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The Authoritarian Media

The New York Times has crossed a moral line, writes James Taranto.

Jan. 11, 2011, James Taranto wrote: After the horrific shooting spree, the editorial board of New York Times offered a voice of reasoned circumspection: “In the aftermath of this unforgivable attack, it will be important to avoid drawing prejudicial conclusions . . .,” the paper counseled.

Here’s how the sentence continued: “. . . from the fact that Major Hasan is an American Muslim whose parents came from the Middle East.”

The Tucson Safeway massacre prompted exactly the opposite reaction. What was once known as the paper of record egged on its readers to draw invidious conclusions that are not only prejudicial but contrary to fact. In doing so, the Times has crossed a moral line.

Here is an excerpt from yesterday’s editorial:

It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman’s act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members. But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge. Many on the right have exploited the arguments of division, reaping political power by demonizing immigrants, or welfare recipients, or bureaucrats. They seem to have persuaded many Americans that the government is not just misguided, but the enemy of the people.

That whirlwind has touched down most forcefully in Arizona, which Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik described after the shooting as the capital of “the anger, the hatred and the bigotry that goes on in this country.” Anti-immigrant sentiment in the state, firmly opposed by Ms. Giffords, has reached the point where Latino studies programs that advocate ethnic solidarity have actually been made illegal. . . .

Now, having seen first hand the horror of political violence, Arizona should lead the nation in quieting the voices of intolerance, demanding an end to the temptations of bloodshed, and imposing sensible controls on its instruments.

To describe the Tucson massacre as an act of “political violence” is, quite simply, a lie. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] Fighting Breaks Out in South Africa’s Parliament 

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Prosecutors Weigh Child-Pornography Charges Against Anthony Weiner

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Federal prosecutors are weighing bringing child-pornography charges against former congressman Anthony Weiner over sexually explicit exchanges he allegedly had with a 15-year-old girl.

Erica Orden and Nicole Hong report: Federal prosecutors are weighing bringing child-pornography charges against former Rep. Anthony Weiner over sexually explicit exchanges he allegedly had with a 15-year-old girl, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Weiner, a New York Democrat, is being investigated by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which seized his electronic devices, including a laptop and a cellphone, as part of the probe.

Officials initiated the investigation last fall, after the Daily Mail in the U.K. reported that Mr. Weiner had exchanged sexually explicit messages and photos with the girl.

Anthony Weiner at the Democratic National Convention in July Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Anthony Weiner at the Democratic National Convention in July Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In recent weeks, according to some of the people familiar with the matter, attorneys for Mr. Weiner have had discussions with federal prosecutors in Manhattan in hopes of dissuading them from bringing charges, or at least from bringing the most serious one: production of child pornography, which carries a 15-year mandatory minimum prison sentence upon conviction.

These types of discussions can indicate both sides are trying to reach an agreement in which the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for a less-severe charge.

Mr. Weiner could face the production charge, some of the people familiar with the case say, because he allegedly solicited explicit images from the teenager. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] WSJ’s Strassel: ‘I Don’t Remember Protests, Lawsuits, when Obama Paused Iraqi Immigration to U.S. in 2011’

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Trent Baker reports: On Sunday’s “Meet the Press” on NBC, Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel reminded viewers that nobody protested or filed lawsuits in 2011 when former President Barack Obama suspended Iraqi refugees from entering the United States for six months over terrorism fears, although President Donald Trump has received much criticism for temporarily suspending visas for “immigrants and non-immigrants” from Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Iran and Iraq.

“Look, this is also not unprecedented, by the way,” Strassel said. “I mean, Barack Obama put a pause for six months on refugees coming from Iraq back in 2011. I don’t remember protestors and I don’t remember lawsuits. So I think the bigger question if this is a temporary pause, which is designed for us to improve and look at our vetting processes, and indeed temporary, I don’t necessarily think that’s an outrageous idea. Read the rest of this entry »


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[VIDEO] Soros Lost Nearly $1 Billion After Trump Win

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[VIDEO] Felix the Cat Balloon Returns to Macy’s Parade

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[VIDEO] J.D. Vance on Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of Family and Culture in Crisis 

Can someone from Appalachia become upwardly mobile? Is it a disadvantage to have a southern accent in American society? Charles Murray, the W.H. Brady Scholar at AEI, interviews author J.D. Vance about his experiences in leaving his “hillbilly” roots behind.

