Ed Feulner: Why Hong Kong Might Lose Its No. 1 Spot on the Index of Economic Freedom

Screen-shot-2015-02-19-at-10.44.52-PM

Hong Kong in many ways continues to act as a fine example for other countries who aspire to be economically free, its foothold on the No. 1 spot is slipping…

Ed Feulner writes: It’s good to be No. 1. But as any former champ will tell you, you have to avoid becoming complacent if you want to stay ahead of the pack. First-place finishes aren’t guaranteed, just ask Hong Kong.

Every year since 1995, the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal have measured the state of economic freedom in the world. We go country by country, poring over the details of who’s up, who’s down, and who’s treading water. Through all the changes we’ve charted, one thing hasn’t changed: Hong Kong takes the top slot.

“To see what Hong Kong does right, consider business licenses. Obtaining one there requires filling out a single form, and the process can be completed in a few hours. In many other countries, it’s more complicated and can take much longer. Bureaucracy, inefficiency and even corruption abound.”

“As the economic and financial gateway to China, and with an efficient regulatory framework, low and simple taxation, and sophisticated capital markets, the territory continues to offer the most convenient platform for international companies doing business on the mainland,” write the editors of the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom.

To see what Hong Kong does right, consider business licenses. Obtaining one there requires filling out a single form, and the process can be completed in a few hours. In many other countries, it’s more complicated and can take much longer. Bureaucracy, inefficiency and even corruption abound.

“As the economic and financial gateway to China, and with an efficient regulatory framework, low and simple taxation, and sophisticated capital markets, the territory continues to offer the most convenient platform for international companies doing business on the mainland.”

But while Hong Kong in many ways continues to act as a fine example for other countries who aspire to be economically free, its foothold on the No. 1 spot is slipping. Singapore, the perennial No. 2 finisher, has seen the gap between it and Hong Kong steadily narrow in recent years. Only two-tenths of a point (on a scale of 1-100) separate its Index score from Hong Kong’s.

In short, they’re virtually tied. And it’s worth noting that Singapore’s Index score is unchanged this year, which means Hong Kong has only itself to blame for coming within a hair’s breadth of losing the top slot. The question is, why? Read the rest of this entry »


Anti-Castro Cubans Fled to the U.S. Navy Base at Guantanamo Bay 50 Years Ago…

B7fpdgTIYAAT0xN

Anti-Castro Cubans fled to the US Navy base at Guantanamo Bay 50 years ago—and never left


DEVELOPING: Estonian Counterintelligence Officer Abducted to Russia at Gunpoint

esto

Foreign Ministry Summons Russian Ambassador 

An official from the Internal Security Service (ISS), Estonia‘s national agency for counterintelligence and high-profile corruption investigations, was abducted at gunpoint at Luhamaa border checkpoint this morning where he was discharging service duties, and taken to Russia.

The incident occurred at about 9:00 on the Estonian side of the border and was preceded by jamming of communications and use of a smoke grenade, the agency said; the interference was said to originate from the Russia side.

The ISS said the official was in the process of interdiction of a cross-border crime.

The area is in Võru County, by Russian border post #121. The border is largely demarcated and lacks major fortifications; the area is thinly populated.

The whereabouts of the official are not known, Postimees daily’s online site said.

There was no immediate explanation on the late disclosure of the incident – more than six hours after it occurred – which comes during a period of more tense relations with Russia. Read the rest of this entry »


Russian Chocolate Bar Showing Map of Russia 2015 Includes Ukraine and Alaska

russia-borders-chocolate-bar

contributor-80x100-mchastainFor Breitbart.com reports: Russian President Vladimir Putin said he will respect Ukraine’s presidential election and work with the new president, but there is an interesting chocolate bar for sale in Russia.

Produced by a Russian company called Shokobox, it shows Russia in 2015, and the country is a lot bigger. Labeled as “new territory” is Crimea while “promising” territories are Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Scandinavia, Belarus, Central Asia… and Alaska. Read the rest of this entry »


Interactive Panorama Lets You Stand on Mars

Caked in red silt, NASA’s Curiosity rover looks like it’s been trekking through a Martian dust storm in this latest interactive panorama. But nothing can tarnish the joy of seeing this incredible machine hard at work on another planet.

The dust-covered robot is currently preparing for its third drilling operation on Mars, at a site nicknamed the Kimberley. In recent days, engineers have inspected and scrubbed the dust from a spot on a rock they named “Windjana,” after a gorge in Western Australia. (Too bad the rover can’t turn its wire bristle dust removal tool on itself.) Curiosity has already done preparatory drill work and will soon sample some of Windjana’s interior. The rover will run this sample through a series of tests to give scientists a better understanding of the history of water in this area...(read more)

Wired


The New Normal: Russia, China Annex Other Countries Territories with Impunity

russian-machine-gunner-reuters

Breitbart.com‘s  brings us this morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com:

  • The ‘New Normal’: Russia and China annex other countries’ territories with impunity
  • Russia protests Estonia‘s treatment of its Russian minority
  • Xi Jinping redirects China’s ideology from Marxism to Nationalism

Russia and China annex other countries’ territories with impunity

With Russia’s annexation of Crimea now a fait accompli, it’s well to remember that this isn’t the first recent annexation of other countries’ territories. China has already seized islands in the South China Sea that have historically belonged to the Philippines and Vietnam and is operating on the belief that any “short, sharp attack” on any one island won’t bring an American response. China intends to continue annexing islands in this fashion. [“16-Jan-14 World View — China threatens military seizure of South China Sea island from Philippines”]

“Estonia has a centuries-old bitter history with Russia. People today vividly remember that Josef Stalin’s Red Army reoccupied Estonia in June 1940 and made it part of the Soviet Union…”

The news on Friday is that Russia is massing over 20,000 troops on the border with eastern Ukraine, evidently with the intention of invading, in order to annex some or all of that territory. It’s really not logical for Russia’s president Vladimir Putin to stop with Crimea, since there are plenty of ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine—and because Crimea can’t survive without the fresh water, electricity, gas, and food that it imports from Ukraine. NBC News

Read the rest of this entry »