BEIJING —William Wan reports: A top Chinese university has decided to remove a politically outspoken professor who has advocated for free speech and democratic reform, prompting concern among U.S. academics. Xia Yeliang said he was notified by Peking University’s School of Economics on Friday that a committee had voted not to renew his contract. Peking University officials did not answer calls to its office Saturday.
Kissinger himself negotiated the One China policy, which recognizes the Chinese government in Beijing, as opposed to Taiwan.
Addy Baird reports: Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger dismissed concerns Wednesday about President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who has been criticized for his close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I hope and I am optimistic that the cooperative way will prevail… Keep in mind that if China and America are in conflict, then the whole world will be divided.”
“I pay no attention to this argument that he is too friendly with Russia,” Kissinger said at an event in Manhattan. “He would be useless at the head of Exxon if he was not friendly with Russia… I don’t hear those concerns at all.”
Kissinger was asked about Tillerson at an event put on by the Committee of 100, an organization that works to advance Chinese-American relations, where the former secretary talked about the future of U.S.-Chinese relations under Trump.
“I pay no attention to this argument that he is too friendly with Russia. He would be useless at the head of Exxon if he was not friendly with Russia… I don’t hear those concerns at all.”
But Kissinger walked a fine line in talking about Tillerson, joking when he was asked about the appointment that he didn’t “come to commit suicide,” but that he “sympathized” with Trump’s decision.
“Nobody can meet every single qualification for secretary of state,” Kissinger said. “I think it’s a good appointment.”
Reflecting on Trump’s developing relationship with China, Kissinger said he is optimistic about the coming administration.
“[We have to decide] whether to attempt to deal cooperatively or confrontationally” with China, Kissinger said. “I hope and I am optimistic that the cooperative way will prevail… Keep in mind that if China and America are in conflict, then the whole world will be divided.”
Earlier this month, Trump became the first U.S. president or president-elect to speak with the leader of Taiwan since 1979. And he suggested this past weekend that the U.S. shouldn’t have to be “bound” by the “One China” policy that American leaders have stood by for decades. Those comments “seriously concerned” China’s Foreign Ministry, its spokesperson said Monday. Read the rest of this entry »
Nobel Peace Prize, Move Over: Meet baracktrema obamai, the two-inch-long, hair-thin flatworm. it’s a type of blood fluke that infects the lungs of black marsh turtle and southeast Asian box turtles in Malaysia.
President Obama, Commander in Chief and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, can add another honor to his resume: namesake of a new species.
Granted, the species is a parasitic flatworm. But in the scientific community, the act is considered *coughcough* an honor all the same.
“I have named a number of species after people I admire,” Thomas Platt, the parasitologist who discovered and collected the new species, said, with a straight face.
[Baracktrema obamai, a new genus and species of parasitic flatworm, was named in honor of President Obama. Image by Roberts et al., 2016, The Journal of Parasitology.]
The move is meant to be a permanent tribute, he said. “Baracktrema obamai will endure as long as there are systematists studying these remarkable organisms.”
Platt and three other American researchers proposed Baracktrema obamai as both a new genus and species in The Journal of Parasitology. The two-inch-long, hair-thin flatworm — a type of blood fluke — infects the lungs of black marsh turtle and southeast Asian box turtles in Malaysia. The team used genetic testing and morphological analysis of the worm’s body and genitalia to determine the new species. Their proposal marks the first new genus of turtle blood fluke in 21 years.
The find was the last that Platt — a turtle parasite expert — named before retiring from Saint Mary’s College. Platt named 32 species during his tenure and was inspired to name Baracktrema obamaiafter discovering that he and the president share a common ancestor, he said. Read the rest of this entry »
STATEMENT TO THE SUB-COMMITTEE ON SPACE, SCIENCE AND COMPETITIVENESS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE
Data or Dogma?
Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Climate Change
December 8th 2015
My name is Mark Steyn. I am not a scientist. I am an author. My main interest in climate science is that Michael E Mann, the inventor of one of its most notorious artifacts, is suing me for “defamation of a Nobel Prize winner” – a crime that I was not aware existed, especially in his case, as according to the Nobel Institute he is not a Nobel Prize winner. So I recently edited a book about it called “A Disgrace to the Profession”: The World’s Scientists – in Their Own Words – On Michael E Mann, His Hockey Stick, and Their Damage to Science, Volume One – which I’m proud to say was Number One on the Climatology Hit Parade. I have been Number Four on the Amazon books chart, and Number Seven on the Amazon easy-listening chart, and earlier this very month the Number One Amazon jazz vocalist, but I had no idea there was also a climatological bestseller list. Still, I’m happy my book was credible enough to get to the top of it.
