Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Sunday Globe Special: China Going to the Dogs

They must be a cat country:

"Chinese city bans daytime dog walking in a crackdown on canines" by Tiffany May New York Times  November 17, 2018

HONG KONG — A major city in China is cracking down on pet dogs, banning dog walking during the day and prohibiting many larger breeds, after a publicized fight between a dog owner and a bystander.

The new rules in Hangzhou, in eastern China, were adopted after a dog owner was filmed pushing and shoving a woman who had kicked his dog. Before the fight, surveillance footage showed a young boy hiding behind the woman as the dog circled them without a leash.

The harsh restrictions on dogs — which hark back to anti-pet rules in earlier decades of communist rule and reflect continuing tensions over the place of dogs in society — officially took effect Thursday.

Hangzhou’s animal rights volunteers said they had seen dogs of all sizes being confiscated this week. Thousands have also commented on a post on Weibo, a popular social media platform, from the International Olympic Committee to debate Hangzhou’s fitness to host the 2022 Asian Games in light of its treatment of dogs.

Going to ruin the party before it's begun.

Videos of uniformed city law enforcers beating dogs with metal poles have circulated widely on Chinese social media and chat groups, but the authenticity of the videos could not be verified, as similar crackdowns have occurred in other cities in the past, and it is unclear when the videos were filmed.

China has a history of using dogs to make aggressive political statements. Dogs were branded as political enemies in the 1940s for revealing the movements of communist fighters who resisted Japanese colonizers by nightfall. For decades, they were derided as bourgeois house pets that wasted scarce resources. Sometimes, dogs were openly beaten on streets as an act of aggression.

Though many dog restrictions were gradually loosened after China’s economic reforms in the 1980s, some officials and others have remained hostile.

Pet ownership has become increasingly affordable for the emerging middle class, and animal rights activism is increasingly accepted, especially among younger generations, but some animal rights advocates acknowledge that the deeply rooted fear of dogs may also be aggravated by a lack of discipline on the part of some dog owners.....

Still man's best friend.


That article is going to tarnish China's image:

"How China is rewriting its own script" by Amy Qin and Audrey Carlsen   November 19, 2018

When was the last time you watched a movie with a Chinese villain?

If you can’t remember, that may not be too surprising. Take the 2012 remake of the Cold War drama “Red Dawn.” It depicted Chinese enemies invading a US town.

At least it did until the script was leaked, angering the Chinese state media.

In the end, MGM spent $1 million digitally erasing evidence of the Chinese army, frame by frame, and substituting North Koreans instead.

China wields enormous influence over how it is depicted in the movies Americans make and watch. It’s part of a broader push by the government to take control of its global narrative and present a friendlier, less menacing image of China to the world.

I'm sorry. Having the Jew York Times tell me China controls Hollywood is almost as bas as Alex Jones telling me it's Saudia Arabia!

It's not China that is going to the dogs, it's the AmeriKan pre$$.

China’s booming box office and seemingly inexhaustible cash reserves have provided a much-needed boost to Hollywood as it faces slowing ticket sales in the United States and challenges from Amazon and Netflix, but Hollywood’s embrace of China has not come without strings attached.

Oh, so China isn't so much as controlling the scripts as it is keeping Hollywood afloat as Americans stop going to movie theaters (I know I have).

So when the creators of “Pixels” wanted to show aliens blasting a hole in the Great Wall of China, Sony executives worried that the scene might prevent the 2015 movie’s release in China, leaked studio e-mails show. They blew up the Taj Mahal instead.

India, oddly enough, will come up later in this post.

In the 1960s, Marvel Comics introduced a mystical guru character known as the Ancient One into its universe. He was portrayed as an elderly Tibetan man, but in the 2016 movie “Doctor Strange,” the Ancient One is Celtic, played by white actress Tilda Swinton. Moviemakers decided to change the character’s ethnicity early in the process, reportedly to avoid offending the Chinese government.

What is interesting is who they are not concerned about offending.

Invariably, the villains are either Arabs terrorists or Russian bad guys!!


Whose enemies are those?

As recently as two decades ago, major Hollywood movies were sharply critical of China. “Seven Years in Tibet,” which depicts Chinese soldiers brutalizing Tibetans, was one of the top 100 grossing movies of 1997. Also that year, Disney released Martin Scorsese’s “Kundun” — a sympathetic portrayal of the Dalai Lama’s early life in Mao-era China and his subsequent exile in India — despite objections from Chinese authorities.

“You’re not going to see something that’s like ‘Seven Years in Tibet’ anymore,” said Larry Shinagawa, a professor at Hawaii Tokai International College who specializes in Asian and Asian-American studies. Studios that make films critical of China, he said, risk being banned from releasing movies in the country.

At stake for China is more than just the validation of Hollywood’s power brokers and celebrities. In speeches and at forums, President Xi Jinping has repeatedly emphasized the need to “tell China’s story well,” to make sure a coherent, compelling, and, most important, Communist Party-sanctioned narrative of China’s rise to power reaches global audiences.

I actually have no complaints. Most Americans know so little of China.

“There is a notion that its propaganda has not worked well enough,” said Orville Schell, director of the Center on US-China Relations at the Asia Society. “So this is where the film industry comes in. There’s a real sensitivity to the blockbuster power of Hollywood.”

As one who has consumed movies most of his life, I sadly agree.

China has raised its influence in Hollywood by bankrolling a growing number of top-tier films.

So it is like the Democratic donor model then? 

Those who pay call the play?

Of the top 100 highest-grossing films worldwide each year from 1997 to 2013, China helped finance only 12 Hollywood movies, but in the five years that followed, China cofinanced 41 top-grossing Hollywood films.

Hollywood studios are also eager to grab a slice of China’s fast-growing box office market, which surpassed the United States in total revenue for the first time ever in the first quarter of 2018.

Success in China can make up for a disappointing box office performance at home or even transform a hit into a global blockbuster. By the same token, getting shut out of the Chinese market can be devastating for a movie.

That’s a powerful incentive to avoid causing any offense to China.

I'll bet Hollywood's Jewish pooh-bahs have quite an adjustment to make there.

One of China’s top movie regulators spelled it out in a speech at the US-China Film Summit in Los Angeles in 2013.

“We have a huge market, and we want to share it with you,” said Zhang Xun, then the president of the state-owned China Film Co-Production Corp., speaking to a room full of Hollywood executives.

Then came the condition. “We want films that are heavily invested in Chinese culture, not one or two shots,” she said. “We want to see positive Chinese images.”

China’s campaign to push a positive image abroad has extended beyond Hollywood.

They are not the only ones.

The 2016 film “The Great Wall,” a $150 million China-Hollywood co-production starring Matt Damon, was China’s highest-profile attempt to make a crossover hit. It was, by most measures, an international flop.

Since then, China has stepped away from the big-budget co-production model, focusing instead on making features that cater to its large and still-expanding domestic market. To do that, it has enlisted Hollywood talent: producers, technical experts, and even top celebrities, but they have had to walk a fine line.

A number of actors, musicians and other celebrities have been barred from entering the country over behavior deemed inappropriate or critical of the Chinese Communist Party.

Here’s why some of them were barred from China:

In order they are Justin Bieber, Björk, Jon Bon Jovi, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Elton John, Katy Perry, and Brad Pitt; however, they did make the guest list to another function.

Perhaps most central to China’s soft-power push is CGTN, the international arm of the state broadcaster CCTV. With employees from more than 70 countries and regions working on television channels broadcasting in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, and Russian, CGTN’s mission is to report news for global audiences “from a Chinese perspective.”

The difference in the “Chinese perspective” was most evident in CGTN’s coverage this year of an unexpected proposal to abolish presidential term limits in China’s constitution. While Western media outlets raced to explain why the amendment, which would open the door to Xi’s indefinite rule, was unprecedented, CGTN’s anchors were calm — and eerily synchronized — in their message praising the change.

That seems eerily familiar to me.

It is difficult to tell whether China’s push to soften its image has been successful.

“Chinese soft power has not been that successful outside of the developing world,” said Stanley Rosen, a professor at the University of Southern California who studies Chinese society and cinema. “If China does have any soft power, it’s probably because of the success of their economy and the Chinese model that they’re pushing very hard now.”

The professor they turned to for expert analysis is named Rosen?


That has to be one of the most absolutely laughable pieces of crap that has come from the New York Times in some time.

Now for some hard power:

"Pence and China’s leader stake out dueling positions at trade meeting" by Jamie Tarabay and Choe Sang-Hun New York Times  November 17, 2018

SYDNEY — President Xi Jinping of China and Vice President Mike Pence pushed back against criticism of each of their countries’ trade practices in speeches Saturday at an Asia-Pacific trade summit in Papua New Guinea, while seeking to assure allies of their commitment to the region.

Xi and Pence spoke before what is likely to be a tense meeting between President Trump and the Chinese leader at the Group of 20 conference in Argentina later this month, where they will attempt to defuse a trade war.

That's when things will be sunk for sure.

Xi may also be looking to shore up ties with an important trading partner, North Korea. He told President Moon Jae-in of South Korea on the sidelines of the trade forum that he was considering visiting the North after its leader, Kim Jong Un, extended an invitation, according to a spokesman for Moon.

Pence and Xi spoke at the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea. The 21 Pacific Rim countries and territories participating in the APEC forum account for 60 percent of the global economy.

Pence, appearing in Trump’s place, reiterated recent criticism of China’s geopolitical strategies and attacked the country’s “belt and road” initiative, an enormous infrastructure plan financed by China that spans some 70 countries.

He urged Asian nations to avoid investment offers from China and to choose a “better option” — working with the United States, which, he said, would not saddle them with debt, a quandary some countries are facing as a result of their partnerships with Beijing.

“Let me say to all the nations across this wider region, and the world: Do not accept foreign debt that could compromise your sovereignty,” Pence said.

“We don’t drown our partners in a sea of debt,” he added. “We don’t coerce or compromise your independence. We do not offer a constricting belt or a one-way road. When you partner with us, we partner with you, and we all prosper.”

Is he of his meds or just delusional?

What does he think U.S.-controlled instruments like the IMF and World Bank do? 

Their prescription for the problem they foist on you is always austerity (go ask the Greeks about it).

Xi, perhaps anticipating the criticism, spoke before Pence and disputed the notion that accepting Chinese investment as part of the initiative called “One Belt, One Road” would compromise a nation’s sovereignty.

The initiative “is not for geopolitical purposes; it will exclude no one; it will not close a door and create a small circle,” Xi said. “It is not the so-called trap, as some people say. It is the sunshine avenue where China shares opportunities with the world to seek common development.”

That seems to be what is being offered, too. 

You can either have the unipolar U.S. way, complete with economic and military coercion if you don't agree, or the Chinese-Russian future that, while far from perfect, at least offers a let's all get along world even if we don't agree.

Xi sought to paint China as continually opening its markets to the world. He described the trade dispute as a choice between “win-win progress or a zero sum game.”

“Mankind has once again reached a crossroads,” Xi said. “Which direction should we choose? Cooperation or confrontation? Openness or closing doors?”

