Posted: March 16, 2017 Filed under: Breaking News, Foreign Policy, Global, Religion, Think Tank | Tags: Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, Brexit, European Union, Euroscepticism, Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen, Mark Rutte, Party for Freedom, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, United Kingdom
The patriotic revolution continues.
Daniel Greenfield writes: The Dutch Labor Party used to dominate Maastricht. The ancient city gave its name to the Maastricht Treaty that created the European Union. In this election, the Labor Party fell from a quarter of the vote to a twentieth.
Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party, which advocates withdrawing from the EU, is now the largest party in the birthplace of the European Union.
And the growing strength of the Freedom Party can be felt not only on the banks of the Maas River, but across the waterways of the Netherlands. A new wind of change has blown off the North Sea and ruffled feathers in Belgisch Park.
In The Hague, where Carnegie’s Peace Palace hosts the World Court while the humbler Noordeinde Palace houses King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima, the internationalist institutions colliding with the nationalist ones, the United Nations rubbing up against the Dutch parliament and Supreme Court, the Freedom Party has become the second largest party despite the 15% Muslim population.
In Rotterdam, where Muslim rioters shouted, “Allahu Akbar” and anti-Semitic slurs and where Hamas front groups are organizing a conference, the Freedom Party is now the second largest political party. In that ancient city on the Rotte that had the first Muslim mayor of a major European city, Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb of the Labor Party who was being groomed for Prime Minister, estimates are that Labor fell from 32 percent to just 6 percent. That is strikingly similar to what took place in Maastricht.
But nearly half of Rotterdam is made up of immigrants. Muslims make up 13% of the population. But turnout hit 72% and after the Muslim riots, the Freedom Party only narrowly trails the ruling VVD.
The Freedom Party has become the largest party in Venlo while the Labor Party has all but vanished.
And that is the real story of the Dutch election. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: March 1, 2017 Filed under: Economics, Robotics, Science & Technology, Think Tank | Tags: Artificial Intelligence, Automation, Bank of England, Bank Underground, Robots, Unemployment, United Kingdom, Workforce
The U.S. stands to lose 80 million jobs to automation.
Thomas Phippen reports: The robotic labor revolution is coming quickly, and the workforce may not be able to adapt without long periods of unemployment, according to economists at the Bank of England.
“Economists should seriously consider the possibility that millions of people may be at risk of unemployment, should these technologies be widely adopted.”
“Economists should seriously consider the possibility that millions of people may be at risk of unemployment, should these technologies be widely adopted,” BOE economists Mauricio Armellini and Tim Pike wrote in a post on Bank Underground, a blog for bank employees, Wednesday.
Artificial intelligence (AI) “threatens to transform entire industries and sectors,” the authors write, arguing that with the speed of industries adopting technological developments won’t give the labor force time to adjust. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: February 24, 2017 Filed under: History, War Room | Tags: England, Photography, United Kingdom, Winston Churchill, World War II
“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
— Winston Churchill
Posted: February 6, 2017 Filed under: Global, History, Mediasphere | Tags: 1st Earl of Snowdon, Antony Armstrong-Jones, Buckingham Palace, Christmas, Elizabeth II, George VI, London, Monarchy of the United Kingdom, New Year's Day, United Kingdom
Queen Elizabeth II, the world’s longest-reigning living monarch, celebrates her Sapphire Jubilee.
Queen Elizabeth II, the world’s longest-reigning living monarch, has celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee as Britain commemorates 65 years since she ascended the throne.
The 90-year-old monarch, who became the kingdom’s longest-reigning sovereign in 2015, did not publicly mark the occasion herself, but a 41-gun royal salute was fired in a central London park to honour the landmark.
“Today’s Sapphire Jubilee marks yet another remarkable milestone for our remarkable Queen,” Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement.
“It is a testament to her selfless devotion to the nation that she is not marking becoming the first monarch to reign for 65 years with any special celebration, but instead getting on with the job to which she has dedicated her life.”
Elizabeth became Queen aged 25 on February 6, 1952, following the death of her father George VI.
She is the 41st monarch in a royal line that traces its origin back to Norman King William the Conqueror who claimed the throne in 1066.
When she overtook her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria’s record of 63 years on the throne, she remarked it was not something to which she had ever aspired.
Buckingham Palace said she would spend Monday at her residence in Sandringham, eastern England, as was usual. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 26, 2017 Filed under: Global, Mediasphere, Politics, Religion | Tags: BBC, Brexit, Chaplain, Christian Church, Christianity, European Union, Fox News, Islamism, Jihadism, media, Muslim, news, Queen's chaplain, Qur'an, Today (BBC Radio 4), United Kingdom, video
One of the Queen’s chaplains has resigned after criticising a Glasgow church for allowing a Koran reading during one of its services.
The Reverend Gavin Ashenden said he left his position in order to have more freedom of “speak out on behalf of the faith”.
“Because I think it a higher and more compelling duty to speak out on behalf of the faith, than to retain a public honour which precludes me doing so at this time, I resigned my post.”
In a blog post published on Sunday, he said: “After a conversation instigated by officials at Buckingham Palace, I decided the most honourable course of action was to resign.”
Mr Ashenden had criticised the reading of the Koran during an Epiphany service at St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow earlier this month in an attempt to improve interfaith relations in Glasgow.
A student read a segment relating to the birth of Jesus Christ in Arabic. Islam considers Christ to be a prophet but not the son of God.
Mr Ashenden, who has served as one of the Queen’s 34 chaplains for nine years, said the reading had caused “serious offence”. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 22, 2017 Filed under: France, Global, Mediasphere, Politics | Tags: Brexit, Donald Trump, EUROPE, European Union, President of the United States, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, The Guardian, United Kingdom, United States
Do they got it? Perhaps they do. The European parties hope for similar success in tapping anti-establishment and protectionist sentiment in elections this year.
