For the second time since September, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India visited the United States, the two countries have failed to reach even a limited “mini-deal” that would increase trade for focused groups of goods, like dairy products, medical devices and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Negotiators from both countries have been working since 2018 on a deal that would lower Indian barriers to some American products, and restore India’s access to a program that allows goods to enter the United States tariff-free.
But the breakdown in negotiations illustrates the steep challenge in reaching a trade deal between two countries headed by populist leaders who harbor suspicions of multilateral arrangements. Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Modi want to protect jobs in their own countries by fending off foreign competitors — shared attributes that make it even more difficult to strike a comprehensive agreement that would roll back trade barriers more broadly.”
Mr. Mishra is the author, most recently, of “Age of Anger: A History of the Present.”
Credit…Illustration by Pablo Delcan; Photographs by Doug Mills/The New York Times
” “I love Hindu,” Donald Trump proclaimed during his presidential campaign in 2016. That adoration of India’s majority population, and America’s richest and most obviously pro-Trump minority, may have just gotten deeper.
On his first visit to India next week, Mr. Trump claims, he has been promised a welcoming crowd of “10 million” by the country’s Hindu-supremacist prime minister, Narendra Modi. (Never mind that the total population of the city where Mr. Modi and Mr. Trump plan to hold a joint rally is a little over eight million.)
Last September at a rock-concert-like rally at a Houston football stadium, Mr. Modi and Mr. Trump walked hand-in-hand, the two stocky strongmen looking like brothers-in-arms. Certainly, nowhere in the world can Mr. Trump encounter a profounder fraternal spirit than among India’s present rulers. India under them fulfills, to a startling degree, the American president’s irascible fantasy of what the United States should be: a country cravenly surrendering its traditions of law and decency before a perpetually inflamed and ham-handed autocrat.
Mr. Trump has controversially pardoned some white-collar criminals, including Michael Milken, and might extend clemency to Roger Stone. He can only envy the culture of impunity in India. Charges of murder and kidnapping have long pursued Amit Shah, Mr. Modi’s closest confidant and India’s home minister, but the judge in his case mysteriously died soon after Mr. Modi became prime minister in 2014 and the next judge swiftly acquitted Mr. Shah.”
“China’s mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak has imperiled itself and the world because it is a land of 21st-century science and 19th-century politics.
Scholars in China predicted a year ago in an article in the journal Viruses that it was “highly likely” that there would be coronavirus outbreaks, calling it an “urgent issue.” Once the outbreak occurred, other Chinese scientists rapidly identified the virus and sequenced its DNA, posting it on Jan. 10 on a virology website for all to see. That was extraordinarily good and fast work.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party instinctively organized a cover-up, ordering the police to crack down on eight doctors accused of trying to alert others to the risks. National television programs repeatedly denounced the doctors as rumormongers.
One of those eight doctors, Li Wenliang, caught the virus and died — causing public outrage. Some Chinese make the point that if Li had been in charge of China, rather than President Xi Jinping, many lives might have been saved.
“The coronavirus epidemic has revealed the rotten core of Chinese governance,” a law professor in Beijing, Xu Zhangrun, wrote this month in an online essay that was immediately banned. “The level of popular fury is volcanic, and a people thus enraged may, in the end, also cast aside their fear.”
Xu certainly cast aside his own fear, predicting that he would face new punishments but adding, “I cannot remain silent.”
He called on his fellow Chinese citizens to demand free speech and free elections and urged: “Rage against injustice; let your lives burn with a flame of decency; break through stultifying darkness and welcome the dawn.”
Xu is now incommunicado, but it is remarkable to see the groundswell of anger online toward the dictatorship. Citizens can’t denounce Xi by name, but they are skilled in evading censors — such as by substituting President Trump’s name for Xi’s.”
MANILA — The Philippines said Tuesday it had officially informed the United States that it was scrapping a military pact that has given the longtime American ally a security blanket for the past two decades.
