. In practice, our national borders are a joke, but the borders of that arid haven upon which ambles the merry Mojave desert tortoise are sacrosanct.
[Kevin Williamson's book "The End Is Near and It's Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure" is available at Amazon]
Strangely, many of the same people who insist that Mr. Bundy must be made an example of for the sake of the rule of law protest at the same time that it is not only impossible but positively undesirable for the federal government to deploy federal resources to rectify the federal crime of jumping the federal border. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 16, 2014 Filed under: Art & Culture, Politics, Think Tank | Tags: America Alone, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Brandeis University, Downton Abbey, Germaine Greer, Islam, Mark Steyn, National University of Ireland, Nigel Lawson, Somalia, Spectator, Swarthmore College
“Once you get a taste for shutting people up, it’s hard to stop. Why bother winning the debate when it’s easier to close it down?”
The delightfully dyspeptic Mark Steyn writes: These days, pretty much every story is really the same story:
- In Galway, at the National University of Ireland, a speaker who attempts to argue against the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) programme against Israel is shouted down with cries of ‘Fucking Zionist, fucking pricks… Get the fuck off our campus.’
- In California, Mozilla’s chief executive is forced to resign because he once made a political donation in support of the pre-revisionist definition of marriage.
- At Westminster, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee declares that the BBC should seek ‘special clearance’ before it interviews climate sceptics, such as fringe wacko extremists like former Chancellor Nigel Lawson.
- In Massachusetts, Brandeis University withdraws its offer of an honorary degree to a black feminist atheist human rights campaigner from Somalia.
- In London, a multitude of liberal journalists and artists responsible for everything from Monty Python to Downton Abbey sign an open letter in favour of the first state restraints on the British press in three and a quarter centuries.
- And in Canberra the government is planning to repeal Section 18C — whoa, don’t worry, not all of it, just three or four adjectives; or maybe only two, or whatever it’s down to by now, after what Gay Alcorn in the Age described as the ongoing debate about ‘where to strike the balance between free speech in a democracy and protection against racial abuse in a multicultural society’.
I heard a lot of that kind of talk during my battles with the Canadian ‘human rights’ commissions a few years ago: of course, we all believe in free speech, but it’s a question of how you ‘strike the balance’, where you ‘draw the line’… which all sounds terribly reasonable and Canadian, and apparently Australian, too. But in reality the point of free speech is for the stuff that’s over the line, and strikingly unbalanced. If free speech is only for polite persons of mild temperament within government-policed parameters, it isn’t free at all. So screw that.
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Posted: April 16, 2014 Filed under: Mediasphere, Politics, Think Tank, War Room | Tags: CNN, Daily Caller, Democratic Party (United States), Frazier Glenn Miller, Kansas, Kevin Williamson, Ku Klux Klan, Peter Bergen, Southern Poverty Law Center, United States
CNN is irrelevant, and the SPLC should be recognized and branded in polite society as a “Hate group”
NRO‘s David French asks some good questions:
I’d like to thank Kevin Williamson for pointing us to perhaps the dumbest column I’ve ever read on CNN – an actual argument that allegedly “right-wing” extremists are more deadly than jihadists. In addition to Mr. Williamson’s spot-on critique, can we also say something else about jihad since 9/11? The death toll in the U.S. may be “only” 21, but the American toll overseas is at least 6,802 with well over 50,000 injuries, including 16,000 serious injuries. Peter Bergen evidently does not think this important enough to explore, but in the aftermath of the actual worst terrorist attack in American history we engaged in direct combat against jihadists in two separate countries, combat that continues in Afghanistan to this day. In that process, these jihadists not only killed thousands of Americans, they inflicted an unholy death toll on allied soldiers and civilians.
Are these American lives any less precious or important because they were lost overseas? Does the fact that jihadists have proven capable of killing thousands of the best-equipped and best-trained soldiers in the world tell him anything about the destructive potential of jihad compared to the allegedly “right-wing” Klan? (read more)
Unmentioned in some of these critiques of the discredited CNN column: Since when is a KKK member a “right wing” figure? Except in the imagination of dishonest journalists and political propagandists? The Klan was the military-terror arm of the Democratic party in the south, this is not exactly news. The accusation that the KKK is connected to conservative or right-wing ideology is pure fantasy. The famous white supremacist, anti-Semitic murderer Frazier Glenn Miller, ran for public office as a Democrat.
On the other hand, Miller ran for office as both a Democrat and a Republican, making any effort to use his ideological profile to score political points a useless exercise, as the Daily Caller‘s Neil Munro reports:
The gunman who murdered three people in Kansas on Sunday was defeated in primary races in the Democratic and the Republican parties, which could complicate any partisan effort to associate either party with the unusual anti-Semitic attack.
