Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Trump's Cold War

Let's hope that is all it is:

"Chinese money in the US dries up as trade war drags on" by Alan Rappeport New York Times, July 21, 2019

WASHINGTON — Growing distrust between the United States and China has slowed the once steady flow of Chinese cash into America, with Chinese investment plummeting by nearly 90 percent since President Trump took office.

The falloff, which is being felt broadly across the economy, stems from tougher regulatory scrutiny in the United States and a less hospitable climate toward Chinese investment, as well as Beijing’s tightened limits on foreign spending. It is affecting a range of industries, including Silicon Valley startups, the Manhattan real estate market and state governments that spent years wooing Chinese investment, underscoring how the world’s two largest economies are beginning to decouple after years of increasing integration.

Congre$$ will be breaking them up soon.

“The fact that the foreign direct investment has fallen so sharply is symbolic of how badly the economic relationship between the United States and China has deteriorated,” said Eswar Prasad, former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China division. “The US doesn’t trust the Chinese, and China doesn’t trust the US.”

For years, Chinese investment into the United States had been accelerating, with money pouring into autos, tech, energy, and agriculture and fueling new jobs in Michigan, South Carolina, Missouri, Texas, and other states. As China’s economy boomed, state and local governments along with US companies looked to snap up some of those Chinese funds, but Trump’s economic Cold War has helped reverse that trend.

It's all over 5G and who will do the trapdoor data collection and spying.

Chinese foreign direct investment in the United States fell to $5.4 billion in 2018 from a peak of $46.5 billion in 2016, a drop of 88 percent, according to data from Rhodium Group, an economic research firm. Preliminary figures through April of this year, which account for investments by mainland Chinese companies, suggested only a modest uptick from last year, with transactions valued at $2.8 billion.

“I certainly hear in conversations with investors a lot of concern about whether the US market is still open,” said Rod Hunter, a lawyer at Baker McKenzie who specializes in foreign investment reviews. “You have a potentially chilling effect for Chinese investors.”

A confluence of forces appear to be at play. A slowing economy and stricter capital controls in China have made it more difficult for Chinese investors to buy American, according to trade and mergers and acquisitions advisers. Trump’s penchant for imposing punishing tariffs on Chinese goods and an increasingly powerful regulatory group that is heavily scrutinizing foreign investment, particularly involving Chinese investors, have also spooked businesses in both countries.

China, which has retaliated against US goods with its own tariffs, may also be turning off the investment spigot as punishment for Trump’s economic crackdown.

And yet the $tock market soars.

Concerns about America’s receptiveness to Chinese investment have been aggravated by a flurry of transactions that collapsed under heavy scrutiny from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The group, which is headed by the Treasury Department, gained expanded powers in 2018 that allow it to block a broader array of transactions, including minority stakes and investments in sensitive technologies like telecommunications and computing.

Shortly after the new year, China’s HNA Group took a $41 million loss on a glass and aluminum Manhattan high-rise after US regulators forced it to sell the property because of security concerns about its proximity to Trump Tower, only a few blocks away.

In March, the Chinese owners of a gay dating app known as Grindr were told by regulators to find a buyer for the company. The Trump administration feared Beijing could use personal information as leverage over US officials.

They have an Epstein in the closet, too?

Those interventions followed prominent cases earlier in Trump’s term, such as Broadcom’s quashed bid for Qualcomm and the sale of MoneyGram to a unit of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba last year. An agreement involving Lattice Semiconductor and an investment firm with reported ties to the Chinese government was also rejected.

In some cases, the chill has benefited US companies. In June, UnitedHealth swooped in to buy PatientsLikeMe, a health care technology startup, after the committee said it was a security risk to allow the company’s Chinese owner to have access to health data. The purchase amount was not disclosed, but the increased scrutiny is also complicating efforts by US industries to team up with Chinese investors and leading to a retrenchment in certain sectors. The real estate sector, which has been buttressed by investors from China in the last decade, has had a steep falloff as relations sour and as Chinese officials clamp down on foreign real estate investment.

A May report from Cushman & Wakefield noted a “frenzy of disposal activity” among Chinese commercial real estate investors in the United States. In 2018, there were 37 property acquisitions by Chinese buyers worth $2.3 billion, but $3.1 billion of commercial real estate was sold off. The report said that the treatment of HNA and tough trade talk made Chinese investors feel unwelcome.

Same as when they built the railroads.

Chinese investors are also showing less appetite for residential real estate in the United States. Research released recently by the National Association of Realtors found that purchases of homes in America by Chinese buyers declined by 56 percent to $13.4 billion in the year to March.

And yet the price of properties keeps rising.

“The magnitude of the decline is quite striking, implying less confidence in owning a property in the US,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the Realtors group.

They are taking the One Road, One Belt out of town.

Weaker Chinese investment is unlikely to derail the US economy, as it is a small fraction of that from Britain, Canada, Japan, and Germany. China also continues to be the largest buyer of US Treasuries; however, its holdings have fallen in recent years to $1.1 trillion, according to the latest Treasury Department data, but the decline in investment could hurt areas that are already economically disadvantaged and that have become dependent on Chinese cash. States like Michigan have increasingly wooed Chinese investment, resulting in new factories and jobs in a part of the country that has struggled to recover from the Great Recession.

They invest here while our guys offshore and outsource or import illegals.

The BIG NEWS from above, though, is the pullback in the purchase of U.S. Treasuries. Thank God the Congre$$ lifted the debt limit and is sending the bill over Trump (food stamps will pay for it).

Craig Allen, president of the US-China Business Council, said the loss of Chinese investment would be felt predominantly in rural states where Chinese investors have bought factories and revived struggling businesses.

Trump is cutting the electoral college rug out from under himself.

“The not-so-welcome mat is out, and it is having a deleterious effect on relatively poorer areas in the United States that need jobs,” he said.

“The Chinese hear from our state and local officials that they’re welcome,” Allen said. “What they’re hearing from federal officials is quite different.”


I was just wondering who will but the $callops:

"America’s harvest of scallops is increasing to near-record levels at a time when the shellfish are in high demand and the value of the fishery has surged in recent years. Sea scallops, harvested mostly by boats from the cold Atlantic Ocean, are the target of one of the most valuable fisheries in America. New data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the harvest topped 58.2 million pounds last year, the highest total since 2011 and the fifth-highest in history according to federal statistics going back to 1945. The availability of scallops for consumers hasn’t changed much as the US harvest has long been supplemented by foreign sources. Prices to consumers have also held about steady. The value of the fishery itself, though, is rising. American scallops were worth $532.9 million at the docks last year. That’s the third-highest figure on record and more than $100 million higher than the 2014 total. The scallop industry is thriving as a result of years of conservative management that has allowed the valuable shellfish to grow undisturbed, said Jimmy Wotton, a scalloper based out of Friendship, Maine. The US scallop fishery is anchored by New Bedford. Massachusetts is the state where by far the most scallops come to the docks. Other states with significant scallop fisheries are New Jersey, Virginia, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maine."

They are patting themselves on the back without a word regarding climate change!

And here she comes.....

"One day after she had been crowned Miss Michigan by the Miss World America organization, Kathy Zhu was stripped of her title. Racially and religiously charged comments Zhu had made on Twitter came to the attention of pageant organizers, who ruled that they violated the competition’s rules of “good character.” After a flurry of text messages and e-mails between Zhu, 20, and organizers, she was told the competition would no longer recognize her and she was to stop mentioning or using images of herself as the pageant’s winner. Zhu, a conservative activist who is a University of Michigan senior and the social media director for the national group Chinese Americans for Trump, shared on social media an e-mail she had received Thursday from the pageant’s state director, Laurie DeJack. “It has been brought to the attention of Miss World America ‘MWA’ that your social media accounts contain offensive, insensitive, and inappropriate content,” DeJack wrote. The first tweet that drew the scrutiny of the pageant came in response to criticism of police officers about the Black Lives Matter movement. “Did you know the majority of black deaths are caused by other blacks?” Zhu wrote on Twitter in October 2017. “Fix problems within your own community first before blaming others.” In February 2018, in a tweet she has since deleted, Zhu criticized a World Hijab Day awareness event at the University of Central Florida, where she had been a student before transferring. “There’s a ‘try a hijab on’ booth at my college campus,” Zhu wrote at the time. “So you’re telling me that it’s now just a fashion accessory and not a religious thing? Or are you just trying to get women used to being oppressed under Islam.” Zhu said in an interview Saturday that her tweets had been taken out of context and that she was punished for her conservative views“They just immediately assumed that I was a racist,” said Zhu, vice president of the College Republicans at the University of Michigan. “They should have let me explain myself.” DeJack declined to comment Saturday and referred questions to the Miss World America organization, an international competition that dates to 1951." 

