Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Buys Remaining U.K. Sky Stake

The flag of the Twenty-First Century Fox Inc is seen waving at the company headquarters in the Manhattan borough in New York

The flag of the Twenty-First Century Fox Inc is seen waving at the company headquarters in the Manhattan borough in New York June 11, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) — Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. has struck a preliminary deal to buy the 61 percent of British pay-TV firm Sky PLC it does not already own for around $14 billion, five years after a political scandal wrecked a previous bid.

The proposed offer of £10.75 a share in cash, which is backed by Sky’s independent directors, would strengthen the position of James Murdoch — who is both chief executive of Fox and chairman of Sky — in his 85-year-old father’s media empire.

People familiar with the matter said Fox had pounced after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in June sent the pound down about 14 percent against the U.S. dollar and Sky’s share price tumbling.

Owning Sky would give Fox, whose cable networks include Fox News and FX, control of a pay-TV network spanning 22 million households in Britain, Ireland, Austria, Germany and Italy.

It would also be the latest deal to marry distribution with content after AT&T Inc. announced an $85 billion bid to buy Time Warner Inc. earlier this year. While Sky does produce some of its own content, including in news and sport, the deal would give Fox full ownership of a wider distribution platform in Europe.

“Fox has always seen its 39 percent stake in Sky as an unnatural state of being and has long been trying to buy full control,” a person familiar with the deal said. Read the rest of this entry »


Donald Trump’s EPA Pick Will Make Obama Regret is Environmental Overreach

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The Trump administration is intellectually consistent, and hungry.

Patrick J. Michaels writes: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s nomination for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency is as clear a signal as the incoming administration can send with regard to its environmental policies.

“There’s going to have to be a massive effort to pick apart failing climate models and questionably-adjusted data. They’re going to have to find people willing to expose the current regime’s blatant abuse of logic in generating inflated ‘costs’ of global warming, while largely ignoring the co-benefits of fossil fuel power, like doubled life expectancy and undreamt-of wealth.”

It is also a sign that the administration is far more meticulous, internally consistent and thorough than its detractors have thought, and that it is on a clear mission not just to stop, but to reverse many of the actions of Obama’s EPA.

It is noteworthy that global warming was the second action item mentioned in President Obama’s 2009 inaugural, and that a mere 90 days later, the administration had issued a “preliminary finding of endangerment” from carbon dioxide and other greenhouse emissions.

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Under their interpretation of the Supreme Court’s landmark 2007 climate change ruling, Massachusetts vs. Environmental Protection Agency, such a finding not only permitted the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1992, it compelled the agency to do so.

[Read the full story here, at TheHill]

Seven years ago, on Pearl Harbor Day 2009, the administration announced its final Endangerment Finding. By March, Pruitt and 15 other state AG’s joined in a combined suit against it, which was ultimately not successful.

As long as the Endangerment Finding stands, any EPA, including one headed by Pruitt, will be in court defending against any subsidiary attempt to halt or reverse any regulation of carbon dioxide. It may very well be held that the EPA remains responsible for regulation under the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision unless there is a specific act of Congress reversing its progeny policies, such as the Clean Power Plan. So the Endangerment Finding must be reversed.

A woman holds an anti-fracking sign as a group of demonstrators gather for a rally for a Global Climate Treaty December 10, 2014 near the United Nations in New York. New Yorkers gathered to demand that world governments address the serious threat global warming poses to human rights. This event coincides with a UN meeting in Lima, Peru, a part of the 2014-15 negotiations for a global climate treaty. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT/Getty

A woman holds an anti-fracking sign as a group of demonstrators gather for a rally for a Global Climate Treaty December 10, 2014 near the United Nations in New York. New Yorkers gathered to demand that world governments address the serious threat global warming poses to human rights. This event coincides with a UN meeting in Lima, Peru, a part of the 2014-15 negotiations for a global climate treaty. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT/Getty

But how to do it? For years, federal agencies have thrown massive support at scientists who, as human beings, serve their best interests (and their employer-universities) by generating horror-show results that also generate more support and professional advancement.

“Our friends in the environmental movement should rightly be at Defcon One. It appears that President-Elect Trump — in many ways just like his predecessor — is going to keep his environmental campaign promises, which means reversing eight years what many feel was an era of green overreach.”

