Wealthy Plot Their Escape From Britain If Jeremy Corbyn Wins Power 

No-deal Brexit? That’s no problem, at least for Britain’s wealthiest people. Their bigger fear is leftist firebrand Jeremy Corbyn.

For more than a year, some of the most affluent have prepared for a hard separation from the European Union, making clear they can take a chaotic Brexit in their stride. But the prospect of a Labour victory is turning out to be the more worrisome development. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong Protesters Object to Lack of Mob Attack Arrests 

Protesters face riot police inside the Yuen Long MTR station, the scene of an attack by suspected triad gang members a month ago, in Yuen Long, New Territories, Hong Kong, China August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Reuters HONG KONG (Reuters) — Thousands of Hong Kong residents held a sometimes scrappy anti-government protest on Wednesday at a suburban subway station that was attacked by a mob last month, angry that nobody has yet been prosecuted for the violence.

Some masked protesters clashed with police, spraying fire extinguishers from the inside of Yuen Long station as others smeared the floor with cooking oil, beer and detergent to stop the police from advancing.

Some blocked station exits with bins, booths and other station furniture as others sealed roads outside the station, aiming green laser beams at the lines of shield-bearing officers. Others threw empty fire extinguishers at police lines.

Many inside the station sat quietly.

It was the latest in a series of demonstrations since June against a perceived erosion of freedoms in the former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

It also marked a return to aggression after a brief lull in tensions following a huge peaceful march on Sunday.

Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Great Firewall No Barrier to Ugly Online Battles Over Hong Kong Protests

Sarah Zheng  reports: Hong Kong’s summer of protests looks very different from inside and outside the Great Firewall that encircles the internet in mainland China.

On Monday morning, the top trending topic on Weibo, China’s highly regulated version of Twitter, featured a Shanghai tourist who was “harassed and beaten” during a massive pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong on Sunday evening. It racked up 520 million views. A prominent video on the topic from Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily showed the man, surnamed Ma, telling reporters about protesters accosting and accusing him of photographing their faces, under the tagline: “Is this the ‘safety’ that rioters are talking about?”

But in Hong Kong, where there is unfettered access to the internet, the focus was on the peaceful Sunday demonstrations, which organisers said drew 1.7 million people despite heavy rain. On LIHKG, the online forum where Hong Kong protesters discuss and organise their action, one hot topic celebrated Weibo posts on Ma that mentioned a taboo – Beijing’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. The topic cheered the “first time China’s Weibo allowed public discussion of June 4th”, referencing posts about Photoshopped images of Ma in a shirt calling for justice over the crackdown.

An estimated 1.7 million people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday. Photo: Robert Ng
An estimated 1.7 million people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday. Photo: Robert Ng

Since the protests began in Hong Kong in early June, triggered by a now-shelved extradition bill, there has been a clear dichotomy between how the movement has been portrayed online, inside and outside China. Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese State-Sponsored Rap Threatens Army Can ‘Wipe Out’ Hong Kong Protesters 

 Kyle Hooten reports: Chinese state media is using rap music to rally public support in opposition of Hong Kong protesters, even threatening that the Chinese military can “wipe out” the protesters.

Last week, a state-supported Chinese hip-hop group known as Tianfu Shibia or CD Rev, released a rap video titled “Hong Kong’s Fall.” The song accuses America of supporting the massive protests in Hong Kong, which are aimed at preserving some of the region’s sovereignty from China, and threatens the death of the protesters. The group is supported by the unilateral Communist Party of China, according to the Guardian.

“There are 1.4 billion Chinese standing firmly behind Hong Kong police,” the lyrics state. “They will always protect Hong Kong without any hesitation. Airplanes, tanks and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army all gathering in Shenzhen waiting for command to wipe out terrorists [protesters] if needed.” Read the rest of this entry »


Marines Use Armored Vehicle to Defend Navy Ship from Small Boats off Iranian Coast

An AH-1Z Viper attached to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 163 (Reinforced), 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) takes off during a strait transit aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Dalton S. Swanbeck)

An AH-1Z Viper attached to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 163 (Reinforced), 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) takes off during a strait transit aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Dalton S. Swanbeck)

 reports: As sailors and Marines are sailing in more contested waters, the blue-green team is getting creative about how to defend amphibious assault ships from enemy small boats and drones.

Members of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit were photographed sailing through the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf this week with a Light Armored Vehicle on the flight deck.

The armored vehicle can be seen in the background of photos released by the Marine Corps on Wednesday, showing AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters flying off the amphibious assault ship Boxer. The LAV was first spotted by Phil Ewing, national security editor at NPR.

Sailing through or near the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway that runs between the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, has been contentious in recent months.

In July, the 11th MEU jammed one Iranian drone — and possibly two — that flew within 1,000 yards of the Boxer. Iranians also seized a British tanker in the strait last month. And in June, two oil tankers were attacked in the nearby Gulf of Oman. Read the rest of this entry »


We’re in a new Cold War. Hong Kong, like Berlin before it, is the first battle

Continued American silence will convince China that it can advance on other fronts. We must show Beijing that Hong Kong’s freedom isn’t up for grabs.

Marion Smith writes: Would the United States have let the Soviet Union invade West Berlin? Never. Yet America is on the verge of allowing Communist China to enslave the free city of Hong Kong. If this happens, it will be one of the greatest abdications of U.S. moral leadership in history.

Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects Chinese troops of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Hong Kong Garrison at the Shek Kong Barracks in Hong Kong, Friday, June 30, 2017. Xi landed in Hong Kong Thursday to mark the 20th anniversary of Beijing taking control of the former British colony, accompanied by a formidable layer of security as authorities showed little patience for pro-democracy protests. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Right now, Communist China is massing paramilitary forces on its border with Hong Kong. The purpose appears obvious: Intimidate the pro-freedom movement that has brought parts of the city to a standstill in recent weeks. Meanwhile, Beijing’s rulers have labeled Hong Kong’s protesters “terrorists,” while stating that “those who play with fire will perish by it.” The echoes of the Tiananmen Square massacre 30 years ago are unmistakable.

[Read the full story here, at USAToday]

These developments are eerily familiar to the Soviet Union’s attempts to dominate West Berlin. Yet the United States always made it clear that we would defend the city. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan even traveled there personally, proving by their presence that America stood with its residents.

Compare that with today. The best President Donald Trump can muster is a tweet: “Everyone should be calm and safe!”