You can eliminate her from the contest and send her back, right?

"Hong Kong police fire tear gas and rubber bullets; protesters target Beijing’s office" by Mike Ives New York Times, July 21, 2019

HONG KONG — Hong Kong police fired rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets Sunday to disperse protesters after some of them vandalized the Chinese government’s liaison office in the city, a direct challenge to Beijing’s authority after a peaceful protest earlier in the day.

In a separate clash, recorded by a local television station, masked men dressed in white and wielding sticks assaulted antigovernment protesters in a train station late Sunday night in northwestern Hong Kong.

The unrest spiraled out of a march that called for an independent investigation into what protesters said was police brutality in earlier street clashes. The march was peaceful, but thousands of demonstrators later marched past where the police had said the official demonstration should end.

Protesters then occupied major roads and heckled police officers stationed outside government buildings. “Recover Hong Kong; it’s the time for revolution,” some chanted.

By nightfall, some protesters had defaced a crest of the Chinese government at the liaison office with eggs and black ink, and had sprayed the building’s exterior with graffiti.

You would have to scroll through my China coverage to get a feel for the mixed messages surrounding what increasingly looks like a covert destabilization campaign by the U.S. given the timing of it all and pre$$ push and focus.

Shortly after 8 p.m., about 100 riot police officers, some carrying guns with plastic rounds, approached the liaison office and dragged away metal barricades that protesters had placed in the road.

“Charge forward!” they shouted, as hundreds of protesters fled east through the streets.

Scuffles soon broke out nearby, with some protesters lobbing eggs and bags of liquid at the police during a standoff outside the Central Police Station. After a group of protesters charged forward and threw projectiles, riot police officers rushed them, shooting several rounds of tear gas.

Probably pee as the framing is all upside-down.

The separate attack by masked men occurred at the Yuen Long train station, said Jerming Zhang, a 16-year-old student and first-aid volunteer who was at the station.

He said in a phone interview that as civilians, including those with children, tried to flee the station, the masked men followed them onto an open train and continued beating people with wooden sticks.

“It was like a stampede,” he said. “They hit people indiscriminately, smiling as they beat them up.”

The implication is Chinese government goons.

In a statement Sunday night, the Hong Kong government condemned protesters who it said had “blatantly challenged the national sovereignty by maliciously besieging and storming” Beijing’s liaison office. It promised to “deal with these acts in a serious manner in accordance with the law.”

Would the U.S. stand for such a thing (exempting Israel, of course)?

A later statement denounced the attack at the train station, saying “some people congregated at the platforms” and attacked and injured commuters. “This is absolutely unacceptable to Hong Kong as a society that observes the rule of law,” the statement said.

The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of China’s State Council also condemned the actions of the protesters who blocked the liaison office and vandalized it, and warned of serious consequences.

“Such acts openly challenge the authority of the central government,” the statement said, calling the actions “absolutely intolerable.”

The developments Sunday were the latest chapter in the city’s worst political crisis since China reclaimed sovereignty from Britain in 1997. They signaled growing antagonism between the largely peaceful protest movement and the front-line officers patrolling it.

The Times just told you what side of like they are on.

“I hope that the police can take reasonable actions tonight,” Roy Kwong, a lawmaker who has been a driving force behind the protests, told reporters at the front lines early Sunday evening. “Otherwise, I fear that the anger of the people will erupt.”

How many citizens a day do they gun down? 

It's like 1.5 nationwide here.

The Civil Human Rights Front, which has helped organize the recent protests, said it estimated that 430,000 people had turned out for the officially sanctioned part of the march. A police spokeswoman said the estimated number of people who had marched along the permitted route during the “peak period” was 138,000. 

That is why it is getting so much pre$$.

Police also said they were investigating whether explosives found Friday at a “homemade laboratory” were related to the Sunday protest, but they did not have enough evidence to make any conclusion. Three men in their 20s were arrested in connection with the case. On Friday, police said, officers seized about 2 pounds of powerful explosives, 10 gasoline bombs, and bullets and knives from an industrial building.

Hong Kong’s mass demonstrations began in early June in response to unpopular legislation that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, where the courts are controlled by the governing Communist Party. The bill has since been suspended but not fully withdrawn, one of the protesters’ key demands.

On Sunday afternoon, thousands of protesters dressed mostly in black T-shirts set off on a march, some carrying signs saying, “No extradition to China” and “Stop police brutality.”

“The government must withdraw the bill and set up an independent inquiry committee to investigate the police,” said Tommy Tsang, an 81-year-old retiree. He said he was particularly angered by the police violence. “If you don’t hit people, why would they hit you back?” he said.

I don't know, ask Iran.

Advisers to the territory’s embattled chief executive, Carrie Lam, say her administration did not intend to make further concessions to the protesters. That stance suggests the government is confident it can weather the protests, despite the risks of damage to the local economy or violence between demonstrators and police officers.

At this point the Globe's web version carried an advertisement for a look inside Rachel Maddows humble cabin where she lives with her partner, brought to you by FinancialAdvisorsHeroes -- proving that they are in bed together.

Police officials say they have largely acted with restraint and have used force only when attacked by protesters. They accused some protesters of rioting during recent demonstrations, including one in which a small group forcefully stormed the Hong Kong legislature.

Our cops say the same things!

Police and a watchdog that monitors complaints against them have said they plan to investigate officers’ actions at a June 12 demonstration that turned violent. Many people in Hong Kong, a city of about 7 million, say they believe that the police response that day — which included firing tear gas, rubber bullets, and beanbag rounds — was excessive.

Did they maim anyone like the Israeli snipers shooting over the sand berms into Gaza every Friday?


A few weeks ago they hauled the mothers out to protest, and a couple of days ago they got the grandparents out there:

"Hong Kong elders march in support of young demonstrators" by Alice Fung Associated Press, July 17, 2019

HONG KONG — Thousands of Hong Kong senior citizens, including a popular actress, marched Wednesday in a show of support for youths at the forefront of monthlong protests against a contentious extradition bill in the semiautonomous Chinese territory.

There were more stoppages for rest.

The seniors also slammed the police for their handling of a protest Sunday in Hong Kong’s Sha Tin district. That protest was mostly peaceful but ended in mayhem when violent scuffles in a shopping mall saw dozens injured, including a policeman who had a finger bitten off, and more than 40 people detained.

Veteran actress and singer Deanie Ip, who joined Wednesday’s demonstration, said police shouldn’t use heavy-handed tactics against young protesters who ‘‘have no guns’’ and were peacefully expressing their frustrations. ‘‘They are young people and they are doing the right thing. Why are they being mistreated?’’ she said.

Where they, though? 

They broke into and entered the legislative chamber and the agent provocateurs among them threatened governmental authority with vandalism.

Ip and several others held a banner reading ‘‘Support youth to protect Hong Kong’’ as they marched through a financial district. Wearing white tops and black pants, marchers held placards that read ‘‘Never give up’’ and ‘‘Stay together.’’

Dozens of seniors carried a 20-foot-long black banner that read ‘‘Reject tyrannical rule.’’

Some elders in wheelchairs also joined the march. Organizers said about 8,000 people participated in the demonstration.

Had to wheel them down, too, huh?

Hong Kong has been jolted for more than a month by a series of large-scale and occasional violent protests amid widespread anger over a proposed extradition law.

Even though Hong Kong’s embattled chief executive, Carrie Lam, suspended the bill and declared the legislation ‘‘dead,’’ her moves failed to placate the protesters, who have demanded her resignation. Tens of thousands have continued to take to the streets, with the protests expanding into a bigger movement against China’s growing intrusion into the territory.

Well, it's technically their's now, but don't they mean she has failed to appease the protesters?

The senior citizens Wednesday repeated demands for the legislation to be formally withdrawn, for the release of dozens of people detained, and for an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality against protesters.

More protests have been planned, which could cause further instability in the global financial hub.

It's like I keep saying, a destabilization campaign. Hit 'em where it hurts the mo$t.

Phil Chan, a senior fellow at the Institute for Security and Development Policy in Stockholm, said violent clashes between protesters and police could intensify unless the government starts to engage meaningfully with the people in meeting some of their demands, including the move toward universal suffrage.