The Trump administration is going to have to stock up on scientists and administrators who are savvy to this game, and they are going to be very hard to find, as there’s very little incentive to not play along. Read the rest of this entry »


Carlos Eire: Requiem for a Despot

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Slavery is what Fidel’s revolution was about. Brooking no dissent, he enslaved a nation in the name of eternal class warfare, creating a new elite dedicated to suppressing their neighbors’ rights.

Carlos Eire writes: Dead at last, dead at last. Fidel Castro has shuffled off this mortal coil, at the age of ninety. Unfortunately, his death comes a bit too late—about sixty years too late. Millions of his people had been awaiting this moment for well over half a century. And as we Cubans rejoice, we weep. Our losses over the past six decades have been far too great, and so our glee is far from unbridled.

“Fidel justified his repressive policies by insisting that the Cuban people were incapable of achieving social justice by any other means.”

Slavery is what Fidel’s revolution was about. Brooking no dissent, he enslaved a nation in the name of eternal class warfare, creating a new elite dedicated to suppressing their neighbors’ rights. He pitted Cubans against one another, replacing all civil discourse with invective and intimidation.

“Likewise, many of Fidel’s First-World admirers view Cubans as postmodern equivalents of Rousseau’s noble savage—as primitives who are uncorrupted by civilization and incapable of comprehending Enlightenment notions of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—or perhaps as swarthier versions of Mussolini’s unruly Italians, that is, hot-blooded Latin rustics in need of a strong leader who can make their trains run on time.”

Fidel boasted that he was loved by the Cuban people and spoke for us, that he was our very embodiment. But these were some of the boldest of his many big lies. The Cuban people he spoke for were but a monstrous abstraction, a figment that he projected onto the world stage. Flesh-and-blood Cubans had to be forced to attend his interminable speeches, or, as now, his funeral.

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“Fidel portrayed those who fled his dystopia as selfish troglodytes. These nonconformists were vilified not just by Fidel but by all those around the world who believed his lies, including many eminent intellectuals, artists, and journalists in free, affluent nations.”

Dissenters were demonized. If you objected to his self-anointing as Maximum Leader or disdained his dystopian vision, two painful choices were open to you. Just two.

You could oppose him. But if you dared, even by murmuring in the dark, you faced imprisonment, torture, or death. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans were brave enough to suffer these consequences, but the world beyond the island’s shores ignored them, even denied their existence.

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“Why does the First World display so little indignation over Fidel’s labor camps and prisons, his torture chambers, and the summary executions with which he purchased his shamefully inadequate healthcare and indoctrination programs?” 

The other option was to beg for the privilege of banishment. Nearly two million Cubans chose that route, but millions more never got the chance. No one knows how many have died trying to escape by sea without his magnanimous permission.

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“Why do so many well-heeled tourists flock to the ruin Cuba has become? Why are so few of them offended by Cuba’s endemic racism, or the apartheid laws that deny ordinary Cubans access to the finest beaches and hotels in their own homeland?”

Fidel portrayed those who fled his dystopia as selfish troglodytes. These nonconformists were vilified not just by Fidel but by all those around the world who believed his lies, including many eminent intellectuals, artists, and journalists in free, affluent nations. Lately, the tyrant even seemed to gain approval from His Holiness, Pope Francis, who paid him a very cordial visit.

[Read the full story here, at First Things]

For the millions of Cubans who remained in Fidel’s kingdom, the losses were even more profound. As they waved tiny Cuban flags at mass rallies and waited in line for necessities with their ration books in hand, as they listened to Fidel’s promises of a very distant glorious future, these Cubans watched others leave by the hundreds of thousands. When nearly two million refugees flee from a small island nation, everyone who remains is touched by loss. The exodus is all the more galling when those who have fled prosper in exile and those who remain become ever more destitute. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] South Korea Parliament Impeaches President Park Geun-Hye

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Seoul (AFP) – South Korean lawmakers on Friday passed an impeachment motion against President Park  stripping away her sweeping executive powers over a corruption scandal that paralysed her administration and triggered massive street protests.

The National Assembly motion — passed by 234 votes to 56 — transfers Park’s authority to the prime minister, pending a decision by the Constitutional Court on whether to ratify the decision and permanently remove the president from office.

Update: South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment Friday means she has been stripped of power — but not the perks.