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Reason to Avoid Quarreling

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[VIDEO] More Leaked DNC Data Coming 

Congressional Democrats are scrambling to assess the scope of an unprecedented leak that revealed the personal data of nearly 200 current and former House Democrats, and they are bracing for more leaked data. Iconic Security CEO Adam Ghetti joins Lunch Break and explains how the FBI deals with data breaches.

pelosi-incandescentspy-data-nsa-gop-nro Read the rest of this entry »


‘Lone Gunman’s Rampage Puts Munich On Lockdown’: Wall Street Journal Front Page for Saturday, July 23, 2016

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Hong Kong Running Out of Its Most Valuable Asset: Land 

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In a city where land is everything, a housing crunch is brewing.

Annie Zheng reports: According to a new study by think tank Our Hong Kong Foundation, the amount of new, developable land in the former British colony is shrinking. Add in a growing population that will outpace the supply of new apartment units, and there’s a pressing need for the creation of more land, says the think tank, led by former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa.

“We see a substantial shortage in land and housing resources,” said William Tsang, senior researcher and 41BMIIPgioL._SL250_author of the study. “The government is increasingly relying on changing the use of old land. This means the amount of buildable land is dwindling. When that runs out, what’s next?”

[Order Alice Poon’s book “Land and the Ruling Class in Hong Kong” from Amazon]

The study found that in 2012, 73% of the nine million square feet of public land for bidding was reclaimed land; by 2015 that had dropped to 50% of the 7.8 million square feet on offer. As a result, the government is relying more on selling converted forms of land, such as work sites, slopes and former staff quarters.

[Read the full story here, at China Real Time Report ]

Public land sales in the form of 50-year land grants are a major source of revenue for the government and one way developers secure land on which to build. In recent years, a flurry of new developers including mainland Chinese have entered the bidding process as the government has put up smaller and more pieces of land. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] This Lady Robot Speaks Her Mind 

The WSJ quizzed Hanson Robotics’s lifelike creation Sophia on topics from U.S.presidential candidates to a robot’s place in the bedroom. Photo/Video: Menglin Huang/The Wall Street Journal


BLAME THE APPS: Beijing Official Blames Traffic on Popular Ride-Hailing Services

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Online private car-hailing services have gained popularity in China. As cities across the country are expanding, public transport in many places hasn’t kept pace with increased demand. 

Rose Yu reports: Beijing officials are blaming Web-based ride-hailing services for the city’s worsened traffic congestion, putting the popular mobile app operators in the hot seat once again.

Traffic conditions worsened in the Chinese capital in 2015 due to plunging oil prices and the car-hailing services, Zhou Zhengyu, director of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transportation, said at the fourth plenary session of the municipal People’s Congress on Monday.

Zhou Zhengyu, director of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transportation

Zhou Zhengyu, director of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transportation

According to Mr. Zhou, there are more than 100,000 private cars involved in online car-hailing services in the city, fulfilling 600,000 to 700,000 peer-to-peer ride orders each day and thus “exacerbating road congestion.”

Online private car-hailing services have gained popularity in China. As cities across the country are expanding, public transport in many places hasn’t kept pace with increased demand. On top of that, more and more cities have sought to curb air pollution and congestion by making it increasingly tough to own a set of wheels.

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Mr. Zhou’s comments are drawing a barrage of criticism online.

“Do you offer us sufficient public transport measures?” asked one user on China’s Weibo microblogging platform.

“Why don’t you say too many auto makers produce too many cars?” wrote another user.