The notice to terminate the pact, the Visiting Forces Agreement, comes as President Rodrigo Duterte has warmed up to China while distancing himself from the United States, the Philippines’ former colonial ruler. The move also comes as the Philippines has shown increasing reluctance to stand up to China over its territorial claims in the South China Sea.
The agreement lets the United States rotate its forces through Philippine military bases. It has allowed for roughly 300 joint exercises annually between the American and Philippine militaries, said R. Clarke Cooper, the assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs. He told reporters Monday that the termination of the agreement would put those operations “at risk.”
The agreement still remains in force, but the notice to terminate it, delivered to the American Embassy in Manila, starts a clock under which it will remain in effect for 180 days before lapsing.
“WUHAN, China — A mysterious illness had stricken seven patients at a hospital, and a doctor tried to warn his medical school classmates. “Quarantined in the emergency department,” the doctor, Li Wenliang, wrote in an online chat group on Dec. 30, referring to patients.
“So frightening,” one recipient replied, before asking about the epidemic that began in China in 2002 and ultimately killed nearly 800 people. “Is SARS coming again?”
In the middle of the night, officials from the health authority in the central city of Wuhan summoned Dr. Li, demanding to know why he had shared the information. Three days later, the police compelled him to sign a statement that his warning constituted “illegal behavior.”
The illness was not SARS, but something similar: a coronavirus that is now on a relentless march outward from Wuhan, throughout the country and across the globe, killing at least 304 people in China and infecting more than 14,380 worldwide.”
The giant devil catfish, or goonch, found in the rivers of Southeast Asia, can measure nearly seven feet long and can weigh more than 200 pounds.Credit…Zeb Hogan, UNR Global Water Center
By Rachel Nuwer
“Some of the most astonishing creatures on Earth hide deep in rivers and lakes: giant catfish weighing over 600 pounds, stingrays the length of Volkswagen Beetles, six-foot-long trout that can swallow a mouse whole.
There are about 200 species of so-called freshwater megafauna, but compared to their terrestrial and marine counterparts, they are poorly studied by scientists and little known to the public. And they are quietly disappearing.
Following an exhaustive survey throughout the Yangtze River basin, researchers this month declared the Chinese paddlefish officially extinct. The paddlefish, last seen alive in 2003, could grow up to 23 feet long and once inhabited many of China’s rivers, but overfishing and dams decimated their populations.
The paddlefish may be a harbinger for many other giant fish. According to research published in August in Global Change Biology, freshwater megafauna have declined by 88 percent worldwide in recent years.”
Mr. Sharma is an author, global investor and contributing opinion writer.
A driverless delivery robot crossing the road in Tianjin, China, in November.Credit…China Network/Reuters
“Landing in Shanghai recently, I found myself in the middle of a tech revolution remarkable in its sweep. The passport scanner automatically addresses visitors in their native tongues. Digital payment apps have replaced cash. Outsiders trying to use paper money get blank stares from store clerks.
Nearby in the city of Hangzhou a prototype hotel called FlyZoo uses facial recognition to open doors, no keys required. Robots mix cocktails and provide room service. Farther south in Shenzhen, we flew the same drones that are already making e-commerce deliveries in rural China. Downtown traffic flowed smoothly, guided by synced stoplights and restrained by police cameras.
Outside China, these technologies are seen as harbingers of an “automated authoritarianism,” using video cameras and facial recognition systems to thwart lawbreakers and a “citizen score” to rank citizens for political reliability. An advanced version has been deployed to counter unrest among Muslim Uighurs in the inland region of Xinjiang. But in China as a whole, surveys show that trust in technology is high, concern about privacy low. If people fear Big Brother, they keep it to themselves. In our travels along the coast, many expressed pride in China’s sudden rise as a tech power.
China initiated its economic miracle by opening to the outside world, but now it is nurturing domestic tech giants by barring outside competition. Foreign visitors cannot open Google or Facebook, a weirdly isolating experience, and the trade deal announced Wednesday by President Trump defers discussion of those barriers.”
One concern he and others cite is the country’s “99 percent conviction rate” in criminal cases.
By Nobuhisa Ishizuka
Mr. Ishizuka is executive director of the Center for Japanese Legal Studies and a lecturer at Columbia Law School.
