2020-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2020-02-24 18:18:28 UTC
2020-02-25 13:11:03 UTC
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The New York Times has an article about China's online censorship factories and how they operate. Censors are specially educated accurately in history and politics so that they have mastery over how to spot and eliminate references, even indirect ones, to forbidden topics. Potential employees for censorship factories have to cram for two weeks for a comprehensive exam which they must pass in order to begin work. This education is followed by ongoing training which includes regularly visiting and reviewing web sites normally blocked by the Great Firewall of China.
Li Chengzhi had a lot to learn when he first got a job as a professional censor.
Like many young people in China, the 24-year-old recent college graduate knew little about the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. He had never heard of China’s most famous dissident, Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who died in custody two years ago.
Now, after training, he knows what to look for — and what to block. He spends his hours scanning online content on behalf of Chinese media companies looking for anything that will provoke the government’s wrath. He knows how to spot code words that obliquely refer to Chinese leaders and scandals, or the memes that touch on subjects the Chinese government doesn’t want people to read about.
It's a geographic curiosity - a bit of US land at the top edge of Minnesota, disconnected from the rest of the state. The Northwest Angle is known to local residents, people who love to fish - the region is famous for its walleye - and geography buffs. It is accessible by land only through the Canadian province.
Now, someone has anonymously launched a petition urging the US to hand the land over to its northern neighbours. "Make America great by correcting this critical survey error," states the petition posted on 30 December on the White House "We the People" site, which allows citizens to petition Congress on issues that matter to them. The petition is titled "Give Canada back the Northwest Angle located in Manitoba".
The nub of Minnesota state is roughly 123 square miles (318 square km) and is farther north than any other part of the contiguous United States. Living above the 49th parallel, Angleites - as local residents are known - are the northernmost American citizens, barring Alaskans. It can be reached by driving through Canada or by boat across the Lake of the Woods.
Wired Magazine has an article that some might find interesting.
I was at what should have been a farmers’ market in Berkeley, California, last year when a throng of black-clad antifascists tried to scrap it out with far-right ralliers in the middle of a park named after Martin Luther King Jr. I watched scrawny college students get pummeled by hulking, be-swastika-ed ex-soldiers and ex-law enforcement officers in motorcycle gear. The antifascists’ one reprisal was setting off a homemade smoke bomb, which promptly blew back into their own faces, drawing raucous jeering from the white supremacists. It was as close to a war zone as I ever hope to be, and it was unequivocally a win for the racists.
It was easy to imagine the Bay Area becoming an extremist battleground—each weekend an opportunity for the next rally turned riot.
That vision has not come to pass. In the long arc of American racism, 2017 saw a sudden spike in visibility, but it was not the beginning of a new era in which people routinely walk the streets advertising their white supremacy. This year has brought the opposite trend: 2018 has been a year of pushing the alt-right and other white nationalist groups back underground, and punishing them for misdeeds committed during their brief moment in the sun. That’s a testament to the strength of the backlash against 2017’s naked racism, and evidence of how costly being openly racist has become—especially on the internet, where it has doomed entire social media platforms to obscurity. This must be counted as a good thing.
Goebbels said, allegedly, "Even if we lose we will win, because our enemies have adopted our methods." Looks like the alt-right is losing.
Regardless of what scaremonger reporters might espouse, the alt-right, as we have come to know it over the last two years, has failed—as extremism researchers always knew it would. But in its place has come something shadowier and far older: an underground white supremacist movement operating on society’s fringes, and a culture that disavows the racists while quietly mainstreaming their ideas.
So here's the point:
The issue, though, is that while there’s satisfaction and schadenfreude in watching these public flounderings, the alt-right doesn’t have to be visible to succeed. In fact, going underground is a return to the status quo for American white supremacy.
"Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ resignation, which shocked Washington’s national security establishment and rattled America’s allies, was sealed in a fateful 18-hour period that saw President Trump resolve to withdraw troops from Syria – alarming Pentagon officials who see America’s role in the region as crucial." foxnews.com/politics/behind-the-scenes-of-the-mattis-bombshell-more-resignations-expected-after-protest-exit
When President Trump started the new year by suspending billions of dollars of security aid to Pakistan, one theory was that it would scare the Pakistani military into cooperating better with its American allies.