[Read the full story here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]

China is the world’s largest market for new cars, ahead of the U.S., with more than 21 million passenger vehicles sold here last year. The government-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers predicted new-car sales would grow 7.8% this year to 22.76 million vehicles.

Official data show that the city of Beijing has about 5.6 million autos on the road, making it the most congested city on the mainland. Read the rest of this entry »


Wall Street Journal Front Page for Wednesday, December 30, 1015

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Noonan: ‘Jumping on anyone who publicly expressed a religious feeling after the San Bernardino massacre. Where are we heading?’

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The San Bernardino massacre and “prayer shaming.”

Time for an Intervention - Peggy Noonan's Blog - WSJPeggy Noonan writes: What gets you about what happened in San Bernardino is the shattering sameness of it. Once and not so long ago such atrocities, whatever their cause, whether the work of schizophrenics or jihadists, constituted a signal and exceptional moment. Now they’re more like this week’s shooting. We are not becoming blasé but increasingly inured. And, of course, armed up.

“This managed to enrage the progressive left. You can take your prayers and stuff ’em. The answer and the only answer to this tragedy is gun control, and if you’re not for it you’re not allowed to be part of the conversation.”

You can see a coarsening in how we respond and react on social media. No one feels ashamed to exploit the tragedy for political purposes even while it is happening.

“All this immediately won a name: ‘prayer shaming.'”

We are all free to say what we think, and must be, for without this freedom we will no longer be America. More on that below. But you always hope what is said will be constructive, helpful, maybe even at some point heartening. You have a responsibility as an adult to do your best in this area.

“Wow. You might think he was aiming this at President Obama, who when he was a popular president with an overwhelmingly Democratic House and Senate did not prioritize gun control.”

But as soon as the story broke Wednesday afternoon, and while it was still going on, there were accusations and bitter words flung all over the Internet. The weirdest argument came almost immediately. A person named Chris Murphy, who is a U.S. senator representing Connecticut, sent out what struck me as the most manipulative message of recent political history.

“But it was clearly aimed at all those Republicans and religious people who were praying, saying they were praying, and implicitly asking you to pray, rather than doing what they should do, which is supporting the senator’s cause.”

The background is that Republican presidential contestants responded online to the shootings with the only helpful thing you can say—or do, frankly, from faraway—when a story like this occurs. “Praying for the victims, their families & the San Bernardino first responders,” said Jeb Bush. Mike Huckabee said he was “praying.” John Kasich: “My thoughts & prayers go out to those impacted.”

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

This managed to enrage the progressive left. You can take your prayers and stuff ’em. The answer and the only answer to this tragedy is gun control, and if you’re not for it you’re not allowed to be part of the conversation. “Please shut up and slink away,” tweeted a reporter. Another: “Your thoughts and prayers don’t mean a damn thing.” A reporter at the Huffington Post damned public officials’ “useless thoughts and prayers.” Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos: “How many dead people did those thoughts and prayers bring back to the life?”

Mollie Hemingway of the Federalist noted that all these denunciations were literally coming in while victims of the shooting were sending out requests for prayer.

[Read Mollie Hemingway article “The Left Prays After San Bernardino Shooting, To Its God Of Government“]

Journalists, bloggers, contrarians and citizens jumped into the fray. Then the U.S. senator, Chris Murphy, came forward rather menacingly. “Your ‘thoughts’ should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your ‘prayers’ should be for forgiveness if you do nothing—again.” Read the rest of this entry »


Tomorrow’s Front Page of The Wall Street Journal: ‘Clinton Grilled on Benghazi’

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The Benghazi Hearing: A Viewer’s Guide

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faces questions from the House Select Committee on Benghazi Thursday. WSJ’s Shelby Holliday breaks down all you need to know, including the main characters and various plot lines of this Capitol Hill drama.


A Chinese University Beat MIT to Become the World’s Top School for Engineering Research

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Profit: Who Enriches Network News The Most?