That said, at a hearing on “Data or Dogma?”, given the distinguished scientists here to address the data, I thought I should confine myself mostly to the dogma.
THE CLIMATE OF FEAR
In the three years that I have been ensnared in the dysfunctional court system of the District of Columbia, I have come to know well what I call the “climate of fear” within climate science. Professors Christy, Curry and Happer are sufficiently eminent that they can, just about, bear the assault the Big Climate enforcers mount on those who dissent from the dogma – although that assault is fierce and unrelenting. If you’re a professor emeritus, you’re told you’re senile. If you’re one of the few women in this very male field, you’re told you’re whoring for Big Oil: The aforementioned Michael Mann of Penn State, who is too cowardly to be here today and has instead sent his proxy, approvingly linked to an Internet post accusing Dr Curry of sleeping with me. This is how a supposedly distinguished climate scientist treats those who disagree with him. On May 13th last year I wrote:
It’s always fun in a legal battle to have something bigger at stake than a mere victory. In Canada, we put the ‘human rights’ system itself on trial, to the point where the disgusting and indefensible ‘hate speech’ law Section 13 was eventually repealed by Parliament. It seems to me that in this particular case the bigger issue is the climate of fear that Mann and his fellow ayatollahs of alarmism have succeeded in imposing on an important scientific field.1
The very next day the distinguished 79-year-old Swedish climatologist Lennart Bengtsson was forced to resign from a dissident climate group after the Big Climate enforcers took the hockey stick to him in the back alley. He had agreed to participate in a group headed by Nigel Lawson. Some of you may know Lord Lawson personally. He was Chancellor of the Exchequer in Mrs Thatcher’s ministry in the United Kingdom. He’s nobody’s idea of a fringe madman: He’s a
member of the House of Lords, a Privy Counselor; his daughter is a popular celebrity chef on America’s Food Network; his fellow trustees include a bishop of the Church of England, a former private secretary to the Queen, and an advisor to two Prime Ministers from the Labour Party. But they disagree with the tight little coterie of climate alarmists, and so Lennart Bengtsson could not be permitted to meet with them. As Professor Bengtsson wrote:
I have been put under such an enormous group pressure in recent days from all over the world that has become virtually unbearable to me. If this is going to continue I will be unable to conduct my normal work and will even start to worry about my health and safety. I see therefore no other way out therefore than resigning from GWPF. I had not expecting such an enormous world-wide pressure put at me from a community that I have been close to all my active life. Colleagues are withdrawing their support, other colleagues are withdrawing from joint authorship etc. I see no limit and end to what will happen. It is a situation that reminds me about the time of McCarthy. I would never have expecting anything similar in such an original peaceful community as meteorology. Apparently it has been transformed in recent years.2
Because it’s no longer about “meteorology”, it’s about saving the planet. Bengtsson was a former director of the Max Planck Institute of Meteorology, winner of the Descartes Prize and a WMO prize for groundbreaking research, and even a friend and collaborator of Mann’s at scientific conferences. But he made the mistake of, ah, seeking to expand his circle of climate acquaintances, and so Michael Mann now sneeringly dismisses him as “junk science”3. Nate Silver is the hipster statistician who correctly predicted the 2012 election and then set up his own “538” website dedicated to “data journalism” – just the data, the facts, the numbers, the analysis… But, when Mr Silver made the mistake of hiring Professor Roger Pielke Jr, then Michael Mann and Kevin Trenberth were obliged to explain to him that these considerations do not apply to climate science4. So Nate Silver fired Professor Pielke – who has now withdrawn from all climate research. When Professor Willie Soon co-authored a paper earlier this year on why the turn-of-the-century climate models all turned out wrong, the Big Climate heavies did not attempt to refute the paper, but instead embarked on a campaign to get him fired from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
For every Judith Curry or Willie Soon or Lennart Bengtsson, there are a thousand lesser names who see what happens to even the most distinguished people in their field and decide to keep their heads down. Professor Ivar Gievar recently spoke out against, among other things, the recent adjustment of figures by NASA – an agency overseen by this sub-committee – at the annual meeting of Nobel Laureates in Lindau. Professor Gievar is a Nobel Laureate. A real Nobel Laureate, I mean, not a fake one like Michael Mann, Kevin Trenberth and many other climate scientists who falsely claim to be Nobel Prize winners on the grounds that the IPCC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, and they once contributed to an IPCC report. Mann falsely claimed to be a Nobel Prize winner on his book jacket, on his website, in his court complaint about me – even though the Nobel Institute told him he wasn’t a Nobel Prize winner and he should cut it out. But this serial misrepresentation of credentials by Mann, Trenberth and others is also part of their intimidation technique. If you’re a real Nobel Laureate like Ivar Giaever, who won the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physics, or if you’re older, tenured and sufficiently eminent, you can just about withstand the Big Climate enforcers jumping you in the parking lot and taking the hockey stick to you.