The reality was that Pakistan already had a replacement sponsor lined up.
Just two weeks later, the Pakistani Air Force and Chinese officials were putting the final touches on a secret proposal to expand Pakistan's building of Chinese military jets, weaponry and other hardware. The confidential plan, reviewed by The New York Times, would also deepen the cooperation between China and Pakistan in space, a frontier the Pentagon recently said Beijing was trying to militarize after decades of playing catch-up.
All those military projects were designated as part of China's Belt and Road Initiative, a $1 trillion chain of infrastructure development programs stretching across some 70 countries, built and financed by Beijing.
Chinese officials have repeatedly said the Belt and Road is purely an economic project with peaceful intent. But with its plan for Pakistan, China is for the first time explicitly tying a Belt and Road proposal to its military ambitions — and confirming the concerns of a host of nations who suspect the infrastructure initiative is really about helping China project armed might.
Related: China's Xi Jinping Negotiates $46bn Superhighway to Pakistan
China Plans $503 Billion Investment in High-Speed Rail by 2020
Chinese President Xi Jinping Pledges $124 Billion for One Belt, One Road Initiative
Gunmen Attack Chinese Consulate in Pakistan
Emergency no-deal Brexit contingency plans must now be implemented across government, cabinet ministers have agreed, including reserving ferry space for supplies and putting 3,500 armed forces personnel on standby to deal with any disruption.
[...] Downing Street suggested preparations could include reserving space on ferries in order to ensure a supply of food and medicines. Speaking later in the Commons, the defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, said his department "will have 3,500 service personnel held at readiness, including regulars and reserves, in order to support any government department on any contingencies they may need".
Citizens will be informed how to prepare through a "range of channels" that could include TV adverts and social media. Ministers agreed to allocate money from a £2bn contingency fund to departments such as the Home Office and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. HMRC[*] will prepare a 100-page pack for all UK businesses on preparing for no-deal, and will send out about 80,000 emails to businesses.
[*] HMRC = Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs is a non-ministerial department of the UK Government ... HMRC was formed by the merger of the Inland Revenue and Her Majesty's Customs and Excise, which took effect on 18 April 2005.
The service personnel may be called upon to assist in law enforcement, so factor that in to any riot plans you may have.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that he would push to legalize recreational marijuana next year, a move that could generate more than $1.7 billion in sales annually and put New York in line with several neighboring states. The highly anticipated proposal came in a speech in Manhattan on Monday, in which the governor outlined his agenda for the first 100 days of his third term. Mr. Cuomo framed the speech as a reflection on what Franklin Delano Roosevelt — the former president who was once a New York governor himself — would do today, mixing sweeping rhetoric about American ideals with grim warnings about the Trump administration.
The speech, which seemed delivered with a national audience in mind, could prolong slow-burning speculation about Mr. Cuomo's presidential ambitions. It also showed, in striking detail, the governor's leftward evolution in his eight years in office, from a business-friendly centrist who considered marijuana a "gateway drug," to a self-described progressive championing recreational marijuana, taxes on the rich and a ban on corporate political donations.
"The fact is we have had two criminal justice systems: one for the wealthy and the well off, and one for everyone else," Mr. Cuomo said before introducing the cannabis proposal, describing the injustice that had "for too long targeted the African-American and minority communities. "Let's legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all," he added.
Ten other states and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational marijuana, spending the new tax revenue on a range of initiatives, including schools and transportation.
Cuomo's Monday message was his strongest public endorsement of recreational marijuana to date. It marks a substantial shift from his prior opposition, as recently as last year when he called it a "gateway drug." The change in policy stance also follows a bitter battle for the Democratic gubernatorial primary against Cynthia Nixon, who supported legalization.