In his speech Saturday, Pence lauded the economic and military cooperation between the United States and its Asia-Pacific allies, and he warned China that US ships and jets would sail and fly anywhere allowed by international law.....

He says that as the United States government holds itself above international law when it sees fit.


I actually don't like where this is going, and I wish Trump had gone himself and not sent Pence:

"US-China trade dispute leaves Asia-Pacific Forum without consensus" by Damien Cave New York Times  November 18, 2018

SYDNEY — The trade dispute between the United States and China has led to a standoff at a summit meeting of Pacific Rim leaders in Papua New Guinea, leaving the gathering of 21 nations without a joint closing statement on Sunday for the first time since the forum was founded.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, known as APEC, has not ended without a joint statement since 1989, when the forum was established in Australia. Experts said the stalemate would set up a high-stakes showdown at the Group of 20 conference in Argentina this month — which President Xi Jinping of China and President Trump are expected to attend — while intensifying frustration among countries caught in the crossfire.

“The entire world is worried,” said Prime Minister Peter O’Neill of Papua New Guinea, after he confirmed that only a summary of discussion would be issued, not a joint statement.

The disagreement concerned issues that have shaped the trade dispute between the United States and China for months.

Draft versions of the communiqué seen by the Associated Press showed that the United States wanted strong language condemning unfair trade practices like those that it says China regularly deploys, including restricting market access and pushing foreign companies to hand over valuable technology.

The Chinese delegation sought to reaffirm its opposition to what it says are protectionism and unilateralism practices by the United States, especially the US trade tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods.

What I see here is Trump trying to balance the books and move some jobs back here, and it is running up against half-a-century of globalist integration.

The Chinese have really thrown a monkey wrench into the process, too. The grand wizards that designed the global economy never thought non their wildest dreams that the Chinese would want to run the thing one day. They thought -- in their racism -- that the Asians would be a wonderful slave class with tyrannical governments taking orders. Wrong!

The opposing positions were staked out in stark terms on Saturday, with combative speeches by Xi and Vice President Mike Pence. Both men argued that their country had the best interest of the region at heart, battling for loyalty within a trade group that represents 60 percent of the global economy, but they also pushed each other toward conflict and escalation.

Pence, appearing in Trump’s place, doubled down on recent criticism of China’s geopolitical strategies and attacked the country’s “One Belt, One Road,” initiative — an infrastructure plan financed by China that covers some 70 countries.

He urged Asian nations to work with the United States, which, he said, would not saddle them with debt, an issue some countries are facing as a result of their partnerships with Beijing.

Xi, speaking before Pence, insisted that the criticism was misguided, arguing that China’s infrastructure plan would be inclusive and beneficial.

“It will not close a door and create a small circle,” Xi said. “It is not the so-called trap, as some people say. It is the sunshine avenue where China shares opportunities with the world to seek common development.”

Experts said the dueling arguments appeared to have become more entrenched.

“It boils down to mutual intransigence between the US and China,” said Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at the Australian National University.

Jonathan Pryke, a Pacific Rim expert at the Lowy Institute, agreed, describing the result as raw “stubbornness.”

Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia tried to sound upbeat. “I think there is a lot more progress being made here than I think is probably being acknowledged,” he said, but by Sunday night, it was increasingly difficult to see the summit meeting as anything but a continuation of hostilities.....



Going to get you caught up on what has been going on down under:

"Five decades after losing his job for investigating priest, Australian detective vindicated" by Meagan Flynn Washington Post  May 08, 2018

WASHINGTON — Monsignor John Day, was sexually assaulting and molesting altar boys and Catholic school girls, but Denis Ryan’s superiors — devout Catholics, some of whom were close to Day — didn’t want to hear it.

Day was transferred from his post in the town of Mildura and became a priest at another parish far away in Victoria where he died in 1978.

Ryan resigned, effectively forced out of his job because he wouldn’t stop investigating, the report said. He lost his pension and his benefits, as well as his pay, and became a fruit packer, but on Sunday, Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria, called Ryan, now 86, a ‘‘hero.’’ He also apologized for the actions of the police decades ago.

Ryan has been living off his state-sponsored old age pension, the equivalent of Social Security. Reached by phone Thursday, Ryan said that he may be vindicated, but it’s the victims he still can’t stop thinking about.

The Victorian police have apologized to Ryan for ousting him, and the Royal Commission said it believed Ryan’s claims that he had been forced out of his job because of his investigation into Monsignor Day.

‘‘When he was forced out of the police force, it cost him the job he loved. It cost him his pension. It almost cost him his sanity,’’ said Vernon Knight, the former chief executive of a child welfare organization who filed a petition seeking compensation for Ryan.

‘‘Nothing will repay the last 47 years,’’ Knight said. ‘‘But at least now he’s totally validated, so he can complete his retirement with integrity.’’

Ryan started his investigation in 1971 after a meeting with a nun and a teaching principal at a Catholic college. A 17-year-old girl had complained to her mother that, eight years earlier, Day had fondled her while she sat next to him in the front seat of his car on five separate occasions, according to the Royal Commission’s 2017 report.

‘‘I’ve known about Monsignor Day’s behavior for some time now,’’ the nun reportedly told Ryan, according to the report. ‘‘It runs contrary to my vows of silence to say this to you, and I will never repeat what I have said from this moment forward.’’

Once he started his investigation, each victim he interviewed ‘‘gave another name’’ of another alleged victim, ‘‘so it was like stepping stones,’’ Ryan told the Royal Commission in his 2015 testimony.

One boy he interviewed said Day sexually abused him when he spent the night with the priest in a motel room just before Christmas 1970.....


"Churches, Scouts and YMCA join Australian abuse redress plan" Associated Press  June 01, 2018

CANBERRA, Australia — Four in five victims of child sexual abuse in Australian institutions will be eligible for compensation after three churches, the Scouts movement, and the YMCA joined a federal government redress plan, an official said Thursday.

The Catholic Church, Australia’s largest denomination, on Wednesday became the first nongovernmental institution to commit to the $2.9 billion national plan.

The Anglican Church, Salvation Army, Scouts Australia, and the Young Men’s Christian Association, or YMCA, committed to join on Thursday.

Flanked by representatives of the churches and associations, Social Services Minister Dan Tehan said their participation meant that 80 percent of Australia’s 60,000 known victims were now covered.

‘‘Can I thank the institutions who are here with us today for the leadership that they have shown, for owning up to past wrongs, for owning up for behavior which can only be described as despicable and deplorable . . . for wanting to turn a page, to provide redress and make sure that those survivors get the justice that they deserve,’’ Tehan said.

Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson last week became the most senior Catholic cleric in the world to be convicted of covering up child sex abuse. He faces a two-year prison term.....


"Australian police chief apologizes to indigenous people" Associated Press  July 13, 2018

CANBERRA — An Australian police chief on Thursday made an apology to indigenous people who are overrepresented in prisons and vowed to improve relations.

Western Australia Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said police were key participants in past wrongs against indigenous people in the state over decades, including enforcing government policies of removing mixed-race children from Aboriginal families until the 1970s. The children are known as the Stolen Generations. Many were institutionalized, abused, and neglected.

‘‘Some of the comments I’ll be making shortly are confronting and may make some people feel uncomfortable, but I understand that truth-telling is an important part of enabling and facilitating change,’’ Dawson said in a speech at police headquarters in Perth.

That is why we don't get any in America. We are the most lied-to people on the face of the planet.

‘‘And so today, on behalf of the Western Australian Police Force, I would like to say ‘sorry’ to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for our participation in past wrongful actions that have caused immeasurable pain and suffering,’’ he added.


The American people are still waiting for untold apologies from this government for so many things.

"Australian archbishop convicted of sex abuse coverup resigns" by Nicole Winfield Associated Press  July 30, 2018

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Monday accepted the resignation of an Australian archbishop convicted in criminal court of covering up the sexual abuse of children by a priest, taking action after coming under pressure from ordinary Catholics, priests, and the Australian prime minister.

It was the second straight major announcement of a sex abuse-related resignation, after Francis’s dramatic sanctioning and demotion this past weekend of a prominent US cardinal — Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington.

The move suggests Francis is keen to reinforce his non-immunity policy on clergy abuse before he heads to Dublin next month for a big Catholic family rally.

The church sex abuse scandal is likely to dominate the agenda for the rally, given Ireland’s history with predator priests and the bishops who covered for them.

Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, Australia, was convicted in May and sentenced to a year’s detention for failing to report to police the repeated abuse of two altar boys by a pedophile priest, the late Rev. James Fletcher, in the Hunter Valley region north of Sydney during the 1970s.

After the sentence, he refused to resign as he appealed.

Wilson became the highest-ranking Catholic cleric ever convicted in a criminal court of abuse coverup.

Wilson, who denied the accusations, had immediately stepped aside after he was convicted but refused to resign pending an appeal. As recently as last week, though, Wilson acknowledged that calls for his sacking were increasing, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull added his voice to the chorus July 19 in urging Francis to fire him.

Even one of Fletcher’s victims spoke out: Australian media published a letter last week from Peter Gogarty to Francis urging him to remove Wilson.

‘‘Imagine if you can, your own childhood, your Catholic upbringing and the character-destroying belief that you were engaged in the worst of mortal sins,’’ Gogarty wrote the pope. ‘‘I am now 57 years old and continue to struggle with the burden forced upon me.’’

In a one-line statement Monday, the Vatican said Francis had accepted Wilson’s resignation. At 67, he is well under the normal retirement age for bishops of 75.

In a statement issued by the archdiocese, Wilson said he had submitted his resignation to Francis of his own will on July 20 — a day after Turnbull’s call — and said he hoped his decision would help abuse victims and the rest of the Catholic community heal.

‘‘I had hoped to defer this decision until after the appeal process had been completed,’’ Wilson said. ‘‘However, there is just too much pain and distress being caused by my maintaining the office of archbishop.’’

Francis’s decision to accept the resignation is significant given he has previously refrained from taking action against accused bishops that might be perceived as prejudicing outcomes in cases.

Francis on Saturday accepted McCarrick’s resignation as cardinal, and imposed on him unprecedented penalties for a cardinal even before his canonical trial is completed, including living a lifetime of penance and prayer and living isolated from others.


Also see:

"Catholic leaders in Australia on Friday rejected a government push to force priests to report accusations of child sexual abuse heard during confession, saying it would violate a sacred rite, infringe on religious freedom, and ultimately do little to protect children. The rebuke came as the local Roman Catholic Church issued a lengthy response to a five-year government inquiry uncovering what officials called a “national tragedy” of widespread sexual abuse of children spanning decades. The investigation examined abuse in religious institutions, schools, and other establishments, finding that many of the cases of suspected abuse involved Catholic priests and religious brothers."

Related‘We say sorry’: Australia formally apologizes to victims of child sexual abuse

I'm sorry to say that it is not good enough.