2 http://klimazwiebel.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/lennart-bengtsson-leaves-advisory-board.html 3 https://twitter.com/MichaelEMann/status/467310861237760000
But, if you’re a younger scientist, you know that, if you cross Mann and the other climate mullahs, there goes tenure, there goes funding, there goes your career. I’ve been stunned to learn of the very real fear of retribution that pervades the climate world.
When I look at what has happened to those who speak out, I recall the wise words of Stephen McIntyre:
As a general point, it seems to me that, if climate change is as serious a problem as the climate ‘community’ believes, then it will require large measures that need broadly based commitment from all walks of our society.5
Mr McIntyre is exactly right: If we take Big Climate at their word that the entire global economy needs massive re-orientation on a scale never before contemplated, it will require the largest societal consensus – left and right and center, in America, in Canada, in Britain, in Europe… Yet all Big Climate does is retreat ever deeper into its shrinking echo chamber and compile ever longer lists of people who are beyond the pale – Professor Curry, Professor Christy, Professor Bengtsson, Professor Pielke, Professor Soon, Lord Lawson, the Bishop of Chester, the winner of the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physics, the winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physics… It might be quicker for Mann, Trenberth, Gavin Schmidt and the other climate enforcers to make a short list of those to whom they are prepared to grant a say in the future of the planet.
In shoring up this cartoon climatology, the alarmism industry is now calling on courts and legislatures to torment their opponents. I shall outline my own particular experience, and then the general climate.
MANN vs STEYN et al
On July 12th 2012 former FBI Director and special investigative counsel Louis Freeh issued a devastating report regarding the behavior of Pennsylvania State University and its most senior figures, as they ignored, abetted and covered up the systemic and brutal child sexual abuse conducted by Gerald A Sandusky, longtime football coach at the university.
The following day Rand Simberg posted an article on the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s website entitled “The Other Scandal in Happy Valley”, which suggested that, in light of the revelations regarding the “rotten and corrupt culture” at Penn State under the presidency of Graham Spanier, it might be worth revisiting the other sham “investigation” on Spanier’s watch – of Dr Michael E Mann, creator of the famous global-warming “hockey stick”.
The very same day The Chronicle of Higher Education also tied together the sham
Sandusky and Mann investigations in a piece titled “Culture of Evasion”6. As you know, after the Freeh Report was published, criminal charges were filed against Penn State President Graham Spanier and other senior administrators. Spanier is currently under indictment for grand- jury perjury, obstruction of justice, child endangerment, conspiracy and failure to report child abuse.
Two days later, I wrote a 270-word blog post for the opinion page of National Review Online7 referencing the Freeh Report and Mr Simberg’s piece. That post appears below in its entirety:
In the wake of Louis Freeh’s report on Penn State’s complicity in serial rape, Rand Simberg writes of Unhappy Valley’s other scandal:
‘I’m referring to another cover up and whitewash that occurred there two years ago, before we learned how rotten and corrupt the culture at the university was. But now that we know how bad it was, perhaps it’s time that we revisit the Michael Mann affair, particularly given how much we’ve also learned about his and others’ hockey- stick deceptions since. Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science that could have dire economic consequences for the nation and planet.’
Not sure I’d have extended that metaphor all the way into the locker-room showers with quite the zeal Mr Simberg does, but he has a point. Michael Mann was the man behind the fraudulent climate-change ‘hockey-stick’ graph, the very ringmaster of the tree-ring circus. And, when the East Anglia emails came out, Penn State felt obliged to “investigate” Professor Mann. Graham Spanier, the Penn State president forced to resign over Sandusky, was the same cove who investigated Mann. And, as with Sandusky and Paterno, the college declined to find one of its star names guilty of any wrongdoing. If an institution is prepared to cover up systemic statutory rape of minors, what won’t it cover up? Whether or not he’s ‘the Jerry Sandusky of climate change’, he remains the Michael Mann of climate change, in part because his ‘investigation’ by a deeply corrupt administration was a joke.
I asked what I thought was quite an obvous question: If an institution is prepared to cover up the systemic ongoing rape of minors, what won’t it cover up?
It’s a legitimate question for an institution that receives taxpayer funding, a certain portion of which falls under the oversight of this committee. Penn State has a representative here today, and perhaps he will address some of these questions about his institution and its integrity.
