Now You Can Make Diamonds in a Microwave

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Lab-Grown Diamonds Made In A Microwave Are Now A Thing. 

 reports: Diamonds really are forever, now that we can manufacture them.

“The man-made diamonds are starting to be sold by retailers such as Wal-Mart , although they still make up just a small fraction of total diamond sales.”

There’s a growing market for man-made jewels grown in science labs, Bloomberg reports. The diamonds are made by placing a carbon seed in a microwave chamber and superheating the substance into a plasma ball, which crystallizes into the much-desired jewels. Experts can only tell the difference between the manufactured diamonds and traditionally mined ones using a machine…(read more)

Source: Fortune


‘We’re Always Among the First to Learn America’s Bad News’: Chinese Media

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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.

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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.

[Read the full text here, at ForeignPolicy.com]

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 »


Michael Barone: ‘Open Borders Would Produce Dystopia’, says Open Borders Advocate

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Such large immigration would result in ‘certain American ideals’ dying — equality of opportunity, the social safety net, one-person-one-vote and bans on discrimination in employment. 

Barone-3Michael Barone writes: Believe it or not, there is a group of free market economists arguing for open borders — no restrictions on immigration to the United States at all (or nothing beyond public health restrictions, like those enforced on Ellis Island). Their idea is that the only way to reduce global economic inequality is to allow people to migrate in unlimited numbers to countries with more advanced economies. Of course that would reduce economic inequality globally. But what would it do to the United States?

 “We would see some modern latifundia, worked not by slaves this time…but by voluntary immigrants, working for pay rates that would strike native-born Americans as a form of slave labor.”

Answers of an unsettling sort come from Open Borders advocate Nathan Smith, an assistant professor of economics at Fresno Pacific University. He says that such large immigration would result in “certain American ideals” dying — equality of opportunity, the social safety net, one-person-one-vote and bans on discrimination in employment. Non-immigrant Americans would limit voting so they’d remain a majority and could “vote themselves increasing handouts from a burgeoning Treasury.”

“Non-immigrant Americans would limit voting so they’d remain a majority and could ‘vote themselves increasing handouts from a burgeoning Treasury.'”

People would increasingly segregate themselves in gated communities and ethnic ghettoes. “We would see some modern latifundia, worked not by slaves this time [as in the Roman Empire] but by voluntary immigrants, working for pay rates that would strike native-born Americans as a form of slave labor.”

[Read the full text here, at Washington Examiner]

There would be good news as well: lots of economic growth and rises in land values. Read the rest of this entry »


Shoddy Chinese-Made Stock Market Collapses

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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 »


China Stock Markets: Sharpest Dive Since 2007

China-Selloff

China’s stock markets suffered their sharpest daily fall since the global financial crisis on Monday, with the government withholding support at a time when investors world-wide have been rattled by volatile selling in China and a slowdown in its economy. As WSJ’s Chao Deng and Anjani Trivedi report:

The Shanghai Composite Index’s loss of 8.5% by Monday’s close was its largest daily percentage decline since February 2007. Today’s performance reminded investors of an 8.5% drop on July 27, when worries mounted that authorities were pulling back on measures to prop up the market.

Monday’s performance erased Shanghai’s gains for the year, reverberated across Asia and weighed on global markets at an inopportune time for China. Next week, it will host world leaders for a memorial parade meant to show off its military power and increasing clout on the global stage. In addition, Chinese President Xi Jinping is slated to visit the U.S. next month. But a global selloff was already gathering pace by late afternoon in Asia, with European stocks and U.S. stock futures falling sharply. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Hong Kong Woman’s Cuckoo Bananas Post-Breakup Meltdown Goes Viral 

mikeoaklandrecentphoto

 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.

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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.

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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 »


[VIDEO] Pikachu Invasion!

If there’s one thing we know for certain, it’s that there will always be more awesomely weird and wonderful things to learn about Japan. Today we learned about the annual Pikachu invasion/festival that takes place in Yokohama. For one week in August countless giant Pikachu swarm that Minato Mirai district.