I used to want to hear sorry as a start to forgiveness and reconciliation, let the criminals off if they would just say sorry, but no longer, they made wait to long and now they use my attitude to justify not saying it, fine. Won't stop the eternal condemnations.

Australia set to ban covert foreign interference in politics

"The conservative government says the legislation, first proposed in December, is the major cause of a rift in diplomatic relations with China, Australia’s most important trading partner, but Attorney General Christian Porter told Parliament on Tuesday the bills include the most significant counter-spying reforms in Australia since the 1970s. ‘‘The practices of modern espionage are now being encountered in so many Western democracies around the globe,’’ Porter said, but independent lawmaker Andrew Wilkie, who quit his job as a defense intelligence analyst in 2003 in protest against the then-government’s use of non-existent weapons of mass destruction to explain sending Australian troops to back the US-led invasion of Iraq, voted against the bills. Wilkie argued their definitions of national security and foreign interference were too broad......"

Bravo to brave Mr. Wilkie, and any apologies are too late on that one.

How the US and Australia rely on each other

The Five Eyes surveillance program allows every ally to circumvent domestic spying laws!

That is the environment in which you are living:

Australian prime minister abandons climate targets
Australian ministers resign after leader survives challenge
Dutton planning 2nd challenge to Australian prime minister
Australian prime minister ousted in dispute over energy policy
Australia’s new prime minister appoints Cabinet

There has to be some other reason the government was overthrown!

"Australia sends migrants found in crocodile-infested waters to detention" August 29, 2018

SYDNEY — For the first time in nearly four years, a group of migrants was caught illegally entering the Australian mainland by sea this week, after surviving a shipwreck and several days in crocodile-infested waters, authorities said.

By Tuesday, all 17 migrants believed to be aboard the boat were found in the area near the mangrove swamps of Far North Queensland, two days after the vessel ran aground and law enforcement officials began a search of the area.

Once the migrants were all accounted for, the government said on Tuesday that the group would be deported to Christmas Island, an Australian territory nearly 1,000 miles from the closest point in continental Australia, where they would be detained and their immigration statuses determined.

“Under Australia’s strict border protection policies, no one who travels to Australia illegally by boat is permitted to remain in Australia,” the Department of Home Affairs said.

It is rare for migrants to reach mainland Australia by sea. The country has strict rules that ban such journeys. Since 2013, migrants caught in Australia’s territorial waters are subject to deportation or detention at offshore facilities on the islands of Nauru and Manus, Papua New Guinea.

The government also maintains such a facility on Christmas Island, where more than 200 migrants were being held as of June.


They are lucky they made it past the Great Barrier Reef.

"A family of seven including four children was found dead with gunshot wounds Friday at a rural property in southwest Australia in what could be the country’s worst mass shooting in 22 years, police and news media said. Philip Alpers, a Sydney University gun policy analyst, said the tragedy appeared to be the worst mass shooting in Australia since a lone gunman killed 35 people in Tasmania state in 1996, prompting the nation to introduce tough gun controls. Australia’s gun laws are widely acclaimed as a success, with supporters including former U.S. President Barack Obama saying Australia has not had a single mass shooting since they were implemented. The generally accepted definition of a mass shooting — four deaths excluding the shooter in a single event — has been met only once in Australia since then. In 2014, a farmer shot his wife and three children before killing himself. Police have revealed few details about the recent killings, and it is not clear whether there was more than one shooter....."

They run the same sort of mind-bending psyops on you, huh?

Makes you want to start drinking:

"Posters Suggesting That Women Can Drink While Pregnant Stir Backlash" New York Times News Service  August 30, 2018

On posters distributed to medical facilities across Australia, large type over an image of a pregnant woman reads: “It’s safest not to drink while pregnant.”

Good so far.

It was the next line, in smaller type, that alarmed medical professionals: “It’s not known if alcohol is safe to drink when you are pregnant.”

Public health groups responded with resounding protests — drinking alcohol while pregnant is very definitively known to be unsafe, they said. Creating doubt around the science could confuse pregnant women and encourage them to ignore warnings, they feared.

The organization that made the posters, DrinkWise, describes its focus as promoting “a healthier and safer drinking culture in Australia,” but it is funded largely by the alcohol industry. It withdrew the 2,400 posters after hearing complaints and substituted new text, but concerns remained among people working to spread the message that women should stay away from alcohol while pregnant.

“It’s more than just erroneous for the alcohol industry to make that statement,” said Michael Thorn, chief executive of the Foundation of Alcohol Research and Education, which is based in the Australian capital, Canberra. “The truth is, that’s what they want the public to believe.”

DrinkWise’s chief executive, Simon Strahan, suggested the flap was more about precise messaging than intent.

“It is clear, from the ‘It’s safest not to drink while pregnant’ headline of the posters, that the intent is to encourage abstinence when pregnant, planning a pregnancy, or breast-feeding,” he said.


Time to get off the teat:

"US leaker Chelsea Manning to be barred from Australia" Associated Press  August 31, 2018

CANBERRA — Convicted classified document leaker Chelsea Manning will not be allowed to enter Australia for a speaking tour scheduled to start Sunday, the event organizer said on Thursday.

Think Inc. said it had received on Wednesday a notice of intention from the government to deny Manning entry. The group is calling on Manning’s supporters to lobby new Immigration Minister David Coleman to allow Manning into Australia.

‘‘Ms. Manning offers formidable ideas and an insightful perspective which we are hoping to bring to the forefront of Australian dialogue,’’ Think Inc. Director Suzi Jamil said.

Manning, an analyst for the US Army who leaked military and diplomatic documents to the antisecrecy website WikiLeaks, served seven years of a 35-year sentence before being granted clemency by President Obama in 2017.

Manning was scheduled to speak at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday and has events in Australia and New Zealand.


First to the Opera House and then to New Zealand:

"Horse racing ad on Sydney Opera House ignites debate: Is all Australia for sale?" by Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore New York Times  October 11, 2018

SYDNEY — The Sydney Opera House will celebrate its 45th anniversary this month with global dignitaries, including Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, but this week, its gleaming white sails became the focus of a bruising local debate over culture, sports, misogyny, and national identity.

On Tuesday night, thousands of people turned up to protest a six-minute light projection on the Opera House’s tiled sails. Put on by Racing NSW, the governing horse-racing body for New South Wales, the projection was designed to promote the Everest — Australia’s newest, and richest, horse race.

Racing NSW’s chief executive, Peter V’landys, backed by the prime minister and one of Australia’s most infamous conservative radio hosts, said the projection would increase tourism. Many, however, including the Opera House’s chief executive, felt the move was a tone-deaf commodification of the building — a World Heritage site — the equivalent to turning Stonehenge or the Statue of Liberty into billboards to promote gambling.

“Even Donald Trump wouldn’t get away with putting advertising onto the Lincoln Memorial, but it’s akin to that,” said Ben Oquist, executive director at the Australia Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. “It was a step too far for everybody.”

The conflict, which played out over the past week with slights and insults that are likely to linger, has resembled the kind of dramas regularly seen in the Opera House theater.

You best stay out of the theater.

It was a promotional gimmick that badly misfired, but the backlash has revealed deeper fault lines in Australian society. Sydney’s conservative old guard collided this week with a younger, more diverse electorate. The latter is frustrated over a city and a country that in its view have become enslaved to big corporations at the cost of shared values, and where sports, the right-wing media, and rich insiders can dictate policy to politicians.

That is pretty much what we have!

“The Opera House represents art that has never been biased to color and age and money,” Carlos Lara, a 27-year-old musician, said at the protest Tuesday amid a crowd chanting “not for sale” and “our house.” “That’s why people feel so passionate,” he said, “this represents so much more than a horse race.”

Built on a former island now known as Bennelong Point, the Opera House was designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon. After a conflict with the government over rising construction costs, he resigned in 1966 and left Australia before its completion in 1973.

Helen Pitt, author of “The House,” a book about the building and its history of discord and tragedy, has called it “our great Shakespearean story.”

It is also a building that stands for diversity. Constructed largely by postwar migrants — about 10,000 workers from 90 different countries — the Opera House was “very much the product of a new reimagined Australia,” Pitt said.

Critically, she said, it propelled Sydney from a provincial small town on the far side of the world to a global player, and while it is officially run by a trust overseen by the state government, in the public’s mind, the house belongs to all.

Reflecting that sense of shared ownership, a petition on Change.org, “Defend Our Opera House,” has racked up more than 300,000 signatures since Sunday. A survey conducted this week by the market research firm Micromex also showed that 80 percent of residents surveyed in New South Wales were opposed to the decision by the state premier, Gladys Berejiklian, to allow the advertisement.

Much of the anger has been aimed at Alan Jones, a right-wing radio host, whose withdrawal of support for former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull helped contribute to Turnbull’s ouster in August.

During an interview on his show Friday, Jones shouted down the Opera House’s chief executive, Louise Herron, who opposed the racing promotion.

“Who the hell do you think you are?” Jones asked Herron. “You don’t own the Opera House, we own it.”

Jones, who has since apologized, said on air that Herron should be sacked if she did not revise her stance and “come to the party” and that he would be speaking with Berejiklian about it.

Berejiklian later overruled Herron’s decision and allowed the ads.

To many, Jones represents an old world Australia: One that is white, wealthy, conservative, and male. He lives in a luxury apartment block nicknamed the Toaster that looks over the Opera House and owns his own race horses.

His behavior has come to be seen as not just in his own interest, but also as another example of his penchant for bullying.

Jenny Leong, Greens representative for the Sydney suburb of Newtown, said of Jones: “The massive groundswell of public outrage about this was as much to do about the fact we had a conservative old school shock jock basically threatening a woman to lose her job.”

“What we have seen in the last few days is people saying, ‘This is enough, we want our city back,” she added.

In an e-mail interview, Graeme Hinton, chief operating officer at Racing NSW, said that the publicity that has arisen from the conflict has “certainly raised the profile of the Everest, which can only be a good thing.”

Tickets, he said, were selling fast, but critics, including Oquist of the Australia Institute, are hoping the furor marks a turning point.

“For a relatively new country, our ethos hasn’t been about treasuring our heritage,” he said. “This should spark a bigger debate.”


It was like waving a red flag in front of a bull:

"British medical authorities acknowledged Monday that they were checking the credentials of some 3,000 foreign physicians after one was convicted of fraud and accused of falsifying qualifications. For more than two decades, Zholia Alemi, 56, worked at health facilities in Britain using what she said was a qualification from her native New Zealand. The document enabled her to treat patients suffering from dementia and an array of other psychiatric complaints, but in recent weeks, an investigation by a provincial newspaper uncovered a very different version of Alemi’s background. When she arrived in England in the mid-1990s, she benefited from a program that helped physicians from some former British colonies, including New Zealand, to secure licenses to practice in Britain with only limited examinations of their credentials. The case of Alemi came to light after she attempted to take advantage of a patient, Gillian Belham, an 84-year-old widow whom she befriended in 2016 at a dementia clinic in the coastal town of Workington....."