Graham Spanier, the now disgraced president of Penn State who presided over the joke investigations of both Sandusky and Mann, remains the President Emeritus of Penn State, and a professor of family studies. His absolution of Michael Mann was widely regarded at the time as a total joke even by many who are by no means “climate deniers” – for example, the venerable American institution The Atlantic Monthly:
The Penn State inquiry exonerating Michael Mann — the paleoclimatologist who came up with ’the hockey stick’ — would be difficult to parody.
Professor Harold Lewis, one of the most distinguished members of the American Physical Society, resigned from the organization over the whitewashing of Mann, writing:
When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise.
In other words, Spanier’s depraved regime at Penn State turned a blind eye to Mann for the same reason it turned a blind eye to the Sandusky rape epidemic: they couldn’t afford to take the financial hit.
CENSORSHIP: From Animal Cartoons to Opposition to the Death Penalty: Just About Anything Can Land You in Prison in IranPosted: June 8, 2015
Atena Farghadani has been sentenced to an astonishing twelve years and nine months in prison on spurious charges of ‘spreading propaganda against the system,’ ‘insulting members of the parliament through paintings’ and ‘insulting the Supreme Leader’ because of her cartoon.
Elsie Auerbach reports: It seems that not one single thing escapes the attention of hardliners in Iran, bent on using the extraordinary powers they hold to suppress every effort by Iranians to exercise their right to freedom of expression. They have even decreed that men should refrain from sporting various hairdos and—yes I am not kidding—from plucking their eyebrows, because those are considered to be indications of “devil worshipping” and homosexuality.
“She was detained for three months in 2012 and eventually given a medical release because of serious health problems including seizures and temporary loss of vision, exacerbated because of the stressful and sub-standard conditions prevailing in Iran’s prisons.”
Although such preoccupations may seem risible to some, the people who are caught up in this dragnet are suffering very real and harsh consequences.
Atena Farghadani is a 28-year-old artist and women’s rights activist. She drew a cartoon depicting some members of Iran’s Majles (Parliament) with animal heads, as a form of protest against bills that are in different stages of moving through the parliamentary process that, in an effort to boost child-bearing, would among other things, restrict access to contraception and establish preferences in hiring for married women over single women.
“She has spent eight of the last ten months in prison since her original arrest last August; her trial in one of Iran’s notoriously unfair Revolutionary Courts started on May 19. She went on a hunger strike in February 2015 to protest her detention in poor conditions and suffered a heart attack.”
We just learned that she has been sentenced to an astonishing twelve years and nine months in prison on spurious charges of “spreading propaganda against the system,” “insulting members of the parliament through paintings” and “insulting the Supreme Leader” because of her cartoon. She is also being charged with “gathering and colluding with deviant groups” because she has met with the families of those killed by government agents in the unrest following the 2009 presidential elections and because of an art exhibition she held which was attended by members of Iran’s persecuted Baha’i community.
“While she was in prison last fall she was so anxious to express herself, even behind bars and deprived of art supplies, that she attempted to use small paper cups to create art. For this she was subjected to abusive treatment by prison guards.”
She has spent eight of the last ten months in prison since her original arrest last August; her trial in one of Iran’s notoriously unfair Revolutionary Courts started on May 19. She went on a hunger strike in February 2015 to protest her detention in poor conditions and suffered a heart attack.
“They have even decreed that men should refrain from sporting various hairdos and—yes I am not kidding—from plucking their eyebrows, because those are considered to be indications of “devil worshipping” and homosexuality.”
While she was in prison last fall she was so anxious to express herself, even behind bars and deprived of art supplies, that she attempted to use small paper cups to create art. For this she was subjected to abusive treatment by prison guards. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] ‘Kumbaya’: Activists & Feminists Cross Demilitarized Zone Between North and South Korea to Buy the World a CokePosted: May 24, 2015
The group wants to promote peace, love, harmony, understanding, and reconciliation between the two sides
A international group of female activists crossed the border between North and South Korea on Sunday to promote peace between the two countries, which have yet to sign a peace treaty 60 years after the Korean War ended.
“Several groups have criticized the march, arguing that the women should have crossed the North Korea-China border, which is more dangerous than the DMZ. Others called the crossing “empty,” blasting the activists for allowing North Korea an opportunity to cover up its record of human rights abuses.”
The group of about 30 women, WomenCrossDMZ, was taken by bus across the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), CNN reports, which was created by a 1953 armistice that halted, but never ended, the Korean War.
The crossing was sanctioned by both sides, and included feminist Gloria Steinem and Nobel laureates Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland.
Natural language — the way people ordinarily speak and write — is notoriously difficult to parse
Michael Wolraich writes: When Hillary Clinton released emails from her personal account last week, many assumed that her attorneys had personally reviewed the messages before sending them to the State Department, but that’s not what
happened. As detailed in her press statement, the review team used keyword searches to automatically filter over 60,000 messages, flagging about half as work related.