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Noah Rothman via WSJ


ヤクザの分割 Japan’s Gangsters Find Extortion No Longer Pays, Forcing Yakuza Split

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The Yamaguchi-gumi was founded in Kobe in 1915 by Harukichi Yamaguchi as an association of Harukichi_Yamaguchidockworkers. The man credited with building the Yamaguchi-gumi into Japan’s largest yakuza syndicate was Kazuo Taoka, the charismatic third don dubbed ‘the bear’ for clawing his opponent’s eyes during brawls.

Alexander Martin reports: The Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest and most powerful yakuza crime syndicate, is undergoing a major split on its 100th anniversary after years of police crackdowns and financial strains.

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“Such exploits furnished material for countless yakuza movies over the years, some of which implicitly celebrated the gangsters as upholders of traditional Japanese values of loyalty and sacrifice.”

Japanese police, fearing the outbreak of a bloody gang war, have been on alert since news broke in late August that groups within the Yamaguchi-gumi were parting ways with its sixth-generation don. The result is two groups– the Yamaguchi-gumi and a rival syndicate, both of which are based in central Japan.yakuza

“Even today, the existence of yakuza groups isn’t technically illegal. They have offices as well as fan magazines dedicated to their underworld endeavors.”

Experts say the split reflects the harsh environment facing the yakuza, Japan’s homegrown mafia, following a slew of anti-gang laws that have choked off their revenue.

“Clampdowns against the yakuza have been enforced at all points, making it increasingly difficult for them to rack up profits.”

— Yoshiaki Shinozaki, an attorney with decades of experience fighting organized crime

Once tacitly accepted as a necessary evil to handle society’s dirty work, the yakuza are now taboo for large corporations, and gang members are having more trouble extorting money through protection rackets or serving as muscle men in real-estate schemes.

The Yamaguchi-gumi was founded in Kobe in 1915 by Harukichi Yamaguchi as an association of dockworkers. The man credited with building the Yamaguchi-gumi into Japan’s largest yakuza syndicate was Kazuo Taoka, the charismatic third don dubbed “the bear” for clawing his opponent’s eyes during brawls.

“Once tacitly accepted as a necessary evil to handle society’s dirty work, the yakuza are now taboo for large corporations, and gang members are having more trouble extorting money through protection rackets or serving as muscle men in real-estate schemes.”

During Mr. Taoka’s reign from 1946 to his death in 1981, the Yamaguchi-gumi expanded its membership, developed ties with show business and spread its tentacles into political and financial circles.

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“Public attitudes toward the yakuza hardened over the years. Racketeers known as sokaiya were especially feared by corporate Japan for extorting money by threatening to publicly humiliate and expose corporate secrets at annual shareholders meetings.”

Such exploits furnished material for countless yakuza movies over the years, some of which implicitly celebrated the gangsters as upholders of traditional Japanese values of loyalty and sacrifice. Even today, the existence of yakuza groups isn’t technically illegal. They have offices as well as fan magazines dedicated to their underworld endeavors.

Top members of the Yamaguchi-gumi arrive in Kobe in 1988 for the funeral for their boss, Masahisa Takenaka, who was killed by a splinter group’s gunman. Photo: Associated Press

Top members of the Yamaguchi-gumi arrive in Kobe in 1988 for the funeral for their boss, Masahisa Takenaka, who was killed by a splinter group’s gunman. Photo: Associated Press

“We will undermine them by moving ahead with strategic and focused crackdowns on both their human resources and funding sources.”

— Ichiro Kume, police chief of the prefecture that includes Kobe

But public attitudes toward the yakuza hardened over the years. Racketeers known as sokaiya were especially feared by corporate Japan for extorting money by threatening to publicly humiliate and expose corporate secrets at annual shareholders meetings. In 1997, the former chairman of Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank (now part of Mizuho Financial Group) committed suicide after the bank was found to have lent tens of millions of dollars to a sokaiya leader.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

The government’s top spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, confirmed signs of recent disorder in the Yamaguchi-gumi and described them as an opportunity to weaken the groups. Read the rest of this entry »


WSJ Self-Censors Xi Jinping Faux Pas

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Read about it at Twitchy.com


[VIDEO] The Coming Robocalypse: Hitachi’s Robot May Replace Warehouse Workers

Jun Hongo reports: Robots are about to make significant progress toward replacing humans in the workplace, particularly in warehouses.

