What It’s Like to Live in a Surveillance State – by James Millward – NYT

Image by Brian Stauffer, NYT

“I have researched Xinjiang for three decades. Ethnic tensions have been common during all those years, and soon after 9/11, Chinese authorities started invoking the specter of “the three evil forces of separatism, extremism and terrorism” as a pretense to crack down on Uighurs. But state repression in Xinjiang has never been as severe as it has become since early 2017, when Chen Quanguo, the C.C.P.’s new leader in the region, began an intensive securitization program.

Mr. Chen has brought to Xinjiang the grid system of checkpoints, police stations, armored vehicles and constant patrols that he perfected while in his previous post in Tibet. The C.C.P. credits him with having quieted there a restive ethnic group unhappy with its rule. In his first year governing Xinjiang, Mr. Chen has already recruited tens of thousands of new security personnel.”

“. . . .How does the party think that directives banning fasting during Ramadanin Xinjiang, requiring Uighur shops to sell alcohol and prohibiting Muslim parents from giving their children Islamic names will go over with governments and peoples from Pakistan to Turkey? The Chinese government may be calculating that money can buy these states’ quiet acceptance. But the thousands of Uighur refugees in Turkey and Syriaalready complicate China’s diplomacy.

Tibetans know well this hard face of China. Hong Kongers must wonder: If Uighur culture is criminalized and Xinjiang’s supposed autonomy is a sham, what will happen to their own vibrant Cantonese culture and their city’s shaky “one country, two systems” arrangement with Beijing? What might Taiwan’s reunification with a securitized mainland look like? Will the big-data police state engulf the rest of China? The rest of the world?”

Source: What It’s Like to Live in a Surveillance State – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, China, Climate Change Remediation

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A Photo That Changed the Course of the Vietnam War – by Maggie Astor – NYT

“. . . Then there was the fallout for the person for whom viewers had the least sympathy: General Loan, the executioner, who would eventually move to the United States. In 1978, the government tried unsuccessfully to rescind his green card. He died 20 years later in Virginia, where he had run a restaurant.

Adams himself, before his death in 2004, expressed discomfort with the consequences of his photo. He noted that photographs, by nature, exclude context: in this case, that the prisoner had killed the family of one of General Loan’s deputies.

“Two people died in that photograph: the recipient of the bullet and Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan,” he wrote in Time magazine. “The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera.”

“Still photographs,” Adams wrote, “are the most powerful weapon in the world.” “

Source: A Photo That Changed the Course of the Vietnam War – The New York Times

Posted in: Vietnam-American War

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The American Who Predicted Tet – by Max Boot – NYT

Edward Landsdale is on the left. NYT

 

“The Tet offensive, which began 50 years ago today and is remembered as the turning point of the Vietnam War, caught Americans by surprise. One of the few who saw what was coming was Edward Lansdale, the legendary covert operative and retired Air Force general who had helped to create the state of South Vietnam after the French withdrew. He had returned to Saigon in 1965 as an official at the American Embassy, trying to use his close ties to the South Vietnamese to salvage something from a failing war effort. . . “

Source: The American Who Predicted Tet – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

It is unclear whether the more subtle approach argued by Lansdale would have made a big difference. In 1858, the French invaded Vietnam, and it took them a year to win that first great battle. It took them till 1913 to destroy the last group of resistance fighters. They proceeded to exploit and rape the country for roughly 100 years, until the Japanese invaded during WW II, and the French surrendered without a fight. What also mattered was during 1931-33, the French colonial government announced an amnesty. The non-communist nationalist resistance groups came forward, believing the French, and turned in their guns. They were rounded up and executed. The communist nationalist resistance group did not trust the French, and did not come forward. After the massacre, only the communist resistance group was left to continue the fight against the French. During WW II, only Ho Chi Minh and his communist fighters fought successfully against the Japanese. He was aided with guns, supplies and money by the US OSS. He was our man in Vietnam against the Japanese. By 1954, when these Viets defeated the French, they were national heros, three times over. It is hard to believed anyone could undermine their national popularity. They had earned the mandate of heaven.

Posted in: David Lindsay, Vietnam-American War

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As U.S. Trumpets ‘America First-’ Rest of the World Is Moving On – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump is arriving at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to explain his “America First” approach at a moment when the world is moving ahead with a trade agenda that no longer revolves around the United States. The world marked a turning point in global trade on Tuesday, when 11 countries agreed to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, announcing they had finalized the pact and expected to sign a deal on March 8 in Chile. It was a remarkable moment for a beleaguered agreemen

Source: As U.S. Trumpets ‘America First,’ Rest of the World Is Moving On – The New York Times

 

David Lindsay:  Yes. Donald Trump, or Twitter Drumpf as I like to call him,  is damaging the US in world trade, and no where more than in Asia, with his pulling out of the Transpacific Parntership.

Here is the top comment so far, I endorse:

Bob Bascelli

Seaford NY 1 hour ago

“America First” is a tag line not unlike “Make America Great Again”. They both appeal to our base instincts and are effective in stirring our faux “American Pride”, but that’s as far as they go. Questions need to be asked. What do we want to be first and great at; healthcare, coal production, number of millionaires, people in poverty, a healthy economy, number of nuclear warheads, deaths by gun violence, having the most stuff, …..? Do we have to be great or can we get along being respected, fair, and truthful? First and great mean very different things to many different people. Can one be truly great when so many are left behind? Ask the questions. Give truthful answers. That would be great.

