Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Boston Washington New York Times Post Sunday Globe

"After North Korea test, South Korea pushes to build up its own missiles" by Choe Sang-hun New York Times   July 29, 2017

SEOUL — President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, long considered a dovish leader, called for arms buildup talks with Washington hours after the North launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, that experts said had a long enough range to reach the West Coast of the United States and potentially Chicago and New York. The White House quickly accepted the proposal, Moon’s office said.

Moon’s top national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, called his White House counterpart, Gen. H.R. McMaster, early Saturday to propose that the allies immediately start negotiations to allow South Korea to increase its missile capabilities. McMaster agreed to the proposal, which would likely involve increasing the payload on South Korea’s ballistic missiles, officials said.

Under the terms of a bilateral treaty, South Korea needs approval from the United States to build such stronger missiles.

Earlier on Saturday, Moon ordered his government to cooperate with the United States to install an advanced US missile defense battery known as THAAD, whose deployment in South Korea had been suspended since he took office in May.

Moon’s actions signaled that the growing missile threat from North Korea was spurring an arms buildup in Northeast Asia. Japan earlier said that it was considering buying ballistic missile defense systems from the United States.

They are not ready for a sneak attack.

But China has adamantly opposed installing THAAD in South Korea, arguing that doing so would only heighten tensions with North Korea and could undermine China’s own nuclear deterrent by giving the United States another means to monitor its missiles.

On Saturday, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the resumed deployment of THAAD, issuing a statement that was more strongly worded than its statement earlier in the day criticizing North Korea’s missile test.

China is gravely concerned with the course of action taken by South Korea,” a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Geng Shuang, said in the statement. “Deploying THAAD won’t solve South Korea’s security concerns, won’t solve the related issues on the Korean Peninsula, and will only further complicate issues.”

Missile analysts remain uncertain and even doubtful that North Korea has cleared all the technical hurdles to building a reliable nuclear-tipped ICBM. But the test on Friday left little doubt that the country, although cut off from most of the global economy and hit with several rounds of United Nations sanctions, was getting closer to its goal of arming itself with long-range missiles that can deliver nuclear warheads to the United States.

South Korea fears that by building nuclear missiles able to reach major US cities, North Korea is trying to weaken the United States’ resolve to intervene on the South’s behalf should war break out on the Korean Peninsula.

On Saturday, Moon called for strengthening South Korea’s deterrence capabilities, while emphasizing the importance of the military alliance with the United States.

The South Korean demands reflected growing regional anxiety over how the North’s growing missile capabilities might affect Washington’s defense commitment to its allies in the region. On Saturday, Moon warned that the latest North Korean test could lead to “a fundamental change in the security structure in Northeast Asia.”

That's a fancy way of saying regime change, isn't it?

Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, said, “US policy for 21 years has been to prevent this day from coming, and now it has,” referring to the North’s ICBM test on Friday. 

Meaning U.S. policy failed, 'eh?

“North Korea didn’t test an ICBM to launch a bolt from the blue against Washington,” he said. “They’re hoping to split the United States from its allies.”

No, they just want to be left alone.

Barry Pavel, director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, said North Korea could use a nuclear-tipped ICBM capability to “target the United States and deter US security cooperation with its close Asian allies.”

“Once it is assured that it has a ‘nuclear shield,’ North Korea is likely to act much more aggressively in every other area of its foreign and military policies,” said Pavel.....


"Apple removes apps from China store that help Internet users evade censorship" by Paul Mozur New York Times  July 29, 2017

HONG KONG — China appears to have received help Saturday from an unlikely source in its fight against tools that help users evade its Great Firewall of Internet censorship: Apple.

Software made by foreign companies to help users skirt the country’s system of Internet filters has vanished from Apple’s app store on the mainland.

One company, ExpressVPN, posted a letter it had received from Apple saying that its app had been taken down “because it includes content that is illegal in China.”

Another tweeted from its official account that its app had been removed.

A search Saturday showed that a number of the most popular foreign virtual-private networks, also known as VPNs, which give users access to the unfiltered internet in China, were no longer accessible on the company’s app store there.

ExpressVPN wrote in its blog that the removal was “surprising and unfortunate.”

It added, “We’re disappointed in this development, as it represents the most drastic measure the Chinese government has taken to block the use of VPNs to date, and we are troubled to see Apple aiding China’s censorship efforts.”

Sunday Yokubaitis, president of Golden Frog, a company that makes privacy and security software including VyperVpn, said its software, too, had been taken down from the app store.

“We gladly filed an amicus brief in support of Apple in their backdoor encryption battle with the FBI,” he said, “so we are extremely disappointed that Apple has bowed to pressure from China to remove VPN apps without citing any Chinese law or regulation that makes VPN illegal.”