A new Cold War

It’s time to admit that we’re in a new Cold War. The blockade of Berlin in 1948 was widely seen as the opening salvo of the decades-long struggle between freedom and communism. With Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong already well underway, maybe now we’ll admit that another struggle has arrived. The Soviet Union is gone, and America’s new adversary is the Chinese Communist Party.

Yet unlike the first Cold War, this time it’s unclear whether America has the will to win. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong for International Business: It’s Over

Kaput. Fini. Terminado. 完. законченный. Done. Over. No more.

Dan Harris writes: Not sure why nobody has just come out and said this yet, but Hong Kong as an international business and financial center is no more. I take no comfort in saying this because I have many friends in Hong Kong and I’ve always loved going there, but Hong Kong’s special position is over. Kaput. Fini. Terminado. 完. законченный. Done. Over. No more.

I challenge you to say “one country two systems” with a straight face.  

For the last few months I have been relentlessly asking everyone I know in Hong Kong or who used to be in Hong Kong or who at one time contemplated setting up a business in Hong Kong how what has been happening in Hong Kong has and will or would impact their doing business in Hong Kong. Based on those responses and on my own experience with how international companies operate, I foresee the following:

  1. Companies that were deciding between Hong Kong or Singapore for their Asian headquarters will choose somewhere other than Hong Kong.
  2. Growing companies with offices in Hong Kong and with offices somewhere else in Asia will increase their hiring outside Hong Kong and decrease or eliminate their hiring in Hong Kong.
  3. Companies with offices in Hong Kong and with offices somewhere else in Asia will be move personnel from their Hong Kong office to their other offices.
  4. Fewer contracts will be drafted with Hong Kong as the venue for arbitration.
  5. Companies will move their Hong Kong bank accounts elsewhere. It is no coincidence HSBC stock hit its 52 week low today.
  6. Travelers will choose somewhere other than Hong Kong as their Asia stopover. It is no coincidence Cathay Pacific stock hit its 52 week low today.
  7. Many Hong Kongers will eventually go elsewhere.

Read the rest of this entry »


Riot Police Storm Hong Kong Airport as Protesters Force Second Day of Flight Cancellations 

Hong Kong International Airport has canceled all remaining flight departures for the second straight day due to protests.

Riot police stormed the Hong Kong International Airport on Tuesday as protests by thousands of anti-government demonstrators forced flights to be canceled for the second straight day.

Travelers at one of the world’s busiest airports were advised that check-in had been suspended and hundreds flights were cancelled, and that they should leave the terminals as quickly as possible and contact airlines for more information.

The clashes appeared to represent an escalation 10 weeks after the protest’s massive, peaceful beginnings in early June, when hundreds of thousands marched in the semi-autonomous city against a now-suspended extradition bill. A Chinese official said Tuesday that protesters “have begun to show signs of terrorism,” and China appeared to be weighing a crackdown on the democratic movement.

Bolstered by anger over the crackdown by Hong Kong police, the protests has grown more confrontational in recent weeks and reached new levels last Monday with a city-wide strike that disrupting traffic and hundreds of flights.

PHOTO: A tourist gives her luggage to security guards as she tries to enter the departures gate during another demonstration by protesters at Hong Kongs International Airport on Aug. 13, 2019.
A tourist gives her luggage to security guards as she tries to enter the departures gate during another demonstration by protesters at Hong Kong’s International Airport on Aug. 13, 2019.

After weeks of issuing warnings, but deferring to Hong Kong authorities to quell protests, Beijing has hinted at a more assertive posture. Chinese paramilitary police were seen in video released by the state holding exercises in Shenzhen, China, which sits across the border from Hong Kong. Images circulated online showing a convoy of armored personnel carriers from the People’s Armed Police traveling to the site. Read the rest of this entry »


China Says Hong Kong Protests Show ‘First Signs of Terrorism’

Police firing teargas inside a train station. One young man got hit badly in the face and sustained serious trauma near his eye. via Joshua Wong, Twitter

BEIJING— Chun Han Wong reports: Chinese authorities condemned violent weekend demonstrations in Hong Kong as “deranged” acts that marked the emergence of “the first signs of terrorism” in the semiautonomous city, vowing a merciless crackdown on the perpetrators.

The escalating rhetoric from Beijing followed a day of heated protests in Hong Kong, including the hurling of petrol bombs, and came as thousands of protesters gathered at Hong Kong’s international airport on Monday, prompting officials to cancel all flights for the rest of the day apart from those already en route to the air-travel hub.

“Radical Hong Kong protesters have repeatedly used extremely dangerous tools to attack police officers,” a spokesman for the Chinese government’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office told a news briefing on Monday, according to Chinese state media. “The first signs of terrorism are starting to appear.”

On Sunday, police in riot gear fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds of protesters across Hong Kong, some of whom threw bricks and what police identified as Molotov cocktails and smoke bombs. Police said an officer was hospitalized with burns to his legs after being hit by a Molotov cocktail hurled by a protester.

Clashes between protesters and police have entered a more violent phase, as Beijing has signaled its growing intolerance for dissent. Meanwhile, public discontent is mounting over the police’s handling of the unrest. Photo: Jeff Cheng/Associated Press
Read the rest of this entry »

Hong Kong Protests Disrupt Flights and Subways as a Strike is Called 

At least 100 flights were canceled and subway service widely disrupted in Hong Kong on Monday as a pro-democracy movement called for a general strike.

Cathay Pacific and other domestic carriers such as Hong Kong Airlines were the most affected by the flight cancellations, public broadcaster RTHK said. Airport express train service was also suspended.

A citywide strike and demonstrations in seven districts in Hong Kong have been called for Monday afternoon. They follow a weekend of clashes with police on the streets. Read the rest of this entry »


Beijing Strikes Ominous Tone, Saying Military Could Intervene in Hong Kong 

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Alice Su reports: The latest protests in Hong Kong appear to have touched a nerve in Beijing, where officials and state media have escalated rhetoric against the pro-democracy movement, accusing the United States of interference and ominously affirming the People’s Liberation Army’s ability to intervene at the Hong Kong government’s request.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said at a news conference Wednesday morning that the protests on Sunday were “intolerable.”

“Some radical protesters’ actions challenge the authority of the central government and the bottom line of ‘One Country, Two Systems,’” Wu said, adding that the ministry would follow Article 14 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law.