‘‘The government at present is merely engaging in verbal dissemblance,’’ Chan said. ‘‘As the political crisis drags on, it will become increasingly difficult for the Hong Kong government to resolve, and police-community relations will take a long time to heal. It will become a lose-lose situation for both Hong Kong society and the Hong Kong government, and instability in Hong Kong can never be good for Beijing.’’

So cui bono regarding the protests the pre$$ is pushing, and I'm sure there is a lesson for Americans in there somewhere.


"Mob attack at Hong Kong train station heightens seething tensions in city" by Austin Ramzy New York Times, July 22, 2019

HONG KONG — A brazen overnight attack by a mob of men with sticks and metal bars who were apparently targeting antigovernment protesters raised tensions in Hong Kong to new levels Monday after weeks of demonstrations, prompting fears of violence spiraling beyond authorities’ control.

Maybe they weren't Chinese government goons. Could be destabilization forces introducing a third element, seemingly at cross-purposes, to raise things to a new level and help spiral events out of control by provoking the Chines to crackdown even more.

Dozens of people, including journalists and a prodemocracy lawmaker, were injured in the assault in and around a train station in Yuen Long, a satellite town in northwestern Hong Kong near the border with mainland China.

The violence followed clashes earlier in the evening between police and protesters near the Chinese government’s liaison office in Hong Kong, and raised questions about why officers did not protect demonstrators, who have been critical of the police’s use of force in recent weeks.

Protesters painted graffiti on the Chinese government’s liaison office in Hong Kong on Sunday, and threw ink on the crest of the Chinese state displayed there, an act that Chinese officials said “openly challenged the authority of the central government.” Earlier, demonstrators participated in a peaceful march calling for an independent investigation into accusations of police brutality.

On Monday, Carrie Lam, the Hong Kong chief executive, said she condemned both the vandalizing of the liaison office, which she said challenged China’s sovereignty and “hurt the nation’s feelings,” and the mob attacks in Yuen Long.

“Violence will only breed more violence,” she said at a news conference.

That's right.

Media outlets in mainland China, which had previously given little notice to the protests, carried stories Monday on the damage to the liaison office and Hong Kong and central government officials’ denunciations of that vandalism. A report from CCTV, the main state news broadcaster, showed graffiti on the exterior of the office, and comments on Chinese social media were full of criticism for the Hong Kong protesters.

There goes the pot hollering kettle again.

The People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, ran a front-page commentary Monday that said the damage to the liaison office “not only trampled on the rule of law in Hong Kong, but also openly challenged the authority of the central government.”

They call it the New York Times over here.

With the attacks in Yuen Long, the protests have entered a stage that many Hong Kong activists fear from past experience: the use of thugs to intimidate demonstrators. The injured said they believed the attackers were members of organized crime societies known as triads, and they have complained that the violence was encouraged by government supporters and ignored by police.

“I have strong reason to believe they were gangsters,” said Lam Cheuk-ting, a prodemocracy lawmaker who was hit on his arms, hands, and face, leaving his mouth with a cut that required 18 stitches to close. “I don’t think any ordinary citizens have done such sophisticated, organized attacks on this kind of level.” 

I suppose it is entirely possible; however, on the other hand, the fact that my pre$$ is suggesting such a thing causes me doubt and that suggest the finger of suspicion be pointed in another direction.

Lam said he learned that someone was being assaulted in the station around 9 p.m., and he warned the police in Yuen Long. He then went there by train, where he said thugs carrying batons and wearing white shirts were running rampant.

“They repeatedly went into the train and were using batons to indiscriminately attack all the people in the train,” he said. “Many journalists, even a pregnant woman, all ordinary citizens of Hong Kong, were attacked by those gangsters.”

The protests in Hong Kong began weeks ago over a proposal that would allow extraditions to mainland China, but have spread to encompass demands for direct elections for the city’s leader and complaints about the use of force by police against demonstrators.

Lam condemned the police response to the mob attack as woefully inadequate, saying that the group was seen gathering as early as 6 p.m.

Yau Nai-keung, an assistant district police commander in Yuen Long, said early Monday that officers had made no arrests and found no weapons, but in one encounter captured by photojournalists, riot police spoke with two masked men in white shirts holding metal bars or sticks, patting one on the shoulder before walking off.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Lam, the lawmaker. “The behavior of the police force is really disgusting and shameless.”

Stephen Lo, the Hong Kong police commissioner, suggested that the protests contributed to the slow police response to the violence at the train station.

“Our manpower is stretched because every time when there is a major event which will lead to violent confrontations, we have to deploy some manpower from various districts to Hong Kong Island,” he said.

On Monday evening, a day after the violence, police said they had arrested two men in Yuen Long on charges of illegal assembly.

The Hospital Authority of Hong Kong said 45 people were injured in Yuen Long, and one was in serious condition. Another 14 people sought treatment after clashes between police and protesters near the Chinese liaison office on Hong Kong Island, about an hour south by train.

Locals were angered by what appeared to be police complacency, saying authorities did not answer their phone calls or register their complaints at the station Sunday. Terry Lin, a 32-year-old designer, said that he was one of the first people to rush to the local police station after seeing the men in white approach the train station with sticks, but the police eventually closed the metal gates to a growing crowd of residents after registering a few complaints, citing security concerns.

Prodemocracy and establishment parties condemned the violence, but some government supporters were accused of playing down or even endorsing the attacks on the protesters. A proestablishment legislator, Junius Ho, was seen in a video circulating late Sunday with a group of men in Yuen Long carrying Hong Kong flags and dressed in white shirts, the uniform of the attackers.

“Thank you for your efforts,” he said. “You guys are my heroes.”

Ho denied any connection with the attacks and said he was simply talking with people who came up to him as he was walking past them.



Hong Kong arrests men with gang links over mob attack

You happy now?

Also see:

Chinese company buys bigger share of Daimler

Made the Italians mad, but Germans care about their mothers and daughters.


Now for the third member of the Tripartite Pact:

"Shinzo Abe’s party headed to victory in Japan elections, securing his place in history" by Motoko Rich New York Times, July 21, 2019

TOKYO — The projected result represented a striking moment for Shinzo Abe, who a dozen years ago was forced to resign in disgrace after one year as prime minister, following a humiliating defeat of his party in a parliamentary election. Now, Abe, who returned to power in 2012 and has presided over an extended period of political stability.

During the campaign, Abe did not emphasize his desire to revise the constitution. Rather, he focused on promising to secure the country’s finances and touted his personal relationship with President Trump.

Public broadcaster NHK reported that voter turnout, below 50 percent, was the second-lowest in the history of elections for the upper house of parliament.....

The turnout was described as lackluster because “they just don’t feel their vote makes a difference, and the opposition’s problem comes down to marketing and identity.”

So that's here, there, Hong Kong, and everywhere else.


They talked to one voter who works at a film-production company and said she voted Communist because the ruling party seems to be arrogant and just does whatever they want to do.”


"Kyoto Animation Studio Arson Kills 33, Shocking Japan" by Motoko Rich New York Times, July 18, 2019

TOKYO — The attacker screamed “Die!” and set alight flammable liquid he had splashed around an anime studio in Kyoto, police said, starting a blaze that killed 33 people Thursday in what appears to be Japan’s worst mass killing in decades.

Witnesses described scenes of horror: a man hanging from a ledge as flames licked the walls; a pile of bodies on a staircase leading to the roof; a barefoot woman so badly burned that all bystanders could do was spray her with water as they waited for help.

The attack shocked a nation considered one of the safest in the world and prompted a global outpouring of grief among the many fans of anime — a school of animation that has become synonymous with Japan.

Kyoto police said the suspect was a 41-year-old man, and Japanese newspapers reported that he had been detained and hospitalized for burns.

Although Japan has a very low rate of violent crime, there are eruptions of rare but extremely violent attacks. The fire, at the studio of Kyoto Animation, came just weeks after a man went on a stabbing rampage in a Tokyo suburb, attacking 17 schoolgirls, killing one of them and an adult.

That came on the day Trump was leaving.

Tokyo and its surroundings have suffered some of the worst violence. In 1995, members of a doomsday cult, Aum Shinrikyo, carried out a nerve-gas attack on the city’s subway system, killing 13 people and injuring thousands with sarin. In 2016, a mass stabbing at a center for people with disabilities outside Tokyo became the worst mass killing in Japan since World War II.