He added, “We view access to Internet in China as a human rights issue, and I would expect Apple to value human rights over profits.”

Your expectations are too high.

This is not the first time that Apple has removed apps at the request of the Chinese government, but it is a new reminder of how deeply beholden the tech giant has become to Beijing at a moment when the leadership has been pushing to tighten its control over the Internet.

The removals signal a new push by China to control the Internet, but they also mark the first time China has successfully used its influence with a major foreign tech platform, like Apple, to push back against the software makers.

While internet crackdowns often peak every five years, before a key Chinese Communist Party congress, this year’s efforts cover fresh ground, a likely indication that stricter controls of things like VPNs will persist after the congress this autumn. Earlier this month, China also began a partial block of the Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp.....


"Users in China report WhatsApp disruption amid censorship fears" by Gerry Shih Associated Press  July 18, 2017

BEIJING — Users of WhatsApp in China and security researchers have reported widespread service disruptions amid fears that the popular messaging service may be at least partially blocked by authorities in the world’s most populous country.

WhatsApp users in China reported Tuesday on other social media platforms that the app was partly inaccessible unless virtual private network software was used to circumvent China’s censorship apparatus, known colloquially as The Great Firewall.

WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook and offers end-to-end encryption, has a relatively small but loyal following among users seeking a greater degree of privacy from government snooping than afforded by popular domestic app WeChat, which is ubiquitous but closely monitored and filtered.

Questions over the status of WhatsApp come at a politically fraught time in China. The government is in the midst of preparing for a sensitive party congress while Chinese censors this week revved up a sprawling effort to scrub all mention of Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who died Thursday in government custody.

A report this week by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab detailed how Chinese censors were able to intercept, in real time, images commemorating Liu in private one-on-one chats on WeChat, a feat that hinted at the government’s image recognition capabilities.

It appeared that pictures were also the focus of the move to censor WhatsApp.

Nadim Kobeissi, a cryptography researcher based in Paris who has been investigating the WhatsApp disruption, said he believed The Great Firewall was only blocking access to WhatsApp servers that route media between users, while leaving servers that handle text messages untouched. He said voice messages also appeared to be blocked.

But there was no evidence to suggest that Chinese authorities were decrypting WhatsApp messages, Kobeissi added.


I've got my own problems with my own pos media and its filtering censorship.

"Arson suspected in fire in China that killed at least 22" New York Times  July 16, 2017

BEIJING — At least 22 people died in a blaze that gutted a two-story workers dormitory in eastern China on Sunday, and investigators suspect the fire was the work of an arsonist who used gasoline, according to local news reports.

Police officers arrested a suspect in Yushan Town, Jiangsu province, Chinese Central Television news reported. But the report gave no motive for the fire, which broke out about 4:30 a.m. in a house serving as a dormitory for 29 or so restaurant workers.

Videos shared on news websites showed residents yelling in panic while firefighters stood outside the building in Jiangsu, and a dense ribbon of smoke rose into the sky.

The pictures indicated that the windows were blocked with anti-theft grates, which might have stymied people from jumping to safety. Safety investigators discovered “traces of burned gasoline at the scene, and the doors had all been locked from the outside,” the State Administration of Work Safety wrote online.

The police used surveillance video to identify and arrest a suspect, identified by only one name, Jiang, said the reports, which gave no other details.

The town government said the suspect had been caught in the afternoon near the site of the fire, hiding inside a water tank on top of a building, the China News Service reported.

The site of the fire raised the possibility that it might have started from a business or work dispute that turned into a deadly attack, like other fires and bombings that have struck small towns and cities in China.....

Over here they just go up because they are built of wood.


Fire going out:

"In China, despair for cause of democracy after Nobel laureate’s death" by Javier C. Hernández New York Times   July 20, 2017

BEIJING —Liu’s death last week of liver cancer, after a final, futile attempt by friends to bring about his release, has dealt a withering blow to the prodemocracy movement. Some say it is now at its weakest point since the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.

“It’s a turning point,” said Yan Wenxin, a human rights lawyer in Beijing. “The feeling of powerlessness among activists has peaked.”

Under President Xi Jinping, the government has imprisoned dozens of lawyers, journalists, and advocates and tightened controls over the Internet. Now, the ruling Communist Party’s feverish attempts to erase Liu’s legacy have raised fears that Xi will intensify his campaign against activists pushing for ideas like freedom of speech and religion.

It's just like Trump and Obama, right?

The authorities, wary of turning Liu into a martyr, have in recent days censored online tributes and arrested activists who have sought to publicly remember him.