“One Country, Two Systems” is China’s way of referring to its administration of Hong Kong, under which it is part of China but allowed to maintain some degree of autonomy. Article 14 states that the Chinese government’s military forces stationed in Hong Kong will not interfere in local affairs unless the Hong Kong government requests assistance “in the maintenance of public order” or for disaster relief.

As mass protests against a proposed extradition bill morphed into a desperate pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong over the last two months, the local government has denied rumors that the Chinese military might intervene. Some analysts who study Hong Kong expressed skepticism that Beijing would send its military, which could have devastating consequences.

But Chinese officials and media are now stoking nationalist anger with rhetoric that’s been used to pave the way for crackdowns in the past, specifically with accusations of foreign intervention and condemnations of “chaos” and “disorder.”

Sunday’s protests broadened the scope of conflict as protesters shifted from targeting the Hong Kong territorial government and police to directly challenging the Chinese government.

Thousands marched to Beijing’s representative office in Hong Kong, chanting a pro-independence slogan. They splattered the Chinese government emblem with eggs and black ink and spray-painted the walls with derogatory terms for China. Read the rest of this entry »


Yellow Vest Anger Burns in France, Fueled by Notre Dame Fire

AP photo/Francisco Seco

PARIS  — French yellow vest protesters set fires Saturday along a march through Paris to drive home their message to a government they believe is ignoring the poor: that rebuilding the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral isn’t the only problem France needs to solve.

Like the high-visibility vests the protesters wear, the scattered small fires in Paris appeared to be a collective plea to French President Emmanuel Macron’s government to “look at me — I need help too!”

Police fired water cannon and sprayed tear gas to try to control radical elements rampaging on the margins of the largely peaceful march, one of several actions around Paris and other French cities.

The protests marked the 23rd straight weekend of yellow vest actions against Macron’s centrist government, which they see as favoring the wealthy and big business. Protesters view themselves as standing up for beleaguered French workers , students and retirees who have been battered by high unemployment, high taxes and shrinking purchasing power.

But violence and divisions have marred the movement.

Associated Press reporters saw a car, motorbikes and barricades set ablaze around the Place de la Republique plaza in eastern Paris. The smell of tear gas mixed with the smoke, choking the air.

Paris firefighters — who struggled earlier this week to prevent the 12th-century Notre Dame from collapsing — quickly responded to extinguish the flames at Saturday’s protest. Read the rest of this entry »


Disgraced US Air Force Officers Were Set Up, Stasi Documents Show Decades Later

For nearly 40 years, Bill Burhans has steadfastly maintained he wasn’t drunk when, as an Air Force lieutenant colonel driving fellow U.S. military liaisons home from a holiday party with their Soviet counterparts in East Germany, he lost control of the car, careened up an embankment and slammed into a bus.

Matthew M. Burke and Marcus Kloeckner report: When the car came to a stop on Dec. 29, 1979, Air Force Lt. Col. James Tonge, his passenger, called to him to move the car to the shoulder. But Burhans sat frozen, except for his trembling hands.

It was as if he’d been “hit in the head with an ax at the slaughterhouse,” Tonge would later tell U.S. investigators in a sworn statement.

A copy of retired U.S. Air Force Col. James Tonge’s USMLM credentials. Never-before-seen Stasi documents indicate that Tonge, then a lieutenant colonel, and another U.S. Air Force officer, Lt. Col. Bill Burhans, were subject to a “targeted measure to discredit” them in Germany on Dec. 29, 1979 by the Soviets. Photo Courtesy of James Tonge

“He didn’t respond at all,” Tonge said of Burhans, who at the time was set to replace him as deputy of the U.S. Military Liaison Mission.

Based in Potsdam, near Berlin, the USMLM’s official mission was to serve as a liaison between the U.S. military command and its Soviet counterpart in post-war Germany, but its personnel also gathered intelligence, monitored Soviet forces and reported on readiness throughout the Cold War era. French, British and Soviet liaison missions did similar work.

After helping Burhans into the back seat, Tonge moved the car himself.

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. James Tonge, then a lieutenant colonel, far left, is seen here talking to his Soviet counterparts during a USMLM reception. Photo Courtesy of James Tonge

Police arrived in minutes. Read the rest of this entry »


‘A Saudi Excuse for Murder’: New York Post Cover for October 16th, 2018

Source: New York Post


U.S. Urged to Rapidly Prepare for Electromagnetic Pulse Attack

World War II-style Manhattan Project needed for electric infrastructure protection.

reports:The United States is vulnerable to a devastating electromagnetic pulse event caused by a high-altitude nuclear blast or solar superstorm, according to a recently published book.

Peter Pry, a former CIA analyst and author of the book EMP Manhattan Project, is urging the government to rapidly harden the U.S. electric power system against EMP similar to the three-year crash program to build the first atomic bomb in 1942.”Today the United States and the world faces another existential threat—from an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) catastrophe that can be caused by nature or man, and topple the technological pillars of modern electronic civilization,” said Pry, who served on a congressional EMP commission in the early 2000s.

The book contains fresh assessments of the EMP threat produced by a more recent congressional commission last year that concluded the United States would suffer millions of deaths from a major EMP incident.

EMP was discovered in the 1960s during above-ground nuclear tests. The tests showed a nuclear blast created a pulse capable of disrupting or destroying electronic devices over large areas, in some cases over 1,000 miles away.

The latest EMP commission found the United States is confronted with “a present and continuing existential threat from naturally occurring and manmade electromagnetic pulse assault and related attacks on military and critical national infrastructures.”

panic-betty

An EMP event would produce an electric power outage over large areas of the country that could last for a year or longer.

Emergency systems, such as generators, also are vulnerable to damage from EMP.

EMP events would disable critical supply chains and plunge the entire country into living conditions similar to those of centuries ago prior the use of electric power.

“An extended blackout today could result in the death of a large fraction of the American people through the effects of societal collapse, disease, and starvation,” the commission stated in its July 2017 report. “While national planning and preparation for such events could help mitigate the damage, few such actions are currently underway or even being contemplated.”

William R. Graham, former head of the EMP commission, stated in a preface to the book that a nationwide electrical blackout of one year “could kill millions, perhaps prove fatal to most Americans, by starvation, disease, and societal collapse.”

“EMP is a civilization killer,” Graham said.

The book warns that China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran are preparing to use EMP attacks combined with traditional military strikes and new cyber attacks in future conflicts.

