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[VIDEO] Yawei Liu On Chinese Views Of Trump

Yawei Liu (刘亚伟) joined The Carter Center in 1998 and has been the director of its China Program since 2005. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations since 2014, the associate director of the China Research Center in Atlanta, and an adjunct professor of Political Science at Emory University. He co-authored Obama: The Man Who Will Change America (Chinese language, 2008).

He is the founding editor of http://www.chinaelections.org, http://www.uscnpm.org, and http://www.chinatransparency.org. Since 2012, he has organized an annual forum on U.S.-China relations. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] National Review Reacts to 2016 GOP Iowa Caucus Results 

National Review‘s Ian Tuttle responds to the Ted Cruz victory at the 2016 Iowa Caucuses. Subscribe to our exclusive e-mail content here.


[VIDEO] ISIS Vows All Nations in Syria Air Strikes ‘Will Suffer France’s Fate’ 

The video emerged as CIA Director Brennan told the Center for Strategic and International Studies‘ annual Global Security Forum on Monday that he hoped the attacks were a wake-up call for security services and warned that ISIS will attempt more terror atrocities.

‘I would anticipate that this is not the only operation that ISIS has in the pipeline.’

This comes as thousands lined the streets of Paris for a minute’s silence to remember those killed in a wave of attacks which included suicide bombs at the Stade de France, a massacre at the Bataclan theatre and mass shootings at bars and restaurants across the city.

In Paris, President Francois Hollande and his cabinet, all dressed in black, bowed their heads at the Sorbonne University, surrounded by scores of students.

And at Place de la Republique near the site of many of Friday’s attacks, hundreds more stood still to remember the 129 people who were killed in the bloodbath.

Meanwhile, in the chilling film, which appeared on a site used by ISIS to post its messages, the video begins with news footage of the aftermath of Friday’s Paris shootings.

A message to countries involved in what it called the ‘crusader campaign’ was delivered by a man dressed in fatigues and a turban, and identified in subtitles as Al Ghareeb the Algerian.

It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the video, which purports to be the work of ISIS fighters in the Iraqi province of Salahuddine, north of Baghdad.

The video was released by a group which dubs itself ‘Wilayah Kirkuk‘ or ‘State of Kirkuk’ — a city in north Iraq which is currently under ISIS control. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: French Jets Begin Major Airstrikes, Bombing Defacto ISIS Capital of Raqqa, French Defense Ministry Says

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France has launched a series of airstrikes on the ISIL-held Syrian city of Raqqa in the wake of the deadly Paris terror attacks.

The French Defence Ministry says 10 jets dropped 20 bombs on the terror group’s de-facto capital.

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The attack included 12 warplanes.

“The first target destroyed was used by Daesh (another Arabic acronym for IS) as a command post, jihadist recruitment centre and arms and munitions depot,” a ministry statement said.

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“The second held a terrorist training camp.”

The warplanes left for Syria from Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, the Ministry said….(read more)

Source: 9news.com,au

mirror.co.uk. reports: France retaliated to the Paris terror attack by launching deadly airstrikes on an Islamic State jihadi training camp in Syria tonight.

Yesterday French president Francois Hollande vowed to crush the extremist group who massacred 129 people on Friday night.

Less than 24 hours later, some 10 fighter jets pummeled the ISIS-held city of Raqqa with at least 20 bombs, according to the French defence ministry.

French President Francois Hollande in the security control room at the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis

The jets hit command and control center, jihadi recruitment center, munitions depot and a training camp. AFP/Getty

President Hollande was told his country is under attack while watching France take on Germany in a friendly at the Stade de France.

His bodyguard is seen whispering into Francois Hollande’s ear 15 minutes into watching France take on Germany

Mr Hollande was immediately escorted upstairs to a secure area where he was briefed to the full extent of the situation before being scrambled away to a secure location. Read the rest of this entry »


The Many Exhausted Faces of Hillary Clinton


In an Effort to Appear Relevant, Obama Administration Finally Sort of Developing Sanctions Against China Over Cyberthefts

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A decision on whether to act could come soon, close to a major state visit by President Xi Jinping.