In 2018, Vermont became the first (and so far, only) U.S. state to legalize recreational use of cannabis by an act of the legislature, following a vetoed attempt in 2017. Lawmakers in New Jersey and Illinois may follow suit, although opposition remains.
Also at CBS.
A second Canadian has been detained in China on accusations of harming national security, as tension continues between the two countries. It was confirmed on Thursday that Michael Spavor, a businessman, had been detained in addition to former diplomat Michael Kovrig.
Canada drew Chinese protests after it arrested an executive at telecoms giant Huawei at the request of the US. Meng Wanzhou has been bailed but may face extradition for fraud.
[...] Michael Spavor is a businessman based in Dandong, near the Chinese border with North Korea. He has ties to the North Korean government and has met its leader Kim Jong-un many times.
Ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig currently works for a think tank, the International Crisis Group (ICG), which has said it is concerned for his health and safety. He is being held officially "on suspicion of engaging in activities that harm China's state security".
However, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Lu Kang, suggested another reason, saying the ICG had not been registered as a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in China and therefore it was unlawful for its staff to work there. Checks by Reuters news agency did not turn up a registration for ICG on government databases for NGOs or social enterprises.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has said Mr Kovrig's case was raised directly with Chinese officials.
The article has a photo of Spavor standing with Dennis Rodman.
Previously: Canada Arrests Huawei's Global Chief Financial Officer in Vancouver
Arrest of Huawei Executive Causing Discontent Among Chinese Elites
China Arrests Former Canadian Diplomat; Chinese Companies Ban iPhones, Require Huawei Phones
Chinese cyber espionage and theft of intellectual property from U.S. companies is increasing and poses a dire threat to the country's security and economic competitiveness, Trump administration officials told senators on Wednesday.
"What hangs in the balance is not just the future of the United States, but the future of the world," Bill Priestap, assistant director of the FBI's counterintelligence division, told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
[...] John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, said Chinese espionage against U.S. targets has steadily increased and China has stolen technology ranging from autonomous drones to chemical compounds. "We cannot tolerate a nation that steals the fruits of our brain power," Demers said, "and that is just what China is doing."
The Chinese espionage campaign extends beond[sic] government agents to encompass tourists, technology workers, students and academic researchers, they said. For example, the Chinese government's payment of students' tuition provides leverage to pressure them to bring home intellectual property, Priestap said.
Also at The Hill.
Google's CEO testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday where lawmakers grilled him on a wide range of issues, including potential political bias on its platforms, its plans for a censored search app in China and its privacy practices.
This is the first time Pichai has appeared before Congress since Google declined to send him or Alphabet CEO Larry Page to a hearing on foreign election meddling earlier this year. That slight sparked anger among senators who portrayed Google as trying to skirt scrutiny.
[...] Tuesday's hearing was titled "Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use, and Filtering Practices" and many representatives posed questions on whether or not Google's search results were biased against conservative points of view.
[...] Another topic that came up multiple times was Google's plan to launch a censored search engine in China. The Intercept first reported details of the project over the summer, which would block search results for queries that the Chinese government deemed sensitive, like "human rights" and "student protest" and link users' searches to their personal phone numbers. [...] "Right now, we have no plans to launch search in China," Pichai answered, adding that access to information is "an important human right."
See also: Sundar Pichai had to explain to Congress why Googling 'idiot' turns up pictures of Trump
Google CEO admits company must better address the spread of conspiracy theories on YouTube
Alex Jones, Roger Stone crash Google CEO hearing
Monopoly man watches disapprovingly as Congress yells at Google's CEO
Previously: Google Plans to Launch Censored Search Engine in China, Leaked Documents Reveal
Uproar at Google after News of Censored China Search App Breaks
"Senior Google Scientist" Resigns over Chinese Search Engine Censorship Project
Google Suppresses Internal Memo About China Censorship; Eric Schmidt Predicts Internet Split
Leaked Transcript Contradicts Google's Denials About Censored Chinese Search Engine
Senators Demand Answers About Google+ Breach; Project Dragonfly Undermines Google's Neutrality