The threat was highlighted by North Korea’s announcement in state-run media in September 2017 that the country’s thermonuclear device could be detonated at high altitude and produce “great destructive power … for superpowerful EMP attack.” Read the rest of this entry »


Botched CIA Communications System Helped Blow Cover of Chinese Agents 

Illustration by Kotryna Zukauskaite

The number of informants executed in the debacle is higher than initially thought.

reports: It was considered one of the CIA’s worst failures in decades: Over a two-year period starting in late 2010, Chinese authorities systematically dismantled the agency’s network of agents across the country, executing dozens of suspected U.S. spies. But since then, a question has loomed over the entire debacle.

How were the Chinese able to roll up the network?

Now, nearly eight years later, it appears that the agency botched the communication system it used to interact with its sources, according to five current and former intelligence officials. The CIA had imported the system from its Middle East operations, where the online environment was considerably less hazardous, and apparently underestimated China’s ability to penetrate it.

spy

“The attitude was that we’ve got this, we’re untouchable,” said one of the officials who, like the others, declined to be named discussing sensitive information. The former official described the attitude of those in the agency who worked on China at the time as “invincible.”

Other factors played a role as well, including China’s alleged recruitment of former CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee around the same time. Federal prosecutors indicted Lee earlier this year in connection with the affair.

But the penetration of the communication system seems to account for the speed and accuracy with which Chinese authorities moved against the CIA’s China-based assets.

“You could tell the Chinese weren’t guessing. The Ministry of State Security [which handles both foreign intelligence and domestic security] were always pulling in the right people,” one of the officials said.

“When things started going bad, they went bad fast.” Read the rest of this entry »


Masked Arsonists Torch Cars Across Sweden

Dozens of cars burned in several cities in Sweden on Monday evening.

Gothenburg police and fire services were alerted to the first blaze after 9pm, after which several more calls came in from the city as well as Trollhättan, Lysekil and Falkenberg some 100 kilometres away.

“We have been to around 20 places in Gothenburg. It’s mainly vehicles that have burned – cars, some truck, caravans – but also some buried waste disposal site,” Johan Eklund, emergency control room officer in the greater Gothenburg area, told Swedish news agency TT shortly after midnight.

 

Swedish media reported that groups of up to ten youths had been seen throwing stones and lighting cars on fire in Gothenburg districts Gårdsten, Hjällbo and Frölunda, among other locations. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Cultural Appropriation Tastes Damn Good: How Immigrants, Commerce, and Fusion Keep Food Delicious

Writer Gustavo Arellano talks about food slurs, the late Jonathan Gold, and why Donald Trump’s taco salad is a step in the right direction.

The late Jonathan Gold wrote about food in Southern California with an intimacy that brought readers closer to the people that made it. The Pulitzer Prize–winning critic visited high-end brick-and-mortar restaurants as well as low-end strip malls and food trucks in search of good food wherever he found it. Gold died of pancreatic cancer last month, but he still influences writers like Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times columnist and author of Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America.

Arellano sat down with Reason’s Nick Gillespie to talk about Gold’s legacy, political correctness in cuisine, and why Donald Trump’s love of taco salad gives him hope in the midst of all of the president’s anti-Mexican rhetoric. Read the rest of this entry »


How Silicon Valley Became a Den of Spies

The West Coast is a growing target of foreign espionage. And it’s not ready to fight back.

 writes: Russian intelligence has had an intensive interest in San Francisco stretching back to the beginning of the Cold War. In those days, the Russians were primarily gathering information on local military installations, said former officials, including the Presidio, the strategically located former military base set on a wind-swept northern tip of the San Francisco peninsula, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.

Since then, Russian operations have become bolder, with one notable exception: the immediate post-Cold War period. “The only time there was a collective sigh regarding Russia, like maybe things have changed, was under Gorbachev,” said LaRae Quy, who worked on Russian and Chinese counterintelligence in the Bay Area from 1985 to 2002. “We even put in a big ‘Going Out Of Business’ sign in the Palo Alto squad room.”

But this optimism quickly faded when Putin was elected in 2000, recalled Quy, who retired in 2006. “Russia has been steadily escalating since then.”

As the Bay Area transformed itself into a tech hub, Russia adapted its efforts accordingly, with Russian spies increasingly focused on obtaining information on valuable, sensitive or potentially dual-use technologies—those with both civilian and military applications—being developed or financed by companies or venture-capital firms based in the region. Russia’s espionage activities have traditionally been centered on its San Francisco Consulate, which was forcibly closed by the Trump administration in early September 2017.

But even with the consulate shuttered, there are alternative vehicles for Russian intelligence-gathering in Silicon Valley. One potential mechanism, said three former intelligence officials, is Rusnano USA, the sole U.S. subsidiary of Rusnano, a Russian government-owned venture capital firm primarily focused on nanotechnology. Rusnano USA, which was founded in 2011, is located in Menlo Park, near Stanford University. Read the rest of this entry »


The US May Have Just Pulled Even With China in the Race to Build Supercomputing’s Next Big Thing

The two countries are vying to create an exascale computer that could lead to significant advances in many scientific fields.

Martin Giles writes:

… The race to hit the exascale milestone is part of a burgeoning competition for technological leadership between China and the US. (Japan and Europe are also working on their own computers; the Japanese hope to have a machine running in 2021 and the Europeans in 2023.)

In 2015, China unveiled a plan to produce an exascale machine by the end of 2020, and multiple reports over the past year or so have suggested it’s on track to achieve its ambitious goal. But in an interview with MIT Technology Review, Depei Qian, a professor at  Beihang University in Beijing who helps manage the country’s exascale effort, explained it could fall behind schedule. “I don’t know if we can still make it by the end of 2020,” he said. “There may be a year or half a year’s delay.”

Teams in China have been working on three prototype exascale machines, two of which use homegrown chips derived from work on existing supercomputers the country has developed. The third uses licensed processor technology. Qian says that the pros and cons of each approach are still being evaluated, and that a call for proposals to build a fully functioning exascale computer has been pushed back.

Given the huge challenges involved in creating such a powerful computer, timetables can easily slip, which could make an opening for the US. China’s initial goal forced the American government to accelerate its own road map and commit to delivering its first exascale computer in 2021, two years ahead of its original target. The American machine, called Aurora, is being developed for the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. Supercomputing company Cray is building the system for Argonne, and Intel is making chips for the machine. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTOS] On this Date in 1989, the Chinese Government Sent the Tanks into Tiananmen Square

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tiananmen-square.jpg Read the rest of this entry »


Deadly Protests Continue in Southern Iran for a Second Day: ‘Streets look war-torn’ 

Deadly protests in the southern Iranian city of Kazerun continued for a second day following the deaths of two protesters Wednesday.

reports: Former State Department official David Tafuri on President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and Trump’s efforts to help protect jobs at Chinese company ZTE.