"Pence’s China attacks fuel fears of new Cold War" by Jason Scott Bloomberg News  November 20, 2018

SYDNEY — Since the Soviet Union fell in the early 1990s, Southeast Asia has sought to avoid getting caught in a fight between major powers. The Trump administration is making that position look increasingly untenable.

Vice President Mike Pence sharpened US attacks on China during a week of summits that ended Sunday, most notably with a call for nations to avoid loans that would leave them indebted to Beijing. He said the United States wasn’t in a rush to end the trade war and would ‘‘not change course until China changes its ways’’ — a worrying prospect for a region heavily reliant on exports.

‘‘The language we heard from Pence is quite concerning because it shows we’re moving toward a zero-sum game geopolitics in the Asia-Pacific,’’ said Jonathan Pryke, a researcher specializing in the Pacific at the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based research group. ‘‘The great hope of convergence between China and the U.S. is becoming less and less of a likely reality.’’

The meetings in Singapore and Papua New Guinea produced little to suggest President Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping would reach a deal when they meet in a few weeks at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit ended in disarray on Sunday after leaders failed to agree on a joint statement.

Stocks in Asia kicked off the week in lackluster fashion after the discord, and the Australian and New Zealand dollars fell from near multimonth highs. Financial markets have swerved in recent weeks as investors gauge whether an end to the trade war is near.

Also see:

"America’s farmers have been shut out of foreign markets, hit with retaliatory tariffs, and lost lucrative contracts in the face of President Trump’s trade war, but a $12 billion bailout program Trump created to “make it up” to farmers has done little to cushion the blow, with red tape and long waiting periods resulting in few payouts so far....."

Cost him the House.

Smaller economies in the Asia-Pacific have long sought to balance ties, reaping the benefits of trade with China’s fast-growing economy while relying on American firepower to rein in Beijing’s assertiveness over disputed territory. Yet the trade war has raised the prospect that nations will now need to pick sides, particularly as higher US tariffs threaten to alter long-established supply chains.

Earlier this month, former US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson warned of an ‘‘Economic Iron Curtain’’ dividing the world if the United States and China fail to resolve strategic differences. That could lead both sides to deny each other technology, capital, and investment, reversing decades of gains from globalization.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong echoed those fears last week, saying tensions between the United States and China are rising to a point where Southeast Asia may one day have to ‘‘choose one or the other.’’

For the moment, that day still looks a ways off. Papua New Guinea, an economy smaller than all 50 US states that hosted the APEC summit, signed deals in excess of $1 billion with both China and a US-led bloc.

‘‘Smaller and middle powers lean to one side or to the other,’’ Richard Maude, a senior adviser at Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, told an Asia Society event hosted by Bloomberg in Sydney earlier this month. ‘‘They don’t want to make one big single binary choice between Washington and Beijing. What they want is to find the space to stay in the middle and to prosecute their own interests.’’

Sort of like a, gulp, nationalist?

While the United States can depend on allies like Japan, Australia, and Taiwan, nations such as South Korea and the Philippines that have defense arrangements with the United States would try to hedge, according to Minxin Pei, a China scholar and specialist in US-Asia relations.

Southeast Asian countries were ‘‘desperate fence sitters’’ who don’t want to make China an enemy, said Pei, who is a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in California. ‘‘China and the U.S. will try very hard in the next few years to charm the countries in the region.’’

While in Asia, Pence said the United States provides ‘‘a better option’’ for nations in the region and announced a plan along with key Pacific allies to build a $1.7 billion electricity grid in Papua New Guinea. The United States also joined with Australia to redevelop a naval base, and held a meeting of ‘‘the Quad’’ — a grouping that also includes India and Japan — in a bid to balance China’s rising economic and military strength.

Pence also had stinging remarks for Xi’s Belt-and-Road Initiative, which Morgan Stanley says may total $1.3 trillion by 2027 -- dwarfing the funds the United States and allies have mobilized. The vice president said the United States doesn’t ‘‘drown our partners in a sea of debt’’ or ‘‘offer a constricting belt or a one-way road.’’

Compared with Pence, Xi had a softer message for Asia this week. He voiced support for the multilateral trading system, called for greater cooperation, and said that implementing tariffs and breaking up supply chains was ‘‘doomed to failure.’’ He also defended his signature Belt-and-Road Initiative, saying it’s ‘‘not a trap as some people have labeled it.’’

‘‘As the tension with U.S. has risen, China’s approach to its neighboring countries has changed,’’ said Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor at Renmin University in Beijing. ‘‘China would like to gain as many friends as it can at the moment.’’

After APEC, Xi is due to visit Brunei and the Philippines, a US ally that has moved closer to China under Rodrigo Duterte. Xi also recently hosted Shinzo Abe in the first bilateral visit by a Japanese leader to Beijing in seven years.

Despite strong security ties, neither Japan nor Australia supports Trump’s protectionist policies. Both went forward with a Pacific trade pact even after Trump pulled out, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison used his speech at APEC to warn that ‘‘tit-for-tat protectionism and threats of trade wars are in no one’s interests economically.’’

‘‘Our role here is to maximize Australia’s interests,’’ Morrison told reporters. ‘‘That’s done by working constructively with our long-term partner, the U.S., and working closely with the Chinese government.’’

Pence sought to downplay regional concerns that American actions would lead to economic pain and force countries to choose between the United States and China.

‘‘Great power competition between the United States and China in this region doesn’t have to mean hostility,’’ Pence said. ‘‘These issues can be resolved, we believe, at the negotiation table,’’ but many in the region don’t expect a deal anytime soon, despite periodic optimism from Trump’s camp.

‘‘This is one episode in the hegemonic struggle between the U.S. and China — it will go on for a while,’’ said Kunihiko Miyake, a former Japanese foreign ministry official who is now a visiting professor at Ritsumeikan University. ‘‘It will be a Cold War, whether we call it that or not.’’

Just what we don't need!



"Walt Disney Co. said Monday it won unconditional approval from Chinese authorities for its $71 billion purchase of assets from 21st Century Fox Inc. The ruling removes one of the last major hurdles for the deal, which unites the entertainment assets of Rupert Murdoch’s empire with Disney. The Burbank, Calif.-based entertainment giant has already obtained approval from regulators in the United States and the European Union, though both required divestitures that the company has agreed to make. There had been some concern in the investment community that China’s approval of the deal might not come easily, given the ongoing disputes over trade and tariffs between the country and the Trump administration. Disney continues to invest heavily in China, including in theme parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong."

Maybe things are warming up again!


Quick stop in the Philippines

"US, Philippines launch largest military drills under Duterte" Associated Press  May 08, 2018

MANILA — US and Philippine forces on Monday began their largest annual military exercises since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power and vowed to scale down America’s military presence in the country as he sought closer ties with China and Russia.

The Balikatan exercises opened with a ceremony at the main Philippine military camp in Manila and are to feature 8,000 American and Filipino personnel and contingents from Japan and Australia.

American and Philippine officials praised the long treaty alliance between the United States and its former Southeast Asian colony and then linked arms in a show of solidarity.

The volatile leader, who has been critical of US security policies, has taken steps to revive ties with China.

Duterte’s animosity with Washington was partly ignited by US government condemnation of his deadly campaign against illegal drugs.....



"The complaint is unlikely to have much practical effect, since President Rodrigo Duterte’s government does not recognize the international court. He said in March that he was withdrawing the Philippines from the treaty that established it. The new complaint comes as Duterte is strengthening his grip on the Philippines’ judicial system. Over the weekend, he announced the selection of Teresita de Castro as the new chief justice of the Supreme Court, replacing Maria Lourdes Sereno, a fierce critic of Duterte’s war on drugs. A rights group, Rise Up for Life and for Rights, said there was “more than enough proof of widespread and systematic attacks against civilians.”

She took on Duterte, which was the kiss of death, and now she's out and her expulsion has been upheld.

"Communist rebels tell Philippine leader: No more talks" Associated Press  June 28, 2018

MANILA — A Philippine communist rebel leader said Thursday that the insurgents can no longer hold peace talks with President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration and that it is better to help oust him and work with his successor.

So they are working with the CIA now!

Jose Maria Sison said Duterte wants the guerrillas to surrender without addressing the social ills that have inflamed one of Asia’s longest communist rebellions. He accused the president of being ‘‘subservient to US imperialism’’ and blamed him for the ‘‘traitorous sellout’’ of disputed South China Sea territories to China.

Proving the commies are nothing more than another arm of the globalist banksters.

After preliminary talks, both sides agreed to a new temporary cease-fire on June 21, with peace talks to resume on Thursday in Norway, which has been brokering the decades-long negotiations, but Duterte delayed the resumption indefinitely, antagonizing the guerrillas.

‘‘Based on the implications drawn from the current impasse,’’ the rebel front involved in the talks, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, ‘‘can no longer negotiate with a government of the Republic of the Philippines that is headed by Duterte,’’ Sison said.

Duterte said he is ready to continue fighting the insurgents. The rural rebellion has raged for nearly half a century.

Crush 'em like Islamists!


Whatever happened out there anyway?

"Sniper assassinates Philippines politician" Associated Press  July 03, 2018

TANAUAN, Philippines — A Philippine city mayor known for parading drug suspects in public but also alleged to have drug ties himself was shot and killed by a sniper Monday in a brazen attack during a flag-raising ceremony in front of hundreds of horrified municipal employees.

Mayor Antonio Halili of Tanauan city, which is in Batangas province, south of Manila, was shot as he and about 300 employees and newly elected village leaders sang the national anthem in a parking lot outside the city hall. The gunman escaped, police and witnesses said.

‘‘I didn’t know that it was gunfire until people started screaming, ‘Somebody’s shooting, somebody’s shooting,’ while running in all directions, and I saw my mayor slumped on the ground,’’ said village leader Rico Alcazar, who was standing behind Halili.

Halili’s bodyguards opened fire toward a grassy hill where the gunshot was apparently fired from, adding to the bedlam, Alcazar said by phone.

The Philippines grassy knoll!

Cellphone video shot by Alcazar shows a few men standing around the fallen Halili as gunfire rings out and people scream, run, and take cover.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expressed suspicion in a speech that the killing was linked to illegal drugs.


RelatedMayor Is Gunned Down in Philippines

Was a different shooting the next day.

Maybe someone is sending Duterte a message.

"Duterte in Israel, first visit by a Philippines president" Associated Press  September 02, 2018

JERUSALEM — Rodrigo Duterte, accused of committing serious human rights violations as part of his deadly crackdown on drugs at home, and who has stirred controversy with comments about the Holocaust, received a warm welcome in Israel when he arrived Sunday for a four-day visit.

Ahead of his departure, Duerte said he ‘‘looks forward to broader cooperation on a broad range of mutually important areas — defense and security, law enforcement, economic development, trade (and) investments and labor.’’

Sales of Israeli weapons to his government are high on the agenda, according to Israeli media. Filipino officials have said the Philippines has recently acquired Israeli-made arms such as Galil assault rifles and pistols for its 120,000-strong police force, which is at the front line of Duterte’s battle against illegal drugs and other crimes.