The dearth of foreign leaders willing to publicly criticize Xi has added to a sense of despair and isolation among activists. Many say they feel abandoned by the United States in particular, and they worry that President Trump will prioritize trade with China at the expense of human rights.

Welcome to the club.

“People are full of sorrow, anger, and desperation,” said Zhao Hui, 48, a dissident writer who goes by the pen name Mo Zhixu.

The passing of Liu, who preached peace and patience, has provoked debate about the best path toward democracy. Many activists argue that more forceful tactics are necessary to counter what they see as unrelenting government hostility. Some have pushed for mass protests, while a small number believe that violence is the only option, even if they do not endorse it outright.

What good does that do? 

Maybe it means something over there; over here it is all controlled opposition, which is what it is over there, too!

“Some have turned to believe in violent revolution,” said Hu Jia, a prominent dissident who served more than three years in prison for his activism and still faces routine surveillance. “It makes people feel the door to a peaceful transition has closed.”

Wouldn't be the first time that has happened in China, and didn't Confucius say those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable?

Liu’s allies remain incensed by the Chinese government’s handling of his case.

The Communist Party will hold a leadership reshuffle this fall, at which Xi is expected to win another five-year term and appoint allies to key positions. In the run-up to the meeting, the party is tightening its grip on online communications and escalating pressure on critics.

Human rights advocates say that the party appears increasingly hostile toward dissent and intent on quashing even small-scale movements. Over the past two years, dozens of human rights lawyers have been jailed and accused of conspiring with foreign forces to carry out subversive plots. Xi’s government, wary of grass-roots activism, has also increased oversight of domestic and foreign nonprofit organizations.

Despite the government’s efforts to limit dissent, some of Liu’s supporters say they have emerged more energized in the days since his death. They see hope in a middle class that is increasingly outspoken, and a generation of young advocates who have taken on causes like feminism and rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender citizens....

Well, you can see the forces behind the destabilization attempt in ChInA and who is using them for cover.


"Trump urged by CEO to nationalize the only US rare-earths mine" by Sally Bakewell Bloomberg News  July 18, 2017

NEW YORK — The head of an advanced-materials manufacturer said he met with President Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, on Monday to persuade him that the United States should nationalize the country’s only mine of rare earth minerals, which are used in military applications.

“The staff understood the urgency of the matter,” Michael Silver, chief executive officer of closely held American Elements Corp., said in a phone interview after his White House meeting, which he said was also attended by presidential deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

Reince, we hardly knew ye'!

The rare-earth mining operations in Mountain Pass, Calif., the last remaining assets of bankrupt Molycorp Inc., were bought in June by a group that drew objections from rival bidders, who said the winner has ties to the Chinese government.

The Russian uranium deal didn't raise such a ruckus.

The mine should be converted to a national laboratory “dedicated to rebuilding America’s rare-earth mining industry so the world knows it is safe to build high-tech manufacturing plants in the US,” Silver said.

The production of rare-earth minerals — used in applications from hybrid electric cars to iPhones and military hardware such as night-vision goggles and guided weapons — is dominated by low-cost Chinese companies. Molycorp Minerals and its parent, Molycorp Inc., filed for bankruptcy in 2015 after prices for the minerals fell below the mine’s costs to produce them. 

That's odd, but the move to nationalize would no doubt be seen as an act of war, no?

In light of the Korean situation, this control of production means the Chinese kind of have us by the balls in North Asia, no?

Silver said he was invited to brief the president on the issue on Tuesday. The White House didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Silver said he’s proposing the US government apply the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment and acquire Mountain Pass by eminent domain.

Any attempt to make the mine commercially viable would fail because no one can compete with China, which accounts for almost all the world’s rare-earth production, Silver said.

“The perception is the only place in the world you can go for reasonably priced rare earth materials for your product is in China,” he said. “You have to change that perception.”

Yes, as long as you change the imagery and the illusion everything is fine.



China is eating Trump’s lunch

They are feeling even better since he is picking up the tab.

"Ms. Yang was aided at times by the CIA, [which was] ‘‘instrumental’’ in establishing the Golden Triangle drug trade....."

Now the CIA is instrumental in continuing it, and that's the Washington Post burying the story with her, although it does shed light on the treatment the man in the Philippines is getting:

"New kidnappings, jailbreak hit restive Philippine island" Associated Press  July 16, 2017

JOLO, Philippines — Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen abducted four workers in a school in a southern Philippine province where President Rodrigo Duterte visited troops waging an offensive against the militants, officials said Sunday.

About 20 militants barged into a grade school compound in Sulu province’s Patikul town shortly after midnight Saturday and seized six painters and carpenters, one of whom managed to escape and alerted the police. Army troops later rescued another worker.

