Some Things Are True Even if Trump Believes Them – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

Thomas Friedman is great in this column. He writes that China is a big problem, but the Trump steel tariff hurts our allies and not China. Then:

“So what would a smart American president do? First, he’d sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade accord. TPP eliminated as many as 18,000 tariffs on U.S. exports with the most dynamic economies in the Pacific and created a 12-nation trading bloc headed by the U.S. and focused on protecting what we do best — high-value-added manufacturing and intellectual property. Alas, Trump tore it up without reading it — one of the stupidest foreign policy acts ever. We Brexited Asia! China was not in TPP. It was a coalition built, in part, to pressure Beijing into fairer market access, by our rules. Trump just gave it up for free.

Once a smart president restored participation in TPP, he’d start secret trade talks with the Chinese — no need for anyone to lose face — and tell Beijing: “Since you like your trade rules so much, we’re going to copy them for your companies operating in America: 25 percent tariffs on your cars, and your tech companies that open here have to joint venture and share intellectual property with a U.S. partner — and store all their data on U.S. servers.” “

Source: Some Things Are True Even if Trump Believes Them – The New York Times

Posted in: China, Foreign Trade Policy, Thomas Friedman

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The Biggest Refugee Camp Braces for Rain: ‘This Is Going to Be a Catastrophe’ – The New York Times

The world’s largest refugee camp, a temporary home to more than half a million people that sprawls precariously across barren hills in southeastern Bangladesh, faces a looming disaster as early as April when the first storms of the monsoon season hit, aid workers warn. “It’s going to be landslides, flash floods, inundation,” said Tommy Thompson, chief of emergency support and response for the World Food Program. “It’s going to be a very, very challenging wet season. That’s if we don’t have a cyclone.”

“But then, in a matter of weeks, as refugees poured in by the tens of thousands, trees were hacked away. Canals were dug. Bamboo-and-tarp shacks went up. More trees were cut as refugees scrambled to find firewood.

The hills, where elephants recently roamed, are now bare. Even the roots have been pulled out, leaving nothing to hold the parched soil together as rainwater washes downhill, potentially taking tents and people with it and quickly inundating low-lying settlements. The United Nations says 100,000 refugees are at acute risk from landslides and floods.

The early rains — known in Bengali as kalboishakhi, which translates loosely as the storms of an “evil summer” — are a precursor to the full-on monsoons. They strike when the soil is still dry and especially susceptible to mudslides. The only warning of their approach is usually hot winds that send the dry earth of summer swirling through the air.”

Source: The Biggest Refugee Camp Braces for Rain: ‘This Is Going to Be a Catastrophe’ – The New York Times

DL: It is too bad that these 600,000 Rohingya refugees were forced or allowed to deforest the area they were placed in. Now they have turned that piece of dessert into a probable death camp when the monsoon rains appear. I need firewood now, versus, I need these trees to prevent flooding later, is a choice I  hope that I never have to make.

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, David Lindsay, Environment, Myanmar, Rohingya of Myanmar

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The Myth of Eugene McCarthy – by Joshua Zeitz – NYT

Fifty years ago next week, Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota scored a near-upset in New Hampshire’s Democratic presidential primary, setting in motion Lyndon Johnson’s announcement, three weeks later, that he would “not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.” It was a jaw-dropping series of events, one that gave McCarthy a near-mythic status in American political history.

Just weeks earlier, the longtime campaign reporter Theodore White observed, it had been “unthinkable that a sitting president of the United States could be unhorsed within his own party either by primaries, conventions or riot in the streets.” But McCarthy galvanized popular opposition to Johnson’s foreign policy and, seemingly overnight, turned the election into a referendum on America’s continued involvement in the Vietnam War. At least that’s how it is popularly remembered.

In fact, commentators then and since have misinterpreted McCarthy’s upset performance in New Hampshire in a way that sharply misread public opinion and unfairly saddled Johnson with sole responsibility for a war that most Americans — and most American political leaders of both parties — still strongly supported on the eve of the New Hampshire primary. To understand how it happened, it’s helpful to wind the clock back to the fall of 1967.

Source: The Myth of Eugene McCarthy – The New York Times

This piece is full of new information for me, and shows that I might be better off with one blog instead of three.

Posted in: Foreign Affairs and U.S.ForeignPolicy, Vietnam-American War

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U.S. Allies Sign Sweeping Trade Deal in Challenge to Trump – The New York Times

SANTIAGO, Chile — A trade pact originally conceived by the United States to counter China’s growing economic might in Asia now has a new target: President Trump’s embrace of protectionism.

A group of 11 nations — including major United States allies like Japan, Canada and Australia — signed a broad trade deal on Thursday that challenges Mr. Trump’s view of trade as a zero-sum game filled with winners and losers.

Covering 500 million people on either side of the Pacific Ocean, the pact represents a new vision for global trade as the United States threatens to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on even its closest friends and neighbors.