“I have absolute confidence that everything that could be in any way connected to work is now in the possession of the State Department,” Clinton declared.
I’m afraid that I don’t share her confidence, and I speak from experience. Twenty years ago, I used the same method to sort the Clinton administration’s email communications, including those of First Lady Hillary Clinton. It failed miserably.
Email did not exist when Congress established the Freedom of Information Act in 1967, and government officials did not originally consider electronic communications to be public records that they had to preserve and disseminate. On the last day of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, a group of organizations representing archivists and libraries sued the White House to prevent the administration from deleting email relating to the Iran-Contra scandal. A temporary injunction was issued, and the case wound its way through the courts until 1993, when a federal judge ordered President Bill Clinton to preserve all electronic communication under the Freedom of Information Act.
“Even after significant tweaking, I don’t recall achieving more than a 70 percent success rate, which is particularly poor when you consider that random sorting would yield 50 percent if the distribution were even.”
In 1994, I was 22 years old, fresh out of college and working as a computer programmer for a company called Information Management Consultants. IMC was one of many three-letter-acronym corporations that ring Washington’s famous beltway and feed off government contracts. I dressed in a gray J.C. Penney suit and programmed three-letter-acronym computer languages (SQL, 4GL) for three-letter-acronym federal agencies (IRS, OPM, DOI, OMB, DOD). It was dull work, made duller by my company’s decision to block employee access to the “World Wide Web” so that we would not be distracted from our work.
“Those were heady days for a young government IT contractor. We had a special office in Arlington, Virginia, where we were could dress casually while pursuing important, groundbreaking work for the President of the United States!”
One day a colleague invited me to join a mysterious new project for the Executive Office of the President (EOP). The White House had hired IMC to archive its email after the court ordered it to preserve electronic records. Few people had multiple email accounts back then and many federal employees used their work accounts for personal communication, so we had to figure out some way to distinguish work email from personal correspondence.
Those were heady days for a young government IT contractor. We had a special office in Arlington, Virginia, where we were could dress casually while pursuing important, groundbreaking work for the President of the United States! We lounged around the conference table in our khakis and scrawled deep thoughts on the big whiteboard. Mostly, we wrote words: president, federal, treasury, treaty, China, Serbia, ambassador, military, classified, and so on. These were the keywords with which we hoped to flag all the work-related messages, or at least the vast majority. We included the names of federal officials, common misspellings, and, of course, numerous three-letter acronyms. Since I had a philosophy degree, the team leader asked me to design logic to make the search smarter, e.g., “white AND house.”
“To make sense of natural language, it’s not sufficient to recognize the words; you also need to understand grammar, appreciate nuance, interpret metaphors, grasp allusions…”
To test our algorithm, the administration gave us a batch of sample messages. They included official business, such as a debate about a public scandal in which an official traveled by federal helicopter to play golf, and less official business, such as a private love note between two staff members. We ran our algorithm and crossed our fingers. Read the rest of this entry »
Peace Prize committee demotes chairman Thorbjoern Jagland
The Oslo, Norway-based committee gave no reason for downgrading the former Norwegian prime minister and respected diplomat from his perch.
At the same time, as German media conglomerate Deutsche Welle observes, Jagland was widely condemned in 2009 when his committee bestowed the prestigious award on then-newly elected President Barack Obama.
“Jagland’s ejection from the chairmanship marks the first time that a sitting Nobel Peace Prize committee boss has been demoted in the history of the prize — since 1901”
Jagland, 64, was serving his first year as Peace Prize chairman when his committee conferred the international award upon Obama for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
The committee announced that Obama would receive the award in October 2009, just over eight months after he became president.
“The war in Iraq officially ended more than two years later, in December 2011. Since that time, the political situation has deteriorated markedly. A new entity called ISIS currently controls a portion of Iraq and Syria which is, in total, twice the size of Pennsylvania.”
In response to a barrage of criticism, Jagland proclaimed that the Nobel committee’s goal was to hail Obama’s oratory about removing nuclear weapons from the world. Jagland also said he hoped to symbolize “the spirit of the times, the needs of the era,” according to Deutsche Welle.
When Obama received his Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, the United States was engaged in wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The war in Iraq officially ended more than two years later, in December 2011. Since that time, the political situation has deteriorated markedly. A new entity called ISIS currently controls a portion of Iraq and Syria which is, in total, twice the size of Pennsylvania.