The death toll of the Kyoto fire was higher than in either of those attacks. Three dozen people were injured in the blaze.

The attack touched a nerve among the Japanese public, and many poured out their grief on social media. There was little known Thursday about the man believed to have set the fire or his motives. According to NHK, the public broadcaster, he was hospitalized with burns and had told police he had splashed flammable liquid at the studio building and set it alight.

Citing Kyoto police, the Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s largest mainstream daily newspapers, reported that the man had entered the building screaming “Die!” and then tried to escape but collapsed on the street outside. He was captured by members of the studio’s staff.

Arson is rare in Japan, and experts quoted by NHK said Thursday’s fire was the worst case in decades. In 2001, 44 people died after a fire broke out at a crowded gambling club in Tokyo’s busiest entertainment district. It was investigated as arson, but authorities could not confirm that the fire had been purposefully set.

The cultural reaction to Thursday’s fire reflected Kyoto Animation’s popularity among fans of anime, the category of Japanese cartooning that is a backbone of the country’s popular culture and one of its major soft-power exports. The devastation at the studio, said fans, would rip a hole in the anime world.

According to NHK, police are investigating a report by a clerk at a gas station about a quarter-mile from the studio who said a man in his 30s or 40s, wearing a red T-shirt and a backpack, bought about 10 gallons of gas at 10 a.m. Thursday. NHK reported that the man carried away the two gas cans on a hand cart, saying he would use them in a power generator.

NHK reported that an official at the Kyoto City Fire Department said that most of the 20 people who were found dead on the stairs that led from the third floor of the studio building to the rooftop were lying on top of one another right near the door to the roof. When rescuers reached the roof, the door was closed, though not locked.....


Wow, why is the building still standing? 

Also see:

"Much was still unknown about the Thursday fire, which appeared to be Japan’s worst mass killing in decades. The police identified Shinji Aoba, 41, as a suspect in the case, based on statements they said he made when he was apprehended. They said Aoba was being treated for severe burns and had not been arrested. Japanese news reports, citing unnamed police sources, said the suspect had told police that he started the fire because he believed the studio, Kyoto Animation, “stole a novel” from him. NHK, the public broadcaster, reported that Aoba had served time in prison for robbery and that he was being treated for an unspecified mental illness. The arsonist is believed to have purchased about 10 gallons of petroleum at a gas station near the studio, about half an hour before starting the fire. According to police reports, the man brought it to the studio in two cans, on a hand cart, then poured it out on the building’s first floor and ignited it with a lighter. “We saw yesterday that anyone can cause mass killings and tremendous damage with cheap and easy tools anyone can obtain in daily life,” said Daiju Wada, a lecturer on security at Seiwa University in Chiba, Japan, and a security consultant. “It’s difficult not to sell gasoline to people.”

Like in China (in that case, as the fire spread, nearby houses collapsed, and windows were shattered as far as 2 miles away), and image the mass killings and damage you can do with a war machine behind you.

Suspect in Kyoto fire had criminal record and trouble with neighbors

The New York Times says the picture that is emerging is of Aoba as an unstable 41-year-old with a troubled past, and many are  “worried that after this kind of incident many people will fear people with psychiatric illness.”


This time the Philippines will be on their side:

"Philippine police file sedition case against vice president" by Jim Gomez Associated Press, July 18, 2019

MANILA — Philippine police filed sedition and other criminal complaints Thursday against the vice president, three opposition senators, four Roman Catholic bishops, and other critics of President Rodrigo Duterte for allegedly plotting to destabilize his administration.

Vice President Leni Robredo and the others have long denied the allegations from a formerly detained crime suspect who alleged he plotted with them.

The Department of Justice said it received the complaints from the national police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

‘‘I will constitute the panel of investigating state prosecutors tomorrow,’’ Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told the Associated Press in a cellphone text message. ‘‘They may start serving subpoenas on the respondents next week.’’

Unlike Duterte, Robredo does not have constitutional immunity, Guevarra said.

A legal group critical of Duterte, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, said the allegations ‘‘smack of political persecution and shotgun repression on its face using again the legal system as a potent political weapon through the law of rulers.’’

In the Philippines, the president and vice president are elected separately. Robredo, who has long criticized Duterte over his bloody crackdown against illegal drugs and his offensive sexist remarks, is next in the line of succession if Duterte loses the presidency before his six-year term ends in 2022.

The allegations center on a formerly detained crime suspect, Peter Joemel Advincula, who alleged that he plotted with the accused to discredit Duterte, his family, and other government officials by linking them to drug syndicates. With his face concealed, Advincula claimed he was the man who appeared in a series of videos posted online that detailed the supposed links of Duterte, his children, close aides, and other officials to illegal drugs.

When the police played down his claims and launched a search for him, Advincula suddenly surfaced and was presented in a news conference by top police officials where he denied the allegations he made against Duterte on video. He then made a new claim and implicated Robredo and other prominent Duterte critics in a plot to discredit the president and destabilize his administration.

Meanwhile, thousands of Philippine police officers have received administrative punishments with more than 2,000 dismissed for wrongdoings during raids where drug suspects were killed under the president’s crackdown, officials said Thursday.

Communications Assistant Secretary Marie Rafael Banaag told a news conference that 14,724 police were investigated for their involvement in police drug operations that led to deaths from July 2016 until last April. She said 7,867 of them received administrative punishments for unspecified lapses.

A tally presented by Banaag showed that 2,367 police officers have been fired, 4,100 suspended, while the rest were reprimanded, demoted, had their salaries forfeited ,or deprived of certain privileges.

Banaag did not say how many officers have been criminally charged for serious lapses or outright crimes committed while enforcing the crackdown, which was launched by Duterte as his centerpiece program when he took office in mid-2016.

Philippine police officials say about 6,600 drug suspects have been killed in raids carried out by the police mostly in gun battles that ensued after the suspects fought back and endangered the lives of law enforcers. Banaag and other officials reported a lower death toll, more than 5,500, saying authorities were still verifying other drug-related deaths.

Last year, a Philippine court found three police officers guilty of killing a student they alleged was a drug dealer in the first known such conviction under the crackdown.

Besides Robredo, those implicated in the complaint included opposition Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Risa Hontiveros, and Leila de Lima, seven opposition senatorial candidates who lost in the May elections, Catholic archbishops Socrates Villegas and Pablo David, and a Catholic university president, Armin Luistro.

They were sued for alleged sedition, inciting to sedition, libel, harboring a criminal, obstruction of justice, a justice department statement said.

Duterte is known for his temper and expletives-laden outbursts against critics, especially those who have raised alarm over his deadly crackdown against illegal drugs.

Last year, Supreme Court justices ousted the then-chief justice, Maria Lourdes Sereno, after the government solicitor-general alleged that her appointment by Duterte’s predecessor was legally flawed and petitioned for her removal. Critics say the ousting undermined the court’s independence.

Another opposition senator, de Lima, has been detained for more than two years after being accused by Duterte of involvement in illegal drugs, a crime she has vehemently denied. A former human rights commission chief, de Lima investigated Duterte’s alleged role in extrajudicial killings in an antidrug crackdown when he served as mayor of southern Davao city for years.

Duterte’s allies dominate the House of Representatives and won a majority in Senate elections in May.


Of course, we will also need New Zealand and Western Canada to complete the Pacific encircling of the Chinese -- along with the Venezuelan gas pump for the war machine.


China would have no choice but to then turn east to put out the fire:

"Top Myanmar generals are barred from entering US over Rohingya killings" by Richard C. Paddock New York Times, July 17, 2019

BANGKOK — The United States has imposed sanctions on Myanmar’s top military commander, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and three of his highest-ranking generals for their roles in the atrocities carried out against Rohingya Muslims since 2017, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced.

The four generals and their immediate family members will be barred from entering the United States, Pompeo said Tuesday. “With this announcement, the United States is the first government to publicly take action with respect to the most senior leadership of the Burmese military,” he said in a statement.

Two years ago, brutal attacks by the military and Buddhist mobs in Rakhine state in western Myanmar, which included killings, rape, and arson, forced more than 700,000 members of the Rohingya ethnic minority to flee across the border into Bangladesh, where they have been living ever since in squalid refugee camps.

The United Nations has labeled the attacks genocide, saying that Min Aung Hlaing and other top generals should face trial in an international court, but until now, no action has been taken against them.