Duterte pinned medals on wounded troops during a brief visit late Saturday to Sulu, a predominantly Muslim province about 590 miles south of Manila. The tough-talking president has ordered government forces to destroy the ransom-seeking militants, who still hold about 25 foreign and Filipino hostages in Sulu’s jungles.

Meanwhile, 14 inmates, including suspected Abu Sayyaf fighters and drug dealers, escaped early Sunday from a jail in a new building that also houses the police headquarters in a government compound in Sulu’s main town of Jolo, police said.

That means someone let them out. I wonder how much they were paid.


"Philippines president wants to extend martial law as unrest continues" by Felipe Villamor New York Times   July 18, 2017

MANILA — With Islamic militants holding a stubborn grip on the southern Philippine city of Marawi, President Rodrigo Duterte has asked Congress to extend martial law on the island of Mindanao through the end of the year to quell the rebellion, his government said Tuesday.

Duterte acknowledged in his letter to the leaders of Congress that the rebellion in Marawi “will not be quelled completely by 22nd July 2017,” when martial law is slated to end.

Duterte’s request is essentially an admission that the fighting to dislodge the Islamic State group-linked fighters from Marawi would not end in a matter of days, despite his vow last week saying that it would.

Ernesto Abella, the president’s spokesman, said that Duterte had asked Congress, which is dominated by his allies, to “deliberate and consider the possible extension” of the decree authorizing martial law. In a letter to leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives, Duterte said he had the backing of his defense secretary and martial law administrator, Delfin Lorenzana, along with the heads of the armed forces and the national police, saying “public safety requires it.”

Marawi was taken over May 23 by insurgents from the Abu Sayyaf and Maute militant groups who were backed by foreign fighters. The seizure, which took place while Duterte and his top security officials were visiting Russia, prompted the president to cut short the trip and place the island of Mindanao — the second largest in the Philippines — under military rule.

I think he got the message.

He ordered Philippine troops and the air force to Marawi to try to dislodge the militants. The battle forced an estimated 200,000 residents to flee Marawi, the only predominantly Muslim city in the Philippines, a mostly Roman Catholic country.

Military officers leading the assault on the ground have said that the militants were entrenched in central Marawi, where they are believed to be holding out with enough firepower to withstand the military’s air bombardments and its ground assaults. The insurgents are also believed to be holding dozens of civilians captive, including a Catholic priest who had appealed to the government to stop its air assaults.

The military said Monday that 56 days of fighting had killed at least 97 government troops and 45 civilians. At least 405 extremists had also died, including several foreign fighters, the government said, leaving behind about 60 rebels.

Isnilon Hapilon, the head of Abu Sayyaf and the acknowledged leader of the Islamic State in the Philippines, is believed to be in Marawi leading his men in the fighting, backed by a contingent from the Maute group along with allied foreign fighters.

Senator Antonio Trillanes, a Duterte critic, said the move to extend martial law was “totally not justified.”

He said the call to extend martial law showed Duterte’s “authoritarian tendencies.”

What is he supposed to do? His country is being destabilized in a regime change attempt.



Philippines extends martial law in besieged region

Duterte vows to continue drug war Thousands of protesters marched outside Congress, which mirror the diverse burdens of his presidency.

That's the rub and why he is disliked. Drugs mean money, lots and lots of money, and people who try to cut off or expose that pipeline get hurt (Gary Webb comes to mind).

The third side of the triangle?

"Thailand convicts scores in deadly human-trafficking case" by Ryn Jirenuwat and Russell Goldman New York Times   July 19, 2017

BANGKOK — A court in Thailand on Wednesday convicted scores of defendants accused of organizing a human-trafficking ring that enslaved hundreds of people, dozens of whom were found buried in a mass grave near a secret jungle camp in which they had been imprisoned, tortured, and held for ransom.

The 102 defendants, including a general, police officers, and smugglers from Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Thailand, were arrested in 2015 after 36 bodies were found in graves near the border with Malaysia. The discovery led to efforts to dismantle a multimillion-dollar smuggling enterprise, and the traffickers soon abandoned their human chattel in jungle camps or in crowded vessels adrift in the Andaman Sea.

Investigators said the victims were from Bangladesh or Myanmar — many of them Rohingya, a persecuted Muslim minority — and had paid smugglers to help them find work in Thailand. Instead, they became slaves in Thailand’s lucrative fishing fleet, authorities said.

Judges at the Criminal Court in Bangkok held a lengthy session Wednesday to announce the verdicts, and many relatives of the defendants were crying as the verdicts were read. The judges quoted the testimony of witnesses who had described harrowing journeys.