The Obama administration is developing a package of unprecedented economic sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals who have benefited from their government’s cybertheft of valuable U.S. trade secrets.

The U.S. government has not yet decided whether to issue these sanctions, but a final call is expected soon — perhaps even within the next two weeks, according to several administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

“The indictments were a strong move. This is going to be an even stronger move. It’s really going to put China in the position of having to choose whether they want to be this pariah nation — this kleptocracy — or whether they want to be one of the leading nations in the world.”

— Rob Knake, a former White House cyber official and currently a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Issuing sanctions would represent a significant expansion in the administration’s public response to the rising wave of ­cyber-economic espionage initiated by Chinese hackers, who officials say have stolen everything from nuclear power plant designs to search engine source code to confidential negotiating positions of energy companies.

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Any action would also come at a particularly sensitive moment between the world’s two biggest economies. President Xi Jinping of China is due to arrive next month in Washington for his first state visit — complete with a 21-gun salute on the South Lawn of the White House and an elaborate State Dinner. There is already tension over a host of other issues, including maritime skirmishes in the South China Sea and China’s efforts to devalue its currency in the face of its recent stock market plunge. At the same time, the two countries have deep trade ties and the administration has sometimes been wary of seeming too tough on China.

But the possibility of sanctions so close to Xi’s visit indicates how frustrated U.S. officials have become over the persistent cyber plundering.

[Read the full text here, at The Washington Post]

The sanctions would mark the first use of an order signed by President Obama in April establishing the authority to freeze financial and property assets of, and bar commercial transactions with, individuals and entities overseas who engage in destructive attacks or commercial espionage in cyberspace.

President Barack Obama sits across the table from Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands as they meet for talks Friday, June 7, 2013, in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Seeking a fresh start to a complex relationship, the two leaders are retreating to the sprawling desert estate for two days of talks on high-stakes issues, including cybersecurity and North Korea's nuclear threats. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“China is not the only country that hacks computer networks for trade secrets to aid its economy, but it is by far the most active, officials say. Just last month, the FBI said that economic espionage cases surged 53 percent in the past year, and that China accounted for most of that.”

The White House declined to comment on specific sanctions, but a senior administration official, speaking generally, said: “As the president said when signing the executive order enabling the use of economic sanctions against malicious cyber actors, the administration is pursuing a comprehensive strategy to confront such actors. Read the rest of this entry »


Sacré Bleu! Top French Official Jacques Audibert Contradicts Kerry on Iran Deal

 writes: Secretary of State John Kerry has been painting an apocalyptic picture of what would happen if Congress killed the Iran nuclear deal. Among other things, he has warned that “our friends in this effort will desert us.” But the top national security official from one of those nations involved in the negotiations, France, has a totally different view: He told two senior U.S. lawmakers that he thinks a Congressional no vote might actually be helpful.

His analysis is already having an effect on how members of Congress, especially House Democrats, are thinking about the deal.

Jacques Audibert

The French official, Jacques Audibert, is now the senior diplomatic adviser to President Francois Hollande. Before that, as the director general for political affairs in the Foreign Ministry from 2009 to 2014, he led theFrench diplomatic team in the discussions with Iran and the P5+1 group. Earlier this month, he met withDemocrat Loretta Sanchez and Republican Mike Turner, both top members of the House Armed Services Committee, to discuss the Iran deal. The U.S. ambassador to France, Jane Hartley, was also in the room.
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“He basically said, if Congress votes this down, there will be some saber-rattling and some chaos for a year or two, but in the end nothing will change and Iran will come back to the table to negotiate again and that would be to our advantage…He thought if the Congress voted it down, that we could get a better deal.”

— Loretta Sanchez

According to both lawmakers, Audibert expressed support for the deal overall, but also directly disputed Kerry’s claim that a Congressional rejection of the Iran deal would result in the worst of all worlds, the collapse of sanctions and Iran racing to the bomb without restrictions.