Deadly protests in the southern Iranian city of Kazerun continued for a second day following the deaths of two protesters Wednesday. Protesters aimed their wrath at the Iranian regime following a decision to split the city of nearly 150,000 into two townships.

kazerun NCRI 3

Deadly protests in the southern Iranian city of Kazerun continued for a second day following the deaths of two protesters Wednesday.  (NCRI)

“After anti-riot forces were dispatched to the city from Shiraz, the people charged at them and hand-to-hand clashes ensued,” a press release from the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said. NCRI is a coalition of influential Iranian opposition groups.

The protests have left at least two people dead and six others injured.

The NCRI press release said that protesters had set fire to a trailer belonging to regime security forces and that four police vehicles had also been set ablaze. It said that parts of the city looked “war-torn.” It said smoke had filled the air close to the main square following the burning of tires by protesters. It also noted the Internet and mobile phones have been cut off.

Heshmat Alavi an Iranian political and rights activist who has been following the protests since they started last December, told Fox News that “the scene we are witnessing in Kazerun is merely one of the many flashpoints in Iran, a powder keg state considered ready to explode at any moment.”

Alavi said more protests have been occurring across the country.

“Reports from a variety of sources are indicating anti-regime rallies and protests throughout the country, staged by people from all walks of life,” he said. “This includes teachers, college students, store-owners and bazaar merchants, credit firm clients seeking their stolen savings.” Read the rest of this entry »


OH YES THEY DID: North Korean Defector Group Sends Anti-Pyongyang Leaflets to North

PAJU, South Korea, May 12 (Yonhap) — A group of North Korea defectors scattered leaflets critical of the North Korean regime across the border to the North on Saturday despite the government’s recommendation not to.

Six members of the Fighters for a Free North Korea flew five big plastic balloons at around 12:30 a.m. from the border city of Paju, Gyeonggi Province. The balloons sent

This photo showing a ballon of anti-North Korea leaflets sent to the North was provided by the Fighters for a Free North Korea. (Yonhap)

the border to the North Korean side were carrying 150,000 leaflets criticizing North Korea, as well as other gifts like United States dollar bills and USBs, Park Sang-hak, the head of the defectors’ group said.

Banners were also tied to the balloons, reading “Do not be fooled by Kim Jong-un‘s fake dialogue offer, disguised peace offensive.”

“Defectors’ leaflets to North Korea, which are intended to tell the facts and truth to some 20 million North Korean people, will never by stopped by any form of blockade or physical means,” Park noted.

The defectors group tried to fly the anti-North leaflets a week earlier but failed to do so when they were stopped by police and local residents.

The government has repeatedly advised the Fighters for a Free North Korea, as well as other groups that send leaflets to North Korea, against such activity.

“Spreading of anti-North leaflets runs against the spirit of the inter-Korean agreements under the Panmunjom Declaration agreed upon between the leaders of the two countries,” the Unification Ministry has told the groups, urging them to stop the activities. Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Challenge to Democracy 

The democratic cause is on the defensive, and China’s pragmatic authoritarianism now offers a serious rival model, based on economic progress and national dignity.

David Runciman writes: In his 1992 book “The End of History and the Last Man,” Francis Fukuyama famously declared the triumph of liberal democracy as the model of governance toward which all of humankind was heading. It was a victory on two fronts. The Western democracies held the clear advantage over their ideological rivals in material terms, thanks to their proven ability to deliver general prosperity and a rising standard of living for most citizens. At the same time, to live in a modern democracy was to be given certain guarantees that you would be respected as a person. Everyone got to have a say, so democracy delivered personal dignity as well.

Results plus respect is a formidable political mix. The word “dignity” appears 118 times in “The End of History,” slightly more often than the words “peace” and “prosperity” combined. For Mr. Fukuyama, that is what made democracy unassailable: Only it could meet the basic human need for material comfort and the basic human desire for what he called “recognition” (a concept borrowed from Hegel, emphasizing the social basic human desire for what he called “recognition” (a concept borrowed from Hegel, emphasizing the social dimension of respect and dignity). Set against the lumbering, oppressive, impoverished regimes of the Soviet era, it was no contest.

“Democracies, because they give everyone a say, are bound to be fickle.”

Yet today, barely two decades into the 21st century, the contest has been renewed. It is no longer a clash of ideologies, as during the Cold War. Western democracy is now confronted by a form of authoritarianism that is far more pragmatic than its communist predecessors. A new generation of autocrats, most notably in China, have sought to learn the lessons of the 20th century just like everyone else. They too are in the business of trying to offer results plus respect. It is the familiar package, only now it comes in a nondemocratic form.

Since the 1980s, the Chinese regime has had remarkable success in raising the material condition of its population. Over that period, nondemocratic China has made strikingly greater progress in reducing poverty and increasing life expectancy than democratic India: People in China live on average nearly a decade longer than their Indian counterparts and per capita GDP is four times higher. The poverty rate in China is now well below 10% and still falling fast, whereas in India it remains at around 20%. The benefits of rapid economic growth have been made tangible for many hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens, and the regime understands that its survival depends on the economic success story continuing. But China’s rise has been underpinned by more than just improved living standards. There has been a simultaneous drive for greater dignity for the Chinese people. This is not, however, the dignity of the individual citizen as we’ve come to know it in the West. It is collective national dignity, and it comes in the form of demanding greater respect for China itself: Make China great again! The self-assertion of the nation, not the individual, is what completes the other half of the pragmatic authoritarian package.

“One of the striking features of the last century’s battle of ideologies was that the rivals to liberal democracy always had their vocal supporters within democratic states. Marxism-Leninism had its fellow-travelers right to the bitter end … “

Chinese citizens do not have the same opportunities for democratic self-expression as do citizens in the West or India. Personal political dignity is hard to come by in a society that stifles freedom of speech and allows for the arbitrary exercise of power. Nationalism is offered as some compensation, but this only works for individuals who are Han Chinese, the majority national group. It does not help in Tibet or among Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

On the material side of the equation, China’s pragmatic authoritarians have certain advantages. They can target and manage the benefits of breakneck growth to ensure that they are relatively widely shared. Like other developed economies, China is experiencing rising inequality between the very richest and the rest. But the rest are never far from their rulers’ minds. The Chinese middle class is continuing to expand at a dramatic pace. In the West, by contrast, it is the middle class, whose wages and standard of living have been squeezed in recent decades, who feel like they are being left behind.