The American-led coalition in Afghanistan officially ended combat in December 2014. However, U.S. forces continue to skirmish constantly with militant Islamic radicals. Read the rest of this entry »
With Americans’ attention diverted perhaps to the big and controversial visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week, two news bombshells dropped on Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations. They provide not just a reminder of the Clinton era — a time when government accountability vanished from the earth and excuses abounded for even the most flagrant illegalities — but also an early taste of what a second Clinton administration would be like.
The first story was a follow-up on the Washington Post‘s earlier report that the Clintons’ family foundation received millions in donations from foreign governments while Clinton was serving as Secretary of State. This implies obvious conflicts between her personal and official obligations — how does Clinton respond to a 3 a.m. phone call from a foreign government that is also feeding her family foundation?
Clinton’s defense — and the State Department’s — was that State had vetted all such donations under a prior agreement that had (incredibly) permitted them. In the words of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki, “We have reviewed every donation that was submitted.”
But on Monday, the State Department had to back off this claim, because it wasn’t true. As Josh Gerstein reported in Politico, “there are no indications any Clinton Foundation donations were ever sent to the State Department for approval.”
Meanwhile, The New York Times went up with its own bombshell. For her entire time as Secretary of State, Clinton conducted all of her official business using a private email address, and did not contemporaneously save emails related to government business. This is how government officials illegally circumvent the Freedom of Information Act and prevent transparency in government. Read the rest of this entry »
Pakistani teen Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating girls’ education, and Indian children’s rights advocate Kailash Satyarthi were jointly awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. Yousafzai, 17, is the youngest winner of the award. She was honored for “her heroic struggle” and becoming “a leading spokesperson for girls’ right to education,” said Thorbjørn Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. “Despite her youth, Malala … has shown by example that children and young people can contribute to improving their own situation.”
Satyarthi, 60, has been a lifelong campaigner against the exploitation of children for financial gain. “The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism,” Jagland added. “It has been calculated that there are 168 million child laborers around the world today. In 2000 the figure was 78 million higher. The world has come closer to the goal of eliminating child labor.” Yousafazi, who received a standing ovation when she made a powerful address to the United Nations on her 16th birthday, is still receiving treatment in Britain for her injuries. Read the rest of this entry »
…the group of Taliban militants who were behind the shooting of Malala Yousafzai in 2012 have been arrested. Until now, not a single person had been arrested. According to the army’s press officer, 10 attackers have been identified and arrested. Malala is now based in Britain, but is not able to return home to Pakistan because of Taliban threats to kill her and her family members. Two other girls were wounded in the attack…(read more)
Beijing is not amused by the “provocative action,” as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo “has been convicted in accordance with the law”
For TIME, Hannah Beech reports: Alert the post office. The official address for the Chinese embassy in Washington is to be changed to 1 Liu Xiaobo Plaza. On June 24, the House Appropriations Committee voted to rename 3505 International Place, a strip of asphalt that runs in front of the Chinese mission in northwest D.C., after the jailed Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
The bid for the new Chinese embassy mailing address was tacked on as an amendment to the 2015 State Department spending bill. The road in front of the Chinese embassy is federally owned, giving Congress some latitude in deciding its fate. (The D.C. Council will also consider the resolution.) Fourteen bipartisan Congressmen, led by Virginia Republican Frank Wolf, shepherded the provision, which calls for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to institute the name change. A street sign adorned with Liu’s name is planned.In 2009, the veteran activist and writer was sentenced to 11 years in prison for inciting subversion against the Chinese state. Liu, 58, helped draft Charter 08, a pro-democracy petition that called on Beijing to abandon one-party rule and uphold basic human rights. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman in Beijing labeled the road-renaming movement a “provocative action,” noting that Liu “has been convicted in accordance with the law.” Read the rest of this entry »
Second time the retired South African Archbishop’s home has been robbed
Roger Friedman, and aide to the retired South African Archbishop, confirmed the break-in but said it was unclear what exactly was taken. The house was not pillaged, and neither Tutu or his wife were at home at the time of the robbery, AFP reports.
“I can confirm that there was a burglary last night,” Friedman said.
Tutu rebuked the crowd for being too loud at Mandela’s memorial service on Tuesday, calling on South Africans honor his passing in silence and follow in the footsteps of the nation’s former president.
This is the second time in five months burglars have broken into Tutu’s home. Tutu and his wife were at home sleeping when robbers hit their home in August, but were unharmed.
Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid revolutionary who became the first black South African president after 27 years in prison, died Thursday at the age of 95.
Mandela died in Johannesburg, current President Jacob Zuma announced there just before midnight on Friday.
“What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves. And in him, we saw so much of ourselves,” Zuma said.
“He is now resting. He is now at peace,” Zuma continued. “Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.”
Mandela has suffered from poor health for a year, with reports that he was near death circulating last Christmas.