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Even as her prime minister governs in her stead, Park gets to keep living at the presidential Blue House, using her official car and plane, collecting the same monthly salary (about $15,000 reportedly) and receiving round-the-clock security.

She also holds onto the title “President.”

But with nothing officially to do, it’s uncertain how she’ll spend her days during the up-to-six months the country’s Constitutional Court has to decide whether to accept the impeachment and formally end her presidency. Read the rest of this entry »


More and More American Companies Think Their Big China Opportunity is Over 

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’We have seen a significant drop of U.S. companies going to China…On the contrary, they are coming back here,’ says market expert.

For a long time, a lot of American companies saw China as the world’s biggest business opportunity. But that time may be over.

“If you’re waiting for the booming Chinese consumer…it’s just not on the way. The upside is just not what some consumer firms were hoping for.”

— Derek Scissors, chief economist at China Beige Book International, which regularly surveys Chinese businesses

This week, McDonald’s was reportedly in talks to sell its China unit and license its name to a Chinese company instead, following Yum Brands ‘ decision to do something similar and spin off its China operations into a new firm called Yum China last month.

“The trend is that opening retail business on the ground in China as a foreigner is difficult and expensive.”

Coca-Cola announced plans to sell its China bottling business in November, and International Paper said in March that it’s spinning off its China and Southeast Asia corrugated packaging business.

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“We have for years tried to push a lot of our clients not to do that, but instead do what McDonald’s and Yum Brands are doing, which is…monetise your name and your knowledge without actually being the one who does all the work to make it work in China. China is a tough, tough market.”

— Dan Harris, lawyer at Harris Bricken and author of the China Law Blog

“The trend is that opening retail business on the ground in China as a foreigner is difficult and expensive,” said Dan Harris, lawyer at Harris Bricken and author of the China Law Blog.

“We have for years tried to push a lot of our clients not to do that, but instead do what McDonald’s and Yum Brands are doing, which is … monetise your name and your knowledge without actually being the one who does all the work to make it work in China,” Harris said. “China is a tough, tough market.”

McDonald’s said in March it was looking for “strategic partners” for key Asia markets. Last year, Yum Brands said its decision to spin off its China unit followed a “rigorous review of strategic options.”

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Fast food companies were early major entrants to China nearly three decades ago. As individual Chinese grew wealthier, the opportunities for tapping the Chinese consumer market appeared to grow exponentially. But roadblocks appeared: U.S. fast food chains struggled with food safety scandals in China, and other companies have had intellectual property such as trademarks stolen.

[Read the full story here, at South China Morning Post]

“We have seen a lot of U.S companies struggling [with] their China” operations, said Siva Yam, president of the Chicago-based U.S.-China Chamber of Commerce. “The market is much more mature. We have seen a significant drop of U.S. companies going to China. … On the contrary, they are coming back here.”

An annual report from the American Chamber of Commerce in China found last year that 32 per cent of member companies surveyed do not plan to expand investments in China, a percentage that’s higher than during the financial crisis in 2009. Read the rest of this entry »


John Glenn, the First American Astronaut to Orbit the Earth, Dies at 95 

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One of the original “Magnificent Seven” astronauts in NASA’s Mercury program, John Glenn captured the nation’s attention in 1962 when he first circumnavigated the globe and returned as a hero who had scaled heights no American had reached before. In his post-NASA career, Glenn served four terms as a U.S. senator from Ohio. Following his […]

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Source: The Washington Post


[VIDEO] Rep. Schiff Said Carlson Holds Water for Putin, Then Tells Him Not to Resort to Personal Insults 

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South Korea: President Park Geun-hye to ‘Calmly Accept Impeachment Outcome’ 

in the Nov. 4, 2016 photo, people watch TV screens showing the live broadcast of South Korean President Park Geun-hye's addressing to the nation at the Yongsan Electronic store in Seoul, South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

SEOUL (AP) — South Korean President Park Geun-hye will calmly accept impeachment if the opposition-controlled parliament votes for her removal this week, but prefers to resign on her own terms, lawmakers from her party said Tuesday.

Chung Jin Suk, floor leader of the conservative ruling party, said after an hour-long meeting with Park that she was willing to accept a now-withdrawn proposal by the party for her to voluntarily step down in April to set up a presidential election in June.