Read the rest of this entry »


Elon Musk’s SpaceX Will Be the Third Most Valuable Private Company in the Country After a $500 Million Fundraising Round

Turns out this space stuff is pretty lucrative. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Turns out this space stuff is pretty lucrative. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Elon told you so.

Tim Fernholz writes: Elon Musk’s bet on the future of space transportation is set to be the third-biggest private tech company in the US, behind only Uber and Airbnb, and worth more than $27 billion.

SpaceX filed paperwork in Delaware to raise an additional $500 million in capital, according to Equidate, a stock market for private technology companies that tracks such filings. Once the fundraising round is completed, the company’s value will have increased by approximately 25% in the last nine months, according to Equidate COO Hari Raghavan. It has more than doubled since 2015.

It’s not clear yet which investors will provide the cash, but the company has preferred to retain old investors than add new ones. Fidelity is rumored to be leading the round, and Musk is supposedly set to put up more equity in the company he founded out of his own pocket in 2002.

SpaceX confirmed the fundraising round, but did not share any details about how the capital will be used. Read the rest of this entry »


Xi Strikes Nationalistic Tone in Parliament Address 

Chinese President Xi Jinping is displayed on a big screen as he delivers a speech at the closing session of the annual National People’s Congress in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is displayed on a big screen as he delivers a speech at the closing session of the annual National People’s Congress in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Tuesday, March 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping struck a strongly nationalistic tone in his closing address Tuesday to the annual session of the ceremonial parliament, saying China would never allow “one inch” of territory to be separated from it.

Speaking before the nearly 3,000 members of the National People’s Congress who had earlier abolished term limits on his rule, Xi declared that the Chinese people were now “closer now than at any time in history to realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

“Maintaining national sovereignty, territorial integrity and complete unification of the motherland is the common aspiration of all Chinese,” Xi said.

“In the face of national righteousness and the tide of history, all attempts or tricks aimed at dividing the motherland are doomed to failure,” Xi said to loud applause. “All will receive the condemnation of the people and the punishment of history.”

Read the rest of this entry »


China to Ban Citizens with Bad ‘Social Credit’ Rating from Raking Flights or Using Trains for Up to a Year 

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President Xi Jinping’s plan based on principle ‘once untrustworthy, always restricted’ to come into effect on 1 May.

China said it will begin applying its so-called social credit system to flights and trains and stop people who have committed misdeeds from taking such transport for up to a year.

People who would be put on the restricted lists included those found to have committed acts like spreading false information about terrorism and causing trouble on flights, as well as those who used expired tickets or smoked on trains, according to two statements issued on the National Development and Reform Commission’s website on Friday.

Those found to have committed financial wrongdoings, such as employers who failed to pay social insurance or people who have failed to pay fines, would also face these restrictions, said the statements which were dated 2 March.

It added that the rules would come into effect on 1 May.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Falcon Heavy Blasts Off, Boosters Land at Cape Canaveral

Rumbling into a mostly sunny sky, SpaceX’s new Falcon Heavy rocket — the world’s most powerful present-day launcher — soared into orbit Tuesday, and its two strap-on boosters came back to Cape Canaveral for an electrifying double-landing punctuated by quadruple sonic booms.

The dramatic test flight took off at 3:45 p.m. EST (2045 GMT) Tuesday from launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the same facility used by the Apollo 11 lunar landing crew and numerous space shuttle missions.

Standing nearly 230 feet (70 meters) tall, the Falcon Heavy’s 27 main engines put out nearly 5 million pounds of thrust, one-and-a-half times more than any other rocket flying today, and around two-thirds the power output of the space shuttle at liftoff. Read the rest of this entry »


Gunmen in Mexico Open Fire at Underground Cockfight 

Authorities in Mexico say that six people were killed and another 14 wounded during underground cockfighting match on the southern edge of Chihuahua city.

  • Masked attackers fired at people gathered at the ‘Santa Maria’ cockfight club
  • Four victims were killed at the scene and two died while receiving treatment
  • Cockfighting is popular in the country and particularly in western Mexico
  • The cock fights are a big draw for the narcos attend high stakes games

Associated Press and Alasdair Baverstock report: Authorities in northern Mexico say gunmen opened fire at a clandestine cockfight arena in the Chihuahua s tate capital, killing six people and wounding 14.

The state prosecutor’s office says in a statement that several masked attackers fired at people gathered at the ‘Santa Maria’ cockfight club late Saturday off a highway on the southern edge of Chihuahua city.

Prosecutors said Sunday that four victims were killed at the scene and two more died while receiving medical treatment.

Prosecutors said Sunday that four victims were killed at the scene and two more died while receiving medical treatment.

Cockfighting is popular in the country and particularly in western Mexico, where every town has a cockfighting ring

Cockfighting is popular in the country and particularly in western Mexico, where every town has a cockfighting ring

Two children ages 7 and 10 were among the wounded. There were no immediate arrests.

Cockfighting is popular in the country and particularly in western Mexico, where every town in the states of Jalisco, Michoacan and Guerrero has a Palenque, or cockfighting ring.

Gambling is a major aspect of the event, and as much as $40,000 can be placed on a single bout. Bookkeepers patrol the stands and take bets. Spectators gamble only on the overall outcome, and all odds are set at 2:1. Read the rest of this entry »


Louvre Displays Nazi-Looted Art in the Hope of Finding Owners 

View of the pyramid and the Louvre Museum building. January 22, 2005, Paris. AP

31 paintings stolen from Jewish families during World War II are put on permanent display in Louvre as it searches for its owners.

The Louvre Museum in Paris has put 31 Nazi-looted paintings on permanent display in an attempt to find their rightful owners.The works were installed in two showrooms last month, The Associated Press reported.

Some 296 Nazi-looted paintings are stored at the Louvre and remain unclaimed.

Sebastien Allard, the head of the paintings department at the Louvre, told AP on Tuesday that most of the artworks were stolen from Jewish families during World War II.

“Beneficiaries can see these artworks, declare that these artworks belong to them and officially ask for their return,” he said.

Ways to prove ownership include old family photos, receipts or testimonies.