“He basically said, if Congress votes this down, there will be some saber-rattling and some chaos for a year or frenchmantwo, but in the end nothing will change and Iran will come back to the table to negotiate again and that would be to our advantage,” Sanchez told me in an interview. “He thought if the Congress voted it down, that we could get a better deal.”

[Read the full text here, at Bloomberg View]

(Before the publication of this article on Thursday, Jacques Audibert, the Elysee Palace office and the French Embassy in Washington were asked for comment, and did not respond. After its publication, the embassy released a statement saying it “formally denies the content of the remarks” attributed to Audibert by the two members of Congress, and U.S. Ambassador Hartley described them as “inaccurate.” Audibert tweeted that he “never said or suggested that a no vote from Congress … might be helpful or lead to a better deal,” and has not responded to requests for an interview.  Read the rest of this entry »


Sean Penn’s $7 million Malibu Mansion

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At The Corner, Ian Tuttle has this: 

Sean Penn’s 1.4-acre estate overlooking the Pacific is on the market… 

Note what’s hanging on Sean’s wall.

Forbes has more photos.

In Sean Penn’s Household GodsJay Nordlinger writes:

…The fog of time and the strength of anti-anti-Communism have obscured the real Che. Who was he? He was an Argentinian revolutionary who served as Castro’s primary thug. He was especially infamous for presiding over summary executions at La Cabana, the fortress that was his abattoir. He liked to administer the coup de grace, the bullet to the back of the neck. And he loved to parade people past El Paredon, the reddened wall against which so many innocents were killed.

[Read the full text of Jay Nordlinger‘s article here, at nationalreview.com]

Furthermore, he established the labor-camp system in which countless citizens–dissidents, democrats, artists, homosexuals–would suffer and die. This is the Cuban gulag. A Cuban-American writer, Humberto Fontova, described Guevara as “a combination of Beria and Himmler.” Anthony Daniels once quipped, “The difference between [Guevara] and Pol Pot was that [the former] never studied in Paris.”

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And yet, he is celebrated by “liberals,” this most illiberal of men. As Paul Berman summed up recently in Slate, “Che was an enemy of freedom, and yet he has been erected into a symbol of freedom. He helped establish an unjust social system in Cuba and has been erected into a symbol of social justice. He stood for the ancient rigidities of Latin-American thought, in a Marxist-Leninist version, and he has been celebrated as a freethinker and a rebel.”

[Sean Penn’s Household Gods]

Those who know, or care about, the truth concerning  are often tempted to despair. Read the rest of this entry »


Signaler-In-Chief: Our HBO-Watching, Millennial-Pandering Hipster President

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It’s Not About Substance. It’s All About Signaling

Jonathan V. Last writes: In economic theory, “signaling” is an action one party takes that has, superficially, no plausible economic explanation. The reason the action is undertaken isn’t because the action itself is helpful, but because the action transmits important information to a second actor.

“Why do reporters ask politicians what they think about evolution? Practically speaking, no one really cares what a senator or a congressman-or even a president-thinks about evolution. But what a politician says about evolution is a handy signal to certain types of voters telling them what they’re supposed to think.” 

So, for instance, the entire field of higher education is essentially a big production in signaling, with students paying lots of money to achieve-not because a college education is worth anything as a good, but because the students hope that the the credential will signal value to potential employers. You don’t pay $200K for a bachelor’s in history from Williams because the class on colonial oppression in West Africa is worth the price of a house. You pay it because you hope that Goldman Sachs sees a Williams diploma as proof of intelligence and will want to hire you.

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“The president of the United States-who’s also a constitutional law scholar!-decided that in order to get his arms around reforming the criminal justice system he had to consult with the producer of a fictional TV show that went off the air seven years ago.”

Political life is full of signal theory, too. Why do reporters ask politicians what they think about evolution? Practically speaking, no one really cares what a senator or a congressman-or even a president-thinks about evolution. But what a politician says about evolution is a handy signal to certain types of voters telling them what they’re supposed to think.

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“President Obama has always been skilled at sending out very precise, targeted signals, whether it’s to mainstream swing voters or to his liberal base. But the group Obama works hardest at signaling to is the young, Millennial hipsters who were so vital to his 2008 victory over Hillary Clinton.”