KOBLENZ, Germany (AP) — European nationalist leaders came together Saturday in a show of strength at the start of a year of big election tests, celebrating Donald Trump’s inauguration as U.S. president and declaring themselves a realistic alternative to the continent’s governments.
Right-wing populist leaders from France, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and elsewhere strode confidently into the Koblenz congress hall on the banks of the Rhine River ahead of a flag-waving escort, setting the tone for a gathering whose mood was buoyed by Trump’s swearing-in. The European parties hope for similar success in tapping anti-establishment and protectionist sentiment in elections this year.
“I believe we are witnessing historic times,” Dutch anti-Islam leader Geert Wilders told reporters. “The world is changing. America is changing. Europe is changing. And the people start getting in charge again.”
Wilders, speaking in English, declared that “the genie will not go back into the bottle again, whether you like it or not.”
The Netherlands will provide the next major test for populist parties’ support. Wilders’ Party of Freedom could win the largest percentage of votes in the March 15 Dutch parliamentary election, even though it is shunned by other parties and unlikely to get a share of power.
Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Front, is among the top contenders in France’s April-May presidential vote. In September, Frauke Petry’s four-year-old Alternative for Germany party hopes to enter the German parliament in a national election, riding sentiment against German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s welcoming policy toward refugees. Other German parties say they won’t work with the anti-immigrant group.
Those at the Koblenz conference Saturday are part of the Europe of Nations and Freedom group in the European Parliament, which was launched in 2015. The gathering also featured Matteo Salvini of Italy’s anti-migrant Northern League and Harald Vilimsky, the general secretary of Austria’s right-wing Freedom Party, which last year narrowly failed to win the country’s presidency. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 19, 2016 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Global, Politics, Terrorism | Tags: 2010 Copiapó mining accident, Berlin, Birmingham, Brussels Airport, Christmas Market, Fox News Channel, Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Paris, Scania, Terror, United Kingdom, United States Department of Homeland Security, West Midlands Police
A truck plowed into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin Monday night, killing at least nine people and injuring dozens of others in what witnesses described as a deliberate attack.
The large Scania truck with a Poland license plate crashed into the market outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Television footage showed the truck with its windshield smashed out on the sidewalk alongside the market, with a swarm of ambulances nearby. A large Christmas tree with a gold star on top was toppled over nearby in the street, and tree branches were crushed under the truck’s tires.
Police said a suspect believed to be the driver was arrested nearby and a passenger was dead. Authorities estimated that 50 people were injured, but an exact number was not immediately available.
Police said they are still investigating whether the crash was an accident or an attack, but the incident had a chilling echo of the July 14 truck attack in Nice, France that killed 86 people.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the Nice attack, which was carried out by a Tunisian living in France. ISIS and Al Qaeda have both called on followers to use trucks in particular to attack public places.
Die Welt newspaper reported that a Polish TV station had interviewed a man named Ariel Zurawski, who said that his cousin was assigned to drive the truck involved in the incident. Zurawski claimed he had last spoken to his cousin at noon Monday and said he suspected the truck had been hijacked. He added that the truck had been loaded with steel structures weighing 25 tons. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 19, 2016 Filed under: Asia, China, Economics, Global | Tags: American Motors, Apple Inc, Bank of Japan, Business Insider, China, Corporation, Donald Trump, Economy of China, People's Bank of China, United Kingdom
New regulations aimed at slowing the yuan’s decline create confusion for multinationals.
French construction-materials company Cie. de Saint-Gobain SA, is finding it harder to take its money out of China.
“The process of authorization is going to become longer now. The procedures will be controlled more strictly.”
— Javier Gimeno, head of Saint-Gobain’s China operations
The conglomerate—like all multinationals operating there—faces new delays in recent weeks as Chinese regulators impose tougher restrictions on the movement of capital out of the country to slow the yuan’s decline.
“The process of authorization is going to become longer now,” said Javier Gimeno, who heads Saint-Gobain’s China operations. “The procedures will be controlled more strictly.”
Nearly 7% of Saint-Gobain’s world-wide group sales come from Asia and Oceania, a large part of that from China. The new rules are adding confusion and anxiety to a process that had been getting much easier over the past year, he said. The shift could cause some multinationals to rethink future investments in a country where once-sure payoffs are suddenly facing an uncertain return, analysts say.
As of late November, firms that want to exchange yuan into dollars in China now need approval for any transaction greater than $5 million. They also face tighter limits on amounts they can transfer in and out of bank accounts in China to affiliates in other countries, in a practice known as “cross-border sweeping.”
“We hear a lot questions from corporates about whether they will be able to repatriate their money in the future,” said Alexander Tietze, managing director at Acon Actienbank AG, a German bank that advises companies on Chinese investments. He expects foreign investments in China to slow, and cautioned that foreign takeovers or plans for new joint ventures could fail because of the controls.
With the Chinese economy struggling, multinationals have fewer opportunities to reinvest there, which makes it more difficult for them to do much with money trapped in China.
“A majority of clients are currently consolidating and restructuring their China business,” said Bernd-Uwe Stucken, a lawyer with Pinsent Masons LLP in Shanghai. Some clients are closing down their business, with new investments being the exception to the rule, Mr. Stucken said.
Adding to the confusion: it is unclear where the limits are, because regulators haven’t published official rule changes, but instead have given only informal guidance to banks, according to Daniel Blumen, partner at Treasury Alliance Group, a consulting firm.