The Louvre initiative is the latest effort by French authorities to find heirs of families who lost their artwork during World War II. The French Culture Ministry has formed a committee in charge of locating the original owners of the paintings. Only about 50 artworks have been returned since 1951. Read the rest of this entry »


REWIND: NYT’s Nicholas Kristof in North Korea Shares Photos of ‘Fun’ and Pizza

reports: Liberal New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is reporting from North Korea and sharing photos on social media of school children, food and the “fun” he is witnessing in the rogue country.

“North Koreans like to have fun, too.”

— Nicholas Kristof

Kristof began tweeting and posting photos to Instagram on Tuesday and he said he has interviewed government officials and toured “a side of the country that doesn’t always come through.”

One photo showed what appeared to be an amusement park. “North Koreans like to have fun, too,” Kristof wrote in the caption of one photo that showed a park ride. “People were shouting happily on this ride on an amusement park.”

In another photo from North Korea, a country that has long faced food shortages resulting in a largely starved population, Kristof showed a meal he was having.

“Lunch in Pyongyang, North Korea, at a pizza restaurant with live music,” the caption said. Read the rest of this entry »


Iran’s Theocracy Is on the Brink 

Every decade the Islamist regime has been in power, an uprising has cost it an element of its legitimacy.

Mark Dubowitz and Ray Takeyh report: Iran has a peculiar habit of surprising Americans. It has done so again with the protests engulfing its major cities. The demonstrations began over economic grievances and quickly transformed into a rejection of theocracy.

“As with the Soviet Union in its last days, the Islamic Republic can no longer appeal to its ideals; it relies only on its security services for survival.”

The slogans must have unsettled the mullahs: “Death to Khamenei!” “Death to Rouhani!” “We will die to get our Iran back!” Imperialism has not revived the regime’s legitimacy, as the protesting Persians pointedly reject expending their meager resources on Arab wars: “Death to Hezbollah!” “No to Gaza, not Lebanon! Our life only for Iran!”

A protester at the University of Tehran, Dec. 30. Photo: STR/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

A protester at the University of Tehran, Dec. 30. Photo: STR/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

However the events on the streets unfold, their most immediate casualty will be the presidency of Hassan Rouhani and its false claim of pragmatic governance. In the aftermath of the Green Revolution of 2009, which rocked the foundations of the Islamic Republic, a sinister argument gradually pervaded Western salons and chancelleries. The convulsions of that summer, the claim went, were over no more than electoral irregularity. With the election of the so-called moderate Mr. Rouhani in 2013, the system rebalanced itself. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his allies supposedly learned some hard lessons on the need to yield to popular mandates. Iranians want gradual change, we have been told, and believe that the system’s own constitutional provisions and plebiscites can be used to nudge it toward moderation.

Then, last week, Iranians took to the streets.

Every decade of the Islamist regime’s rule has seen one of its political factions lose its legitimacy through national uprisings. In the 1980s, the Islamic Republic waged a determined civil war against liberals and secularists who sought to redeem the revolution’s pledge of a democratic order. The student riots of 1999 ended the reformist interlude and Mohammad Khatami’s presidency, which had promised that the expansion of civil society and elections would harmonize faith and freedom. The reformists lingered as discredited enablers of a repressive regime, but no one believed in their promises of change from within. The hard-liners offered their own national compact, one that privileged economic justice over political emancipation. But the tumultuous presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad produced only corruption and bellicosity.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Then came Mr. Rouhani and his centrist disciples with their pledge to revive the economy, primarily through foreign investment. Mr. Rouhani needed a nuclear agreement to lift debilitating sanctions and stimulate commerce. The Obama administration was happy to deliver, and Iran received tens of billions of dollars in financial dividends, including $1.7 billion in paper currency. Read the rest of this entry »


Tax Overhaul Could Jolt Dollar as U.S. Companies Bring Home Cash 

Corporations could repatriate as much as $400 billion in earnings and cash from abroad.

Companies could bring back as much as $400 billion, according to one estimate, as they take advantage of a one-time cut for repatriation of earnings and cash held overseas written into the GOP tax overhaul. That typically requires them to sell foreign holdings and buy assets denominated in dollars, which could boost the U.S. currency.

Gauging the dollar’s trajectory is crucial to both investors and corporations. The currency’s climb over the past several years has been blamed for pressuring profits among U.S. multinational companies and making exporters’ goods less competitive abroad.

Its trajectory also influences prices for raw materials like oil, copper and gold, which are denominated in dollars and become more expensive to foreign investors when the dollar rises.

Many investors expected the dollar to strengthen in 2017, boosted by the Trump administration’s fiscal-stimulus and infrastructure-spending pledges. Instead, the currency as of Friday had fallen nearly 7% against its peers, as key White House initiatives stalled.

Read the rest of this entry »


Mayors From Seven Major French Cities Write Open Letter Saying They Are Overwhelmed By The Flow Of Migrants

Local chiefs from Nantes, Lille, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Rennes, Toulouse and Strasbourg wrote an open letter to Parisian officials to ask for relief from the ‘extreme tension’ caused by migrant arrivals.

  • The mayors from large French cities wrote open letter to Le Monde newspaper
  • In it they stressed their settlements were going through a ‘social emergency’
  • They said there has been a ‘massive rise in the demand for asylum’ recently 
  • To relieve ‘extreme tension’ on services, they added, a national plan was needed 

Iain Burns reports: The mayors of seven large French cities have appealed to the national government to save them from the ‘social emergency’ of huge numbers of migrants.

Local chiefs from Nantes, Lille, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Rennes, Toulouse and Strasbourg wrote an open letter to Parisian officials to beg for relief from the ‘extreme tension’ caused by the arrival of people seeking a new home.

The mayors – including this year’s presidential hopeful Alain Juppé (from Bordeaux) – explained that there had been a ‘massive rise in the demand for asylum’, with ‘several thousand’ migrants arriving every month.

 The letter comes just over a year after the relocation of several thousands migrants from the Calais Jungle in Northern France.

The mayors - including this year's presidential hopeful Alain Juppé (pictured) - explained that there had been a 'massive rise in the demand for asylum', with 'several thousand' migrants arriving every month

The mayors – including this year’s presidential hopeful Alain Juppé (pictured) – explained that there had been a ‘massive rise in the demand for asylum’, with ‘several thousand’ migrants arriving every month

Local chiefs from Nantes, Lille, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Rennes, Toulouse and Strasbourg wrote an open letter to Parisian officials to help relieve the ‘extreme tension’ caused by the arrival of people seeking a new home. Pictured: Migrants leaving the Calais Jungle last year

Writing to Le Monde, they added: ‘A social emergency. An urgent solidarity. [Our cities] are, on this subject as on others, on the front line.