Duterte was set to kick off his four-day visit by attending an event of the Filipino community in Israel Sunday evening. An estimated 28,000 Filipinos live in Israel, mostly as health aides.

A Filipino living in Israel, Lisa Levi, told Channel 10 TV that she is ‘‘excited’’ and ‘‘proud’’ he is visiting.

Speaking in Hebrew, she said, ‘‘I wish I could hug him and thank him for everything he does.’’

She said her home country is safer now and that accusations of rights abuses are ‘‘untrue.’’

Duterte, who has stirred controversy with his foul-mouthed attacks on Barack Obama and even God, will receive a warm welcome in the Holy Land, meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials.

Duterte drew outrage in 2016 when he compared his antidrug campaign to the Nazi genocide of Jews in World War II and said he would be ‘‘happy to slaughter’’ 3 million addicts. He later apologized.

He is scheduled to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem on Monday and later a monument commemorating the Philippines’ rescue of Jews during the Holocaust.

In contrast to the warm official welcome, Israeli human rights activists plan to protest the visit and have encouraged President Reuven Rivlin not to meet him over accusations of rights abuses at home.

Official Philippine police tallies place the number of suspects killed in police-led antidrug raids at more than 4,500 since Duterte took office in June 2016.

International human rights watchdogs have cited far higher death tolls.

Duterte, a 73-year-old former government prosecutor, denies condoning extrajudicial killings but has openly threatened drug dealers with death.


Look what happened when he returned:

"Duterte orders arrest of Philippine senator, one of his top critics" by Felipe Villamor New York Times  September 04, 2018

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the arrest of one of his most prominent critics in the Philippine Senate, declaring that an amnesty granted to the senator years ago over his role in two military uprisings was invalid.

The senator, Antonio Trillanes, a former naval officer, called Duterte’s order the act of a dictator and said he would not resist arrest. If he is detained, he will be the second well-known Duterte critic in the Senate to be put behind bars.

“If the ordinary folk are being killed, he is now jailing his critics,” Trillanes said Tuesday, referring to Duterte’s bloody crackdown on narcotics. “That is the situation in the Philippines.”

The president’s order, which was signed last week and made public Tuesday, declares that the amnesty granted to Trillanes in 2010 by Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno S. Aquino III, was “void ab initio,” or invalid from the start.

The amnesty applied to Trillanes’s role in two brief, bloodless uprisings. In 2003, he was one of about 300 junior military officers who declared themselves in rebellion against the government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is the speaker of the House of Representatives and a Duterte ally.

The officers occupied the Oakwood Hotel in the Manila area, but they soon surrendered after Arroyo promised to look into their allegations of corruption within the Philippine military.

The 2007 rebellion, which was even briefer, took place while Trillanes and other officers were on trial for the first one. He and some of the other defendants walked out of court, joined other military officers in the Manila streets, and took over another upscale hotel, calling for Arroyo’s ouster.

That mutiny was put down dramatically within hours, after military forces crashed an armored personnel carrier into the lobby.

Trillanes, a charismatic figure who was the public face of the rebellion, was elected to the Senate from jail that same year. As a senator, he has been one of the most prominent figures in the opposition to Duterte, particularly over his war on drugs, which has left thousands of people dead at the hands of police officers and unknown gunmen.

Last year, another vocal presidential critic in the 24-seat Senate, Leila de Lima, was jailed on charges that she had protected drug dealers. Senator De Lima, a former justice secretary, has denied the charges and accused Duterte of exacting political payback from her.

“This is all bogus,” Trillanes said Tuesday.

He called Duterte “a dictator who does not respect institutions.”

Duterte was visiting the Middle East on Tuesday. His order said that Trillanes’s amnesty was invalid because the senator had not met the “minimum requirements” for it, including filing an official application for amnesty and admitting his guilt.

“It never was effective; there was nothing to undo,” the president’s spokesman, Harry Roque, told reporters in Jerusalem, according to Reuters.

The leader of the opposition in the Senate, Francis Pangilinan, called the presidential arrest order “clear persecution.” He said Duterte could not legally revoke Trillanes’s amnesty himself because it had required, and received, the approval of both houses of Congress.

“It could not be easily set aside by the whims of one man,” Pangilinan said. “Absent our concurrence, any arrest is illegal.”

Duterte was also criticized by Anwar Ibrahim, a prominent Malaysian politician allied with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad who was visiting Manila on Tuesday for a business conference.

“My consistent view is we cannot abuse power to victimize opposition participants,” said Anwar, who was imprisoned for years while in the Malaysian opposition.

“If I meet President Duterte, I will tell him I support some of his measures,” Anwar said at a news conference. “But I will also tell him to continue to ensure there is a vibrant democracy and the respect for the rule of law in the Philippines.”

I think he has been hanging out with the wrong people.


RelatedSecond Philippine senator who defied Duterte is arrested

It ended a dramatic, weekslong standoff with authorities.

Also see:

"A Philippine town mayor who was linked by the president to illegal drugs was fatally shot in his office Wednesday in the latest brazen attack on local officials. Four gunmen barged into the Ronda municipality’s town hall in Cebu province early Wednesday and repeatedly shot Mayor Mariano Blanco, who was sleeping in his office, police said. President Rodrigo Duterte had included Blanco in a list of officials allegedly linked to illegal drugs. The mayor had denied any wrongdoing and had been alternately sleeping in his office and his nearby house after reportedly receiving death threats, officials said."

"Duterte says, ‘my only sin is the extrajudicial killings’" by Felipe Villamor New York Times  September 27, 2018

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines on Thursday said for the first time that extrajudicial killings had happened under his government’s brutal war on drugs, an admission that could bolster two cases filed against him at the International Criminal Court.

In a rambling speech before government executives at the presidential palace, Duterte again touched on the government’s drug war that has left thousands dead, a common theme in his two-year-old presidency.

He said he had challenged the country’s military and police brass to remove him from office if they were not satisfied with the way he was running the country.

“I told the military, what is my fault? Did I steal even one peso?” Duterte said. “My only sin is the extrajudicial killings.”

He did not elaborate, but it was the first time Duterte publicly acknowledged that extrajudicial killings by the authorities had occurred in his presidency, and it added credibility to claims by rights groups that he had engineered mass killings of alleged drug suspects.

That's why the powers-that-be are upset with Duterte. He is disrupting the drug pipeline.

Two criminal complaints against the president have been filed with the International Criminal Court, based in The Hague. Angered by what he called foreign interference in the Philippines’ internal affairs, Duterte subsequently pulled out of an international treaty that established the court.

Two men — a former police officer and a self-confessed hit man — filed the first case, claiming that they had carried out killings at Duterte’s order when he was still the mayor of a southern city. The second case was filed in August by relatives of eight people slain in the drug war, and accused Duterte of “crimes against humanity” for ordering thousands of murders connected to his drug war.

The Philippine National Police estimate that they have killed about 4,500 users and dealers in drug enforcement operations in the past two years, and insist that all of the killings were legitimate uses of force.

Rights groups, including the New York-based Human Rights Watch, estimate that more than 12,000 people have died in the drug war, many of them victims of summary execution by the police.

Duterte last year temporarily halted police anti-drug operations after three teenagers were mistakenly killed, igniting street protests led by the Catholic Church, but police operations have since resumed, leading to near-daily killings.

On Thursday, Duterte criticized an opposition leader, Senator Francis Pangilinan, for sponsoring a law that exempts children below age 15 years from criminal liability. The president’s allies in Congress say that it encourages criminals to employ minors.

Duterte also reiterated that the drug war would continue until his six-year term ends in 2022.

“It will not end,” he said. “As I have said, I will put on the table my life, the presidency. I can lose it anytime. My honor.”

Romel Bagares, a lawyer for a human rights group, the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court, noted that while Duterte was known for his off-the-cuff remarks, Thursday’s comments were “by far his most direct admission of being responsible for” extrajudicial killings.

“And I am surprised there has been no retraction of any kind from the palace since he made them,” he said. “I’m sure this would also be of extreme interest to the ICC’s Office of the Trial Prosecutor now making a preliminary investigation of his drug war.”


I'm surprised no one has tried to kill him.

"Philippine leader says there’s a possibility he has cancer"  Associated Press  October 05, 2018

MANILA — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he might have cancer and added that ‘‘I don’t know where I’m now physically’’ as he awaited the result of recent medical tests.

That's how they dispatched Chavez.

Duterte said in a speech in Manila that he underwent an endoscopy and colonoscopy about three weeks ago but his doctor was advised this week to repeat the tests. Both tests aim to diagnose any abnormality in the digestive tract and colon.

‘‘I don’t know where I’m now physically but I have to wait for that. But I would tell you if it’s cancer, it’s cancer,’’ the 73-year-old Duterte said to a Philippine Military Academy alumni group and top security officials.

Duterte added that ‘‘if it’s third stage, no more treatment. I will not prolong the agony in this office or anywhere.’’

Rumors have swirled for some time that Duterte, known for his deadly crackdown on illegal drugs, might have a serious illness. Duterte and his aides, however, repeatedly said he was generally fit although he had grown tired of politics after serving for about 40 years in different government posts.

‘‘I really don’t want it because I’m tired and I know that time’s up for me,’’ Duterte said, adding that physical limitations usually come at around age 70.

‘‘I can’t say now if I really got hit or not,’’ he said, noting that he has other illnesses such as Barrett’s esophagus, a condition thought to be caused by stomach acid washing up into the esophagus.


"Philippine president: Tests showed ‘I’m not yet cancerous’" Associated Press  October 09, 2018

MANILA — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday that medical tests show he doesn’t have cancer, but added that he won’t release a detailed report on his health.

‘‘I’m not yet cancerous so do not be afraid to go near me. I will not contaminate you,’’ the 73-year-old leader told a journalist in jest during a news conference. When asked if tissue samples taken from him tested negative for cancer, the president nodded.

Interior officer in charge Eduardo Ano earlier told reporters that Duterte announced his test results in a Cabinet meeting Monday night, eliciting applause from top officials. Ano said the president looked well and attended back-to-back meetings Monday.

‘‘We can drink now, really. I’ll give you a run for your money,’’ Duterte told a journalist. He denied speculation he flew to Hong Kong over the weekend to seek treatment, saying he went there with his family to buy larger clothes because he had gained weight.

Duterte said in a speech last week that he might have cancer and was awaiting test results, adding to growing uncertainty about his health.

Duterte failed to hold a scheduled Cabinet meeting and skipped another ceremony last Wednesday, leading to speculation that he had been hospitalized. His spokesman, Harry Roque, denied that.

This was after he returned from Israel, too.

Rumors have swirled since last year that Duterte might have a serious illness. Duterte and his aides, however, have given assurances that he’s generally fit, although he had said in recent months that he had grown tired of politics, including deeply entrenched government corruption and the country’s drug problem.

Me, too.

Duterte took office in June 2016 for a six-year term. He is known for his deadly crackdown on illegal drugs, which has drawn international condemnation.