But the African leader known worldwide as a symbol against oppression had repeatedly battled back from illness.
Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s president in May 1994. He served one term, and stepped down in 1999.
Mandela twice spoke to joint sessions of Congress, months after his release from prison in 1990 and four years later, after he had been elected president.
(BEIJING) — Didi Tang reports: Five years into his 11-year prison term, Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo plans to challenge his subversion conviction on grounds that he was legally exercising his right to free speech, his lawyer said Tuesday.
The complaint seeking a retrial would likely have slim chances for success. But lawyer Mo Shaoping said Liu’s family no longer feels it has anything to lose by challenging the conviction and that his attorneys hope to test recent pledges by China’s ruling Communist Party to make the country’s judicial system more independent.
Liu was convicted and sentenced to jail in 2009 on a charge of subversion, after he authored and disseminated a document — Charter ’08 — calling for democracy. He was awarded the peace prize in 2010 for two decades of nonviolent struggle for civil rights, in a decision that angered Beijing, which denounced the award.
Liu’s conviction was upheld by an appeal court in Beijing, and his family members initially did not plan to challenge the verdict any further. However, they renewed their resolve to fight the verdict after authorities earlier this year jailed his wife’s brother on a fraud conviction in a case critics say was a political punishment for Liu’s pro-democracy advocacy.
“They have nothing more to worry about,” Mo said.
Mo said Liu agreed to the new legal challenge during a prison visit by his wife in October. Mo said he and a fellow lawyer have asked to meet Liu to discuss details but are awaiting permission from the local jurisdiction in China’s northeast where Liu is locked up.
“He has never accepted the guilty verdict,” Mo said.
David Feith writes: The 21st-century romance between America’s universities and China continues to blossom, with New York University opening a Shanghai campus last month and Duke to follow next year. Nearly 100 U.S. campuses host “Confucius Institutes” funded by the Chinese government, and President Obama has set a goal for next year of seeing 100,000 American students studying in the Middle Kingdom. Meanwhile, Peking University last week purged economics professor Xia Yeliang, an outspoken liberal, with hardly a peep of protest from American academics.
“During more than 30 years, no single faculty member has been driven out like this,” Mr. Xia says the day after his sacking from the university, known as China’s best, where he has taught economics since 2000. He’ll be out at the end of the semester. The professor’s case is a window into the Chinese academic world that America’s elite institutions are so eager to join—a world governed not by respect for free inquiry but by the political imperatives of a one-party state. Call it higher education with Chinese characteristics.
“All universities are under the party’s leadership,” Mr. Xia says by telephone from his Beijing home. “In Peking University, the No. 1 leader is not the president. It’s the party secretary of Peking University.”
Which is problematic for a professor loudly advocating political change. In 2008, Mr. Xia was among the original 303 signatories of the Charter 08 manifesto calling for democracy, civil liberties and the rule of law in China. “Our political system continues to produce human rights disasters and social crises,” declared the charter, written primarily by Mr. Xia’s friend Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace laureate who is currently serving an 11-year prison term for “inciting subversion of state power.”
Next year could be a frightening one, in the fashion of 1979–80
Victor Davis Hanson writes: The developing circumstances of our withdrawal from Afghanistan conjure up Vietnam 1975, with all the refugees, reprisals, humiliation, and emboldened enemies on the horizon, though this time there is no coastline for a flotilla of boat people to launch from. The Obama administration is debating no-fly zones over Syria; more likely, it will have the same discussion over Afghanistan soon, once the Taliban drops the diplomatic veneer and comes back into town. Read the rest of this entry »
The action caps weeks of persistent rumors that Xia would be dismissed, as well as alarm about the prospect among American scholars, whose universities are increasingly expanding into the lucrative but still politically repressive Chinese market. Read the rest of this entry »
The urge to litigate disagreement is never far from the surface in contemporary discourse.
Mark Steyn writes: Five years ago, I and my fellow rightwing blowhard Ezra Levant were in the midst of a spirited campaign to rid Canada of its disgusting censorship laws and restore a centuries-old tradition of free speech to a land that, in the name of “human rights,” had surrendered it too easily. The Canadian Islamic Congress had brought simultaneous complaints before the federal, Ontario and British Columbia “human rights” regimes against Maclean’s magazine for publishing an excerpt from my book. Despite the advantages of triple jeopardy, they struck out all three times, and at the federal level their suit so damaged the reputation of “Section 13” (the national censorship law with a 100% conviction rate) that last year Parliament finally repealed it.