Calls to the People’s Bank of China weren’t returned. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 10, 2016 Filed under: Global, Mediasphere | Tags: 21st Century Fox, Donald Trump, Fox News Channel, News Corp, News Corporation, News International phone hacking scandal, Pay television, Rupert Murdoch, Sky UK, United Kingdom
The flag of the Twenty-First Century Fox Inc is seen waving at the company headquarters in the Manhattan borough in New York June 11, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo
NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) — Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. has struck a preliminary deal to buy the 61 percent of British pay-TV firm Sky PLC it does not already own for around $14 billion, five years after a political scandal wrecked a previous bid.
The proposed offer of £10.75 a share in cash, which is backed by Sky’s independent directors, would strengthen the position of James Murdoch — who is both chief executive of Fox and chairman of Sky — in his 85-year-old father’s media empire.
People familiar with the matter said Fox had pounced after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in June sent the pound down about 14 percent against the U.S. dollar and Sky’s share price tumbling.
Owning Sky would give Fox, whose cable networks include Fox News and FX, control of a pay-TV network spanning 22 million households in Britain, Ireland, Austria, Germany and Italy.
It would also be the latest deal to marry distribution with content after AT&T Inc. announced an $85 billion bid to buy Time Warner Inc. earlier this year. While Sky does produce some of its own content, including in news and sport, the deal would give Fox full ownership of a wider distribution platform in Europe.
“Fox has always seen its 39 percent stake in Sky as an unnatural state of being and has long been trying to buy full control,” a person familiar with the deal said. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 6, 2016 Filed under: Diplomacy, Economics, Global, Mediasphere, Think Tank | Tags: Barack Obama, Brexit, Donald Trump, European Union, Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, President of the United States, The Heritage Foundation, United Kingdom, United States
Brexit Champion Daniel Hannan: ‘There Are Crybabies on Both Sides of the Atlantic’
“There are some crybabies on both sides of the Atlantic, who don’t accept the verdict of the people as final. And you can see this — it’s exactly the same kind of people on both sides (of the Atlantic). It’s the slightly spoiled millennials, it’s the generation of the safe spaces and the micro-aggressions and the trigger warnings, who have been taught from the moment they went to school that the correct way to deal with a difficult opinion is to try to silence it, and that someone disagreeing with them is a form of violence, rather than something that just happens in life.”
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 4, 2016 Filed under: Art & Culture, Asia, China, Entertainment, Mediasphere | Tags: Beauty, Burberry, Clothes, Dolce & Gabbana, fashion, Glamour, Hong Kong, London, prosperity, United Kingdom, Wealth
Dolce & Gabbana held its first fashion show outside Italy in Hong Kong to showcase some of the world’s most expensive clothing, betting that there is still demand from the ultrawealthy for jewel-encrusted tiaras and glittery dresses. Photo/Video: Eva Tam.
Posted: November 14, 2016 Filed under: Education, Global, History, Russia, Think Tank, White House | Tags: 2003 invasion of Iraq, Cold War, Czech Republic, Donald Trump, European Union, Hillary Clinton, Mikhail Gorbachev, Russians, Soviet Union, United Kingdom, United States Department of State, Vladimir Putin
The Ruling Class of America is not up to the challenge of leading America in the world, partly because it has engaged for several generations now in a process of reverse merit selection.
writes: Angelo Codevilla
has spent more than his share of time as a sojourner among America’s ruling class. He was a key part of the Reagan transition and point-man in the Gipper’s efforts to transform both the foreign and the intelligence services. Then later he served as a professor of International Relations at prestigious Boston University. From this vantage point, Codevilla was able to get a close look not only at the international relations elite, but at the entire American ruling class, from which the former are overwhelmingly drawn. I had the honor of sitting across a Skype line with Angelo Codevilla recently to talk about his views on foreign policy and on the ruling class in general.
“Having been a college professor for many years I saw students become ever more confident of their own intelligence and their own preparation while they were becoming less able to do the most elementary things.”
As the ruling class wannabes, has beens, might’ve beens and I ams gather for today’s inauguration ceremony to offer laud and narcissistic supply to the most perfect exemplar of the ruling class that they have ever seen, Codevilla’s observations about the rapidly imploding ratio of competence to confidence among America’s elite are a breath of contrarian sanity.
“That’s what happens so often to ruling classes: they protect themselves against their competitors. Their greatest interest is in perpetuating their own cushy positions.”
The discussion is available here. Although the first section is devoted to foreign affairs and the second to the ruling class, this column will focus on the second of the two topics. What follows are my notes from the wide ranging and fascinating discussion. I hope you won’t limit yourself to my jottings about the conversation, but go on to the conversation itself. The following is a collection of paraphrased quotes from Codevilla.
“The Soviet system was completely closed. Our system becomes more closed as the years go on….today’s American ruling class differs from even a generation ago…now they come to the ruling class almost exclusively from the most prestigious universities and through institutions which are connected to government.”
The Ruling Class of America is not up to the challenge of leading America in the world, partly because it has engaged for several generations now in a process of reverse merit selection.
[Order Jerry Bowyer’s book “The Free Market Capitalist’s Survival Guide: How to Invest and Thrive in an Era of Rampant Socialism” from Amazon.com]
Our ruling class has practiced negative selection for several generations now. I point you to a very, very interesting piece of research by a man called Ron Unz.
“Very few people now rise independent of the ruling class itself: you have to rise through the ruling class to get to the ruling class.”
Ron Unz, a wealthy entrepreneur, has just conducted interesting research on the admissions policies of America’s elite universities and has found that there is an iron quota against Asians in these universities: a limit of roughly 16 percent in these universities, even though the proportion of Asians relative to other ethnic groups among high achievers in the country has risen…they account for something like 40 percent of high achievers in the national merit scholar competition, national math and science competitions, etc.
“Our ruling class rules on the basis of sheer, unearned self-confidence. They are not up to running the nation, its economy, its markets, its school system, its philanthropies or its foreign affairs. It is a ruling class of pygmies who walk on stilts and call themselves giants. They are not giants and the moment the rest of us realize this, the long con is over.”