The exterior of the Tokyo District Court.Credit…Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images
“In the 13 months between the arrest of Carlos Ghosn, the former chief executive of Nissan, and his fleeing Japan amid allegations of improper compensation and misuse of corporate assets, the Japanese criminal justice system has been put under a microscope.
Critics in Japan have raised concerns for years, in particular about the broad powers granted to prosecutors. All of those powers have been on full display in Mr. Ghosn’s case: His pretrial detention was repeatedly extended, he was held for hours of questioning without a lawyer present, and he was repeatedly denied bail — something that is usually granted only to defendants who are prepared to confess. (He was eventually granted bail with strict conditions.) Aside from a few reforms, like the introduction of videotaped interrogations, the Japanese legal system has continued unchanged for decades. Wide prosecutorial powers have been generally accepted by the Japanese people as appropriate and effective, given extremely low crime rates in Japan.
Western concepts of justice are deeply rooted in the principles of individual liberty, checks on official power and the rule of law. In the West, these ideals are embraced and believed to be universal. The Japanese concept of justice, in contrast, is rooted in regulating individual conduct according to norms that define the relationship of the individual to society. And these norms are defined by a history that predates Western legal concepts by thousands of years.”
“OLD TOWN, Maine — During the deepest part of last winter, a van pulled off the highway and followed the two-lane road that skims along the Penobscot River, coming to rest beside the hulk of a shuttered pulp mill. The van’s door slid open and passengers climbed out: seven Buddhist monks from China.
Andrew Edwards, a mill superintendent from the nearby town of Lincoln, led them to a room where he had stockpiled the things they had requested for the ceremony: oranges, limes, apples and seven shovels, one for each monk.
Snow lay deep on the ground, two feet of gritty, frozen crust, and he remembers worrying a little about the visitors. “They were in their, I don’t know what they’re called, their Tibetan outfit,” he said. “With the sandals and whatnot.”
He stepped back and watched as the monks wandered from the boiler houses to the limekiln to the pulp mill, chanting, burning candles and gently tapping a gong.”
“NAGORO, Japan — The last children were born in the remote mountain village of Nagoro 18 years ago.
Now, just over two dozen adults live in this outpost straddling a river on the Japanese island of Shikoku. The elementary school closed its doors in 2012, shortly after the last two students completed sixth grade.
But on a recent bright autumn Sunday, Tsukimi Ayano brought the school back to life.
It just so happened that she did it with dolls rather than humans.
Ms. Ayano, 70, had arrayed more than 40 handmade dolls in a lifelike tableau on the grounds of the shuttered school. Recreating a school sports day known as “undokai,” a staple of the Japanese calendar, she had posed child-size dolls in a footrace, perched on a swing set and tossing balls.
“We never see children here anymore,” said Ms. Ayano, who was born in Nagoro, and has staged an annual doll festival for the last seven years.”
What a lovely, strange story by Motoko Rich and Nadia Shira Cohen. Thank you. Dr of Nothing commented to this extraordinary piece: “What we are seeing here is a town at the end of its lifespan, but also a society and culture in significant decline. Japan is predicted to have half its current population by the end of the century, so this is more than just a retreat, its a collapse.”
I must disagree completely. Japan is one of the most overpopulated places in the planet, and naturalists are suggesting that for the life as we know it to be sustainable, and with other creatures, we need to reduce world population from 7.6 to perhaps 4 billion. That the Japanese are doing their part to bring their own country to more sustainable human numbers, to allow for other species, and clean air and water, and less climate change is magnificent.
Wikipedia reports, “According to the World Bank, the population of Japan as of 2018 is at 126.5 million, including foreign residents. The population of only Japanese nationals was 124.8 million in January 2019.
Japan was the world’s tenth-most populous country as of 2018. “ They showed that in 1910, the population was only about 51 million.
This fact that overpopulated states are going down in population is not bad news. It is good news, and a necessary part of our survival through a slowing of climate change and the sixth extinction of species.
David Lindsay Jr. is an author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.