Archive for Bullies and Scoundrels

Opinion | My Grandmother’s Favorite Scammer – By Frankie Huang – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Huang is a writer and illustrator.

“BEIJING — One day last winter my mother sent me an odd message over WeChat. “Has Laolao said anything strange to you today?” she asked.

I immediately sensed that something was amiss. My mother is a typical Chinese parent. She always feels obliged to withhold bad news from me until she has no other choice. Why was she worried about my grandmother?

I thought back to my most recent visit to Laolao’s shabby apartment here. She had just turned 88, and other than the usual age-related forgetfulness and grumbling about kids these days, she was her usual self.

My mother’s next message unnerved me even more. “Was she of sound mind?”

“You have to tell me what’s going on,” I messaged back.

I fought the urge to berate her and began to scour the internet for information on bank scams that involved sworn secrecy. My heart sank when results filled my screen, describing our situation exactly. I was in an airport, on a business trip, so I messaged Laolao’s assistant at her office and told her to freeze all my grandmother’s bank accounts. But it turned out the bank couldn’t do anything unless Laolao herself requested it.”

Source: Opinion | My Grandmother’s Favorite Scammer – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, China

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Opinion | My Grandmother’s Favorite Scammer – By Frankie Huang – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Huang is a writer and illustrator.

CreditCredit…Annie Jen

“BEIJING — One day last winter my mother sent me an odd message over WeChat. “Has Laolao said anything strange to you today?” she asked.

I immediately sensed that something was amiss. My mother is a typical Chinese parent. She always feels obliged to withhold bad news from me until she has no other choice. Why was she worried about my grandmother?

I thought back to my most recent visit to Laolao’s shabby apartment here. She had just turned 88, and other than the usual age-related forgetfulness and grumbling about kids these days, she was her usual self.

My mother’s next message unnerved me even more. “Was she of sound mind?”

“You have to tell me what’s going on,” I messaged back.

I fought the urge to berate her and began to scour the internet for information on bank scams that involved sworn secrecy. My heart sank when results filled my screen, describing our situation exactly. I was in an airport, on a business trip, so I messaged Laolao’s assistant at her office and told her to freeze all my grandmother’s bank accounts. But it turned out the bank couldn’t do anything unless Laolao herself requested it.”

Source: Opinion | My Grandmother’s Favorite Scammer – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, China

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Prime Mover: How Amazon Wove Itself Into the Life of an American City – The New York Times

Amazon just put this department store out of bussiness in Baltimore, and its largest hardware store, both owned by the same family.

“. . .  Ms. Black said she quit after two written warnings that she wasn’t meeting productivity standards, knowing a third would get her fired.

“The machines determine so much,” she said. “You’re clocked from beginning to end. They grind through people.”

When another employee told the National Labor Relations Board that he had been fired for complaining about working conditions, the company said he had it wrong: He had been fired for working too slowly.

In fact, an Amazon lawyer wrote to the N.L.R.B. last year, it had fired “hundreds of other employees” at the Baltimore warehouse for failing to make their numbers. The letter, obtained by The Verge, listed more than 800 workers fired in the previous year, but the company now says the correct number was 309.

Automated dismissals are a feature, the letter said, not a flaw. “Amazon’s system,” the lawyers wrote, “automatically generates any warnings or terminations regarding quality or productivity without input from supervisors.” Amazon says termination decisions are ultimately made by managers.

Workers at Amazon who run into that kind of trouble have no unions to represent them — a shift from Baltimore’s past. G.M. employees were represented by the United Automobile Workers. At the second warehouse, on the old Bethlehem Steel site, United Steelworkers held sway. At both plants, the pay was adequate to support a family.

Credit…Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

In the G.M. plant’s final years, line workers made an average of $27 an hour, equivalent to more than $35 today. G.M. workers could make $80,000 annually with overtime, according to contemporary news reports, equal to $102,000 in 2019 dollars.