They parade through the streets in perfectly synchronized formation, always smiling and never blinking, a cute yet frightening spectacle as only Japan could create:

If there weren’t so many images of this kawaii spectacle all over the Internets, we’d think we were dreaming. Head over to RocketNews24 for even more photos and videos of packs of people in Pikachu costumes plotting world domination parading and dancing around Yokohama this year and last year.

[via Fashionably GeekGeeks are SexyRocketNews24, and Kotaku]

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踊る?ピカチュウ大行進(みなとみらい, 2015


Key Paragraphs from the #AbeWarStatement

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 via Twitter


[VIDEO] Massive Explosion in Tianjin, China

TIANJIN — A massive explosion late Wednesday shook the northern Chinese city of Tianjin, startling nearby residents with tremors and noise, but it was not known immediately if there were any casualties, according to state media.

The explosion in Tianjin erupted at a container port where flammable material was being stored in containers, reported CCTV, China’s state-owned broadcaster.

The Chinese broadcaster said it was unable to confirm the number of those injured or whether any people had been killed. Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Latest Crackdown: Homemade Porn

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The Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications mentioned the videos in its notice and declared that they are ‘having an extremely bad impact on society’.

Felicia SonmezFSinstagram_400x400 reports: Chinese authorities are striking back after a string of high-profile incidents involving explicit homemade videos, according to a notice by the country’s antipornography office.

“So-called ‘indecent videos’ are harming social virtue, promoting pornography, severely disturbing order on the Internet and trampling on the moral and legal bottom line,” reads the notice, which was posted Thursday on the website of China’s National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications.

Last month, a clip of a couple having sex in a Uniqlo dressing room went viral on the Chinese Internet, in an episode that inspired scores of online parodies and prompted thousands of couples to take selfies outside of the downtown Beijing store where the incident took place. Four people have been detained in connection with the video.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ – Follow Felicia on Twitter @feliciasonmez]

Since the Uniqlo incident, several other risqué videos have found their way to the Chinese public eye. In one case, a clip made by several people in Shengzhou in coastal Zhejiang province after a night out at a karaoke parlor went viral online late last month. Read the rest of this entry »


The American Bar Association Mumbles as Beijing Arrests Lawyers

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Not Such Good American Friends.

Every foreign business or nonprofit in China has to balance its principles with the realities of operating in a dictatorship. But what’s the point of claiming to promote the rule of law in China if your presence and silence serve as political cover for the worst legal abuses?

China’s recent arrests of human-rights lawyers have drawn protests from around the world, but there’s a notable, mumbling exception: the American Bar Association.

“ABA leaders acknowledge that the development of a just rule of law is a continuing struggle in every nation, including the United States.”

— ABA President William Hubbard

State security agents rounded up some 235 lawyers and other legal activists around the country last month, some of them grabbed, hooded and not heard from since. Beijing officials have railed against a “major criminal gang” of lawyers “plotting to stir up sensitive cases.”

Activists protest outside the Chinese embassy in Bangkok on August 6, 2015. Amnesty International staged a protest outside the Chinese embassy to demand the release of over 200 human rights lawyers and activists in China. AFP PHOTO / Nicolas ASFOURI

Amnesty International staged a protest outside the Chinese embassy to demand the release of over 200 human rights lawyers and activists in China. AFP/ Nicolas ASFOURI

Some brave voices inside China have spoken up for these political prisoners, as have legal groups in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The New York City Bar Association expressed “grave concern” and called on Beijing to “immediately release” those lawlessly detained, more than 20 of whom it cited by name. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Grave Social Consequences’: CCTV Host Faces ‘Serious’ Punishment for Mao Joke

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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 SonmezFSinstagram_400x400 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 Inspectionsternly 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.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

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 »


Better Informed Than Congress: China’s Cyber Spies Reading Emails of Senior Obama Administration Officials Since 2010

President Barack Obama reflects during a meeting with his full Cabinet in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Sept. 10, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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.

chinese hackers

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.

An NSA slide shows the organization of the Chinese government’s hacking units, with separate operations run by the Chinese military and by state security. NBC News

An NSA slide shows the organization of the Chinese government’s hacking units, with separate operations run by the Chinese military and by state security. NBC News

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.

[Read the full text here, at NBC News]

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.

White-House-Jarret-Axelrod-Oval-Office

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 »


China to Embed Internet Police in Tech Firms

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Ministry of Public Security: China’s crackdown on online forums to prevent fraud and limit ‘spreading of rumors’.