So if you’re a nice, well-educated cog in the Goldman Sachs machine who thinks that, generally speaking, public-sector unions are harmful, that the federal government is operating in a suboptimal manner, and that the mullahs of Iran probably shouldn’t be allowed to have nuclear weapons, you might consider voting for someone like that tough, can-do governor from Wisconsin.

[Read the full text here, at The Weekly Standard]

But then someone asks the governor whether or not he “believes in evolution” and he doesn’t answer by jumping up and down chanting and “Darwin! Darwin! Darwin!” And suddenly you understand: This guy isn’t really like you. Better to let Iran have nukes.

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You got the signal loud and clear.

“As a substantive matter, Obama’s presidency has been terrible for these people. High unemployment numbers for recent graduates. No bending of the curve on college tuition prices….Yet Obama has made sure to signal that, despite everything, he’s really on their side.” 

President Obama has always been skilled at sending out very precise, targeted signals, whether it’s to mainstream swing voters or to his liberal base. Read the rest of this entry »


How Russia props up Putin in the polls

Russia-Putin

Christopher Walker is executive director of the International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy. Robert Orttung is assistant director of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at the George Washington University’s Elliott School for International Affairs.

Christopher Walker and Robert Orttung write: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s popularity appears to resist the laws of political physics. Despite the price of oil sinking below $50 a barrel and the Russian economy falling into a tailspin, Putin’s approval ratings hover above 80 percent, seemingly defying ­gravity.

“The cream of Russian society is voting with its feet, leaving a stultifying, ever more corrupt environment for greener pastures that allow them to productively apply their talents.”

But the numbers should not be taken at face value.

Deeper scrutiny is especially important because the more Putin’s sky-high popularity ratings are mentioned, the more they become accepted wisdom. Western news media and political analysts frequently report on them without providing critically needed context.

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“All of this should tell us something. Today, the Kremlin must work far harder than it has to manufacture regime support. Its fiercer propaganda and harsher repression suggest that the Russian population is less willing to accept Putin. To compensate, the state apparatus has been shifted into overdrive.”

First, Putin’s popularity has been achieved in an information vacuum. An informal set of censorship rules, actively enforced by the Kremlin, makes it virtually impossible to discuss important issues and question official actions through the mass media. Today, independent voices rarely reach into Russian living rooms over the airwaves. In recent months, the government has tightened its noose, pressuring even outlets serving niche audiences, such as the news Web site Lenta.ruthe newspaper Vedomosti and the Moscow station TV Rain. Meanwhile, feverish state propaganda feeds Russian television audiences an unchallenged and delusive flow of information designed to show the country’s leaders in the most positive light while blaming problems on “fascists,” “foreign agents” and “fifth columns.”

Second, Putin’s political repression makes certain that only the bravest and most self-sacrificing individuals challenge his rule. Emerging opposition leaders are either removed, smeared or co-opted before they gain sufficient popularity to present a threat. A popularity figure of 80-plus percent simply tells us that Russians cannot conceive of an alternative to Putin. Read the rest of this entry »


The Spreading Menace of Boko Haram

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The jihadist group in Nigeria killed 11,245 people last year. Now their rampage seems ready to escalate in 2015

Emad Mostaque writes: The new year began with terror attacks in Paris inspired or orchestrated by al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula and ISIS and then reports of up to 2,000 residents killed by Boko Haram in a days-long massacre in Baga, Nigeria. While Paris has grabbed the majority of media attention, the events in Baga may prove to be the most significant as Boko Haram expands in northeastern Nigeria. This weekend the group captured the town of Monguno and its military barracks while simultaneously attacking the state capital, Maiduguri.

“While Paris has grabbed the majority of media attention, the events in Baga may prove to be the most significant as Boko Haram expands in northeastern Nigeria.”

A key goal of all terrorists is to provoke outsize reactions by committing heinous deeds. This is particularly true of jihadists, whose main feature is the takfir they impose on the majority of other Muslims—declaring them not to be “true” believers and thus outside of their group and liable for death. High-profile attacks aim to polarize societies and create animus against mainstream Muslims, creating more potential recruits for the radical Islamists.