The vehemently anti-union Amazon has raised its lowest hourly pay to $15.40, which is a little over double the federal minimum wage, the company points out. But even a veteran worker at its BWI2 warehouse would have to put in considerable overtime to get to $40,000 a year, less than half of what a G.M. worker could make in the past.

Nor are the job numbers comparable. The G.M. plant employed 8,000 at its peak; Bethlehem Steel employed 30,000. Amazon has a total of 4,500 workers at the two warehouses.”

Source: Prime Mover: How Amazon Wove Itself Into the Life of an American City – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, Monopoly or Monopsony

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Opinion | Let’s Not Take Cues From a Country That Bans Winnie the Pooh – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditAssociated Press

“What happens when China’s enforcers come after Winnie-the-Pooh?

Will we reluctantly hand over Pooh Bear? Really sorry about this, Winnie, but China’s an important market!

Winnie-the-Pooh has been banned in China online and at movie theaters because snarky commentators have suggested that he resembles the portly President Xi Jinping. But these days Xi doesn’t want to censor information just in his own country; he also wants to censor our own discussions in the West.

That’s the backdrop to China’s hysterical reaction to a tweet by Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets’ general manager, sympathizing with Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrations.

When the N.B.A. moved into China in the early 2000s, it made a plausible argument that engagement would help extend our values to China. Instead, the Communist Party is exploiting N.B.A. greed to extend its values to the United States.

China is also forcing American Airlines to treat Taiwan as part of China, and it bullied Mercedes-Benz into apologizing for quoting the Dalai Lama. It made Marriott fire an employee for “wrongfully liking” a tweet by an organization that favors Tibetan independence.

There’s not much we can do about a dictator like Xi bullying his own citizens, but we should not let him stifle debate in our country.

Let me interrupt this diatribe, however, for important context. Those of us who criticize Xi must also have the humility to acknowledge that child mortality is now lower in Beijing than in Washington, D.C., that China has established new universities at a rate of one a week and that Shanghai’s public schools put our own school systems to shame.

So, yes, let’s stand up to Chinese bullying — and speak up when China detains at least one million Muslims, in what may be the biggest internment of people based on religion since the Holocaust. But let’s also note that China has helped lift more people out of poverty more quickly than any nation in history. With China, it’s always helpful to hold at least two contradictory ideas in our heads at the same time.”

Xi’s anxiety about the internet, religion, Hong Kong protesters, even Winnie-the-Pooh underscores his own insecurities. Xi seems terrified that real information will infiltrate the Chinese echo chamber, undermining his propaganda department’s personality cult around a benign “Uncle Xi.”

Source: Opinion | Let’s Not Take Cues From a Country That Bans Winnie the Pooh – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, China, Nicholas Kristof

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Opinion | The Battle for Hong Kong Is Being Fought in Sydney and Vancouver – By Louisa Lim – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Lim, the author of “The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited,” is writing a book about Hong Kong.

CreditCreditTyrone Siu/Reuters

“MELBOURNE, Australia — As the police deploy tear gas against protesters on the streets of Hong Kong, another battle is raging less visibly: the one for narrative control. After weeks of asserting that the unrest had been orchestrated by foreign “black hands,” Chinese officials on Monday accused protesters of showing the first signs of “terrorism.” Such messaging is key to Beijing’s public opinion operation, which has been turned up to full volume.

The weapons of this information war include a flood of social media posts from state-run media, some carrying misinformation. When a woman dispensing first aid was shot in the eye by the Hong Kong police, the state-run CCTV reported on its official social media account that she had been shot by protesters. It also accused her of handing out money to demonstrators. Chinese readers are unlikely to question the veracity of such an authoritative source, and CCTV’s Weibo post, which says the movement is slandering the Hong Kong police by blaming them for the injury, has been liked more than 700,000 times.