China’s government will set up cybersecurity police units at major Internet companies, in Beijing’s latest move to tighten control over the country’s online forums. As WSJ’s Eva Dou reports:

China’s Ministry of Public Security will set up the units at key websites and Internet companies to help them prevent crimes such as fraud and “spreading of rumors,” China’s official Xinhua news service said late Tuesday.

China’s Ministry of Public Security didn’t say which companies will have the new police units. China’s Internet sector is dominated by three companies: e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., gaming and messaging company Tencent Holdings Ltd. and search-engine provider Baidu Inc.

Neither the companies nor the ministry responded immediately to requests for comment Wednesday. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the cyberpolice units would apply to international, as well as domestic, tech firms operating in China.

Read the full story on WSJ.com.

China Real Time Report


China Restricts Exports of Drones, Supercomputers

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China has been strengthening its control over its technology industry, as it seeks to avoid infiltration by foreign spies and build up globally competitive tech companies.

Eva Dou reports: China is curbing its exports of advanced drones and supercomputers, in the country’s latest move to tighten control over technologies linked to national security.

Starting in mid-August, Chinese makers of super-powerful drones and some advanced computers will have to obtain an export license, according to a statement from China’s Ministry of Commerce and the General Administration of Customs on Friday.

Computers will require an export license if they exceed 8 “teraflops” – which means they can process more than 8 trillion calculations a second, roughly equivalent to the processing power of 33 Xbox 360s.

China has been strengthening its control over its technology industry, as it seeks to avoid infiltration by foreign spies and build up globally competitive tech companies.

Read the full story here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]

China’s drones have also caused political incidents in recent months, after unmanned aircraft sold by Shenzhen-based SZ DJI Technology Co. were flown onto the roof of the office of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the grounds of the White House in Washington. Tensions flared between Pakistan and India last month after Pakistan’s military shot down an Indian “spy drone” in the disputed region of Kashmir that appeared from pictures to be made by DJI. Read the rest of this entry »


#Robot Waitress Debuts in #Zhejiang

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On Wednesday, a company in Yiwu, eastern China Zhejiang Province, has finally launched their first batch of catering robots that can deliver food to customers, and other types of robots such as security robots after a three-year endeavor. Such gorgeous-looking robots are expected to be available in the market very soon. These robots basically consist of human simulations and chasses, through which they can discern the chromatism on the floor and thereby make moves. Catering robots are able to endure weight of more than 35 kg while security robots patrol on their own.


Seriously, Must Presidential Visits Be Such Regal Affairs?’

Marine One with US President Barack Obama lands at a Wall Street heliport on July 17, 2015 in New York, New York. Obama plans to spend the night in New York City after attending a Democratic National Committee fundraiser. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI        (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Security is one thing; a sense of moderation is another. They are not incompatible values.

President Obama just shattered another long-standing tradition: he didn’t stay at the Waldorf-Astoria during his visit to New York City this past weekend, and is apparently not planning to use the venerable Park Avenue tower during September’s meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. Every president since Herbert Hoover has either lived or stayed at the Waldorf—though Jimmy Carter says he never actually spent the night—and it was for many years the official residence of the United States’ permanent representative to the U.N. The list of overnight guests includes Mr. Obama who stayed at the hotel during previous General Assembly sessions.

Barack_Obama_and_Dmitry_Medvedev_in_Kremlin-1

“He might do well to take a page from the British. Both Prime Minister David Cameron and the heir to the British thrown, Prince William, were recently photographed traveling (heaven forbid) economy class.”

But no more. The State Department announced that it was moving its headquarters during the U.N. session. Apparently, the sale of the Waldorf to China’s Anbang Insurance Group triggered either pique over the recent hacking of 4.2 million U.S. government personnel records—where China is the main suspect—or real fears about security.

[Read the full editorial here, at the Observer]

As part of the $1.95 billion sale, there will be a major renovation of the hotel, and some are concerned that the new owners will implant new bugging equipment.

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“Similarly, Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton managed to stay chic flying to the French Alps for a ski vacation also on Easyjet.”