This is one of the instances in which the U.N. has actually condemned the abuse of Muslims, the other being Bosnia, while ignoring the wide abuses of Israel and its allies against same. What it does is provide the fig leaf of cover and is an attempt at credibility within the U.N. They can point to this and say we don't ignore crimes against Muslims, even though it is only a tool to flog Myanmar or the Serbs.

I mean, you haven't seen Bush or Bliar in front of the ICC, only tin-pot African dictators that received the old double cross.

The State Department imposed the travel ban because it could do so unilaterally and because it was a way to hold the individual generals accountable for the atrocities, senior officials at the department said, but Myanmar’s reclusive military leaders have not been known to travel to the United States, and a spokesman for the military said Wednesday that the ban would have little practical effect.

“It doesn’t matter that they banned travel to the United States for the generals,” said the spokesman, Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun. “But it does insult the Myanmar military’s dignity.”

That's the last thing you want to do to an Asian.

The military has ruled Myanmar, also known as Burma, since it gained independence from Britain in 1948, and it has waged war almost continuously against various ethnic groups.

Americans know that feeling.

Under the 2008 constitution drafted by the military, the senior general is Myanmar’s most powerful person and reports to no civilian authority. He controls the armed forces, the police, the border guards, two military business conglomerates, and a quarter of the members of Parliament, enough to block any constitutional change.

A civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, oversees social programs such as education and health care, but it has no control over the military.

Okay, I'm going to stop and comment here since they brought the CIA asset and globalist up. She was a hero when she was under house arrest and celebrated when she took control of the government. Obama even lifted sanctions and other such things as part of his Asian pivot.

The souring came when Myanmar began to go soft on China. That's when the Rohingya crisis arose, through no fault of their own. It was outside forces, in this case the Sunni Islam allies, that were in charge of establishing a beachhead in the province in order to gain a foothold from which to operate in the area while keeping Myanmar's military busy.

The end result was further driving Myanmar into the Chinese orbit. Suu Kyi was criticized for not speaking out forcefully enough before eventual being sidelined, and now we have an article that basically calls out the military junta of Myanmar. 

Min Aung Hlaing, a career army officer who rose through the ranks, became known for attacks on ethnic groups in various parts of Myanmar, which drove tens of thousands of people from their homes. As commander in chief since 2011, he has proved adept at using social media to build public support for the military, known as the Tatmadaw. He is seen as a strong candidate to become president next year.

It's just like the Fourth of July here, and were they demolishing homes like, you know?

Last year, Facebook removed his account along with hundrewwwds of others because of his role in enabling serious human rights abuses.

Pompeo noted that Min Aung Hlaing had ordered the release of soldiers convicted of participating in a massacre of Rohingyas after they had served only a few months in prison — far less time than the 16 months that two reporters for Reuters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, spent behind bars for exposing that massacre.

Pompeo called that an “egregious example of the continued and severe lack of accountability for the military and its senior leadership.”

Besides Myanmar’s top commander, the travel sanctions were also imposed on the deputy commander in chief, Soe Win; Brigadier General Than Oo; and Brigadier General Aung Aung, along with their family members. Pompeo said they were chosen “based on credible information of these commanders’ involvement in gross violations of human rights.”

State Department officials said the four generals, and two generals sanctioned earlier, were cited by a UN fact-finding mission as having had considerable command responsibility for the slaughter of the Rohingya.

“We remain concerned that the Burmese government has taken no actions to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, and there are continued reports of the Burmese military committing human rights violations and abuses throughout the country,” Pompeo said.

Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK, a London-based advocacy group, said the travel ban was far too weak a response. He said the United States could have brought the generals before an ad hoc tribunal, backed an arms embargo, or imposed stronger sanctions on military-owned companies.

“Essentially this is a holiday ban,” he said. “Limiting Min Aung Hlaing’s holiday options is not a proportionate response to genocide.”



"The UN special rapporteur for Myanmar said Thursday the United States didn’t ‘‘go far enough’’ in sanctions against four top Myanmar generals over the mass killings of minority Rohingya Muslims. Myanmar’s commander in chief and his deputy, two other generals, and their immediate families have been banned from traveling to the United States. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the four were responsible for ‘‘gross human rights violations’’ involving extrajudicial killings in an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state. UN envoy Yanghee Lee said the US move was ‘‘better late than never’’ but was inadequate. She said a UN fact-finding mission had earlier identified six Myanmar generals, including the four men, who should be sanctioned. The United States should also ban the other two, and their assets should be seized, she said. ‘‘It doesn’t go far enough. It should go further, and the perimeters of the sanctions should go further,’’ she said." 

I imagine the U.S. is trying to hedge its bets with the strategically located country.


We will then be fighting them in Africa:

"Congo’s Ebola Outbreak Is Declared a Global Health Emergency" by Denise Grady New York Times, July 17, 2019

The year-old Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo is now considered a global health emergency, the World Health Organization said Wednesday, in a formal declaration that many public health experts called long overdue.

Emergency declarations are issued sparingly, reserved for outbreaks that pose a serious threat to public health and could spread to other countries. They are meant to increase international attention and aid to help stop epidemics.

As of Monday, the Congo outbreak had infected 2,512 people and killed 1,676 of them. The disease has defied efforts to control its spread in the northeastern part of the country, a conflict zone under constant threat from warring militias. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, has described the outbreak as one of the world’s most dangerous viruses in one of the world’s most dangerous areas.

It is the second-largest outbreak in history after the one in West Africa in 2014-’15, which infected 28,616 people and caused 11,310 deaths. That epidemic was declared a global emergency.

The decision Wednesday was based on a vote by 11 members of an expert panel convened by Tedros to reassess the current outbreak after an infected man carried the virus to the city of Goma, a densely populated transportation hub close to Rwanda that has an international airport. That patient has died.

Wednesday was the fourth time that Tedros convened the expert panel to consider whether the outbreak met the criteria for a “public health emergency of international concern.” The first three times, the panel said no, drawing sharp criticism from many specialists in public health.

Global health groups had been calling for the declaration for months. Josie Golding of the Wellcome Trust, a research charity based in London, said the response in Congo was “overstretched and underfunded.” Giving the outbreak emergency status, she added, would “help raise international support and release more resources — including finance, health care workers, enhanced logistics, security, and infrastructure.”

The WHO said it had received $49 million from international donors from February to July, only half the money it needs. Officials who have visited the region say supplies are running short, including the protective gear that health workers need to avoid becoming infected. At a United Nations meeting about the outbreak Monday, one official said he had seen syringes and gloves being reused because equipment was becoming scarce.

Tedros said that emergency declarations were not meant to be used as a means of raising money, but he added that if any countries had withheld donations because no emergency had been declared, “if that is the excuse” it “can no longer be used.”


The man who brought the disease to Goma was a pastor who had preached in seven churches in the epidemic zone, laying hands on the sick. He became ill and was treated by a nurse but got on a bus to Goma anyway. The bus stopped at three checkpoints meant to halt the spread of the disease by screening passengers for symptoms, but his illness was not detected. He gave a different name at each checkpoint, apparently hoping to avoid being detained, local health authorities said. Sick and feverish by the time he arrived in Goma, he went to a clinic there, where the disease was diagnosed.

He was the only patient in the Goma clinic, which was disinfected after his visit. Health authorities have been tracking the other bus passengers and the driver, as well as others who might have been exposed.

In this photograph taken Sunday July 14, 2019, an Ebola victim is put to rest at the Muslim cemetery in Beni, Congo DRC. The head of the World Health Organization is convening a meeting of experts Wednesday July 17, 2019 to decide whether the Ebola outbreak should be declared an international emergency after spreading to eastern Congo’s biggest city, Goma, this week. More than 1,600 people in eastern Congo have died as the virus has spread in areas too dangerous for health teams to access.
In this photograph taken Sunday July 14, 2019, an Ebola victim is put to rest at the Muslim cemetery in Beni, Congo DRC. The head of the World Health Organization is convening a meeting of experts Wednesday July 17, 2019 to decide whether the Ebola outbreak should be declared an international emergency after spreading to eastern Congo’s biggest city, Goma, this week. More than 1,600 people in eastern Congo have died as the virus has spread in areas too dangerous for health teams to access.

You can't argue with those guys. 


The medical emergency could lead to martial law.