Frazier Glenn Miller was reportedly arrested after the attacks in Kansas, which killed one Jewish woman, and two non-Jews, a grandfather and his 14 year-old grandson.
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Posted: April 15, 2014 Filed under: Think Tank, U.S. News | Tags: Electronic cigarette, Matt Welch, Molly Ivins, Progressive Era, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, Village Voice Media
How the once-transgressive left tries to criminalize fun
For Reason.com, Matt Welch writes: When I first started hearing people on the political left describe themselves with some frequency as progressive back in the 1990s, the term did not seem tethered to the epoch-defining, early-20th-century spasm of moral crusading and government centralization that helped give us everything from trust busting to Prohibition to the Federal Reserve. As articulated by champions like Ralph Nader and Molly Ivins, the progressive label was both a way to get out from under the generation-old baggage of liberal-a term Ronald Reagan and others had turned into an epithet-and to differentiate lefties from seemingly apologetic triangulators like Bill Clinton and that now-vanished tribe known as the New Democrats.
From a libertarian perspective, ’90s progressives were good on issues the New Democrats stunk up (particularly criminal justice and the drug war) and bad on those that made the Clintonites worthwhile, such as lowering trade barriers and restraining federal budget growth. At their best, such as at the “shadow conventions” organized by Arianna Huffington in 2000, progressives of the era challenged both parties to address long-neglected issues and reverse government policies that actively damaged people’s lives.
Since many of the people who self-identified that way came of political age in the ’60s and ’70s, progressives on the whole clearly belonged to the longhaired side of the culture war. They were the ones mocking the squares, pushing the envelope on free expression, and taking up arms in the sexual revolution. The more progressive the publication, the kinkier the sex classifieds in the back.
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Posted: April 15, 2014 Filed under: Education, History, Think Tank, Politics | Tags: Liberalism, Democratic, Washington Times, Al Sharpton, African American, Frederick Douglass, Jesse Jackson, Harriet Tubman
Good article here, recommended by a reader, Tim Shey. Go here for the full article, in Washington Times Communities. Here’s an introduction:
Wayne Dupree writes: Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman are heros. Their strength and conviction to free blacks from slavery are a testament to what happens when individuals think more of their community than themselves and are willing to risk everything for a cause greater than themselves.
In comparison, modern black “leaders” like Jesse Jackson Jr. and Al Sharpton are tiny and self-serving. They don’t serve black Americans or champion freedom and liberty for all. They champion liberal politics and ideology, and that’s odd; liberals want to see blacks tucked neatly into the roles of their design.
Liberals can’t abide a black person who leaves the black plantation of poverty and handouts to stand on his own two feet; they treat with contempt a black man who turns his back on their free money to work hard to make a good life for himself and his family. How dare these dissidents show the black community what they can do with their lives if they walk away from poverty and work to better themselves?
Too many liberals think they have the black race all sewed up, and it just paralyzes them to hear of black conservatives.
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Posted: April 15, 2014 Filed under: Law & Justice, Self Defense, Think Tank | Tags: Ammunition, Arms sales, Bill of Rights, Chicago City Council, Firearm, John Lott, Second Amendment, Second Amendment to the United States Constitution
Defending the right to sell and trade arms
David B. Kopel writes: The First Amendment protects both book buyers and booksellers. Does the Second Amendment protect only people who buy guns, or does it also protect people who sell guns? Though this question has divided the federal courts, the answer is quite clear: operating a business that provides Second Amendment services is protected by the Second Amendment. District of Columbia v. Heller1 teaches that regulation of how firearms are commercially sold enjoys a presumption of constitutionality, which does not extend to prohibitions of firearms sales.
[Related: Find John Lott's essential book: More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, Third Edition (Studies in Law and Economics) at Amazon]
In the lower federal courts, there is a developing split about whether firearms sellers have Second Amendment rights which the courts are bound to respect. Seventh Circuit courts view firearms sellers like booksellers — as holders of constitutional rights. While gun sellers are subject to much stricter regulation than are booksellers, they are both protected by the Bill of Rights. Conversely, in the courts of the Fourth Circuit, gun sellers have no Second Amendment rights.
Brown v. Board of Education was not exactly a popular decision among some state and local governments, and among some lower court judges. The same is true of Heller. One form of resistance to Heller has been to read the opinion in the narrowest possible way, excluding from Second Amendment protection many normal activities involving firearms. One such form of resistance is the claim that the Second Amendment does not apply to gun sales.
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