Victims said they had been smuggled from Bangladesh and Myanmar in cramped boats with little food and water. In Thailand, they were packed into trucks and marched to camps high in the forested mountains of Songkla province. There, they were imprisoned and made to call their families and beg for ransoms of around $3,000. Some said they had been raped.

When discovering the jungle camp in 2015, police described finding bamboo cages, watchtowers, and a “torture room.”

Under pressure from the United States and Europe to crack down on human trafficking, the junta that came to power in a coup in 2014 made a display of prosecuting members of the ring, including a high-ranking officer in the Thai Army, Lieutenant General Manas Kongpan. Kongpan was convicted of trafficking and of committing an organized transnational crime.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Beyond the disgusting and outrageous treatment of other human beings, we get coded propaganda regarding Thailand's government. It's obvious to me they have hooked the star on China; otherwise, the pre$$ wouldn't be calling them a junta making a public relations display. They don't call the government in Kiev a junta, even though it most certainly is.

That doesn't excuse the massive sex tourism industry in Thailand, bit nor is it a focus of much more than a one-day wonder in my pre$$.

The chief of the junta, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, said the military should not be blamed for one officer’s actions. “There are many people in this human-trafficking network,” he said. “Don’t group all soldiers in the country as one.” 

AmeriKan commanders argue the same in torture cases.

Witnesses, prosecutors, and investigators were hounded throughout the trial. In 2015, the police officer who had first overseen the investigation and who had issued more than 150 warrants fled to Australia after numerous threats to his life.

In all, 103 people pleaded not guilty to charges that included human trafficking. One defendant died in custody. The court said it found some defendants not guilty because of “unclear or insufficient evidence.”

“This may be the end of an important and unprecedented trial, but it’s . . . not ‘case closed’ for survivors of human trafficking here,” Amy Smith, head of Fortify Rights, a rights watchdog, said.

Actually, it is the end.


You know who else once had a junta?

"Vietnamese activist sentenced to 9 years in prison" AP  July 25, 2017

HANOI — A Vietnamese court on Tuesday sentenced an activist to nine years in prison on charges of producing videos that defamed the country’s leadership, in the latest crackdown on dissent.

Tran Thi Nga was convicted of spreading propaganda against the state in the one-day trial at the People’s Court in Ha Nam province in northern Vietnam, her lawyer said.

Nga, 40, campaigned against environmental pollution, police brutality, and illegal land confiscation, and called for a tougher stance toward China’s assertive territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Nga maintained her innocence during the trial, saying she did not oppose anyone, but was only against corruption and injustice, her lawyer said.

The lawyer said there was no proof that 13 videos used against Nga in the trial — 11 taken from the Internet and two allegedly found on her computer — were hers.



Speaking of regime change operations:

"Venezuela crisis enters new phase with Sunday vote" by Michael Weissenstein Associated Press  July 29, 2017

CARACAS — Despite four months of deadly protests and the threat of US sanctions, Venezuela on Saturday found itself 24 hours away from a consolidation of government power that appeared certain to drag the OPEC nation deeper into a crisis that has entire neighborhoods battling police and paramilitaries while the poor root for scraps in piles of trash. 

Nice to finally see the pre$$ take up the cause of the poor.

In the opposition strongholds of relatively wealthy eastern Caracas, skinny teenagers manned barricades of tree branches, garbage, and barbed wire torn from nearby buildings. Clashes with police began late Friday afternoon and lasted into the night. The months of violence have left at least 113 dead and nearly 2,000 wounded.

The rest of the capital was calm. Across the city, residents said they wanted President Nicolas Maduro out of power but didn’t want to risk their lives or livelihoods taking on his socialist government and its backers.

‘‘I have a young daughter, I can’t risk anything happening to me,’’ said Maria Llanes, a 55-year-old flower-store worker who lives in a south Caracas neighborhood dominated by armed pro-government motorcycle gangs. ‘‘What do I do, protest in this neighborhood, so that they kill me? This area’s run by a mafia loyal to the money the government pays them.’’

In the opposition's case, it's U.S. government money via the CIA.

Maduro called for a massive turnout Sunday for a vote to elect members of an assembly tasked with rewriting the 18-year-old constitution created under President Hugo Chavez. The opposition is boycotting because, it says, the vote called by Maduro was structured to ensure that his ruling socialist party dominates.

The opposition says the government is so afraid of low turnout that it’s threatening to fire state workers who don’t vote, and take away social benefits like subsidized food from recipients who stay away from the polls. By Wednesday, the resulting National Constituent Assembly will become one of the most powerful organs in the country, able to root out the last vestiges of democratic checks and balances in favor of what many fear will be a single-party authoritarian system.