"Sudan’s ruling military council and pro-democracy movement signed a political document Wednesday that formalized the broad outlines of a power-sharing deal announced this month, but key details of the deal, including the powers of a transitional ruling council and Cabinet, have yet to be agreed on. The two sides have been wrestling for control of Sudan since the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir in April. General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo signed the deal for the military in a visible sign of the shifting balance of power in Sudan......"

Also see: Sudanese Spring

Coming soon to Kenya.


Looks like the wars could be getting pretty hot:

"Donald Trump believes being president means he has the right to do what whatever he wants. That’s the message he delivered — not for the first time — on Tuesday while addressing a crowd of teenagers and young adults at the Turning Point USA Teen Student Action Summit in Washington. ‘‘Then, I have an Article II, where I have to the right to do whatever I want as president,’’ he said. Trump appears to be discussing Article II of the Constitution, which at no point indicates that the president has the power to what he or she chooses. Speaking to ABC in June about allegations that he wanted to fire Robert Mueller, the president said, ‘‘Article II allows me to do whatever I want.”

Apparently, Mueller got eaten alive up on the hill today, and Trump has got his new SecDef:

"Esper Confirmed as Trump’s Defense Secretary" by Helene Cooper New York Times, July 23, 2019

WASHINGTON — Mark T. Esper, an Army infantryman who fought in the Persian Gulf war of 1991 before becoming a lobbyist for the defense contractor Raytheon Co., now takes control of the country’s 1.2 million active-duty troops and one of the largest militaries in the world as the Trump administration is wrestling with the results of its so-called maximum pressure campaign of economic sanctions on Iran, which has prodded the two adversaries closer to military confrontation.

Esper will now add his voice to the senior Trump national security advisers seeking to influence the president on a range of issues, including how to end the war in Afghanistan, and how to negotiate with Turkey as the country, a longtime NATO ally, goes against US wishes in buying a missile system from Russia.

How influential Esper will be is one of the biggest questions facing the new defense secretary. Jim Mattis, who resigned in December during a dispute over pulling US troops out of Syria, was widely viewed as a voice of reason and global stability in a chaotic administration.....


He will be working with some familiar faces.

Now about ending that war in Afghanistan:

"Afghanistan recoils at Trump’s comments about destroying the country" by David Zucchino New York Times, July 23, 2019

President Trump and Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan took questions from reporters during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House on Monday.
President Trump and Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan took questions from reporters during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House on Monday.(Anna Moneymaker/New York Times)

KABUL — Afghanistan demanded a clarification Tuesday of President Trump’s comments a day earlier that he could have had the country “wiped off the face of the earth” but did not “want to kill 10 million people.”

That would end it, I guess, and hopefully that view and restraint sticks with him as we go forward.

In a sharply worded statement, the government of President Ashraf Ghani noted that Afghanistan expected its relationship with the United States to be “grounded on common interests and mutual respect.”

Trump made the comments Monday during an Oval Office meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan. The president said he was referring to prepared military plans for Afghanistan, adding, “I could win that war in a week.”

Well, that place hasn't been subjugated since Alexander the Great, so..... 

Ghani’s government, facing a bruising reelection campaign this fall, indicated that it did not intend to let the matter drop.

“The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan will keep the Afghan public posted on the issue,” its statement said.

Ghani has expended political capital by embracing Trump’s South Asia policy in the face of opposition in a complex region with competing rivalries. The president’s comments Monday seemed, to many Afghans, to be walking back his commitments to their country.

There was no immediate comment from the State Department early Tuesday.

While Americans may be accustomed to provocative statements from Trump, Afghans tend to interpret any comment by a US president about Afghanistan as an official declaration of policy.

In the meeting Monday, Trump said that Khan would help negotiate peace in Afghanistan and that Pakistan would help the United States “extricate ourselves” from the conflict.

We don't need their help. Declare victory and leave!

Former president Hamid Karzai, who during his tenure had a strained relationship with the United States over civilian casualties caused by US forces, said that Trump had insulted all Afghans.

Yeah, the casualties made the puppet look bad.

In a statement Tuesday, Karzai said that the president’s comments confirmed the suspicions of many Afghans that the United States had made “secret deals” with Pakistan to undermine Afghanistan’s sovereignty. Afghanistan has accused Pakistan of providing safe havens to the Taliban.

Karzai added that the United States “is not respecting our lives and human dignity at all.”

Not since the bombing began in October 2001.

Rahmatullah Nabil, a former Afghan intelligence chief and a current candidate for president, noted that Trump had made no mention of continuing the United States’s commitment to Afghanistan.

“Does this mean,” Nabil wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, that “other US officials are misleading AFG about long term commitments?”

Rangin Dadfar Spanta, a national security adviser for Karzai, told reporters Tuesday that Trump’s words were “a terrible, racist political message.”

Well, he's been doing that a lot lately.

“There is no need to brag that you can kill 10 million Afghans,” he added.

The State Department announced Tuesday that the US representative to peace talks with the Taliban, Zalmay Khalilzad, had returned to the region to prepare for the next round of talks with the militant group.

In a Twitter message Tuesday, Khalilzad appeared to try to repair the damage from Trump’s remarks by describing an “enduring” US relationship with Afghanistan. “I’m arriving in Kabul today, focused on achieving an enduring peace that ends the war, ensures terrorists do not use Afghanistan to threaten the US, honors the sacrifices that US, our allies & Afghans made, and cements an enduring relationship w/Afghanistan,” he posted.

That means some troops stay.

The seventh round of peace talks, in Doha, Qatar, was suspended July 9 to allow officials to consult with their leaderships. Khalilzad has said that the Taliban and the United States had agreed to a framework in which the militants would not allow terrorists to use Afghanistan soil and the United States would begin a phased withdrawal of its 14,000 troops in the country.

I'll believe it when there is not one U.S. boot left in Afghanistan.

Any final deal would also include direct negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government and a comprehensive cease-fire, Khalilzad has said. The Taliban has refused to negotiate with the government in Kabul, calling it illegitimate.

Separately, an Afghan delegation — which included government officials acting as private citizens — held two days of informal talks in Doha with the Taliban and issued a statement July 9 promising to work to reduce civilian casualties.

Abdul Latif Pedram, an Afghan presidential candidate who is opposed to the Taliban and who has met informally with Taliban officials, accused Trump of “shameless arrogance.” In a statement, Pedram called on the United States to withdraw its troops and for Afghans to fight Americans “until the withdrawal of your very last soldier.”

Addressing Trump, Pedram added, “Many occupiers have tried to capture this country, but they found only a graveyard. This country will be your graveyard.”

It's know as the graveyard of empires, and neither the British nor the Russians could subjugate them -- and we have been there far too long.

On the street and on social media, ordinary Afghans responded with a mix of fury and bewilderment.

“He is not a sane person,” Khan Ali, 35, a street vendor, said of Trump.

Mohammad Arif, 50, a shoemaker, said of the president’s comments: “This is in no way possible. Trump has a kind of madness.”

In a strange way, though, he is a sane genius given those around him.

On Facebook, Zakir Jalali wrote, “So the fight against terrorism was just a joke?”

Another Facebook user, Masoud Hemayat, posted, “Until there is not a single American in Afghanistan, we will not see a happy day in our country.”

And I want Afghans to be happy.



"Indian opposition leaders on Tuesday angrily demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi clarify his position in Parliament about President Trump mediating in India’s long-running dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir. Trump said Modi recently asked him whether he would like to be a mediator or arbitrator on Kashmir. Trump spoke to reporters in Washington before Monday’s meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir, the Himalayan territory they both claim and which is divided between them. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training insurgents who have been fighting since 1989 for Kashmir’s independence from India or its merger with Pakistan. Islamabad denies the charge. About 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian crackdown....."

Why can't the Kashmiris just have a referendum like Kosovo and South Sudan?

India now claims Pakistan violated their airspace with a rocket, but it was shot down and harmlessly splashed into the ocean (a movie by Damon and Affleck and starring Tom Hanks is already in the works. B.B. King is going to provide the musical score).

Time to turn that radar defense system off:

"Were US diplomats attacked in Cuba? Brain study deepens mystery" by Benedict Carey New York Times, July 23, 2019

In late 2016, dozens of US diplomats working in Cuba and China began reporting odd mental symptoms: persistent headaches, vertigo, blurred vision, hearing phantom sounds. Since then, scientists and commentators have groped for plausible explanations. Deliberate physical attacks, involving microwaves or other such technology? Or were psychological factors, subconscious yet mind-altering, the more likely cause?