A key goal of all terrorists is to provoke outsize reactions by committing heinous deeds. This is particularly true of jihadists, whose main feature is the takfir they impose on the majority of other Muslims—declaring them not to be ‘true’ believers and thus outside of their group and liable for death.”

ISIS has intensified its bloodletting over the last year, using social media to amplify its mass beheadings and other fearsome deeds—and thus the group’s power and threat—in line with the recommendations outlined in jihad theoretician Abu Bakr Naji ’s 2006 text “The Management of Savagery.” However, ISIS has reached the limits of unopposed and easy expansion in Iraq as it now faces well-armed forces in non-Sunni areas, bolstered by coalition airstrikes. ISIS gains in Syria continue, but the group appears more contained, having failed to take Kobani from its Kurdish defenders. Read the rest of this entry »


Deaths in Nigeria Child Suicide Bombings

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Two suspected child suicide bombers blow themselves up killing six, in the latest assault involving young girls

At least six people have been killed after two suspected child suicide bombers blew themselves up in a market in northeast Nigeria, witnesses say.

“I saw their dead bodies. They are two young girls of about 10 years of age…you only see the plaited hair and part of the upper torso.”

— A trader at the market, Sani Abdu Potiskum

Sunday’s assault was the second attack involving young girls strapped with explosives.

The blasts struck around mid-afternoon at an open market selling mobile handsets in the town of Potiskum in Yobe state, one of three northeastern states after Adamawa and Brorno that have been hit by the armed group Boko Haram.

A trader at the market, Sani Abdu Potiskum, said the bombers were about 10 years old.

“I saw their dead bodies. They are two young girls of about 10 years of age … you only see the plaited hair and part of the upper torso,” the trader said.

The town was hit by a suicide bomber in November when at least 48 people, mainly students, were killed during a school assembly.

On Saturday, a bomb exploded at a police station in Potiskum.

Sunday’s explosions came a day after a bomb strapped to a girl aged around 10 years old exploded in a busy market place in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, killing at least 16 people and injuring more than 20, security sources said.

Boko Haram, which opposes Western influence and education, has been fighting since 2009 to establish an Islamic state in the northeast of the country. The the army’s inability to crush the movement has created problems for President Goodluck Jonathan, who is seeking re-election in February.

Last year more than 10,000 people died in the violence, according to an estimate by the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations.

Army losses

The military lost ground in worst-hit Borno state last weekend after fighters took over the town of Baga and nearby army base, killing over 100 people and forcing thousands to flee. The defence headquarters said on Saturday that the army was regrouping to retake the area. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Nation’s most influential foreign-policy think tank’ employs pro-terrorist Castro follower

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Charles C. Johnson writes: The influential Council on Foreign Relations employs a director who thanks convicted terrorist bombers in a book, calls for restrictive gun laws, and has a long history of warm relations with the most extreme elements of the Castro regime.

“In Cuba many people spent long hours with me, helped open doors I could not have pushed through myself, and offered friendship and warmth to myself during research trips to the island…Elsa Montero and Jose Gomez Abad championed this project,” Julia Sweig wrote in the acknowledgements of her 2002 book, “Inside the Cuban Revolution: Fidel Castro and the Urban Underground.”

Sweig serves as the Latin American Studies director for the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a high-powered think tank that includes the cream of U.S. foreign policy makers. Read the rest of this entry »


China President Xi Jinping Urges Military To Get its Freak On

The new Liaoning aircraft carrier. Home to China's J-15 Flying Sharks.

The new Liaoning aircraft carrier. Home to China’s J-15 Flying Sharks.

As China becomes a superpower, so with it comes the need for a stronger military.

President Xi Jinping told the Navy this weekend that he wants his military to train harder, strengthen their defense capabilities and protect the country’s “sovereignty, security and development.”

Last week, President Xi was at the Shenyang military theater of operations where he visited a training session aboard China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.

Read the rest of this entry »