Posted in: Foreign Trade Policy, Globalization and Trade

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The Truth Behind ‘A Bright Shining Lie’ by Neil Sheehan- The New York Times

More than 58,000 United States soldiers died in the Vietnam War, but in the world of letters, the death of a single American civilian came to represent the entire jungle quagmire. John Paul Vann went down in a helicopter crash on June 9, 1972. Four presidential administrations and a societal shift in recognizing Vietnam veterans later, Vann, a former lieutenant colonel and the first “civilian general” to lead American troops in combat, was memorialized in Neil Sheehan’s masterpiece, “A Bright Shining Lie.”

Thirty years on, Sheehan’s book hasn’t lost any of its astonishing power. At a September screening of the Burns-Novick documentary “The Vietnam War,” John Kerry told the audience he never understood the full extent of the anger against the war until he read “A Bright Shining Lie,” which showed him that all the way up the chain of command “people were just putting in gobbledygook information, and lives were being lost based on those lies and those distortions.”

What makes the book particularly compelling is that it is both a broad look at the folly of the war and an intimate portrait of a chillingly Shakespearean character. Sheehan spent five years researching Vann’s life, interviewing seemingly anyone who ever met him, and nine more writing.

Source: The Truth Behind ‘A Bright Shining Lie’ – The New York Times

Posted in: Vietnam-American War

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Olympic Détente Upends U.S. Strategy on North Korea – The New York Times

SEOUL, South Korea — North and South Korea reached an agreement Wednesday for their athletes to march together under one flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics next month, a powerful gesture of reconciliation that further complicates President Trump’s strategy for dealing with the nuclear-armed regime of Kim Jong-un. South Korea, the host of the games, said it hoped a partnership in sports could contribute to a political thaw after years of high tensions on the Korean Peninsula. It came even a

Source: Olympic Détente Upends U.S. Strategy on North Korea – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

Donald Trump’s military chest pounding against North Korea is an embarassement, and a danger to millions of people. America appears in this area as a rogue nation, as much as North Korea. It is brilliant of North and South Korea to start at least symbolic talks, to calm things down, and calm down the hyper aggressive United States under Trump. A better direction for US policy toward North Korea, would be to listen more carefully to China, Japan and South Korea, and our other Asian allies, and support their efforts to contain North Korea. The US also has to acknowledge that it is not the ruler of the world. We have no intrinsic right to forbid other countries from weapons that we build and stockpile ourselves. For us to bomb another nation for arming itself, as we have armed ourselves, makes us more of a war mongering, ethnocentric and totalitarian nation, than a beacon of freedom and democracy.

Posted in: David Lindsay, Korea - North and South Korea

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Ex-C.I.A. Officer Suspected of Compromising Chinese Informants Is Arrested – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — A former C.I.A. officer suspected by investigators of helping China dismantle United States spying operations and identify informants has been arrested, the Justice Department said on Tuesday. The collapse of the spy network was one of the American government’s worst intelligence failures in recent years. The arrest of the former officer, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, capped an intense F.B.I. inquiry that began around 2012, two years after the C.I.A. began losing its informants in China. Investiga

Source: Ex-C.I.A. Officer Suspected of Compromising Chinese Informants Is Arrested – The New York Times

Posted in: China, Military Affairs and Espianage

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Opinion | Why China’s Good Environmental Policies Have Gone Wrong – NYT

Stange article, with some questionalbe assertions, such as, there is no data on the kinds of air pollution that China faces. This assertion is false. Other counties have already studied these pollutants. There is lots of good data.What is striking, is that cancer is the leading cause of death in China, and lung cancer is the most common form of cancer. That in itself is a form of data. There is no doubt but the rapid conversion is causing shortages and some severe discomforts.

I wonder if this writer is paid by the coal industry to try and cast doubt on the validity of changing rapidly to natural gas and sustainable energy sources.

Haste and zeal to please an increasingly authoritarian government have created unexpected problems.
NYTIMES.COM

Posted in: China, Climate Change Remediation

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Energy initiative to cut smog worsens winter gas shortage – China Daily

By HOU LIQIANG/DU JUAN/ZHENG JINRAN/ZHANG YU | China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-15 06:52

Surging demand for cleaner fuel affects household heating and pushes up market prices

Authorities in Shaanxi province limited the amount of liquefied natural gas cab drivers can purchase. [Photo/CHINA NEWS SERVICE]

Every day, before starting his shift, taxi driver Zhong Guishun heads to a gas station to fill his tank. Usually, the process only takes a few minutes, but last week it took more than two hours.

Like most cabs in Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei province, Zhong’s car runs on liquefied natural gas, which was in short supply.

“Only a few stations had the fuel. Some of my peers, who have been driving cabs for more than a decade, said the situation is the worst they’ve ever known,” he said, adding that the line of vehicles stretched more than a kilometer.

Although supplies at gas stations have returned to normal, the provincial government has yet to lift the orange alert-the second-highest level, signaling a shortfall of as much as 20 percent-it sent out about gas supplies last month.

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201712/15/WS5a3300a6a3108bc8c6734c18.html

Posted in: China, Climate Change Remediation

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Outing Death – born of Bhutanese folklore – The New York Times

WeCroak, Mr. Bergwall said, was born of Bhutanese folklore saying that to be happy, one ought to contemplate death five times a day. For the more than 9,000 users of WeCroak, most in their 20s and 30s, he said, there is no time like the moment to get a grip on life by embracing mortality. Hovering near the top of the App Store’s paid health and fitness chart, the app, which I first read about in The Atlantic, is an exhortation to mindfulness. “Meditation urges you to focus on your breath,” Mr. Bergwall sai

Source: Outing Death – The New York Times

Posted in: Fiction and Folklore

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