Ten weeks ago, when Hong Kongers first took to the streets to protest disputed extradition legislation, Beijing censored all reports of this civil unrest. But in recent days, it has reveled in posting video of protesters purportedly using air guns, slingshots and petrol bombs against the police. The state-run Global Times has described protesters as “nothing more than street thugs who want Hong Kong to ‘go to hell,’” or as people who had “voluntarily stripped themselves of their national identity.” Such descriptions are aimed at delegitimizing the protesters’ cause, especially among educated mainlanders who might otherwise be sympathetic.

Chinese people living or studying overseas are another important audience for Beijing’s messaging. Their primary news diet is largely delivered via WeChat, a Chinese chat app where messages are subject to censorship, so they often still fall within Beijing’s propaganda orbit. Recent pictures of an American diplomat meeting two activists, Joshua Wong and Nathan Law, were used to bolster Beijing’s claims of hostile foreign forces backing the protests. On Tuesday, scenes of a Chinese state media worker being tied up at the airport and beaten by young protesters flooded Chinese social media, bolstering calls for Beijing to intervene militarily in Hong Kong.”

Source: Opinion | The Battle for Hong Kong Is Being Fought in Sydney and Vancouver – The New York Times

David Lindsay:  The protesters have tactics, but do they have a strategy?

Posted in: Australia, Bullies and Scoundrels, China, Hong Kong

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Opinion | What I Learned Leading the Tiananmen Protests – by Wang Dan – The New York Times

“On June 3, after my proposal to retreat from the square had been overruled by other student leaders, I went back to my university dorm to rest. Friends phoned me late that night with the news that soldiers had opened fire on protesters, and I fell into a state of shock. We never believed that the leadership would use force, because we had been pushing for the Communist Party to improve itself, not to surrender power.

During my weeks in hiding, I watched on television as my fellow activists were captured one by one. I decided to go back to Beijing, knowing that I, too, would be caught. The police found me on July 2, and arrested me after a car chase. “Little Wang has been caught!” one officer phoned his boss in excitement.

I spent three years and seven months in prison. My heart was often laden with guilt and sorrow. A large number of students and Beijing residents had died during the bloody crackdown. I felt partly responsible.”

Source: Opinion | What I Learned Leading the Tiananmen Protests – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, China

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Opinion | China’s Orwellian War on Religion – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

Nicholas Kristof

By Nicholas Kristof,   Opinion Columnist

Police patrolling near the Id Kah Mosque in the old town of Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang region.CreditJohannes Eisele/Agence France-Presse — Getty Image

“Let’s be blunt: China is accumulating a record of Orwellian savagery toward religious people.

At times under Communist Party rule, repression of faith has eased, but now it is unmistakably worsening. China is engaging in internment, monitoring or persecution of Muslims, Christians and Buddhists on a scale almost unparalleled by a major nation in three-quarters of a century.

Maya Wang of Human Rights Watch argues that China under Xi Jinping “poses a threat to global freedoms unseen since the end of World War II.”

To its credit, China has overseen extraordinary progress against poverty, illiteracy and sickness. The bittersweet result is that Chinese people of faith are more likely than several decades ago to see their children survive and go to university — but also to be detained.

China’s roundup of Muslims in internment camps — which a Pentagon official called concentration camps — appears to be the largest such internment of people on the basis of religion since the collection of Jews for the Holocaust. Most estimates are that about one million Muslims have been detained in China’s Xinjiang region, although the Pentagon official suggested that the actual number may be closer to three million.”

Source: Opinion | China’s Orwellian War on Religion – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, Bullies and Scoundrels, China, Vietnam's Neighbors

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As Vote Nears- Cambodia’s Leader Has Opponents- but No Competition – By Julia Wallace – NYT

By Julia Wallace

“PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — It’s election season in Cambodia, and the fireflies are out.

Cambodians use that term — “ampil ampik,” in the Khmer language — to refer to little-known political parties that flash onto the scene shortly before an election, then fade back into obscurity.

Twenty parties, some just a few months old, will be on the ballot when national elections are held this month. But most voters will have heard of only one: the Cambodian People’s Party, led by Hun Sen, the authoritarian prime minister.