He has said in the past that he has various ailments, including recurring migraines, as a result of a motorcycle accident and drinking, but he said his most serious ailment is Barrett’s esophagus, a condition thought to be caused by stomach acid washing up into the esophagus. That may have been caused by his drinking, which he continued despite warnings from his doctors, he said.

Duterte said he underwent an endoscopy and colonoscopy about a month ago but his doctor was advised recently to repeat the tests. Both tests aim to diagnose any abnormality in the digestive tract and colon.

Roque said Duterte would abide by the country’s constitution, which requires presidents to publicly disclose any serious illness, but he added that since ‘‘it is not serious, he will treat his medical condition as confidential.’’

Duterte said the Cabinet would decide if a president is ‘‘fully incapacitated to discharge the functions of the office.’’

The Philippine constitution provides that the vice president, currently opposition leader Leni Robredo, would take over if the president cannot lead the country due to health problems or other reasons.

Duterte has questioned the competence of Robredo, a respected human rights lawyer, to lead the country and has suggested he preferred a military junta to take over in case he is removed from office. Top defense and military officials, however, have said they would follow the political succession specified by the constitution.



He better be careful flying into exile:

"It is no simple process to keep a 737 in the air" by James Glanzand Mika Gröndahl, Allison McCann and Jeremy White New York Times  November 17, 2018

Investigators and experts are uncertain why Lion Air Flight 610 plummeted into the Java Sea last month, killing all 189 people on board, but they are focusing on an automatic system designed to keep the plane, a Boeing 737 Max 8, from going into a “stall” condition.

I'm just going to state right from the beginning that I have learned that virtually all official explanations for plane crashes are bull. 

Be that as it may, let's see what they have to say.

A stall can occur when the plane’s nose points upward at too great an angle, robbing the craft of the aerodynamic lift that allows it to stay aloft, but if the 737 receives incorrect data on the angle — as the same plane did on the flight just before the crash — the system designed to save the plane can instead force the nose down, potentially sending it into a fatal dive.

So some sort of mechanical failure?

The situation in this case is further complicated by Boeing’s installation of the system, which the company did without explaining it in the new model’s operating manual. So the pilots might well have been unfamiliar with it. 

Wait a minute. 

They installed a system and didn't tell anyone, not even the pilots? 

They are really pushing the credulity envelope here!

In a statement, Boeing said it was confident in the safety of the 737 Max, and added, “While we can’t discuss specifics of an ongoing investigation, we have provided two updates to operators that re-emphasize existing operating procedures — the series of steps required — for these situations.”

Yeah, only a plane dove into the ocean.

If the pilots of Lion Air 610 did in fact confront an emergency with this type of anti-stall system, they would have had to take a rapid series of complex steps to understand what was happening and keep the jetliner flying properly. These steps were not in the manual, and the pilots had not been trained in them.

I'm sorry, but this is another specious cause like the fuel tank gauge on TWA 800.

I'm not saying it couldn't be this, but were there any war games in the area?

Approximate data on the plane’s speed and altitude on the 11 minutes it spent in the air suggest that the first indication of trouble may have come just above 2,000 feet, when its trajectory was beginning to level off.

At that point, said John Cox, the former executive chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association and now a safety consultant, something unexpected occurred: Instead of leveling off momentarily, the plane dropped around 600 feet.

“This may have been the onset, the first time something happened,” Cox said. By this point in the flight, the pilots typically would have moved the flaps on the main wings from the down position needed for takeoff into a trimmed up position for flying at higher speeds. The Boeing anti-stall system cannot activate until the flaps are up.

After the 600-foot drop, the pilots climbed to 5,000 feet, possibly to give themselves more maneuvering room if another unexpected dive occurred. They sought and received permission to return to the airport, but for reasons not yet known, they did not appear to have tried to do so. When the plane leveled off just above 5,000 feet, there was another indication that something was amiss: Instead of the smooth, straight flight that the usual autopilot setting would produce, the plane pitched up and down, indicating manual operation.

That could indicate that the pilot simply was not very good at flying in manual mode. More likely, said Les Westbrooks, an associate professor at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, the pilot already was struggling with some system causing the plane to veer from its straight path.

Why say he wasn't very good if it's more likely he was struggling with a problem he knew not how to address?

Blame the dead guy, right?

In that case, Westbrooks said, it would be like trying to drive a car that is tugging one way or another — the driver can counteract it, but the path is jagged. The plane’s up-and-down motion continued, including a larger dip and recovery of about 1,000 feet in the last few minutes of the flight that might have felt like a bit of rough turbulence to passengers, said R. John Hansman Jr., a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and director of the international center for air transportation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Then, suddenly, the plane went down.

There has been no official finding that the anti-stall system — known as the maneuvering characteristics augmentation system, or MCAS — was activated, but if the 737’s sensors were indicating erroneously that the nose had pitched dangerously up, the pilot’s first warning might have been a “stick shaker”: The yoke — the steering wheel-like handles in front of the pilot and co-pilot — would vibrate.

Ah, but if.

If the false warning in turn activated the automatic anti-stall system, the pilots would have had to take a series of rapid and not necessarily intuitive steps to maintain control, a particular challenge since those steps were not in the plane’s operating manual and the pilots had not been trained on how to respond.

That's where my print copy crashed.

If it sensed a stall, the system would have automatically pushed up the forward edge of the stabilizers, the larger of the horizontal surfaces on the plane’s tail section, in order to put downward pressure on the nose.

“After a period of time, the elevator is going to lose, and the stabilizer is going to win,” he said.

With only fragmentary data available, Hansman said he suspected that a runaway of the MCAS system played a central role in the crash. “The system basically overrode the pilot in that situation,” Hansman said.

It's like they lay the groundwork for what they are going to conclude.

If the anti-stall system indeed ran away with the stabilizer control, only a fast sequence of steps by the pilot and first officer could have saved the aircraft, instructions later issued by Boeing show.

How many times have you seen the word IF in this report, huh?

On the outside of the yoke in front of both the pilot and the first officer, there is a switch for electrically controlling the trim — the angle of the stabilizers. If the pilot understood what was happening, he could have used that switch for a few seconds at a time to counteract what the MCAS was doing to the stabilizers, but that would have been only a temporary solution: The pilot has to release the switch or the nose could go too high, but if he releases the switch, the anti-stall system would reactivate a few seconds later, according to a bulletin issued by Boeing.

(Blog editor just shakes head at report that would receive an F in a college writing class. Wow)

The crucial step, according to the Boeing bulletin, would be to reach across to the central console to a pair of switches (sometimes protected with covers that must be opened), and flip the switches off. Those switches disable electric control of the motor that moves the stabilizers up and down, preventing the anti-stall system from exerting control over their position.

The final step would complete the process for giving the pilots physical control. Cables for manually operating the stabilizers run over a wheel — actually two wheels, one on either side of the console next to the ankles of the pilot and first officer. One of the pilots must rotate the wheel to pull the stabilizer back into the correct position.


I'm surprised they didn't mention anything about the 20 Indonesian finance ministry staff who were on the flight.


"A steep loss for Boeing, a major exporter which would stand to suffer greatly in a protracted trade war, weighed heavily on the Dow. Boeing gave up 4.5 percent to $320.94, but is still one of the best-performing stocks in the 30-stock index....."

Hey, as long as Boeing's stock is flying high.....

They did find the black boxes (or so we are told):

"Black box from Lion Air crash is recovered after ‘desperate’ search" by Hannah Beech and Muktita Suhartono New York Times  November 01, 2018

BANGKOK — An Indonesian Navy diving team retrieved one of the flight recorders from Lion Air Flight 610 on Thursday from the depths of the Java Sea, raising hopes that investigators will be able to solve the mystery of what led a brand-new Boeing jet to fall from the sky this week.

That's the thing. 

A brand new jet, huh? 

With a new anti-stall system they said nothing about.

There are two so-called black boxes on each plane, and they are actually bright orange. Later on Thursday, the navy confirmed that it had been the flight data recorder that had been recovered.

Without the flight recorders, investigators despaired of figuring out what caused Lion Air Flight 610, bound from Jakarta to the small city of Pangkal Pinang on Monday morning with 189 people on board, to crash into the Java Sea. The weather en route was fine, and the plane had only begun flying in August for Lion Air, a low-cost carrier with a history of safety issues.

How can you blame the carrier when it was a brand new Boeing?

And down goes my print again.

Speculation about what caused the crash has centered on possible problems with the plane’s transmission of airspeed data. The day before the crash, the same plane had experienced unreliable airspeed readings, which could have been the result of a malfunction of instruments that measure data needed to fly the plane.

Such an information glitch does not necessarily doom a plane, but it can catalyze a deadly sequence of events. That is what is believed to have happened when Air France Flight 447 plummeted into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009 after a coating of ice addled readings from its pitot tubes, the external probes affixed to airplanes to monitor airspeed data.

Do you see why I am skeptical when it comes to their explanations?

That Air France flight left from Brazil by the way, and I'm sure I have the blogs from way back. They blamed equipment something, but there were at least French drug officials on board from what I remember.

That's what you need to ask yourself. Who was on board, and why won't the pre$$ mention it?

Lion Air, which is part of a company that controls the majority of Indonesia’s domestic aviation market, was told Wednesday by the Transportation Ministry to suspend its technical director and the ground crew that serviced the plane in the hours before the plane’s takeoff Monday.

Investigators want to know whether the problem with inaccurate airspeed readings that occurred on Sunday’s flight was truly resolved, as maintenance logs seen by aviation experts indicate.

Again, if it is a problem and not resolved, who feels comfortable going up in a brand new Boeing?

Representatives from Boeing are scheduled to meet with Transportation Ministry officials Thursday. The plane, a 737 Max 8, is one of the most advanced and newest aircraft on offer. While there is no indication that there is a systemic flaw with the plane model, Indonesia ordered an inspection of all Max 8 jets operated by domestic carriers.

Lion Air has suffered at least 15 major problems since it began operations in 2000, ranging from fatal crashes to airplane collisions, but the airline has expanded quickly, in part because of the urgent need for air travel in an island nation spread out across the equator.

There they go again blaming the carrier who just bought a brand new Boeing.

For years, Indonesia’s aviation record was so poor that Western nations blacklisted the country’s carriers, but both the United States and European Union have since lifted their bans on Indonesian airlines.

On Thursday, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said that the licenses of four Lion Air personnel had been suspended, including that of the company’s director of maintenance and engineering and the fleet maintenance manager. A day earlier, Budi said the government was evaluating the safety systems of low-cost carriers in Indonesia.

“Low-cost carriers are a necessity,” he said. “It’s not that low-cost carriers are in the wrong, it’s that we want to increase their safety.”


Reminds me of another plane crash in the same region:

No sign of MH370 found in new scan of Indian Ocean floor

Flight 370 disappeared March 8, 2014, while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard.

The most plausible explanation and theory, one which the pre$$ will never touch, is that the plane was remotely flown to the island of Diego Garcia after the crew and passengers were incapacitated, and then the plane was deposited on a field in Ukraine in order to strengthen the junta.