Mr. Trump withdrew the United States from an earlier version of the agreement, then known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a year ago as one of his first acts in office. It will undeniably be weaker without the participation of the world’s biggest economy, but the resuscitated deal serves as a powerful sign of how countries that have previously counted on American leadership are now forging ahead without it.

“Only free trade will contribute to inclusive growth of the world economy,” Taro Kono, Japan’s foreign minister, told a group of ministers from Southeast Asian countries in Tokyo on Thursday. “Protectionism isn’t a solution.”

Source: U.S. Allies Sign Sweeping Trade Deal in Challenge to Trump – The New York Times

Here is a comment I endorsed at the NYT.

Rich G

New York 4 hours ago

“While American beef farmers will have to pay 38.5 percent tariffs in Japan, for example, members like Australia, New Zealand and Canada will not.”

I’m sure that most in the beef industry voted for Trump. Well guess what, More expensive steel is going to mean your costs are going up and the tariffs mean your income is going down. America First? Much more of this and it will be America Last.

Posted in: Foreign Trade Policy, Globalization and Trade, Japan

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How Xi Jinping Made His Power Grab: With Stealth, Speed and Guile – by Chris Buckley – NYT

“BEIJING — Some 200 senior Communist Party officials gathered behind closed doors in January to take up a momentous political decision: whether to abolish presidential term limits and enable Xi Jinping to lead China for a generation.

In a two-day session in Beijing, they bowed to Mr. Xi’s wish to hold onto power indefinitely. But a bland communiqué issued afterward made no mention of the weighty decision, which the authorities then kept under wraps for more than five weeks.

That meeting of the party’s Central Committee was the culmination of months of secretive discussions that are only now coming to light — and show how Mr. Xi maneuvered with stealth, swiftness and guile to rewrite China’s Constitution.

The decision was abruptly announced only last week, days before the annual session of China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress. The delay was apparently an effort to prevent opposition from coalescing before formal approval of the change by the legislature’s nearly 3,000 members.”

Source: How Xi Jinping Made His Power Grab: With Stealth, Speed and Guile – The New York Times

 

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

Will this be good of bad for Vietnam? My gut tells me it will be bad. As China moves away from becoming more democratic, and moves towards becoming more fascist, it will perhaps become more dependent, or willing, to take on outside foreign wars, to distract its people. No one has more to lose in such a development, than the Vietnamese, who have had to repel Chinese invasions and occupations, at least seven times by 1789, when Nguyen Hue and his 200,000 troops deffeated a Qing army of about 300.000. I am pleased that the Trump administration has sent one of its aircraft carriers to visit Vietnam this month, at the deep port of Danang. This is an important message, that we in the United States agree with the Vietnamese, that the South China Sea, or the East Sea in Vietnam, does not belong to China, but should be shared by all the nations that live around it, or send their ships through it.

 David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com

Posted in: China, David Lindsay, Foreign Affairs and U.S.ForeignPolicy, Post War Problems in Vietnam

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America’s Other Espionage Challenge: China – The New York Times

“With all the focus on Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the damage done by China’s vigorous and continuing espionage against the United States has taken a back seat.

The preoccupation with Russia, in fact, has obscured the significant inroads made by Chinese intelligence and cyberspies. In some cases, China has proved more skillful than Russia in infiltrating American intelligence.

A case involving a former C.I.A. officer named Jerry Chun Shing Lee is a perfect example. Beginning in 2010, C.I.A. sources in China began disappearing; a dozen were reported executed and several more imprisoned. What had seemed a major success in establishing a network of C.I.A. spies inside China had been turned into a devastating intelligence failure. The C.I.A. and F.B.I., suspecting a mole, went on a secret hunt.

Mr. Lee, who had been stationed in Beijing, emerged as a prime suspect. When he stepped off a flight in New York on Jan. 15, he was arrested by the F.B.I. and charged with unlawfully retaining documents related to the national defense. But there is still no certainty that he was responsible for the loss of the agents.”

Source: America’s Other Espionage Challenge: China – The New York Times

Posted in: China, Foreign Affairs and U.S.ForeignPolicy

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Europe Once Saw Xi Jinping as a Hedge Against Trump. Not Anymore. – The New York Times

“BRUSSELS — A year ago, the self-styled global elite gathered at Davos, shaken by the election of Donald J. Trump, who made no secret of his contempt for the multilateral alliances and trade that underpin the European Union.

Then up stepped the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, promising that if America would no longer champion the global system, China would.

European officials and business leaders were thrilled.

But a year later, European leaders are confronted with the reality that Mr. Xi could also be a threat to the global system, rather than a great defender. The abolition of the two-term limit for the presidency, which could make Mr. Xi China’s ruler for life and which is expected to be ratified this week by China’s legislature, has punctured the hope that China would become “a responsible stakeholder” in the global order. Few still believe China is moving toward the Western values of democracy and rule of law.