The strangeness of the symptoms, and the spookiness of the proposed causes, have given the story a life of its own in the diplomatic corps, the Pentagon, and in assorted pockets of the internet where conspiracy theories thrive.

I'm tired of being insulted just for asking questions and pointing out absurdities, inconsistencies, and anomalies.

Now, researchers are reporting results from the first brain-imaging studies of 40 of those diplomats, who were carefully examined by neurologists after returning home from Cuba. The study, appearing Tuesday in the medical journal JAMA, concludes that the diplomats experienced some kind of brain trauma, but the nature and cause of that trauma were not clear, as it did not resemble the signature of more familiar brain injuries such as repeated concussions or exposure to battlefield blasts.

“The main thing we can do with brain imaging is ask whether something happened to the brain,” said Dr. Ragini Verma, a professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania Perlman School of Medicine and lead author of the new report. “And the answer we found is that yes, it did.”

Based on the findings, Verma said that a wholly psychogenic or psychosomatic cause was very unlikely. “But I don’t know the cause,” she said. “The imaging by itself cannot tell us that.”

Outside experts were divided on the study’s conclusions. Some saw important new evidence; others say it is merely a first step toward an explanation and difficult to interpret given the small number of patients.

“It’s good work, but there’s just not enough here to come to any conclusion,” said Dr. Mark Rasenick, a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois Chicago School of Medicine. Rasenick is a member of the Cuban Academy of Science and has close ties to scientists there who have been skeptical that invisible weapons were involved.....

Maybe some sort of microwave machine is responsible.


Might want to grab a flight out of country:

"South Korean jets fire warning shots toward Russian military plane" by Choe Sang-Hun New York Times, July 23, 2019

SEOUL — South Korea said its air force jets fired hundreds of warning shots Tuesday to ward off a Russian military plane that intruded upon what it considers its territorial airspace, the first such encounter between the countries in decades.

The incident came as Russia and China conducted what Russia called a joint air patrol in the Asia-Pacific. South Korea said that three Russian military planes, as well as two Chinese warplanes, entered its air defense identification zone off its east coast, where foreign military aircraft are expected to identify themselves in advance to South Korea, but South Korea said that one of the Russian planes, a Beriev A-50 early warning and control aircraft, flew closer and intruded twice into what the South regards as its territorial airspace, near a cluster of disputed islands that South Korea controls but Japan also claims.

Both times, the Russian plane violated that territorial airspace for a few minutes, prompting South Korean F-15 and F-16 fighter jets operating nearby to fire 20 flares and 360 machine-gun rounds as warning shots from a half-mile away, officials said. The South Korean jets took the action after the Russian plane did not answer repeated radio warnings, according to the South.

Japan said it had scrambled jets in response to the Chinese and Russian patrol, and Japan lodged formal complaints against both Russia and South Korea for their actions over what it called “our territory,” the Kyodo News agency reported.

Jonathan B. Miller, a senior fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs in Tokyo, said flying over the disputed islands “inflames tensions between South Korea and Japan, which is in a sense both in Russia and China’s interest because it weakens the alliance network with the United States.” Relations between Japan and South Korea have been deteriorating in recent weeks, largely over a trade dispute.

That doesn't make sense at all because this alleged incident does nothing but bring the bickering trading partners together on matters of security.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said there had been “no violations of airspaces of foreign countries” in its joint patrol with China.

The sad thing is, I'm inclined to believe the Russians over my own government or pre$$ these days.

A spokeswoman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hua Chunying, told reporters in Beijing that China and South Korea were “friendly neighbors” but added that she was unclear about the incident and referred questions to the Chinese Defense Ministry. The Defense Ministry had no comment.

They are letting the Russians take the lead. Better chess players.

In recent years, long-range bombers and reconnaissance planes from the Russian and Chinese militaries have frequently entered South Korea’s air defense identification zone, though not together. South Korea has dispatched fighter jets to confront them, but in addition to the Russian-Chinese coordination Tuesday, the episode marked the first time in recent memory that a Russian warplane had entered not just the broader air defense zone, but what South Korea considers its territorial airspace.

Chung Eui-yong, national security adviser for President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, sent a warning to his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, Moon’s office said Tuesday. It warned that South Korea would take “a far stronger action” if Russia tried similar maneuvers again. Seoul also summoned Russian and Chinese diplomats in South Korea to lodge protests, officials said.

Military planes that enter another country’s air defense identification zone are expected to notify that country in advance, but in recent years countries in Northeast Asia have often accused each other of violating that protocol, which is not governed or enforced by any international organization. If a military plane enters a country’s air defense zone without proper notice, the host country considers itself entitled to order it to leave, or to dispatch military jets to confront the intruding aircraft.

In 2013, South Korea expanded its air defense identification zone for the first time in 62 years to include airspace over the East China Sea that is also claimed by China and Japan. Since that expansion, the air defense zones of all three countries have overlapped over a submerged reef that South Korea calls Ieodo and China calls Suyan Rock.

South Korea’s expansion of its air patrol zone came two weeks after China unilaterally expanded its own air patrol zone to include airspace over the reef. The expanded Chinese zone also covers a set of East China Sea islands, called Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese, which are at the heart of a territorial feud between Japan and China. The overlapping zones have raised the risk of military tensions in the region.....

It's all about who controls the resources of the area.


Fortunately, the Russians have a sub in the area.


Tent camp fire in Russia kills 4 children

I wouldn't send an e-mail about it because the Kremlin has been tightening control over the Internet as support for President Vladimir Putin declines amid a groundswell of protests against the authorities on issues ranging from elections to trash collection and declining living standards.

Man, they are so ripe for invasion!


"South Korea says Russia expressed ‘deep regret’ over plane incursion" by Richard Pérez-Peña New York Times, July 24, 2019

South Korea’s government said Wednesday that Moscow had expressed “deep regret” over the incident that prompted South Korean jets to fire warning shots near a Russian military plane, but a Russian spokesman countered that his country had not formally apologized.

The contrasting — if not quite contradictory — statements, and Russian objections to parts of the South Korean account, illustrated the tension over the most serious confrontation in years between the two nations.

I'm told there is the possibility that the Russians were apologetic in private, and I suppose it's also a possibility that they did not -- especially if they did nothing untoward or wrong and this is nothing but more pre$$ war hype fabrication. 

The Russian plane involved in the incident was a Beriev A-50 equipped with powerful long-range radar to track and coordinate the movements of multiple aircraft, [and] it was in a group of Russian and Chinese military planes conducting a joint operation over the Sea of Japan, an indication of growing cooperation between those two powers. The confrontation took place near a cluster of islands controlled by South Korea but also claimed by Japan.

Yeah, but it's okay because as I have stated this month, the plan is to tie the Chinese (and now Russians) up along the entire length of the Pacific while also opening an eastern front from the Arctic to the Caspian (keeps the Russians busy). Then the soft underbelly that is Iran can be gouged open, ridding us of that regime and soon pinning Russia and China in Mongolia and Siberia as winter sets in. It's a brilliant and fool-proof plan.

Moscow said Wednesday that it had been involved in a separate confrontation on the Korean Peninsula after North Korea seized a Russian fishing ship and its crew. A statement posted on Facebook by the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang said that North Korea had made the seizure July 17, claiming that the vessel had violated rules for entering the country. The crew members were said to include 15 Russians and two South Koreans. The Russians said that they had visited the Russian crew members and were working with North Korea to resolve the matter.....

It gets weirder and weirder, doesn't it?

I suspect that may be cover for Russian and North Korean coordination regarding the fast moving events.



North Korea fires 2 unidentified projectiles into sea, South Korea says

New German defense minister backs higher military spending

Can't send the signals any clearer, and Poland should once again be a pushover!

"Iran’s president hints at quid pro quo for seized UK ship" by Nasser Karimi and Aya Batrawy Associated Press, July 24, 2019

TEHRAN, Iran — President Hassan Rouhani suggested on Wednesday that Iran might release a UK-flagged ship if Britain takes similar steps to release an Iranian oil tanker seized by the British Royal Navy off Gibraltar earlier this month.

His remarks could create an opening to reduce tensions as Boris Johnson becomes prime minister. It’s unclear how the new government will respond to Rouhani’s suggestion or the impasse with Iran.

‘‘We do not seek the continuation of tension with some European countries,’’ Rouhani said in comments carried on his website. ‘‘Should they be committed to international frameworks and give up their wrong actions, including what they did in Gibraltar, they will receive a proportional response from Iran.’’