"Malaysia’s leader expresses regret over ending MH370 search" AP  May 30, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Wednesday that his country regrets having to end the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and will consider resuming the hunt for the plane if any new information emerges.

The final search effort, focused on the seabed in the distant Indian Ocean, ended Tuesday after more than three months. Malaysia had signed a ‘‘no cure, no fee’’ deal with US technology company Ocean Infinity to resume the hunt in January, a year after the official search by Australia, Malaysia, and China was called off, and nearly four years after the plane went missing.

Mahathir said Malaysia has come to a stage ‘‘where we cannot keep on searching for something we really cannot find.’’

‘‘If anybody has any information, we will consider resuming the search, but at the moment we have to put a stop to the search,’’ he told a news conference. ‘‘We regret very much and we understand the feelings of the relatives, but we cannot keep on searching for this 370 forever.’’

The plane vanished with 239 people on board on March 8, 2014, while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Confirmed debris that washed ashore in the western Indian Ocean helped narrow the search area where Ocean Infinity focused.

The company said Tuesday that the search covered more than 43,000 square miles of ocean floor — an area more than four times larger than the zone targeted by experts as the most likely crash site — but failed to uncover any evidence in one of the world’s biggest aviation mysteries.

Ocean Infinity stood to be paid $70 million if it had found the wreckage or black boxes.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke said Wednesday that the international safety investigation team is expected to finalize its report by July.


"Fate of Malaysia Airlines jet remains a mystery, panel says" by Austin Ramzy New York Times  July 30, 2018

HONG KONG — One of the greatest aviation mysteries of all time deepened Monday when the official government inquiry into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 released a 495-page report that gave no definitive answers as to the fate of the airliner.

What we will get one day on the TV is it was space aliens that abducted the aircraft in some sort of Bermuda Triangle thing.

The plane was heading north from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing on March 8, 2014, when it deviated from its scheduled path, turning west across the Malay Peninsula. It is believed to have turned south after radar contact was lost and crashed somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean after running out of fuel.

No significant pieces of the wreckage of the jetliner, a Boeing 777, have ever been found. Nor have any remains of the 239 people on board.

Another Boeing.

The absence of definitive answers in the report, which was released at a news conference, devastated families of the victims, who have waited more than four years for the searches and investigations to be concluded.

Intan Maizura Othaman, whose husband, Mohd Hazrin Mohamed Hasnan, was a steward on the flight, told reporters after a briefing for family members that she was angered by the absence of answers.

The long-awaited report offered no conclusion on what caused the plane with 239 people aboard to veer off course, cease radio communications and vanish.

The head of the safety investigation team, Kok Soo Chon, said the available evidence — including the plane’s deviation from its flight course, which tests showed was done manually rather than by autopilot, and the switching off of a transponder — “irresistibly point” to “unlawful interference,” which could mean that the plane was hijacked, but he added that the panel found no indication of who might have interfered or why, and that any criminal inquiry would be the responsibility of law enforcement authorities, not safety investigators.

You read that and you realized the "conspiracists" are likely correct. It's the governments and official pre$$ organs that can't admit it. The Malaysians pretty much are as far as they can.

While Kok did not directly address theories that the disappearance was the result of pilot suicide, he said investigators were “not of the opinion that it could have been an event committed by the pilot.”

Remember back in 1999 when the US military followed Page Stewart's plane across the country because low cabin pressure had knocked everyone unconscious?

That is how they could have disabled the crew.

The disappearance of Flight 370 led to numerous conspiracy theories. And the report, by offering no final conclusion, will do little to settle the matter, but the investigators did dampen some of the most provocative theories.

Was that the actual point of the official report? 

Usually is!

While Kok suggested the possibility of “unlawful interference by a third party,” investigators could not establish that anyone except the pilot had flown the plane.

Kok said there had been no threats or credible claims of responsibility for the plane’s disappearance, which might have been expected as part of a plan to take it down intentionally.

Technology that would allow someone to pilot the aircraft remotely had not been installed on this plane, the report said. No mechanical issues that would affect the plane’s airworthiness were identified either.

“The aircraft was well-maintained,” Kok said.

Other possible factors — like lithium-ion batteries that could have caught fire and the presence of mangosteen fruit in the plane’s cargo, which was deemed unusual — were considered, but such materials had been carried dozens of times before on the same route without incident, the report said.

The panel said it would disband, but declined to call the report final.

“It is too presumptuous of us to say this is the final report,” said Kok, a former director general of Malaysia’s Civil Aviation Department. “No wreckage has been found. The victims have not been found. How could this be final?”

Families of the 239 people who disappeared with the plane had expected clearer answers in the report, and were left disappointed.....

My feeling these days is you expected to much out of them.


Time to clean this stuff up:

Malaysia's Ex-Leader Is Charged in Corruption Inquiry

Malaysia Sidelines Officials Accused of Ignoring Graft

"Malaysian reformist Anwar Ibrahim released from prison; Granted a pardon, former opposition leader is poised to return to politics" by Simon Denyer Washington Post  May 17, 2018

BEIJING— Anwar Ibrahim, the standard-bearer of Malaysia’s reform movement, was released from prison and granted a royal pardon on Wednesday in one of the most dramatic developments since an opposition alliance scored a stunning win in national elections last week.

Anwar, 70, was convicted in 2015 of sodomy in a case that he maintained was trumped up to crush his opposition movement. His release reunites him with a man who was once his ally and mentor, then his bitter enemy, and is now his ally again: 92-year-old Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Anwar served as Mahathir’s deputy and finance minister in the 1990s before falling out with him during the Asian financial crisis, being sacked from the government and forming the Reformasi movement.

Within weeks, Mahathir had him jailed on charges of sodomy and corruption. A second jail term followed in 2015 under Prime Minister Najib Razak, who lost last week’s election and faces an investigation into massive corruption himself.

How Mahathir and Anwar will get along, and whether and when the prime minister will stand aside for the man who built the opposition alliance is one of the biggest questions facing Malaysia.

For now, Anwar, whose wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, is the new deputy prime minister, says he wants to spend time with his family, rest, and carry out some speaking engagements. He insists he is in no hurry to take a spot in the cabinet or, indeed, take over as premier.

On Wednesday, Anwar called his release a victory for all Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, who stood by the principles of democracy and freedom.

‘‘When you are incarcerated, you realize what is the meaning and significance of freedom,’’ he told reporters outside his house in Kuala Lumpur. ‘‘There is a new dawn for Malaysia.’’

He thanked Mahathir for his help in getting him released and pardoned, the latter a critical step in allowing Anwar to return to politics.

‘‘I and Mahathir have buried the hatchet already, it was a long time ago,’’ he said, his tie and jacket off and sleeves rolled up, news agencies reported.

‘‘I have forgiven him, he has proven his mettle. Why should I harbor any malice toward him?’’ Anwar said. ‘‘My position is to give him all the support necessary to allow him to ensure the agenda for reform, the changes that need to be done, can be made.’’

During the campaign, Mahathir promised to stand aside for Anwar once he had been pardoned, but the veteran leader is now talking of running the country ‘‘for one or two years’’ to fix its financial problems.

Anwar’s first trial in 1998 was a dramatic affair, with the man who had only just been dismissed as deputy premier appearing in court with a black eye and bruises, sparking international condemnation of Mahathir. At one point, prosecutors produced a mattress that they said was stained with semen, accusing Anwar of having sex with two male aides.

Anwar was convicted and sentenced to prison. In 2014, he was again convicted of sodomy in a separate case during the Najib administration. An appeal was rejected, and his prison sentence upheld in 2015.

Amnesty International said Anwar’s release was a ‘‘landmark moment for human rights’’ in Malaysia and called for the repeal of repressive laws muzzling freedom of expression and assembly.....


It's also a landmark because Mahathir is one of the few world leaders who has called out not only the Zionist stranglehold on world governments, but the 9/11 false flag operation as well. I expect Malaysia to be hit by terror in the not too distant future.

"Feeling ‘vindicated,’ Malaysia’s Anwar takes lawmaker oath" by Eileen Ng Associated Press  October 15, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysian Prime Minister-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim said he felt ‘‘vindicated’’ after taking his oath as a lawmaker Monday, marking his return to active politics three years after he was imprisoned for sodomy in a charge that critics said was politically motivated.

The swearing-in ceremony in Parliament followed Anwar’s landslide win in a by-election Saturday in the southern coastal town of Port Dickson in which he defeated six other candidates. The seat was vacated after a lawmaker from his party quit, paving the way for Anwar’s political comeback.

Anwar, 71, joins his wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail — currently Malaysia’s deputy prime minister — and his eldest daughter, Nurul Izzah Anwar, in Parliament. He has said that his by-election victory is a ‘‘vote of confidence’’ in the new government.

‘‘I have been deprived of my right from time to time and I have to go through a by-election to come back . . . I feel vindicated,’’ Anwar told reporters Monday. He reiterated support for Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s leadership to ensure a stable government and pledged to focus on parliamentary reforms.


"US accuses ex-Goldman Sachs bankers in Malaysian money laundering scheme" by Matthew Goldstein New York Times  November 01, 2018

NEW YORK — Federal prosecutors filed criminal charges Thursday against a Malaysian financier and two former Goldman Sachs investment bankers who helped raise money for a Malaysian government investment fund from which about $4 billion disappeared.

The charges against the former Goldman bankers, Tim Leissner and Roger Ng, were announced by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn. Also charged was Jho Low, the Malaysian financier whom prosecutors have depicted as being a mastermind of a scheme to misappropriate money from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.

Leissner pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit money laundering and to violating foreign anti-bribery laws. In pleading guilty, he was ordered to forfeit nearly $44 million that he earned from the scheme. Ng faces similar charges. Ng was arrested Thursday in Malaysia, authorities said. Low remained at large.

The filing of criminal charges in the matter was a rare move against senior executives of a major US bank in the decade since the financial crisis. The charges could put pressure on Goldman — the primary bond underwriter for the fund at the center of the case, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB — to reach a potential settlement with the federal authorities.

It took Trump to do it, huh?

The charges could also have wider repercussions within the bank. Leissner, the charging documents said, arranged to pay bribes and kickbacks to officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi with either the help or knowledge of several unnamed conspirators, one of whom was identified as “an Italian national who was employed as a participating managing director” at Goldman.

The authorities contend that the bribes and kickbacks were paid to secure 1MDB’s bond underwriting business for the bank. The unidentified co-conspirator agreed with Leissner not to tell anyone in Goldman’s compliance department about the bribes, according to court documents.

The unidentified co-conspirator is Andrea Vella, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Until two weeks ago, Vella was Goldman’s co-head of investment banking in Asia. At that point, according to a Reuters report, Vella and his co-head were replaced by another veteran Goldman banker.

The alleged misappropriation of billions of dollars from the 1MDB fund has become the focus of an international scandal reaching from Malaysia to the United States to Hong Kong.

Until recently, the investigation had mainly focused on allegations that Low misappropriated billions of dollars from the 1MDB fund. Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles have filed multiple lawsuits to recoup assets bought with some of that money.