After a while you tire of the coded crap propaganda, and that's no defense of socialists or socialism. It's just a recognition of the axe-grinding, propaganda quality that passes for pre$$ up here. 

I guess you will be freezing this winter, seeing as it is a mild July around here. Leaves are already changing color, no kidding.

First Lady Cilia Flores, a candidate for the assembly, said it would create a commission to ensure those responsible for the political upheaval ‘‘pay and learn their lesson.’’ Diosdado Cabello, first vice president of Venezuela’s socialist party, says the assembly will strip legislators in the opposition-controlled National Assembly of their immunity from prosecution. He said the office of Venezuela’s chief prosecutor, who recently became one of Maduro’s most outspoken critics, would be ‘‘turned upside down.’’

‘‘On July 30, the constitutional assembly will happen,’’ Maduro said Friday at a subsidized housing ceremony. ‘‘I've been loyal to Chavez’s legacy. Now it’s your turn.’’

We have a guy up here who demands loyalty, and he means it.

Washington has imposed successive rounds of sanctions on members of Maduro’s administration and Vice President Mike Pence on Friday promised ‘‘strong and swift economic actions’’ after Sunday’s vote. He didn’t say whether the United States would sanction Venezuelan oil imports, a measure with the potential to undermine Maduro but cause an even deeper humanitarian crisis here.

And how do sanctions help that?

Opinion polls show that more than 70 percent of the country is opposed to Sunday’s vote. But as many as half of all Venezuelans support neither the government nor the opposition — a phenomenon evident in the glum paralysis that has gripped much of the country as protesters and police wage nightly battles. While Venezuelans bitterly complain about shortages of food and medicine, few still respond to opposition calls for protests, a far cry from early demonstrations that saw hundreds of thousands pouring into the streets.

And this blog.

The opposition has organized a series of work stoppages and a July 16 protest vote it says drew more than 7.5 million symbolic votes against the constitutional assembly. It called late Friday for massive marches on the day of the assembly vote.

In the eastern neighborhood of Bello Monte, the site of fierce battles with police in recent days, a 54-year-old shop owner named Ricardo , who declined to provide his last name for fear of government retaliation, said he felt the Sunday vote meant the last chance for political resolution of Venezuela’s problems was gone, ushering in an even more violent phase.

‘‘Negotiations have come to an end,’’ he said. ‘‘The fight will continue and all of a sudden it could be a lot tougher.’’



"She is under no illusion that the crisis is over, or that the governing party won’t just find another way to do what it wants. If the protests resume, she will be there again, she said....." 

It's a New York Times pos, and it is not in regard to the health care bill

TV reporter filming in Polish forest attacked by loggers

Nobody likes the pre$$ anymore, and the Poles are acting like a bunch of Germans and Turks.


Pakistan's new man:

"Ousted Pakistan Premier passes power to brother" by Mehreen Zahra-Malik New York Times  July 29, 2017

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Though he is seen as popular, Shehbaz Sharif has also been dogged by accusations of police brutality under his watch as Punjab’s chief minister. And he has been criticized for doing too little to curb extremist sectarian groups in the province.

There are long-term questions about his health, as well. Over the years, Sharif has undergone multiple treatments for cancer, including of the spinal cord. But advisers say his medical challenges have driven his recent campaign of social development.

Over the next 45 days, another PML figure — the current petroleum minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi — will take over as interim prime minister. Shehbaz Sharif must step down as chief minister and win election to his brother’s seat in the National Assembly in a spot election, expected in the coming weeks, before taking over as prime minister.

That initial victory is nearly assured, given the party’s firm grasp on Punjab politics. But in the coming year, the Sharifs’ rivals, and in particular the former cricket star and political opposition leader Imran Khan, will seek to shake the PML’s dominance in Punjab.

Because of that, some see Shehbaz Sharif’s ascent to the prime minister post as being a bit of a gamble. At a time when Punjab politics will be the focus of fierce contest before the 2018 national elections, taking the province’s political kingpin out of the day-to-day management of the campaign and public affairs there is not an automatic choice.

“Shehbaz Sharif has a proven record of carrying out mega-development projects in Punjab and delivering what the common man wants. Then why would you want to remove him from there?” said Nusrat Javed, a journalist and longtime observer of Punjab politics.

In the glare of the coming national political race, Shehbaz Sharif will also face scrutiny of his business dealings — often wrapped up with his brother’s — and about accusations of security abuses during his three terms as Punjab chief minister.....

Looks to me like he has the qualifications for political office.


They have any sisters?