What you’ve got here is a ruling class in these universities which has perpetuated itself and has become more like itself, and has excluded alien elements. The element most excluded happens to be also the most numerous, which is to say ‘white non-Jewish Americans,’ and hence the overwhelming majority of high achievers. Yet the percentage of white non-Jewish admittees has continued to drop; there is especially a virtual absence of Christians among these admittees. The point being that this ruling class, which is increasingly styling itself as meritocratic, is anything but meritocratic and has renewed itself by cooption. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 10, 2016 Filed under: Entertainment, Global, History, Humor, Mediasphere, Politics, White House | Tags: A Time for Choosing, Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, Brexit, David Cameron, Donald Trump, EUROPE, European Union, Hillary Clinton, United Kingdom, United States
The moment when Europe begins to suspect the progressive, welfare-state, open-borders, post-national cultural marxist technocratic fantasy was a fantasy. Was unreal. Was juvenile. Was irresponsible. Was a world-historical blunder. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: October 11, 2016 Filed under: Global, Mediasphere, Russia, War Room | Tags: Bratislava, Brexit, Brussels, Bulgaria, Donald Tusk, EUROPE, European Union, François Hollande, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Jean-Claude Juncker, Military of the European Union, President of the European Commission, Turkey, United Kingdom
In Europe, when it gets serious, you have to lie… at least if you are an unelected bureaucrat like Jean-Claude Juncker. In Russia, however, when it gets serious, attention immediately turns to the children.
“On the one hand, this is all part of a package of measures to prepare the elites for some ‘big war’ even if it is rather conditional, on the other hand – this is another blow to the unity of President Putin with his own elite”
— Political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky
Which is why we read a report in Russian website Znak published Tuesday, according to which Russian state officials and government workers were told to bring back their children studying abroad immediately, even if means cutting their education short and not waiting until the end of the school year, and re-enroll them in Russian schools, with some concern.
[Read the full story here, at Zero Hedge]
The article adds that if the parents of these same officials also live abroad “for some reason”, and have not lost their Russian citizenship, should also be returned to the motherland. Znak cited five administration officials as the source of the report.
“People note the hypocrisy of having a centralized state and cultivating patriotism and anti-Western sentiment, while children of government workers study abroad. You can not serve two gods, one must choose.”
The “recommendation” applies to all: from the administration staff, to regional administratiors, to lawmakers of all levels. Employees of public corporations are also subject to the ordinance. One of the sources said that anyone who fails to act, will find such non-compliance to be a “complicating factor in the furtherance of their public sector career.” He added that he was aware of several such cases in recent months. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: October 9, 2016 Filed under: Education, Politics, Religion, Think Tank | Tags: 2003 invasion of Iraq, Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh, Abrahamic religions, Adolf Hitler, American Left, Eid al-Adha, God, Human, Islam, Jeremy Corbyn, Karl Marx, Labour Party (UK), Left-wing politics, Marxism, Muslim, Noam Chomsky, Qur'an, United Kingdom
In defense of what politics is and is not.
Michael Lind writes: What is politics? The answer is not obvious. Most Americans on the left and the right either do not know or have forgotten what politics is. Conventional American progressives have pretty much abandoned any distinction between the political realm and society and culture in general, while conventional American conservatives treat politics as an exercise in doctrinal purity. Both sides, in different ways, undermine the idea of a limited public square in which different groups in society can agree on a few big things while agreeing to disagree with others — progressives, by including too much of society in the public square, and conservatives, by blocking compromise with too many ideological tests.
February 23, 2014: People paint on the KGB officers monument in Kiev, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)
“The secularization of the population was not necessary, but the secularization of the public sphere was. You could no longer win political debates by appealing to a particular interpretation of divine Scripture. Under the rules of Enlightenment liberalism, you had to make a case for the policy you preferred that was capable of persuading citizens who did not share your religious beliefs. A mere numerical majority was not enough. If the politicians express the will of a majority of voters, and the majority are told how to vote by clerics, then the democracy is really an indirect theocracy.”
Politics is only possible in a society in which much, if not most, of social life is not politicized. In premodern communities in which every aspect of life was regulated by custom or religious law, there was no politics, in the modern sense. There was no public sphere because there was no private sphere. Tribal custom or divine law, as interpreted by tribal elders or religious authorities, governed every action, leaving no room for individual choice. There were power struggles, to be sure. But there was no political realm separate from the tribe or the religious congregation. And disagreement was heresy.
A February protest against a liquified natural gas export facility in Maryland. Susan Yin/Chesapeake Climate Action Network
The separation of church and state — strictly speaking, the privatization of religious belief, beginning in early modern Europe and America — was the precondition for modern politics. The secularization of the population was not necessary, but the secularization of the public sphere was. You could no longer win political debates by appealing to a particular interpretation of divine Scripture.
“Conventional American progressives have pretty much abandoned any distinction between the political realm and society and culture in general, while conventional American conservatives treat politics as an exercise in doctrinal purity. Both sides, in different ways, undermine the idea of a limited public square in which different groups in society can agree on a few big things while agreeing to disagree with others — progressives, by including too much of society in the public square, and conservatives, by blocking compromise with too many ideological tests.”
Under the rules of Enlightenment liberalism, you had to make a case for the policy you preferred that was capable of persuading citizens who did not share your religious beliefs. A mere numerical majority was not enough. If the politicians express the will of a majority of voters, and the majority are told how to vote by clerics, then the democracy is really an indirect theocracy.
“As the Marxist substitute for Abrahamic religion has faded away, its place on the political left is being taken by the new secular political religions of environmentalism and identity politics. Each of these is strongest in post-Protestant Northern Europe and North America, and weakest in historically Catholic and Orthodox Christian societies.”