Prosecutors in the United States and elsewhere believe that a group of people with close ties to former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak stole from the fund to buy paintings, yachts, real estate, and even investment stakes in movies like “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Some of those allegations were described in civil forfeiture complaints filed by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles last year. Prosecutors from the Justice Department’s money-laundering and asset-recovery division also played an active role in the foreign bribery investigation.

The investigation rocked Malaysian politics earlier this year, leading voters to oust Razak. The new prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, has moved quickly to investigate the alleged theft of billions of dollars from the investment fund, which was created under Najib. The Malaysian government is seeking restitution from Goldman, according to the country’s new finance minister.


That is one of the things that got Khadafy in trouble.

Goldman provided an array of services to the fund, including helping it sell billions of dollars in bonds to investors, earning about $600 million in fees for its work. The authorities have examined what role, if any, the firm played in the 1MDB fraud, whether it knew about the alleged fraud and whether it should have done more to uncover the misappropriation of funds.

Goldman has repeatedly played down its role in the scandal, saying it was unaware of how money from the fund was being used. The firm has said it was cooperating with the investigation.

Goldman did not immediately have a comment Thursday. A lawyer for Leissner could not be reached for comment. A representative for Low did not have an immediate comment.

Leissner, who worked closely with the Malaysian fund, had been in plea talks with federal prosecutor for some time. Ng reported to Leissner at Goldman. It was not known who was representing Ng.

Both Leissner and Ng left the bank more than a year ago.


Someone said it reached into Hong Kong?

"Malaysia cancels two massive Chinese projects, fearing they will bankrupt the country" The Washington Post  August 22, 2018

BEIJING — Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia announced Tuesday he will shelve two major infrastructure projects by Chinese companies for being too expensive for his debt-ridden country.

The rejection of the projects, part of China’s signature Belt and Road Initiative, was in stark contrast to the prime minister’s cozy dinner with President Xi Jinping of China the day before, when they said they were optimistic about their shared future and promised to enhance mutual political trust.

‘‘I believe China itself does not want to see Malaysia become a bankrupt country,’’ he said. ‘‘China understands our problem and agreed.’’

One of the projects, dubbed the East Coast Rail Link, would have connected the South China Sea with strategic shipping routes in Malaysia’s west, providing an essential trade link. The other was a natural gas pipeline in Sabah, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo.

At a news conference on Tuesday, a Chinese spokesman said that Xi was ‘‘deeply satisfied’’ with the visit with Mohamad.

‘‘China has always carried out economic and trade and investment cooperation with other countries on the principle of mutual benefit,’’ he said.

He really put it to Pence, didn't he?!!!



This post, like the alleged debris of Flight 370, is going to wash up in India:

"‘Tell everyone we scalped you!’ How caste still rules in India" by Jeffrey Gettleman New York Times   November 17, 2018

THATI, India — Sardar Singh Jatav is a Dalit, a class of Indians who are not just considered lower caste, but technically outcaste — what used to be called untouchable. Bound at the bottom of India’s Hindu society for centuries, the Dalit population, now estimated at more than 300 million, has been abused for as long as anyone can remember, and now, according to crime statistics, the violence against them is rising.

This might seem surprising against the new narrative India is writing. So much has changed. Millions of people have been lifted out of poverty. The Indian economy is now one of the world’s biggest. Everywhere in the country, there are new roads, new airports, new infrastructure, but in many places, especially in poorer rural areas, caste infrastructure is still the one that counts, and those who rebel against it, like Sardar, are often greeted with unchecked brutality.

It is violence intended to send a message, pain inflicted to maintain India’s old social order. The crimes are happening across the country, and Dalits are not simply killed: They are humiliated, tortured, disfigured, destroyed.

“We have a mental illness,” said Avatthi Ramaiah, a sociology professor in Mumbai.

“You may talk about India being a world power, a global power, sending satellites into space,” he said. “But the outside world has an image of India they don’t know. As long as Hinduism is strong, caste will be strong, and as long as there is caste, there will be lower caste. The lower castes don’t have the critical numbers to counterattack,” he added.

I have held off commenting now, only because I'm sick of being sold narratives, images, and messages. Tired of being constantly propagandized. 

The other thought was, how Gandhi would be rolling in his grave had he not had his ashes dumped into the Ganges. Think of the river as all the tears he has cried since his death.

For decades, India has struggled to de-weaponize caste. When the constitution was being written in the late 1940s, intellectuals knew caste was a sore spot that needed to be urgently addressed. They included specific protections for Dalits, who make up about 15 to 20 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people.

Affirmative action programs, though they have generated deep resentments among upper castes, have helped some Dalits escape poverty. Today there are Dalit poets, doctors, civil service officers, engineers, and even a Dalit president, though it is mostly a ceremonial post, but 95 percent of Indians still marry within their caste, experts say, and recent studies show income and education levels correlate very closely with caste. Even controlling for education, Dalits still fall behind, indicating that caste discrimination is alive and well in the workplace.

Scholars argue that the current political environment has increased the vilification of the other — whether that be along caste, creed, or gender lines. Many analysts blame the ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, whose Hindu supremacist roots have emboldened supporters to lash out at minorities, often in the name of Hinduism.

The Gujjars, who are hardly at the top of the overall caste ladder, are the most powerful caste here and own most of the land. Gujjars live in bigger homes, and many have tractors and small cars. Most Dalits don’t even have bicycles.

Dalits must show Gujjars respect. They are not supposed to look Gujjars in the eye or touch their food or water cups — Gujjars would consider it polluted. The two castes have separate water taps, like in the Jim Crow American South.

All of this is illegal.....


Well, now you know what is under the Indian sheet.

Also see:

India’s top court ruled women can enter prominent temple

Protesters walled it off from them.

"The death toll from a cyclone that hit the coast of southern India has risen to 33. India's navy has assigned two ships and a helicopter for relief work. State authorities on Saturday rushed drinking water, food and paramedics to nearly 82,000 people who took shelter in more than 400 state-run camps. They were evacuated from areas in the path of Cyclone Gaja, which struck six districts of Tamil Nadu state on Friday with heavy rains and winds that reached 90 kilometers per hour, or 55 miles per hour. Most deaths were caused by flooding, house collapses and electrocution....."

Then it hit Vietnam before the coverage dissipated.


"Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey landed in a raging controversy in India by posing for a photo with a sign alluding to the touchy subject of the country’s caste system. While on a tour of one of Twitter’s fastest-growing markets, Dorsey met with a group of women activists and journalists, and was photographed alongside them holding a poster that read: ‘‘Smash Brahminical Patriarchy.’’ The photograph went viral and Dorsey got trolled on the very social network he built. In India’s hierarchical Hindu caste system, Brahmins top the four caste groups and historically include teachers, priests, and intellectuals. Patriarchy, meanwhile, isn’t limited to any single caste in India. Some furious tweeters said the act amounted to racism, while an apology by Twitter only riled up activists who oppose the caste system and patriarchy."

Dead whale had 115 plastic cups, 2 flip-flops in its stomach

Did you know Indonesia is one of the world’s largest plastic polluting countries?

"Boeing cancels call to discuss issues with its newest plane" by David Koenig Associated Press  November 21, 2018

Boeing Co. canceled a conference call that it scheduled for Tuesday with airlines to discuss issues swirling around its newest plane, which has come under close scrutiny after a deadly crash in Indonesia.

The company didn’t immediately give an explanation for canceling the call, which would have included American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines, all of which have Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in their fleets.

I hope you are not flying home for Thanksgiving!

What is most disturbing is they never told the pilots about the problem.

Indonesian investigators are examining whether a new anti-stall system in the MAX played a role in the Oct. 29 crash of a Lion Air jet shortly after takeoff from Jakarta. The plane flew erratically before plunging into the Java Sea, killing all 189 people on board.

CFRA Research analyst Jim Corridore said canceling the call was ‘‘a bad look for the company at a time when it is facing increasing criticism for potential problems with sensors on the plane that could cause the aircraft to erroneously correct itself into a steep dive.’’ He said Boeing ‘‘needs to communicate more and better, not less.’’

‘‘Boeing has been and continues to engage with our customers. We continue to schedule meetings to share information,’’ said Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers. He declined to say why Tuesday’s call was canceled.

I guess they can't hear themselves due to the roar of their jet engines. Must be deaf by now.

A spokeswoman for Southwest said Boeing did not give a reason for canceling and did not reschedule the call. She said the airline would follow any future guidance from Boeing or the Federal Aviation Administration as they continue their investigation.

A spokesman for American said the airline would continue to work with Boeing and the FAA. United did not immediately comment.

Through October, Boeing had delivered 241 MAX planes to airlines and taken orders for nearly 4,800.

The new system can point the nose of the plane down sharply if sensors detect that the plane may be about to enter an aerodynamic stall.

Investigators in the Lion Air crash say the plane received faulty readings from so-called angle-of-attack sensors, which track whether the nose is pointed up, down, or level, and they are probing whether the bad data caused the nose of the plane to pitch down automatically.

Boeing shares closed down about 1 percent, at $317.70.....

Oh, no, Boeing shares took a dive!


3 men charged with planning mass killing in Australian city

"Russia, which has tried to manipulate Interpol, is poised to lead it" by Matt Apuzzo New York Times  November 20, 2018

BRUSSELS — Gathered at a glitzy Dubai resort this week for their annual conference, the leaders of Interpol hoped to emerge from the shadow of the controversy that erupted after Beijing snatched the agency’s Chinese president and unilaterally announced his resignation.

Yet, just weeks later, Interpol appears poised to select as its next president a senior security official from Russia, which has been accused of manipulating the agency’s arrest warrants to harass its enemies.

American and European officials were lobbying behind the scenes to tip a vote on Wednesday away from the Russian candidate, Alexander V. Prokopchuk. The virulently anti-Russian Ukranian government went public, declaring that Prokopchuk’s candidacy was part of a Kremlin assault on the international order.

For years, the Kremlin has used Interpol to demand the arrest of political enemies who have fled to other countries. This spring, William F. Browder, a critic of President Vladimir Putin of Russia, live-tweeted his arrest in Spain on a warrant issued in Moscow. He was quickly released, but the incident served as a reminder that Interpol’s vaunted systems remain vulnerable to Kremlin influence even after years of pressure from lawyers and rights groups.

Despite its portrayal in spy movies as an omnipotent global police force, Interpol has no powers to investigate crimes or to make arrests. Rather, it serves as a sort of United Nations for police leaders and an information clearinghouse to help local authorities catch international fugitives.

The presidency of Interpol is in many ways a ceremonial position with little power to influence the issuance of warrants. Nevertheless, elevating a Russian in the face of such criticism would be a public relations coup for Putin.....

How appropriately that this post ends with a pile of dog doo from the NYT.


Also see: When Qin the Chinaman Gets Here

He never arrived?

Related: Pompeo calls out lack of diversity in Hollywood and the media

Different Pompeo, and did you see who will be playing Tom Brady in the Chinese version?