Hitachi Ltd. said Tuesday that it has developed a two-arm robot that can pick up items from shelves in less than half the time required Agence France-Presse/Getty Imagesby existing robots. The company said the new robots were developed to collect items in storage and should be commercially available in about five years.

Other robots have had similar structures, but Hitachi’s new machine is programmed so its parts can work in coordination. The camera on its arm can spot the requested item while the machine is still on the move, which enables it to work more quickly.

“Because of this coordination, it takes about three seconds for the arm to pick up an item once it is in front of a shelf,” compared with seven seconds existing robots need, a Hitachi spokeswoman said.

The robot can pick up a plastic bottle from inside a box using one arm, or carry a box of items using both arms, the company said. It can also use one arm to hold a box and the other to place or retrieve an item. Read the rest of this entry »


The Rise of Phone Reading

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It’s not the e-reader that will be driving future books sales, it’s the phone; How publishers are rethinking books for the small screen.

Jennifer Maloney writes: Last fall, Andrew Vestal found himself rocking his baby daughter, Ada, back to sleep every morning between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. Cradling Ada in the crook of his arm, he discovered he could read his dimly-lit phone with one hand. That’s how he read David Mitchell’s 624-page science-fiction saga “The Bone Clocks.”

“The future of digital reading is on the phone. It’s going to be on the phone and it’s going to be on paper.”

—  Judith Curr, publisher of the Simon & Schuster imprint Atria Books

Mr. Vestal’s iPhone has offered him a way to squeeze in time for reading that he otherwise might have given up. He reads on lunch breaks. He even reads between meetings as he walks across Microsoft’s Seattle campus, where he works as a program manager.

Before he tried it, he wondered whether reading in snippets might be dissatisfying. But to his surprise, he found he could quickly re-immerse himself in the book he was reading. “I want reading to be part of my life,” said Mr. Vestal, age 35. “If I waited for the kind of time I used to have—sitting down for five hours—I wouldn’t read at all.”

Ever since the first hand-held e-readers were introduced in the 1990s, the digital-reading revolution has turned the publishing world upside down. But contrary to early predictions, it’s not the e-reader that will be driving future book sales, but the phone.

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“How do I serve something up to somebody who perhaps wasn’t thinking about a book two minutes ago? The read-anywhere option is amazing. It’s an obligation for us as publishers to find those people.”

— Liz Perl, the chief marketing officer at Simon & Schuster

“The future of digital reading is on the phone,” said Judith Curr, publisher of the Simon & Schuster imprint Atria Books. “It’s going to be on the phone and it’s going to be on paper.”

For now, tablets like the iPad and Kindle Fire remain the most popular platform to read digital books. According to Nielsen, the percentage of people who read primarily on tablets was 41% in the first quarter of 2015, compared with 30% in 2012.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

But what has captured publishers’ attention is the increase in the number of people reading their phones. In a Nielsen survey of 2,000 people this past December, about 54% of e-book buyers said they used smartphones to read their books at least some of the time. That’s up from 24% in 2012, according to a separate study commissioned by Nielsen.bone-clock

The number of people who read primarily on phones has risen to 14% in the first quarter of 2015 from 9% in 2012.

[Order the book “The Bone Clocks: A Novel” from Amazon.com]

Meanwhile, those reading mainly on e-readers, such as Kindles and Nooks, dropped over the same period to 32% from 50%. Even tablet reading has declined recently to 41% in the first quarter this year from 44% in 2014.

The rise of phone reading is pushing publishers to rethink the way books are designed, marketed and sold with smaller screens in mind. It’s also prompting concern about whether deep, concentrated thinking is possible amid the ringing, buzzing and alerts that come with phones.