Unfortunately, as Horace observed, “You can drive out Nature with a pitchfork, but she keeps on coming back.” The same might be said of religion. While some forms of religion have been expelled from politics, new forms keep trying to creep in, to recreate something like the pre-Enlightenment world in which a single moral code governs all of society and disagreement is intolerable heresy.
[Read the full text here, at The Smart Set]
Marxism can only be understood as a Christian, or Judeo-Christian, or Abrahamic spin-off — a faith militant, with its prophets, its holy scriptures, its providential theory of history, its evangelical universalism, its message of brotherhood and sisterhood transcending particular communities. Marxism was the fourth major Abrahamic religion. Nothing like Marxism could have evolved independently in traditional Confucian China or Hindu India, with their cyclical rather than progressive views of history.
“Other elements of religion, expelled from the public sphere, have crept back in via the left, thanks to environmentalism. As the great environmental scientist James Lovelock has pointed out, anthropogenic global warming is affected by the sources of energy for large-scale power generation and transportation. But refusing to fly on airplanes or reducing your personal “carbon footprint” is a meaningless exercise, explicable only in the context of religion, with its traditions of ritual fasts and sacrifices in the service of personal moral purity.”
As the Marxist substitute for Abrahamic religion has faded away, its place on the political left is being taken by the new secular political religions of environmentalism and identity politics. Each of these is strongest in post-Protestant Northern Europe and North America, and weakest in historically Catholic and Orthodox Christian societies. A case can be made that militant environmentalism and militant identity politics are both by-products of the decomposition of Protestantism in the Anglophone nations and Germanic Europe. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 29, 2016 Filed under: Censorship, China, Japan, Mediasphere, Russia, Think Tank | Tags: 2014 FIFA World Cup, 2016 Summer Paralympics, Advertising, Akiyama Saneyuki, Andrey Zvyagintsev, Anti-Russian sentiment, Auschwitz concentration camp, Austria, Bashar al-Assad, BBC, Japan, RUSSIA, Russo-Japanese War, Theodore Roosevelt, Ultra high definition television, United Kingdom, United States
Tetsuo Arima Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences, Waseda University
Tetsuo Arima writes: In Washington D.C., the capital of the United States, there is an attraction called the “Duck Tour.” It takes tourists on an amphibious vehicle to tourist spots on both sides of the Potomac River. As the vehicle nears the State Department building, the tour guide gives tourists a quiz. “Over there is the Voice of America, a network which broadcasts around the world. What is the only country that is not covered by this network?” When I participated in this tour, I was the first to raise my hand and answer, “America.” The tour guide made a sour face.
The U.S. government does not engage in propaganda toward Americans. Since the people choose representatives to form a government by democratic elections, the government should not lead its people to make wrong decisions by spreading propaganda. This is a basic principle of democracy. Countries such as China and North Korea, which do not practice democracy, control their populations with propaganda.
However, the U.S., which is a democracy, does engage in propaganda toward other countries. Even its allies are no exception. America, with huge “soft” power, has great influence on other countries, mainly through movies, TV programs, music and fashion, and also utilizes propaganda to the maximum extent. The tour guide must have been displeased because he realized I knew that.
Propaganda in the Information Age
We live in a highly digitized world today. The amount of information is growing exponentially, and many people believe unconditionally that more information is better. This is true if such information is true, unbiased and helps its recipients make sound judgments. But as the amount of information grows, so does the amount that is biased and false. In particular, in the borderless world of the Internet, if one continues to pursue related information, one can easily stray into propaganda sites established by various countries without knowing it.
Readers believe that such information is interesting and useful, but its creators take the trouble to translate and present it in an effort to plant certain ideas and images in the reader’s mind. They expend great time and money to do so. Even smallish businesses spend huge amounts of money on public relations and commercials, so it is natural that major countries bring together elite propagandists, organize powerful state agencies, and give them enormous budgets in order to spread propaganda.
VOA, mentioned above, is one of those propaganda agencies. In fact, it is modeled after the British Broadcasting Corporation. The BBC has a strong image as a reputable public broadcaster, but it is also known to spread propaganda, especially during wartime. Nonetheless, it did not spread rumors, praise its country unreservedly, or slander enemy countries, unlike state-owned media in non-democratic countries. The BBC reported news strictly based on facts, but achieved enormous impact by broadcasting only the facts that were convenient to its country and inconvenient to hostile ones.
Soviet Five-Year Plan propaganda poster.
Responsibility of the mass media
In China, a non-democratic country which controls its people with propaganda, news presented by China Central Television (CCTV), a broadcaster run by the Communist Party, should be regarded as propaganda whether it targets domestic or foreign audiences. Of course CCTV also uses language which makes its content really sound like propaganda. The problem in Japan is that the mass media frequently repeat such propaganda as part of their news. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 6, 2016 Filed under: Asia, Breaking News, Global, Mediasphere, Politics | Tags: Beijing, China, Financial centre, Hong Kong, Legislative council, Legislative Council of Hong Kong, Pan-democracy camp, Pro-Beijing camp, United Kingdom
Candidates from new parties who want greater autonomy for Hong Kong from China won legislative seats in Sunday’s vote–the city’s first major elections since large pro-democracy protests in 2014.
Posted: September 6, 2016 Filed under: Guns and Gadgets, Science & Technology, Self Defense, War Room | Tags: Chief of Naval Staff (Pakistan), David Axe, First Sea Lord, George Washington, London, Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom), Navy, River Thames, Royal Navy, Tower Bridge, United Kingdom, United States, United States Navy
The 34ft boat can skim across the waves at more than 50kts to track high speed targets, while navigating and dodging other ships without the control of a human.
Naval commanders believe the Maritime Autonomy Surface Testbed (MAST) could herald a robot fleet of high-speed craft packed with sensors to carry out spy and scouting missions.