So the State Department has decamped to the New York Palace Hotel, which was recently purchased by South Korea’s Lotte Group. According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, South Korea regularly spies on the United States, but we don’t much care.

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“When Mr. Obama and his daughters took a not-so-impromptu walk through Central Park, a caravan of 31 vehicles delivered them, at least 10 secret service agents, almost all wearing not-quite-matching blue and gray short-sleeve shirts, surrounded them, and a giant Cadillac Escalade followed closely behind—on the sidewalk.”

With all of this Spy vs. Spy activity, finding a decent hotel room is apparently getting tougher and tougher. Alas, payback is a bitch. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Who’s the Champion of the Panda Kingdom? 37-Year-Old Senior Citizen ‘Jai Jai’ Breaks World Record in Hong Kong

Jai Jai has become the world’s oldest captive panda at the grand old age of 37, entering the history books and breaking a 16-year-old record, from her home in Ocean Park, Hong Kong.


[VIDEO] Palace Intrigue: Chinese Soldiers Storm Replica of Taiwan Presidential Office

Chun Han Wong reports: Is Beijing doubling down on its longstanding threat to reclaim Taiwan by force? That’s a concern for some Taiwanese after China’s state broadcaster showcased a recent military drill that featured soldiers storming an apparent replica of the island’s presidential palace.

“The Chinese Communist Party hasn’t given up on armed assault on Taiwan, and their military preparations are still geared toward the use of force against Taiwan.”

— Major Gen. David Lo, spokesman for Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense

Officials in Taipei have denounced the drill as harmful to the rapprochement of recent years between Taiwan and China, after decades of hostility following a civil war in the middle of the last century. Political and military experts, meanwhile, say the apparent targeting of an important political symbol for Taiwan marks Beijing’s latest bid to sway Taiwanese voters ahead of a key presidential poll next January.

“Militaries routinely practice fighting in combat scenarios based on their operational priorities and strategic realities. For the PLA, this would mean missions in the South China Sea, in the East Sea, and of course Taiwan.”

— Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military scholar

The newsreel in question, first aired by China Central Television on July 5, featured dramatic footage of an annual military exercise in northern China—spanning fiery artillery barrages, imposing armored columns and infantry assaults on a mock-up city. The video went largely unnoticed until Wednesday, when a Shanghai-based media outlet said it demonstrated how Beijing “would use force to solve the Taiwan issue.”

A screenshot of the CCTV report, which shows soldiers storming a structure that bears a resemblance to Taiwan’s presidential palace. youtube.com

A screenshot of the CCTV report, which shows soldiers storming a structure that bears a resemblance to Taiwan’s presidential palace. youtube.com

The CCTV report swiftly struck a nerve in Taiwan, where President Ma Ying-jeou’s engagement policies with China have proved divisive, compounding the declining public support his ruling Nationalist Party is experiencing over economic and social fairness issues.

[Read the full story here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]

Many commentators on Taiwanese media directed their ire on segments from the newsreel that appeared to show Chinese troops advancing toward a red-and-white structure that closely resembled Taiwan’s Presidential Office—built in a distinctive European-style in the 1910s by Japanese colonial administrators.

A photo of the actual presidential palace. Bloomberg News

A photo of the actual presidential palaceBloomberg News

 “By making the threat more recognizable and immediate than missiles fired off Taiwan’s northern and southern tips, or drills simulating an amphibious assault, Beijing may hope to engage ordinary Taiwanese not at the intellectual and abstract level, but on an emotional one.”

— J. Michael Cole, a Taipei-based senior fellow with the University of Nottingham’s China Policy Institute

The implied assault on Taipei was “unacceptable for the Taiwanese public and the international community,” Major Gen. David Lo, spokesman for Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, told local media Wednesday. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Matt Jacobson and Tanya Rivero Discuss Maine Lobster Flavor & Fishing Rules

Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative executive director Matt Jacobson and WSJ’s Tanya Rivero discuss the highly lucrative Maine lobster market and efforts to maintain future fishing sustainability.

"This represents a complete collapse of our aquatic immigration system"

“Sustainability?”


Half-Naked Foreigners Controlled by Police After Causing Sensation

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While some people joked about the defeat of the mighty Spartans, others took the incident seriously, citing safety issues. They were hired to promote salad by a food store.