The party’s chairman, Lee Jung Hyun, who also attended the meeting, said it seemed that Park was hoping lawmakers would accept her resignation rather than push ahead with an attempt to impeach her.

Park has been accused by state prosecutors of helping a close confidante extort money and favors from large companies and manipulate state affairs.

Read the rest of this entry »


Cosmic Dust Grains Found on City Rooftops for the First Time

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Sifting through muck trapped in roof gutters in Paris, Oslo and Berlin yielded 500 tiny particles from the birth of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.

Cosmic dust raining down from space has been discovered on rooftops in three major cities.

“We’ve known since the 1940s that cosmic dust falls continuously through our atmosphere, but until now we’ve thought that it could not be detected among the millions of terrestrial dust particles, except in the most dust-free environments such as the Antarctic or deep oceans.”

The tiny particles date back to the birth of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.

Scientists usually collect cosmic dust in the frozen wastes of Antarctica. Now, for the first time, the space debris has been found hidden in city dirt.

“The obvious advantage to this new approach is that it is much easier to source cosmic dust particles if they are in our backyards.”

—  Matthew Genge, Imperial College London

Researchers sifted through 300 kilograms of muck trapped in roof gutters in Paris, Oslo and Berlin. Using magnets to pull out the particles, which contain magnetic minerals, they identified a total of 500 cosmic dust grains. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Daniel Hannan’s Brexit View: Protesters Can’t Stop British Democracy

Brexit Champion Daniel Hannan: ‘There Are Crybabies on Both Sides of the Atlantic’

“There are some crybabies on both sides of the Atlantic, who don’t accept the verdict of the people as final. And you can see this — it’s exactly the same kind of people on both sides (of the Atlantic). It’s the slightly spoiled millennials, it’s the generation of the safe spaces and the micro-aggressions and the trigger warnings, who have been taught from the moment they went to school that the correct way to deal with a difficult opinion is to try to silence it, and that someone disagreeing with them is a form of violence, rather than something that just happens in life.”

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] REWIND December 8, 1941: Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Pearl Harbor Address 

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Obama Legacy: Endowing the Trump Administration with Broadened War Powers 

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After eight years as an autocratic president with a maximalist view of executive authority, Barack Obama is handing his successor an expansive interpretation of the commander in chief’s authority to wage war around the globe.

Josh Lederman writes:

…In his final weeks in office, Obama has broadened the legal scope of the war on extremism, the White House confirmed Monday, as it acknowledged for the first that the administration now asserts it is legally justified to take on the extremist group al-Shabab in Somalia.

The determination is based on an expanded application of a 9/11-era use of force authorization, a statute Obama has repeatedly leaned on to justify military operations. That rationale has raised concerns about how Trump might use Obama’s precedent to justify other overseas entanglements — without consulting Congress.

The White House staunchly defends Obama’s use of military power, arguing in a detailed report Monday that all operations have been firmly grounded in domestic and international law. White House counsel Neil Eggleston called the report — the first of its kind — a demonstration of how Obama has ensured “that all U.S. national security operations are conducted within a legal and policy framework that is lawful, effective and consistent with our national interests and values.”

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Yet the report, which Obama said should be updated annually, also reveals how his administration has relied overwhelmingly on the 2001 authorization, which even Obama acknowledges is outdated.

Though the law’s targets were al-Qaida and the Taliban, a clause in the bill includes “associated forces” of al-Qaida, in Afghanistan or beyond. That clause is now being used as a catch-all for military action in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Libya, the report shows, plus the basing of U.S. troops in other countries.

[Read the full story here, at ABC News]

As for al-Shabab, until recently, the U.S. determined only that its individual leaders were linked to al-Qaida, which limited targeting of those individuals. Now the broader group is included.

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Trump has promised a more muscular and militaristic approach to counterterrorism, occasionally using expletives to suggest he’d aggressively bomb ISIS militants, although he has been vague on details.

Deborah Pearlstein, a former White House official and international law professor at Yeshiva University, said it’s likely the next administration will use Obama’s framework as its starting point. “By practice and long history, those opinions tend to stand,” she said. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Uncommon Knowledge: General Jim ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis on the Nature of War

General James Mattis. General Mattis retired from the Marine Corps as a full general in 2013, where he served as the eleventh commander of the United States Central Command. He also served as the commander for NATO supreme allied transformation, and as commander of the United States Joint Forces Command. Mattis is an Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

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China Complains After President-Elect Trump Speaks to Taiwan Leader Tsai Ing-wen

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Beijing (AFP) – China protested to Washington Saturday after US President-elect Donald Trump broke with decades of foreign policy and spoke with the president of Taiwan.