The unarmed test craft is one of 40 prototypes to be tested by the Royal Navy in a major robot war game off the coast of northern Scotland in October.
The dawn of unmanned vehicles is likely to have the same revolutionary effect on naval warfare as the birth of flight and aircraft carriers, according to the navy’s Fleet Robotics Officer.
Cdr Peter Pipkin said: “This is a chance to take a great leap forward in maritime systems – not to take people out of the loop but to enhance everything they do, to extend our reach, our look, our timescales, our efficiency using intelligent and manageable robotics at sea.”
MAST has been built for the MoD’s defence laboratories and is based on an existing Bladerunner speedboat, but fitted with sensors and robotic technology that is still largely classified.
The boat has a sophisticated anti-collision system to avoid hazards and other craft, but current laws meant that when it was unveiled on the Thames, it had to have a human coxswain on board.
While the MAST is only a test platform for new technology and will not enter service as it stands, sources said it could it pave the way for future robots vessels that can track, shadow or spy on other craft as well as loitering off coastlines.
Elizabeth Quintana, director of military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute, said the Navy was looking at unmanned vehicles to take on “dull, dirty, and dangerous” jobs. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 4, 2016 Filed under: Asia, China, Diplomacy, Global, History, Politics | Tags: Abubakar Malami, Abuja, Brexit, Bugging, Chinese Spy, Conservative Party (UK), European Union, G20 Summit, Government of the United Kingdom, Hacking, Honey Trap, London, Memorandum of understanding, Spy, Surveillance, United Kingdom
British government aides have fallen victim to spying on previous official trips to China, with one Downing Street official reported to have had his mobile phone and secret documents stolen after he was seduced.
Government security chiefs are anxious to avoid a repeat of the incident, which took place during a visit by Gordon Brown in 2008, and have provided detailed guidance to Mrs May’s team.
The Prime Minister’s officials have been warned to take steps to protect themselves during the G20 summit, which begins on Sunday.
Officials travelling with Mrs May have been issued with temporary mobile phones and email addresses in an attempt to evade Chinese state hackers.
Security advisers are also warning staff not to keep gifts they receive and to be particularly wary of electronic devices, such as free computer memory sticks, mobile phone SIM cards or chargers which they are offered by their Chinese hosts.
One Whitehall source said security chiefs had warned them that hotel rooms used during the summit were likely to be bugged. “We have been told that if you feel uncomfortable about people seeing you naked, you should get changed under your bedclothes,” the source said.
Damian McBride, left, was then prime minister Gordon Brown’s special advisor CREDIT: BRUCE ADAMS/REX
British security agencies regard China as one of the most aggressive nations when it comes to launching cyber-attacks against western governments and businesses, as well as posing a major espionage threat to the UK.
Chinese technological expertise has prompted security concerns at the highest levels of government and British intelligence.
There are fears that Chinese intelligence agents will use their capability to intercept emails and phone calls and to install spy software on computers during the summit.
However, one of the gravest threats posed by foreign spies is also one of the oldest: the honey trap.
During Mr Brown’s visit to China in 2008, one of the No 10 officials accompanying the then Prime Minister reportedly fell prey to a “beautiful” female Chinese spy. She went back to his hotel room, drugged him, stole his mobile phone and documents from his briefcase.
The incident was described by Mr Brown’s former spin doctor, Damien McBride, in his 2013 memoir, Power Trip.
The No 10 team was “accosted on one side by a beautiful posse of Chinese girls and on the other side by an equivalent group of Russian blondes”, Mr McBride said.
Even before our resident security expert could warn us that their interest was not to be taken at face value, we looked up and saw one of our number disappearing up the stairs to the exit with one of the girls, beaming back at us.
He woke up the following morning “minus his Blackberry and half the contents of his briefcase”.
The official also had a “‘very bad headache, owning to the Mickey Finn nightcap his overnight companion had administered to him in his hotel room”.
The G20 summit in Hangzhou comes at a time of heightened tension between Britain and China. Within weeks of entering Downing Street in July, Mrs May put on hold a final decision on whether to approve a Chinese-backed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: August 30, 2016 Filed under: Art & Culture, Comics, Mediasphere, Religion, Terrorism | Tags: Barack Obama, Home Secretary, Iraq, Islamic state, Law enforcement in Hungary, Syria, Terrorism, The Wall Street Journal, United Kingdom
Mohamed Amin Ahmed, an activist living among the Somali-American population in Minneapolis, creates online cartoon videos for young Muslims to warn them of Islamic State recruitment. Photo: Sarah Stacke for The Wall Street Journal
Posted: July 29, 2016 Filed under: Global, Guns and Gadgets, Self Defense, Space & Aviation, War Room | Tags: Eglin Air Force Base, Farnborough Airshow, Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender, RAF Fairford, Royal Air Force, Royal International Air Tattoo, United Kingdom, United States Marine Corps
Years of flat budgets amid an increasing operational tempo has thrown Marine aviation into a readiness crisis, forcing pilots to scrounge museum aircraft for parts simply to keep their aircraft flightworthy. Nevertheless, Marine aviators must prepare for high-intensity warfare against increasingly sophisticated foreign adversaries.
Can the Marine Corps triage aircraft readiness if sequestration continues? How will the Marines integrate next-generation technology as diverse as autonomous vehicles, the revolutionary F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, and a new heavy-lift helicopter into future operational concepts? Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 27, 2016 Filed under: Politics, Religion, Terrorism | Tags: Angela Merkel, Brussels, David Cameron, EUROPE, European Parliament, European Union, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, United Kingdom, United Kingdom withdrawal from the European Union
Douglas Murray writes: How is your Merkelsommer going? For now, Britain seems to be missing the worst. True, a couple of men of Middle Eastern appearance tried to abduct a soldier near his base in Norfolk for what was unlikely to have been an interfaith dialogue session. But Britain’s geographical good fortune, relative success in limiting weapons and our justified scepticism of the undiscriminating ‘open borders’ brigade mean that we have so far been spared the delights of what Angela Merkel’s growing army of critics refer to as her summer of terror.