Mr. Hun Sen has had no viable opposition since November, when the Cambodia National Rescue Party — which almost won the 2013 election — was dissolved by a court packed with his loyalists. The United Nations special rapporteur on Cambodia, Rhona Smith, and numerous rights groups have said the July 29 vote will not be legitimate.

In response, the government points to such obscure entities as the Dharmacracy Party, the Khmer Will Party and the New Light Party (whose platform is to promote “Cambodia’s natural, linguistic and alphabetical wonders”).

“If you have only one political party, you cannot say ‘multiparty,’ but we have 20 political parties,” said Dim Sovannarom, a spokesman for the National Election Committee.

Mr. Hun Sen, who has been in power since 1985, is clearly concerned that Cambodians will see it differently. In May, he warned against using the terms “fireflies” or “disembodied ghosts,” another figure of speech sometimes applied to minor parties.”

Source: As Vote Nears, Cambodia’s Leader Has Opponents, but No Competition – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Excellent reporting by Julia Wallace, thank you. She wrote: “The leaders of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, or C.N.R.P., have been jailed or driven into exile, and lower-ranking members were harassed into joining Mr. Hun Sen’s party or getting out of politics. Mr. Hun Sen has also overseen a crackdown on the press. The United States and the European Union, which have helped fund past Cambodian elections, refused this year, saying that the vote will not be credible.” What a sorry picture, and a sorry mess. Unfortunately, the United States contributed to this mess, in ways that I am not qualified to list, but include our bombing of the country, and probably assassinating its leaders, even their good ones, just because they were communist. Is there a good book to cover the modern devastation of this once proud and vibrant country?
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: Bullies and Scoundrels, Cambodia, David Lindsay

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In Africa- Geneticists Are Hunting Poachers. (Many of the big traffickers are Vietnamese and Chinese!) NYT

Published by David Lindsay

Many of the big traffickers are Vietnamese and Chinese!
“South African authorities long had eyes on Rogers Mukwena. They knew the former schoolteacher was wanted in Zimbabwe for poaching rhinoceroses and selling their horns, which can command hundreds of thousands of dollars.

He’d jumped bail and fled to northern Pretoria, but it was vexingly difficult to catch and prosecute him — until a scientist helped make the case against him with rhino DNA.

His subsequent conviction resulted from a new tactic in wildlife preservation: The genetic fingerprinting methods that have been so successful in the criminal justice system are now being used to solve poaching crimes.”

DNA databases holding samples from thousands of rhinoceroses and elephants are helping to convict illegal traffickers.
NYTIMES.COM

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, China, Population Growth, The Sixth Extinction of Species

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Nixon Tried to Spoil Johnson’s Vietnam Peace Talks in ’68- Notes Show – The New York Times

“Richard M. Nixon told an aide that they should find a way to secretly “monkey wrench” peace talks in Vietnam in the waning days of the 1968 campaign for fear that progress toward ending the war would hurt his chances for the presidency, according to newly discovered notes.

In a telephone conversation with H. R. Haldeman, who would go on to become White House chief of staff, Nixon gave instructions that a friendly intermediary should keep “working on” South Vietnamese leaders to persuade them not to agree to a deal before the election, according to the notes, taken by Mr. Haldeman.

The Nixon campaign’s clandestine effort to thwart President Lyndon B. Johnson’s peace initiative that fall has long been a source of controversy and scholarship. Ample evidence has emerged documenting the involvement of Nixon’s campaign. But Mr. Haldeman’s notes appear to confirm longstanding suspicions that Nixon himself was directly involved, despite his later denials.

“There’s really no doubt this was a step beyond the normal political jockeying, to interfere in an active peace negotiation given the stakes with all the lives,” said John A. Farrell, who discovered the notes at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library for his forthcoming biography, “Richard Nixon: The Life,” to be published in March by Doubleday. “Potentially, this is worse than anything he did in Watergate.” “

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, Vietnam-American War

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