"2 arrested in UK after girl reports being raped twice in one night" New York Times   July 29, 2017

NEW YORK — Two men were arrested after a 14-year-old girl was raped in two separate attacks in one night near a railway in Birmingham, England, the British Transport Police said Saturday.

The two men, one 35 and the other 27, neither of whom were identified, were arrested after the police released closed-circuit images of two suspects wanted in an attack on the girl near the city’s Witton train station Tuesday night. The men are both from Birmingham, police said.

The girl told police that she had walked to the train station with a friend, and that two men approached them on the platform. One man led her away to a secluded area of the station, she said, and raped her.


She made her way to the street after the attack and sought help, getting into a vehicle around 2 a.m. Once inside the vehicle, she was raped a second time by another man, police said. She escaped from that vehicle and flagged down the driver of another car, who helped her, police said.

The victim described the man who attacked her in the first vehicle as having “large biceps,” the transport police said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear whether the two suspects had been charged Saturday. 

I hate to be skeptical, but this report doesn't make sense.

Detective Chief Inspector Tony Fitzpatrick said in the statement that there had been significant developments in the case after police released the footage from surveillance monitors.

He had previously told the news media that specialist officers were supporting the victim after a “horrifying ordeal.”

Birmingham, about 128 miles northwest of London, is often called England’s second city and has a population of more than 1 million residents.


Watch, the rapists will be Pakistani migrants

Isn't Pakistan right next door to Iran?

"Iran says US Navy fired warning shots near its vessels" by Nasser Karimi Associated Press  July 29, 2017

TEHRAN —The US Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet said the incident happened while one of its helicopters was on a routine patrol in international airspace. 

First time I've seen Bahrain mentioned in a while.

The aircraft saw several Guard vessels approaching American ships ‘‘at a high rate of speed’’ and sent out flares after receiving no response when it tried to establish communications, the Navy said.

That prompted the Iranian boats to halt their approach.

After communications were established, the United States saw the Iranians conduct a ‘‘gun exercise.’’

That routine exercise involved them firing weapons into the water away from American ships, said Navy spokesman Lieutenant Ian M. McConnaughey. The Navy described the encounter ‘‘as safe and professional.’’

The incident comes after a US Navy patrol boat fired warning shots Tuesday near an Iranian vessel that American sailors said came dangerously close to them during a tense encounter.

Iran and the United States frequently have run-ins in the Persian Gulf, nearly all involving the Revolutionary Guard, a separate force from Iran’s military that answers only to the country’s supreme leader.

In January, near the end of Barack Obama’s term, the USS Mahan fired shots toward Iranian fast-attack boats as they neared the destroyer in the Strait of Hormuz.

Obama trying to gift Trump with a war before he took office; thankfully, the Iranians didn't take the bait.

The strait is at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, and nearly a third of all oil trade passes by sea.

Also Saturday, Iran’s parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy held an urgent meeting with deputy foreign minister and senior Iranian negotiator Abbas Araghchi in which they reviewed measures that the country may apply in response to a package of sanctions the US Senate against Iran and sent to President Trump for signing.

Araghchi told state TV on Saturday, ‘‘It is a breach of the deal in articles 26, 28, and 29. A strong answer will be given to the action by the US.’’

Everyone in the world knows the U.S. government never keeps its word (unless its to Israel), so what's with the shock and surprise?

On Friday, the United States, France, Germany, and Britain, who brokered the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran along with China, Russia, and the European Union, said they’re raising concerns with the United Nations over Iran’s Thursday launch of a satellite-carrying rocket into space.

In a joint statement, they said that Iran’s launch was ‘‘inconsistent’’ with a UN Security Council resolution that enshrined the nuclear deal.

What, the Zionist-controlled governments have been told to abrogate?

On Saturday Iran’s foreign ministry said the missile program is part of ‘‘domestic policy of the country, deterrent and at service of regional peace and security.’’


What's missing from today's Sunday Globe when it comes to the world?

The war fronts of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, Yemen, and no Russian hacking stories today.

Time to head home:


"US to pay family of Mexican teen in wrongful-death lawsuit" by Kristine Phillips Washington Post  July 29, 2017

WASHINGTON — Cruz Velazquez Acevedo began convulsing shortly after he drank the liquid methamphetamine he’d brought with him from Tijuana, Mexico.

The 16-year-old had just crossed the US-Mexico border to San Diego and was going through the San Ysidro Port of Entry. He was carrying two bottles of liquid that he claimed was apple juice. US Customs and Border Protection officers told him to drink it to prove he wasn’t lying, court records say.

A surveillance video published by ABC Friday, about 3½ years after Acevedo’s death, shows the teen taking a sip of the liquid after one of the two officers, Valerie Baird, motioned for him to drink. He took another sip after the other officer, Adrian Perallon, made a gesture with his hand, appearing to tell him to drink more. 