One reason people are reading on phones is convenience. If you’re standing in line at the deli, waiting at the DMV or riding home on the train, you may not have a print book or an e-reader or tablet. But chances are, you are carrying a illo-Kagan-McLeodsmartphone. Some 64% of American adults now own a smartphone, up from 35% in the spring of 2011, according to the Pew Research Center. Forrester Research, a research and advisory firm, projects that smartphone subscribers will number 80.8% of the U.S. population by 2019.

“The read-anywhere option is amazing. It’s an obligation for us as publishers to find those people.”

—Liz Perl, the chief marketing officer at Simon & Schuster

“The best device to read on is the one you have with you,” said Willem Van Lancker, co-founder and chief product officer of the subscription-book service Oyster. “It requires no planning. My bookshelf at home isn’t any good to me when I’m at the park.”

Another reason people are turning to phones is the size and clarity of new smartphone models, which make reading much easier. The average smartphone screen in 2014 was 5.1 inches—compared with a 3.9-inch average in 2011, according to eMarketer.

Since the release of the bigger, sharper iPhone 6 and 6 Plus last September, Apple has seen an increase in the number of people downloading books onto iPhones through its iBooks app. Some 45% of iBooks purchases are now downloaded onto iPhones, an Apple spokeswoman said. Before that, only 28% were downloaded onto phones, with most of the remainder downloaded onto iPads and a small percentage onto computers. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Grave Social Consequences’: CCTV Host Faces ‘Serious’ Punishment for Mao Joke

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Bi Fujian, a popular satirist and China Central Television host, came under fire in April when a video of him mocking the Communist Party leader during a private dinner was mysteriously leaked online.

Felicia SonmezFSinstagram_400x400 reports: A well-known Chinese TV personality who joked about revolutionary leader Mao Zedong behind closed doors will face “serious” punishment, according to state-run media, months after a video of the remarks went viral online.

Bi Fujian, a popular satirist and China Central Television host, came under fire in April when a video of him mocking the Communist Party leader during a private dinner was mysteriously leaked online. Mr. Bi swiftly apologized, but CCTV suspended him from his job and announced that it would be investigating the incident, which it said had “led to grave social consequences.”

“Before a word leaves your mouth, you are its master. Afterwards, it is your master. You can pull a nail out from a board, but it’s impossible to take a word back once it has been uttered.”

— Weibo user

Little has been heard about Mr. Bi’s case in the months since. But on Sunday, a newspaper affiliated with the Communist Party’s internal watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspectionsternly warned that authorities view the host’s quip as no laughing matter.

“…this is not just an ordinary disciplinary problem but rather a serious violation of political discipline.”

— China Discipline and Supervision Daily

“(Party authorities) believe that this is not just an ordinary disciplinary problem but rather a serious violation of political discipline,” the aptly-named China Discipline and Supervision Daily wrote, adding that Mr. Bi’s case would be “seriously dealt with.” It did not give further details.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

The episode comes as China’s top media regulator, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, is tightening control over the TV industry with a series of new regulations aimed at keeping presenters and content in line with “socialist core values.” Read the rest of this entry »


Apple’s Share of Smartphone Industry’s Profits Soars to 92%

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Apple’s share of profits is remarkable given that it sells fewer than 20% of smartphones

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“Roughly 1,000 companies make smartphones. Just one reaps nearly all the profits.”

Read more…

WSJ


Bret Stephens: When Reportage Is Propaganda

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Journalism from places like North Korea and Iran should be prefaced with a disclaimer: Big Brother Is Reading This, Too

Bret Stephens writes: The New York Times recently featured a photo and video essay by the celebrated photojournalist David Guttenfelder titled “Illuminating North Korea.” It’s a potent reminder that nothing is so blinding as the illusion of seeing.