“It was not immediately clear whether Trump’s telephone call with Tsai Ing-wen marked a deliberate pivot away from Washington’s official ‘One China’ stance, but it fuelled fears he is improvising on international affairs.”

It was not immediately clear whether Trump’s telephone call with Tsai Ing-wen marked a deliberate pivot away from Washington’s official “One China” stance, but it fuelled fears he is improvising on international affairs.

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Xiamen University

Zhang Wensheng, of Xiamen University, was more circumspect, dismissing Trump’s use of the term ‘president’ as ‘personal greetings’ that ‘do not reflect a political position whatsoever’.

China regards self-ruling Taiwan as part of its own territory awaiting reunification under Beijing’s rule, and any US move that would imply support for independence would likely trigger fury.

[ALSO SEE – Commentary: Trump, Taiwan and China – punditfromanotherplanet]

During Friday’s discussion, Trump and Tsai noted “the close economic, political and security ties” between Taiwan and the United States, according to the president-elect’s office.

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Even before the call with Taiwan, Trump’s unorthodox diplomatic outreach had raised eyebrows, and, for some critics, in extending his hand to Taiwan, Trump crossed a dangerous line.

“President-elect Trump also congratulated President Tsai on becoming President of Taiwan earlier this year,” it said.

Beijing on Saturday offered a robust response.

“We have already made solemn representations about it to the relevant US side,” the Chinese foreign ministry said.

“There is no change to our longstanding policy on cross-Strait issues. We remain firmly committed to our ‘One China’ policy,” she added. “Our fundamental interest is in peaceful and stable cross-Strait relations.”

— National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne

“It must be pointed out that there is only one China in the world. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory,”ObaMao

China also urged “relevant parties in the US… to handle Taiwan-related issues with caution and care to avoid unnecessarily interfering with the overall situation of Sino-US relations.”

Trump, who had come under fire for the telephone call, hit back — on Twitter.

“Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call,” Trump tweeted.

– ‘How wars start’ –

President Barack Obama’s White House said the outgoing US administration had not changed its stance on China-Taiwan issues.

“There is no change to our longstanding policy on cross-Strait issues,” National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne told reporters. Read the rest of this entry »


[AUDIO] Peter Hitchens on Fidel Castro

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[VIDEO] Cuba’s State-of-the-Art Universal Health Care Innovations

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South Korean President Park Geun-hye Struggles to Avoid Impeachment

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SEOUL (AP) — South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Tuesday that she will resign — if parliament arranges the technical details — in her latest attempt to fend off impeachment efforts and massive street protests amid prosecution claims that a corrupt confidante wielded government power from the shadows.

“If the ruling and opposition parties discuss and come up with a plan to reduce the confusion in state affairs and ensure a safe transfer of governments, I will step down from the presidential position under that schedule and by processes stated in law.”

— South Korean President Park Geun-hye

Opponents immediately called Park’s conditional resignation offer a stalling tactic, and analysts said her steadfast denial that she has done anything wrong could embolden her enemies. The country’s largest opposition party, the Minjoo Party, said it would not let Park’s “ploy to avoid impeachment” interfere with a planned vote on impeachment on Friday.

“There is no possibility that the opposition parties will accept her offer; not when the public is this angry. She apparently wanted to buy more time, but in the end she might have hastened the end of her presidency.”

— Yul Shin, a politics professor at Seoul’s Myongji University

Park, who did not take questions from reporters after her live address to the nation, said she will “leave the matters about my fate, including the shortening of my presidential term, to be decided by the National Assembly,” referring to parliament.

[ALSO SEE – South Korean president’s office explains Viagra purchase]

“If the ruling and opposition parties discuss and come up with a plan to reduce the confusion in state affairs and ensure a safe transfer of governments, I will step down from the presidential position under that schedule and by processes stated in law,” she said.

How exactly this might play out is still unclear. But some saw Park’s speech as a clear effort to avoid leaving office, despite the resignation language. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] DONALD TRUMP, COMMUNIST REVOLUTIONARY: Former Mexican President Compares Trump To Fidel Castro 

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