“…he is suing because he didn’t like being described by Rand Simberg of the Competitive Enterprise Institute as, metaphorically, “the Jerry Sandusky of climate change”
But the urge to litigate disagreement is never far from the surface in contemporary discourse. So both Ezra Levant and I find ourselves back in court yet again. In my case, I’m currently being sued in the District of Columbia by Dr. Michael Mann, the eminent global warm-monger, for mocking (in America’s National Review) his increasingly discredited climate-change “hockey stick.” So Dr. Mann has sued for what his complaint to the court called “defamation of a Nobel prize recipient.”
In fact, Dr. Mann is not a “Nobel prize recipient.” But, as Donna LaFramboise recently pointed out in these pages, he has spent many years passing himself off as one. The nearest he got to a Nobel was as one of several thousand contributors to one of various reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which in 2007 shared a Nobel Peace Prize. So Dr. Mann is a Nobel laureate in the same sense that my mother is: She’s Belgian, and Belgium is in the European Union, and the European Union was collectively awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year. My mum does not claim to be a Nobel prize winner, but Dr. Mann did, on an industrial scale, including in his publicist’s bio, his book jackets and his website — until, in the wake of his false complaint, the Nobel Institute in Oslo declared that he was not a Nobel laureate at all. In that sense, Dr. Mann is, indeed, a fraud. It is a fascinating legal question whether a man guilty of serial misrepresentation can, in fact, be defamed. But it’s not that fascinating, and certainly not worth the court’s time and seven-figure legal bills.
Globaloney: This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been given to the “Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,” a group whose main achievement seems to be good intentions. This award is getting ridiculous.
Alfred Nobel would be rolling over in his grave to see some of the absurd choices his beloved peace prize is now drawing.
No, it wasn’t just the award to global terror pioneer Yasser Arafat in 1994. Or the one that went to the bureaucrat-filled, bankrupt European Union in 2012.
There also was the premature award to just-elected President Obama in 2009, who had done literally nothing but get elected president of the U.S. on a make-America-smaller platform.
As these unworthies collect their laurels, authentic peacemakers — such as 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, who was shot in the face by Taliban terrorists solely for urging girls to go to school — go ignored.
The fact that the blood-soaked Taliban fighters are now gloating at the news that Malala didn’t win ought to embarrass the Nobel committee.
From sharia unveiled: Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai was shot last year by the Taliban for campaigning for defying a ban on female education – and now the group is again threatening to kill her.
Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said the group stands by its decision to target 16-year-old Malala who he said has “targeted and criticised Islam”.
“She accepted that she attacked Islam so we we tried to kill her, and if we get another chance we will definitely kill her and that will make us feel proud. Islam prohibits killing women, but except those that support the infidels in their war against our religion,” he added.
The new death threat came as Malala was named among the favourites to win the Nobel Peace Prize, which will be revealed on Friday. Read the rest of this entry »
Russian President Vladimir Putin was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by an advocacy group that credits him with bringing about a peaceful resolution to the Syrian-U.S. dispute over chemical weapons.
The Russian advocacy group International Academy of Spiritual Unity and Cooperation of Peoples of the World nominated Mr. Putin, characterizing his forged agreement with Syrian President Bashar Assad — to turn over admitted chemical weapons cache to international authorities — a world-class and prize-worthy piece of diplomacy, United Press International reported.
The group also took a dig at the United States. Read the rest of this entry »
One interesting moment in what was largely seen as a weak press conference for President Obama Friday was this moment when the Nobel Peace Prize winner referred to the process of securing resolutions from the United Nations as “hocus pocus”:
In 2010, the bestselling atheist Richard Dawkins, in the “On Faith” section of the Washington Post, called the pope “a leering old villain in a frock” perfectly suited to “the evil corrupt organization” and “child-raping institution” that is the Catholic Church. Nobody seemed to mind very much.
By Jim Geraghty
Being nicer to countries like Russia will not make them nicer to you. The United Nations is not an effective tool for resolving crises. Some foreign leaders are beyond persuasion and diplomacy.
There is no “international community” ready to work together to solve problems, and there probably never will be.
You can pin this on Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Susan Rice, but most of all, the buck stops with the president. Those of us who scoffed a bit at a state senator ascending to the presidency within four years on a wave of media hype and adoration are not quite so shocked by this current mess. We never bought into this notion that getting greater cooperation from our allies, and less hostility from our enemies, was just a matter of giving this crew the wheel and letting them practice, as Hillary Clinton arrogantly declared it, “smart power.” (These people can’t even label a foreign-policy approach without reminding us of how highly they think of themselves.) They looked out at the world at the end of the Bush years, and didn’t see tough decisions, unsolvable problems, unstable institutions, restless populations, technology enabling the impulse to destabilize existing institutions, evil men hungry for more power, and difficult trade-offs. No, our problems and challengers were just a matter of the previous hands running U.S. foreign policy not beingsmart enough.