Instead, many European leaders now accuse China of trying to divide the European Union as it woos Central Europe and the Balkan states with large investments. They are also wary of how China has become more aggressive militarily, in espionage and in its investment strategy abroad — with targets including its largest trading partner in Europe, Germany.”

Source: Europe Once Saw Xi Jinping as a Hedge Against Trump. Not Anymore. – The New York Times

David Lindsay:

Good article. It ends, “Now Mr. Xi’s open-ended tenure could give China a chance to plan long-term and carry out its policies systematically with “a steady hand on the helm of a great power,” Mr. Schell said. “But it is rooted in Leninism, autocracy and control, which will make it a tremendous challenge for liberal democracies rooted in a different value system, especially in a world reeling with no leadership.” ”

It is surprising to think the Europeans are so dependent on the US for leadership. It would be useful, if we in the US could rally around an alternative leader, who could challenge our current president, with the leadership that is called for in the article here. Secretary State Kerry is the name that pops up in my mind. Who else should be on the short list.

Posted in: China, David Lindsay, Foreign Affairs and U.S.ForeignPolicy

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When Walter Cronkite Pronounced the War a ‘Stalemate’ – by Mark Bowden – NYT

“One of the enduring myths of the Vietnam War is that it was lost by hostile American press coverage.

Exhibit A in this narrative is Walter Cronkite, the CBS News anchor, billed as the nation’s most trustworthy voice, who on Feb. 27, 1968, told his audience of millions that the war could not be won. Commentary like this was remarkable back then because of both custom and the Fairness Doctrine, a federal policy requiring broadcasters to remain neutral about the great questions of the day.

The doctrine was rescinded in 1987, so now we have whole networks devoted to round-the-clock propaganda. But when Cronkite aired his bleak but decidedly middle-of-the-road assessment of the war 50 years ago, immediately after the Tet offensive, it was a significant departure. It struck like revelation. From the pinnacle of TV’s prime-time reach, he had descended to pronounce:

“To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that were are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion.” “

Source: When Walter Cronkite Pronounced the War a ‘Stalemate’ – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

In 1789, When Nguyen Hue defeated the Chinese invaders camped near Hanoi, it was the 7th time since AD 937, that the Vietnamese had defeated the Chinese in pitched battle. The Viets were at their very core, the people who threw foreign invaders out of their land. 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 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. About 1933, the French colonial government announced an amnesty. The non-communist nationalist resistance group turned in their guns. They were rounded up and executed. The communist 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. David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at The TaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com

Posted in: David Lindsay, Vietnam-American War

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Is It an Art Collective or a Vietnamese Ad Agency? Yes and Yes – The New York Times

“HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — In 1978, when he was 2 years old, Tuan Andrew Nguyen was on a plane to the United States. He and his parents were “boat people,” postwar refugees from Communist Vietnam. They were lucky: After a week at sea in a small, open craft, they made landfall on Bidong Island, a speck of land that would soon become the world’s largest refugee camp. Then an American church group offered to resettle them in Oklahoma. When Tuan started crying somewhere over the Pacific, a flight attendant gave him a Dennis the Menace comic book. It’s his earliest memory.

Today, at 41, Mr. Nguyen is living in the city his parents fled, one of eight million souls careening around its overheated streets on motor scooters. He is a Viet Kieu, an overseas Vietnamese, who came back with alien influences like hip-hop, graffiti art and comics. He is also a member of the Propeller Group, an artists’ collective that offers a sly commentary on contemporary Vietnam through works like “Television Commercial for Communism,” a 60-second spot that purports to repackage the ideology of Marx and Lenin as a sleek, egalitarian, consumer-friendly lifestyle. It comes with a manifesto, of course, but also with a 24-page booklet of “brand guidelines.” The logo for the new Communism “has been carefully crafted to be fair to every letterform,” the guidelines specify in deadpan fashion. “Equal spacing is important.”

Source: Is It an Art Collective or a Vietnamese Ad Agency? Yes and Yes – The New York Times

Posted in: Art Culture and Folklore

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S.E.C. Blocks Chinese Takeover of Chicago Stock Exchange – The New York Times

“Supporters of the Chicago Stock Exchange proposal said it could help bring more Chinese companies to United States financial markets. And it would also have helped revive a marketplace where activity was dwindling. The Chicago Stock Exchange handles only a small fraction of the stock trades that take place every day.”

Source: S.E.C. Blocks Chinese Takeover of Chicago Stock Exchange – The New York Times

DL: This deal was approved by the SEC under Barak Obama. It was approved by the staff of the SEC. The new Trump head of the SEC has terminated against the advice of the SEC staff. Make America Great Again continues to hold us back. These are the same idiots who cancelled the US participation in the TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Posted in: Business and Finance, China

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