Britain this week announced plans to develop and deploy a Europe-led ‘‘maritime protection mission’’ to safeguard shipping in the area after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard seized the Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday.

Rouhani said that while Iran does not seek a military conflict, it will not allow threats to its security in the important waterway. He described the Iranian seizure of the ship as ‘‘professional and brave.’’

Iranian officials have alleged the ship was seized after it violated international maritime law by turning off its signaling for longer than is allowed and passing through the wrong channels; however, Iranian officials have also suggested the ship was seized in response to Britain’s role in impounding an Iranian supertanker two weeks earlier off the coast of Gibraltar, a British overseas territory. The UK says the tanker was suspected of violating sanctions on oil shipments to Syria. Both sides have called the interception of one another’s ships ‘‘hostile acts’’ and ‘‘piracy.’’

Despite a UK government advisory that British-flagged ships avoid the Strait of Hormuz, a large British-flagged vessel transited the corridor and arrived at a port in Qatar on Wednesday. Maritime publication Lloyd’s List identified the vessel as the BW Elm and reported that a British warship, likely the HMS Montrose, closely shadowed the large liquefied petroleum gas carrier but that the Royal Navy did not provide a direct escort.....

The rest of the article deals with whether Iran shot down a US spy drone, or whether an Iranian drone crashed into the sea, or if that was a second Iranian drone.

Iran says ‘‘provide evidence,’’ and that's the thing. None is ever provided, or that which is proves to be unverified or fabrication. What we are left with is trying to make sense of things over a narrative and events that may be distorted or outright fictions. Wouldn't really matter were it not WWIII at stake.


Maybe the new British head of government can put a stop to it:

"Boris Johnson becomes British prime minister" by William Booth and Karla Adam Washington Post, July 24, 2019

LONDON — The transition of power in Britain’s parliamentary democracy is brutal — and lightning quick.

Theresa May curtsied to Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday afternoon and resigned. Minutes later, Boris Johnson, the tousle-haired leader of the Brexit campaign, bowed and was asked to form a new government.

The dance began earlier in the day, when May appeared in the House of Commons for her last session of prime minister’s questions. May offered tepid support for her successor. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn laid into her — saying that, under her tenure, child poverty was up, pensioner poverty was up, school class size was up, food bank use was up. May retorted that she was proud of her record. She then lowered her head, eyeballed Corbyn, and poked him with her horns: ‘‘As a party leader who has accepted when her time was up, perhaps the time is now for him to do the same.’’

I'll bet there was a great murmur and a few here, here's, 'eh?

May had a relatively short tenure for a British prime minister, [and] now returns to the backbenches of Parliament as an ordinary and not very influential lawmaker. This is far different from the tradition in the United States, where a former president scoots offstage to write memoirs, deliver speeches, and build a library......

Not this president. They are already sizing him up for a jail cell.

As for May, she will be able to join fired foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, who was offered another job in the administration but decided to return to the backbenches, in asking questions of the new prime minister.


Going to be tough to retake Hong Kong:

"China hints its troops could be used to quell Hong Kong protests" by Steven Lee Myers New York Times, July 24, 2019

BEIJING — China delivered its most explicit warning to date Wednesday that it was prepared to use military force in Hong Kong if protesters there threatened the central government’s authority.

The warning was a stark reminder of Beijing’s ultimate control over the fate of Hong Kong, the former British territory. The People’s Liberation Army has for years maintained a garrison of 6,000 soldiers in several bases around Hong Kong, but China has never before ordered them to intervene in the territory’s affairs, though several hundred did help clear trees and other debris after Typhoon Mangkhut battered the city in 2018.

No one was complaint then.

Appearing at a Beijing briefing on a government document outlining China’s defense strategy, the chief spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, Senior Colonel Wu Qian, cited the protests Sunday outside the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong, which protesters splattered with paint and defaced with graffiti, and strongly suggested that instances of destructive behavior were straining Beijing’s patience.

Responding to a question, he pointedly cited the specific article in a law detailing relations between Hong Kong and the People’s Liberation Army allowing the military to intervene, when requested by Hong Kong’s leaders, to maintain order or assist in cases of natural disasters.

Like a governor asking for federal help.

“The behavior of some radical protesters challenges the central government’s authority, touching on the bottom line principle of ‘one country, two systems,’” Wu said, referring to China’s model for governing the territory of 7.4 million. “That absolutely cannot be tolerated.”

The new defense strategy unveiled in the document did not mention Hong Kong, but it identified efforts to divide Chinese territory as the country’s most pressing security threat.

The defense strategy also refused to rule out the use of force against Taiwan, which China claims as its territory, in the event the self-governing island took any formal steps toward independence.

The document criticized “external forces” that support such independence moves, an oblique but clear reference to the United States, which has long provided support to Taiwan, including a new sale of more than 100 M1A2T Abrams tanks and other weaponry, worth $2.2 billion.

To follow up on what I said earlier, Taiwan is important because it can act as a forward staging area and launch point for invading the mainland as Japan once did. If nothing else, Chinese military occupation on the grounds of security could be used by the U.S. as a sign of aggression that needs to be countered, etc.

The warnings about what are, to China, core matters of sovereignty underlined growing concern about threats to the central authority of the Communist Party government under President Xi Jinping, whose pledges never to cede any territory are central to his image as the country’s most powerful leader in decades.

Look at the NYT turn him into an Asian Hitler! 

Yeah, no retreats (never mind that they haven't invaded anyone) and you must die on the ground that you stand (as the German generals ignored the order and buggered off anyway).

The new document on defense strategy — 69 pages in all — offered a detailed window into China’s rising military ambitions under the leadership of Xi. It accused the United States of undermining global stability and reflected China’s uneasy view of an increasingly uncertain world. It also acknowledged shortcomings still hampering the People’s Liberation Army, especially in the areas of artificial intelligence and what it called “informationized warfare.”

I've highlighted much of this article because this signal from the Chinese at this exact time is important. It's a calm shot across the bow and a quiet warning. They will defend themselves.

“Greater efforts have to be invested in military modernization to meet national security demands,” the strategy said, noting that Chinese military spending was lower as a percentage of gross domestic product than not only the United States and Russia, but also France and Britain.

If they spend it smartly, with little bloat and corruption, you can get more bang for the buck (while the ground forces are unmatchable).

The strategy, with a title that included Xi’s signature allusions to a “new era,” stopped short of explicitly identifying the United States as an adversaryas the Trump administration did with China (and Russia) in its own national security strategy in 2017.

It did accuse the United States of acting unilaterally across the globe by expanding US capabilities in nuclear weaponry, missile defenses, cyberwarfare, and in outer space. (President Trump last year ordered the creation of the US Space Force as a sixth branch of the US military.)

Can't really argue with that.

“The international security system and order are under attack,” Wu said. He went on to criticize those who have described growing tensions in the world as a clash of civilization akin to the Cold War.

Don't go down that road, and isn't it amazing how the ends of these posts connect to the beginnings?

China’s defense strategy — and the comments of the senior officials — made clear that China had its own red lines, particularly dealing with anything perceived to threaten its territorial sovereignty.

Or it could be an actual threat.

It singled out, for example, the deployment in South Korea of the US missile defense system called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD.

Chinese officials have similarly accused the Americans of supporting the protests convulsing Hong Kong and, more broadly, for supporting Taiwan and its independence-minded president, Tsai Ing-wen, who visited the United States this month.

I don't think they are simply supporting them; I think they are a driving force. It's part of the CIA playbook, activate the activists. Many protesters probably have no idea they are being used or duped.

Regarding Hong Kong, the law Wu cited took effect when China resumed control of Hong Kong in 1997 and details the activities of the military garrison that was established there soon after. The forces there are headquartered in a former British military building in Admiralty, the area where many of the protests have unfolded.

Kind of ironic, huh, and I guess the protesters want the British back after flying their flag in the legislature.

In 2017, on the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule, Xi presided over a military parade that was the largest display of Chinese military force, with 3,000 soldiers in formation hailing their commander in chief. For the most part, however, the troops have largely kept a low profile.

They are waived in our faces here.

Although the law says the People’s Liberation Army will not interfere in “local affairs,” it allows authorities in Hong Kong to call on the military in extreme circumstances.....


Looks like Trump's Cold War against China is just another Red Scare as stocks hit record highs, while lightning only strikes once in Afghanistan.