I happened to be up late Friday watching a marathon of classic Star Trek's when I flipped over to ABC's Nightline for a few minutes and this was their topic.

The teen took four sips.

Then, he began sweating profusely. He screamed and clenched his fists.

In a matter of minutes, his temperature soared to 105 degrees, his family’s attorney said. His pulse reached an alarming rate of 220 beats per minute — more than twice the normal rate for adults.

‘‘Mi corazón! Mi corazón!’’ Acevedo screamed, according to court records — ‘‘My heart! My heart!’’

He was dead about two hours later.

The United States has since agreed to pay Acevedo’s family $1 million in a wrongful-death lawsuit brought against two border officers and the US government.

The family’s attorney, Eugene Iredale, acknowledged that the teen did something wrong when he tried to bring drugs into the United States on Nov. 18, 2013.

‘‘But he’s a 16-year-old boy with all the immaturity and bad judgment that might be characteristic of any 16-year-old kid,’’ Iredale told The Washington Post. ‘‘He was basically a good boy, he had no record, but he did something stupid. In any event, the worst that would’ve happened to him is that he would’ve been arrested and put in a juvenile facility for some period of time. . . .

‘‘It wasn’t a death penalty case. To cause him to die in a horrible way that he did is something that is execrable.’’

Iredale said he does not know where or how Acevedo got the drugs, or why he brought them into the United States.

‘‘It’s typical for people who are drug smugglers to approach kids and offer them $150 to smuggle drugs across the border,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re never going to know in this case because Cruz died.’’

Acevedo crossed the border through the pedestrian entrance at the San Ysidro Port of Entry at about 6:40 p.m. on that November night.

Iredale said the teen was carrying his passport and his border crossing card, which allows Mexican citizens to enter the United States and travel within a certain distance for tourism purposes. In California and Texas, the distance is up to 25 miles from the border; New Mexico and Arizona allow noncitizens to travel for up to 55 miles and 75 miles, respectively.

The two Border Protection officers believed the teen was carrying a deadly controlled substance, but they ‘‘coerced and intimidated’’ him into drinking the liquid, according to a complaint. The boy was taken to a hospital almost an hour after he had sipped the methamphetamine.

He was pronounced dead just before 9 p.m.

Iredale called the officers’ treatment of Acevedo ‘‘the most inhuman kind of cruelty.’’

‘‘I’m not prepared to say they knew for certain that it was going to kill him. . . . It’s obvious that they suspected from the beginning that it’s meth,’’ Iredale said. ‘‘Playing a cruel joke on a child is not something that’s justifiable in any way. They have test kits available that would’ve given results in two to three minutes.’’

Iredale said the officers did test the liquid for drugs, but only after the teen started overdosing.

He also cited testimony by another border officer who said Baird confessed minutes after the incident.

‘‘I asked him what it was, he said it was juice,’’ Baird told the other border officer, according to Iredale. ‘‘I said to him then, ‘prove it.’ ”

Perallon and Baird are still employed by the Customs and Border Protection office in San Diego, the agency said in a statement.

‘‘Although we are not able to speak about this specific case, training and the evaluation of CBP policies and procedures are consistently reviewed as needed,’’ the statement said.



Now back to the front page and rest of the paper:

Congressional Republicans promised action. By the numbers, they haven’t delivered

You might think having more farmers markets is good for farmers. Often it’s not

Maternal deaths in Mass. prompt state probes

Many of state’s elderly residents struggle to pay their bills 

Sort of explodes the myth of deep-blue, liberal Massachusetts, huh? 

No set asides for the old folks.

Veracity is a casualty in week of infighting 

Look whose talking about veracity! 


Trump urges end of filibuster to pass health bill, which failed without it

Judge blocks Arkansas from enforcing 4 abortion restrictions

Hundreds lose place for fall at UC Irvine

Gold lunar module stolen from Neil Armstrong museum in Ohio

Florida man faces charges after baby dies in hot bedroom

Man burned after mystery package explodes on his doorstep

In pivotal moment, Tesla unveils its first mass-market sedan

In D.C., they’ve set the bar low

25 years after ‘The Year of the Woman,’ what’s changed?

Teens and adults gave voice to their hopes at celebration of state’s LGBTQ commission

MBTA police say they have the right to keep all arrests secret

It makes for halting reading but it's better than being stuck in traffic.

Or you can always pray.

Air Force to spend $30m on Pease cleanup

See the rest of the section for information on the important people.

As for the other ideas (it really is a CIA mouthpiece) the Globe has, it's really none of my intere$t. Sorry.