It is now a fortnight since Mohammed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ and ploughed a truck along the Nice seafront, killing 84 people. The following Monday Mohammed Riyad, who said he was from Afghanistan but almost certainly came from Pakistan, screamed ‘Allahu Akbar’ while hacking with an axe at his fellow passengers on a Bavarian train. The next day another Mohammed, this time Mohamed Boufarkouch, shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ and stabbed a Frenchwoman and her three daughters (aged eight, 12 and 14) near Montpelier. Mixing things up a little, that Friday’s shooter in Munich was a child of Iranians called Ali David Sonboly. Skip forward a couple of days and a ‘-Syrian asylum seeker’ with a machete was hacking a pregnant woman to death in Stuttgart. The next day another ‘Syrian asylum seeker’, Mohammad Daleel, carried out a suicide bombing outside a bar in Ansbach, Bavaria. And a little over 24 hours later two men shouting the name of Isis entered a church in Rouen during Mass, took the nuns and congregation hostage and slaughtered the priest with a knife.
Although the public know what is going on, the media seems loath to find any connection between these events. Indeed, the same papers that blame an exaggerated spike in ‘hate crime’ on everyone who voted for Brexit seem unwilling to put the blame for these real and violent attacks on the individuals carrying them out. ‘Syrian man denied asylum killed in German blast’ was the Reuters headline on the Ansbach story, neatly turning the suicide bomber into the victim and the German asylum system into the perpetrator. As Reuters went on: ‘A 27-year-old Syrian man who had been denied asylum in Germany a year ago died on Sunday when a bomb he was carrying exploded outside a music festival.’ How terrible for him to lose his bomb in such a way.
The more complex story of the Munich shooter allowed everyone to double-down on their favourite explanations for violence. Inadequate welfare provisions, unsuitable town-planning and bullying were all wheeled out to explain why Ali David Sonboly started shooting in a McDonalds. Others were a little too keen to claim him as an Isis warrior, when it seems he wasn’t. The BBC got around the problem by excising the ‘Ali’ and all reports of his religion. Instead, speculation about the shooting happening on the fifth anniversary of Anders Breivik’s terrorist assault in Norway meant that every-one could ignore the Muslim eyewitness who heard Sonboly shout ‘Allahu Akbar’ and headline on Breivik instead. Meaning that in Europe in 2016 a child of Iranian parents can be portrayed as a white supremacist, while no amount of Mohameds shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ can be said to have any connection to Islam.
Sections of the media and political class seem determined to stop the public coming to any conclusions. But most of us probably did that a long time ago, and these conclusions are being reinforced on a daily basis.
For the time being, the acceptable thing is to blame Isis. There is sense in that. The German train attacker had an Isis flag at his home, the Ansbach bomber left a video pledging allegiance to the group, and at least one of the Rouen church attackers had tried to travel to Syria to join them. The extent to which the group is involved varies, and they undoubtedly talk up their capabilities, but their ability to inspire as well as direct will be a problem as long as they exist. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 23, 2016 Filed under: Diplomacy, Global, History, Mediasphere, Think Tank | Tags: Brexit, EU, EUROPE, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Thatcherism, UK, United Kingdom
As Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher defended Britain’s national interests within the EU and accepted modest steps towards Europe’s economic integration, but she became increasingly hostile to its political unification and the transfer of powers from London to Brussels that it entailed. Her downfall was in part precipitated by her resistance to “ever closer union.” After losing power she spoke and wrote extensively in opposition to European federalism and the concept of a European super-state that she felt would divide and weaken the West.
Margaret Thatcher arrives in Washington, November 1988 (courtesy Ronald Reagan Library)
Almost the first controversy of the Brexit campaign was over how she would vote if she had lived to see it. How would she vote? How will the Tory Party, traditionally the patriotic party, recover from a campaign that has bitterly divided it along unfamiliar lines? How will Mrs. Thatcher’s legacy of ideas – a.k.a. Thatcherism – influence the result? And how will her historical reputation be affected by whatever the British people decide?
Posted: June 23, 2016 Filed under: Art & Culture, Breaking News, Diplomacy, Humor, Politics | Tags: Brexit, David Cameron, England, EU, European Union, Great Britain, Ireland, Margaret Thatcher, Scotland, UK, United Kingdom
Posted: April 6, 2016 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Global, Think Tank | Tags: Acton Institute, Anegada, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Business jet, Caribbean, China, Club for Growth, Economist Intelligence Unit, HM Revenue and Customs, Internal Revenue Service, Limited Government, Tax evasion, United Kingdom
Governments will seek to focus on general tax evasion charges to distract from evidence of corruption by public officials.
Ed Krayewski writes: While contemporary governments have carved out for themselves significant authority in demanding citizens of their countries do specific things with their money, it doesn’t change the principle of self-ownership. Were private citizens to follow their money off-shore in the wake of this, would their governments demand to control their flight as well as their capital’s? It’s not just theoretical.
“A person’s money belongs to them, not the government, just as their bodies and their freedoms do.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has pushed the idea of seizing the passports of citizens who have too many interests overseas. Maybe he ought to support Donald Trump building a big wall after all—at least that’d be consistent and honest. Capital controls are restrictions of free movement much like walls are.
“The ‘Panama Papers’ are the largest leak in world history, revealing millions of documents related to the offshore accounts of politicians, former politicians, and billionaires around the world.”