‘We can not, we must not, resign ourselves to the human, social and health drama of uprooting migrants. Every month, several thousand people arrive in our cities. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: New York Times Confesses to Causing Starvation in North Korea


Miss Iraq Forced to Flee Country Over Instagram Photo Alongside Miss Israel

Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, and her family had to flee their homeland after receiving death threats over a photo she posted online last month.

Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, and her family had to flee their homeland after receiving death threats over a photo she posted online last month.

Why? Because Idan posed with Miss Israel, Adar Gandelsman, at a Miss Universe International Beauty Pageant, the Times of Israel reported.

Idan came under fire for posting the photo to Instagram, captioned, “Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel,” in addition to modeling a bikini.

“The two of those things together caused a mess for her back home where people made threats against her and her family that if she didn’t return home and take down the photos, they would remove her (Miss Iraq) title, that they would kill her,” Adar Gandelsman told Israeli TV, the paper reported. Read the rest of this entry »


North Korea Readying for Another Nuclear Test? Satellite Images Show Heightened Activity at Punggye-ri

Sohae Satellite Launching Station is seen in Sohae, North Korea, in this satellite image taken on 17 September 2016 released by 38 North 38 North via Reuters

Over the weekend, Radio Pyongyang broadcast secret coded messages hinting at a possible impending weapons test.

 reports: North Korea appears to be pressing ahead with its nuclear programme. Satellite images recently detected hectic activity at the North Korean nuclear test site, Punggye-ri.

Experts say that after North Korea’s last nuclear test, minor tremors were detected near Mt Mantap, located close to the nuclear site. However, Pyongyang is now engaged in additional tunnel work at the site.

According to experts at 38North, a US-based think tank, the fresh activities were detected at the West Portal of the site – indicating that the site may be undergoing an expansion. Meanwhile, the North Portal, where the previous five tests were conducted, appears to have been temporarily abandoned.

“At the West Portal, there has been a consistently high level of activity since North Korea’s last nuclear test. This includes a routine presence of vehicles and personnel around the portal, movement of mining carts from the portal to the adjacent spoil pile and signs of fresh spoil being dumped onto the pile,” 38North experts said in a blog. “These activities suggest that tunnel excavation is underway at the West Portal, as the North Koreans expand the site’s potential for future nuclear testing.”

Ryan Barenklau, CEO and founder of Strategic Sentinel, a Washington-based nonpartisan geostrategic consulting agency, told IBTimes UK, “The tunneling is occurring at the West Portal and activity near that area has been relatively high for the last month. They are most likely digging deeper and expanding the complex underneath so they can continue their normal operations.” Read the rest of this entry »


Nikki Haley to China: Cut Off Oil to North Korea or Else

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reports: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday appeared to threaten to disrupt Chinese crude oil shipments to North Korea following the hermit kingdom’s test of an intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday.

China’s refusal to completely cut off energy exports to North Korea have been a sticking point as the United States leads the charge to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

Haley revealed during a speech at the United Nations headquarters in New York City that President Donald Trump called Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday morning to tell him the time has come for China to cut off crude oil supplies to North Korea.

North Korean soldiers patrol the bank of the Yalu River which separates the North Korean town of Sinuiju from the Chinese border town of Dandong, northeast China (Getty)

North Korean soldiers patrol the bank of the Yalu River which separates the North Korean town of Sinuiju from the Chinese border town of Dandong, northeast China (Getty)

“We now turn to President Xi to also take that stand. We believe he has an opportunity to do the right thing for the benefit of all countries. China must show leadership and follow through. China can do this on its own, or we can take the oil situation into our own hands,” she said.

Read the rest of this entry »


Disinformation vs. Democracy: Authoritarians Outspending U.S.

Authoritarian regimes like Russia and China are outspending the United States in the realm of soft power, Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told the National Democratic Institute’s annual Democracy Dinner at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C. last night.

“Our budget is $650 million—a fraction of what our adversaries spend,” he said “Today, Russia is spending over a billion dollars on covert propaganda operations,” he added. “Russian TV, radio, and internet bots continue to push misinformation without almost no pushback from the US.”

The authoritarian threat required greater investment in non-kinetic resources for exerting influence abroad, Murphy added.

“We have more people working at military grocery stores than diplomats deployed abroad,” he said.

Facebook estimates that 10 million people saw the [Kremlin’s] paid ads and up to 150 million people saw other content from the fake accounts, which Facebook has traced to the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-backed troll farm, WIRED reports:
Psychologists and students of advertising say the ads were cleverly designed to look like other internet memes, and to appeal to readers’ emotions. Jay Van Bavel, an associate professor of psychology at NYU, says he was surprised at the sophistication of the campaign. “It wasn’t transparent lies. It was just pushing our buttons,” says Van Bavel. “To me, this is more pernicious. It’s not a matter of fiction that we can root out with fact-checking. It’s more about turning Americans against each other.”

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“The IRA are not amateurs, they’re clearly familiarizing themselves with the kind of content that resonates with the target audiences,” says Renee DiResta, researcher with Data for Democracy, a nonprofit group that has been digging into the data on Russian-linked accounts.

The threat of disinformation and other active measures employed by the Kremlin requires adaptation and innovation from the advanced democracies, according to NATO’s Secretary General.

“Defense is no longer about just looking at a map and deciding where to place armies,” Jens Stoltenberg said this week. “It’s also about countering misinformation. Protecting infrastructure. Making our societies resilient to attack.”

“The geography of danger has shifted,” he added.

The NDI dinner honored three civil society groups on the front lines of confronting disinformation and false news – . Rappler from the Philippines, the Ukraine-based StopFake and the Oxford Internet Institute.

“When a lie is repeated 1 million times it becomes truth, especially when it’s state-sponsored hate,” said Rapplerdotcom‘s Maria Ressa. “A sock puppet network of 26 fake accounts can reach 3 million.”

Disinformation “exploits the fracture lines of society,” she said, adding that she received an average of 90 hate messages per hour.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Jonathan Haidt: The Globalist Blind-Spot

Jonathan David Haidt (born October 19, 1963) is an American social psychologist and Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. His academic specialization is the psychology of morality and the moral emotions. Haidt is the author of two books: The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom (2006) and The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion (2012). Read the rest of this entry »