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I don’t mean to disparage Mr. Guttenfelder’s photographic skills or his sincerity. But what are we to make of a photo essay heavy on pictures of modern-looking factories and well-fed children being fussed over in a physical rehabilitation center? Or—from his Instagram account (“Everyday DPRK”)—of theme-park water slides, Christian church interiors, well-stocked clothing stores and rollerblading Pyongyang teens—all suggesting an ordinariness to North Korean life that, as we know from so many sources, is a travesty of the terrifying truth?

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I’ve been thinking about Mr. Guttenfelder’s photos, and of the prominence the Times gave them, while considering the trade-offs between access and propaganda. In April 2003, Eason Jordan, then CNN’s news chief, wrote a revealing op-ed in the Times about his network’s coverage of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

“Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN’s Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders,” Mr. Jordan wrote. “Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard—awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff.”

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It was an appalling confession of a massive journalistic whitewash, all for the sake of scoring prime time with tyrants. But sometimes it takes a great fool to reveal an important truth. In this case, the truth that much of what passes for news reporting from closed societies is, if not worthless, compromised to the point that it should be prefaced with an editorial disclaimer: Big Brother Is Reading This, Too. Read the rest of this entry »


Dennis Hastert: THAT Explains It

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[WSJ]


From Texas to Los Angeles: A Closer Look at China’s List of Most-Wanted Fugitives

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Twitter – Read Time Cina – WSJ


[VIDEO] Mark Kelly: Thousands Gather for Anti-Islamization Rally in Dresden

Dutch politician Geert Wilders questions whether Islam is a religion of peace at a rally against the perceived “Islamization of the West” in Germany. Mark Kelly reports.


Obama’s Iran Policy Is Lost at Sea

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How can the U.S. hope to keep tabs on Tehran’s nuclear program when we can’t even track its oil tankers?

Ms. Rosett is journalist in residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and heads its Investigative Reporting Project.

Claudia Rosettclaudiarosett writes: American negotiators and their cohorts are trying to close a deal that would let Iran keep its nuclear program, subject to intricate conditions of monitoring and enforcement. Yet how is a deal like that supposed to be verified? The Obama administration can’t even keep up with the Iran-linked oil tankers on the U.S. blacklist.

Currently, there are at least 55 of these tankers the Treasury Department says are under U.S. sanctions. These are large ships, major links in the oil chain that sustains the Tehran regime, many of them calling at ports from Turkey to China. They are easier to spot and track than, say, smuggled nuclear parts (which, in a pinch, they could potentially squeeze on board).

“Typical of Iran’s shrouded tanker fleet is the blacklisted ship called the Sinopa, previously named the Superior and before that, the Daisy. Since early 2014, the Sinopa has visited India and China. It has also made multiple trips from Iran to Turkey, via the Suez Canal, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence shipping database, the main source of ship-tracking data for this article.” 

But Iran has engaged for years in what Treasury called “deceptive practices” to dodge sanctions. These include trying to mask the identities, and sometimes the smuggling activities, of its blacklisted ships by renaming them, reflagging them to other countries, veiling their ownership behind front companies, presenting false documents, and engaging in illicit ship-to-ship oil transfers.

“Judging by Treasury’s blacklist, the Sinopa—which Treasury still describes under her previous name of Superior—has done all of this under no identified flag. Why not—what is she hiding? The Treasury refuses to comment on specific cases.”

The result, according to information on Treasury’s publicly available blacklist, is that the U.S. government cannot establish under what flag at least 31 of these tankers are doing business. They can be identified by their unique seven-digit hull numbers, or IMO numbers, issued for the life of each ship. But a ship’s flag also is a vital identifier, one under which it signals its position, carries cargo and presents credentials to visit ports, buy insurance and pay fees. On Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals list, which helps ensure global compliance with U.S. sanctions, in the category of “flag” for these 31 tankers Treasury states: “none identified.”

Under terms of the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action that frames the Iran nuclear talks, the U.S. does grant temporary waivers for a handful of places to buy Iranian oil in limited quantities: Turkey, India, China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. This means that some activities of these tankers may be legitimate. Read the rest of this entry »


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