Despite much of the media’s focus on tax evasion as the primary theme of the Panama Papers story, which embarrassed governments are happy to adopt as the primary theme as well, the question is one of official corruption.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) itself, which first published the data, says it reveals the holdings of “drug dealers, Mafia members, corrupt politicians and tax evaders–and wrongdoing galore.”
Yet the numbers they offer tell a different story. According to ICIJ, 214,000 entities are described in the Panama Papers. They include the off-shore assets of 140 politicians and other public figures (including 12 current or former heads of state or government), as well as 33 people and companies that were “blacklisted by the U.S. government because of evidence that they’d been involved in wrongdoing, such as doing business with Mexican drug lords, terrorist organizations like Hezbollah or rogue nations like North Korea and Iran.” Yet The Economist counts 33 Forbes list billionaires to the 140 politicians in the Panama Papers. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: March 10, 2016 Filed under: History, Science & Technology | Tags: Glasgow, Lancaster University, London, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Sierra Leone, South Lanarkshire, United Kingdom
Thousands of motorists each day travel along the M74 motorway, to the south of Glasgow, unaware of the fascinating 1000-year history emerging from the edge of the hard shoulder.
Just opposite the Hamilton Services on the M74 in South Lanarkshire, GUARD archaeologists have discovered what could be the remains of the lost village of Cadzow. Cadzow was the name given to the community which lived on the edge of the River Clyde here in medieval times. In 1445, King James II gave his permission for the place to be renamed Hamilton and the residents were forced to move a mile or so south to the town’s current location.
The discovery was made by a GUARD Archaeology team led by GUARD Project Officer Kevin Mooney, as part of the M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project. The work was undertaken for the Scottish Roads Partnership (SRP), the company responsible for the improvements on the Central Scotland motorway network, with a construction joint venture of Ferrovial Agroman and Lagan Construction Group…(read more)
Posted: February 12, 2016 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Food & Drink, Mediasphere | Tags: Activism, Amuse-bouche, Barbecue chicken, Basque cuisine, Bernard Loiseau, Chinese New Year, Fois Gras, United Kingdom, Valentines Day, Vegan
Maya Rhoda reports: A chef in the United Kingdom is backing away from including foie gras on a Valentine’s Day menu after receiving death threats from vegan activists.
“We have listened to every opinion but when people go as far as ringing our staff, constantly, calling them murderers and death threats we class this as harassment and also inhumane to humans on the vegans behalf, and completely disgusting and unacceptable.”
The chef at Kings Arms at Fleggburgh opted out of serving the decadent dish during Valentine’s Day dinner this weekend after being subjected to “harassment” by activists who threatened to protest the menu, the Guardian reports. Foie gras is traditionally made by force feeding geese until their liver becomes enlarged.
“To stop this unfair behaviour on our staff we have decided to remove the Foie Gras from the menu and apologise to all of our customers who enjoy our parfait dish.”
— Kings Arms Facebook post
Mark Dixon, an award winning chef, posted the Valentine’s Day menu on Facebook in January. For 50 pounds per person, diners could indulge in a specialty tasting menu that included vodka cured salmon and grilled halibut. Also on the menu, foie gras and chicken liver parfait which drew the ire of activists….(read more)
Posted: January 29, 2016 Filed under: Entertainment, Mediasphere, Politics | Tags: ABC News, Alibaba, American Broadcasting Company, Bob Iger, China, Christmas card, Mickey Mouse, Netflix, The Walt Disney Company, United Kingdom
The biggest online news publisher for the U.S. audience was MSN, owner of MSN.com, with just over 27 billion combined page views across mobile and desktop, followed by Disney Media Networks, owner ofESPN and ABC News, with 25.9 billion….(read more)
Posted: January 3, 2016 Filed under: Art & Culture, Global, Politics, Religion, Terrorism, Think Tank | Tags: Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Angela Merkel, Beijing, China, David Cameron, EUROPE, European Union, François Hollande, Information technology, Internet, Internet censorship in the People's Republic of China, Internet governance, Member of Parliament, President of the People's Republic of China, Syria, United Kingdom, United States, Wuzhen, Xi Jinping, Zhejiang
In 2015 we witness a rare geopolitcal power shift – and in the face of every kind of new external challenge the leaders of the EU and the USA have never looked weaker or more bemused.
Christopher Booker writes: As we enter this new year, what is the most significant feature of how the world is changing that went almost unnoticed in the year just ended? Two events last autumn might have given us a clue.
One was the very peculiar nature of that state visit in October, when the president of China was taken in a golden coach to stay at Buckingham Palace, down a Mall lined with hundreds of placard-waving pro‑China stooges, while the only people manhandled away by Chinese security guards were a few protesters against China’s treatment of Tibet and abuses of human rights.
[Read the full story here, at the Telegraph]
Everywhere we see Western illusions colliding with reality, as when the reckless bid to suck Ukraine into the EU and Nato inevitably provoked a response from President Putin
and a Russian sense of national interest that has left us looking pathetically impotent.
Queen Elizabeth II and President of The PeopleÕs Republic of China, Mr Xi Jinping, ride in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach along The Mall Photo: PA
Led by David Cameron, our politicians could not have fawned more humiliatingly on the leader of a country whose economy, before its recent wobbles, was predicted by the IMF to overtake that of the US as the largest in the world in 2016. While Britain once led the world in steel‑making and the civil use of nuclear power, the visit coincided with the crumbling of the remains of our steel industry before a flood of cheap Chinese steel, as our politicians pleaded for China’s help in building, to an obsolete design, the most costly nuclear power station in the world.
Three weeks later came the rather less prominent visit of Narendra Modi, prime minister of India, whose even faster-growing economy is predicted by financial analysts to become bigger than Britain’s within three years, and to overtake China’s as the world’s largest in the second half of the century. Read the rest of this entry »