A group of half-naked foreigners dressed as Spartan warriors made a mighty debut in Beijing on Wednesday, but soon lost their first battle against the police.

They showed up in some of the busiest areas in east Beijing around the afternoon, including Guomao and Sanlitun, drawing large crowds of admirers taking snaps.

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They were hired to promote salad by a food store, according to Beijing Youth Daily.

However the fun ended when police arrived at the scene. Officers asked them to leave after the half-naked men started to cause “disorder,” according to Beijing Youth Daily. The report said they were forcibly detained after that request was ignored.

There is no information yet on whether those detained have been released or what charges the models might face. But according to a statement released by the food store on Thursday, they have already “cleared the air” with the police.

Photos of the scene soon went viral on Chinese social platforms. While some people joked about the defeat of the mighty Spartans, others took the incident seriously, citing safety issues. Read the rest of this entry »


With a Few Words, Japan Escalates Its Standoff With China in the South China Sea

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Japan isn’t the only one pushing back against China’s expansion in the region.

Jennifer Peters reports: Japan has put its foot down — at least in writing — over China’s attempts to assert greater control of the South China Sea.

In an outline of a defense white paper due to be released at the end of July, Japan calls China’s efforts to lay claim to the much-disputed Spratly Islands “high handed.” The diplomatically sharp words come in the wake of China’s reclamation efforts of the islands, which have included laying the foundations of a military base on Fiery Cross Reef at the western edge of a part of the South China Sea fittingly named Dangerous Ground.

“The Chinese take kind of a Leninist approach to these things,” Currie said. “They probe with the bayonet until they hit steel, and then they’ll stop. When they start to see that people are serious about pushing back, then they will back off a bit.”

Over the past year and a half, China has built up seven reefs in the region, adding 800 hectares — about three square miles — to islands and putting an airstrip and the beginnings of the base on Fiery Cross Reef. China has claimed that its structures in the South China Sea are for civilian purposes — or at most for a defensive military role — and would benefit other countries. But Japan’s fight with China over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea has seemingly left them wary of Beijing’s intentions.

A Japanese patrol plane, pictured in 2011, flying over the disputed islands in the East China Sea.

A Japanese patrol plane flying over the disputed islands in the East China Sea. Japan Pool, via Jiji Press

“The US plays a unique role, because it’s not an Asian nation, as a relatively distant and disinterested outsider there. The interest we have is not territorial, it’s not to benefit ourselves in any way other than maintaining this open trade order that we benefit from economically, but not in any of the traditional ways that usually cause war.”

Japan’s decision to act on this wariness so stridently, however, is a recent phenomenon. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been pushing for legislation that would allow Japan to participate in collective self-defense for the first time since World War II.

[Related: China Goes on the Offensive in the South China Sea]

“[This is] a shift that’s been coming,” Kelley Currie, a senior fellow with the Project 2049 Institute, told VICE News. “The language is definitely stronger, and the whole effort around reinterpretation to the self-defense constitution has been a response to the multi-year trend of the Chinese being more aggressive and pushing their military advantage in the region.”

Japan's Self-Defense Force honor guards prepare for a welcoming ceremony of new Defence Minister Gen Nakatani in Tokyo on December 25, 2014. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised December 24 at the start of his new term to revive Japan's economy so he can pursue "powerful diplomacy", but China's state media warned him to be wary about changing the pacifist constitution.  AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI        (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)

China’s state media warned Abe to be wary about changing the pacifist constitution. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI 

“China is actually very worried about Japan and how far Japan might go.”

— Michael Auslin, resident scholar and director of Japan Studies for the American Enterprise Institute

Japan isn’t the only one pushing back against China’s expansion in the region. The Philippines is taking China to court over territorial claims to the South China Sea, with top Filipino officials appearing at The Hague to argue their case before a United Nations arbitral tribunal. China has called it a “political provocation.”

[Read the full text here, at VICE News]

“The Chinese take kind of a Leninist approach to these things,” Currie said. “They probe with the bayonet until they hit steel, and then they’ll stop. When they start to see that people are serious about pushing back, then they will back off a bit.”

Other than the United States, Japan is the only nation that can truly challenge China in the region militarily. Read the rest of this entry »


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