Monday, July 22, 2019

MixedTimes - John Hayward

Japan Holds Naval Drills in South China Sea as China Tests Anti-Ship Missiles

Japan Holds Naval Drills in South China Sea as China Tests Anti-Ship Missiles

Japan’s largest warship, the Izumo, completed joint drills with allies including the U.S., France, and Australia this week, demonstrating Japan’s improved ability to project power across the region - pointedly including ground actions on islands like the ones China has been militarizing.

Iran Exceeds Uranium Limits, Threatens Further Nuclear Deal Violations

Iran Exceeds Uranium Limits, Threatens Further Nuclear Deal Violations

Inspectors for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Monday confirmed a statement by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that Iran has violated the 300 kilogram limit on stockpiling enriched uranium established by the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Thousands March in Taiwan to Protest Pro-Beijing Media

Thousands March in Taiwan to Protest Pro-Beijing Media

An enormous demonstration was held in Taipei, Taiwan, on Sunday to oppose Chinese authoritarianism and spotlight Taiwanese media outlets that spread Beijing’s ideology and propaganda.

Florida City Agrees to Pay $600,000 Ransom to Hackers

Florida City Agrees to Pay $600,000 Ransom to Hackers

The city of Riviera Beach, Florida, agreed this week to pay $600,000 ransom in Bitcoin to a gang of hackers that encrypted its data, having concluded efforts to fight the data theft would be even more expensive and possibly futile.

Egypt Denies Request for Public Mohamed Morsi Funeral

Egypt Denies Request for Public Mohamed Morsi Funeral

The Egyptian government denied a request for a public funeral from the family of former President Mohamed Morsi on Tuesday, quickly interring Morsi’s remains in the Nasr City district of Cairo.

Russia Fast-Tracks Passports for Eastern Ukraine

Russia Fast-Tracks Passports for Eastern Ukraine

Russia began issuing “fast-tracked” passports to residents of eastern Ukraine this week, in accordance with an order signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in April. Some sixty residents of Ukraine’s Donbas region crossed the Russian border to receive their passports in a ceremony on Friday.

New York Jihadi Arrested for Alleged Grenade Attack Plot on Times Square

New York Jihadi Arrested for Alleged Grenade Attack Plot on Times Square

Federal and local authorities arrested 22-year-old Ashiqul Alam of Jackson Heights, Queens, on Thursday for allegedly plotting to attack Times Square with guns and hand grenades. Law enforcement described the suspect as a “lone wolf” with no known links to any larger conspiracy to attack New York City.

China Demands Control over ‘A.I. Governance’

China Demands Control over ‘A.I. Governance’

China’s state-run Global Times on Thursday demanded a leading role for Beijing in formulating the global rules governing artificial intelligence (AI). The Chinese paper was correct to believe that AI is something everyone in the world should be concerned about, but neglected to mention that China is one of the big reasons they should be concerned.

U.S. Navy Veteran Killed in Nicaragua Prison Riot

U.S. Navy Veteran Killed in Nicaragua Prison Riot

Nicaraguan-American dual national Eddy Montes Praslin was one of 18 imprisoned anti-government protesters killed or wounded on Thursday in a disturbance at the La Modelo prison near the Nicaraguan capital city of Managua.

Report: Trump May Sign Executive Order Banning Huawei Telecom Equipment

Report: Trump May Sign Executive Order Banning Huawei Telecom Equipment

President Donald Trump reportedly will sign an executive order this week banning U.S. telecom companies from using equipment that has been deemed risky to national security. The order will not specify individual companies or countries of origin, but it will clearly have the most profound impact on Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

Sunday Mass Canceled in Sri Lanka After Archbishop Warned of Possible Attacks

Sunday Mass Canceled in Sri Lanka After Archbishop Warned of Possible Attacks

The archbishop of Colombo announced on Thursday that Sunday Mass will be canceled in his district this weekend due to ongoing security concerns. Catholic schools will also remain closed until further notice, while public schools in Sri Lanka will reopen on Monday with armed security.

Head of Feared Venezuelan Secret Police Turns Against Maduro

Head of Feared Venezuelan Secret Police Turns Against Maduro

General Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera, head of the feared Venezuelan secret police agency known as the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN), on Tuesday night published an open letter in which he somewhat gingerly withdrew his support for dictator Nicolas Maduro.

Hayward: ‘Avengers: Endgame’ and the Golden Age of Mega-Storytelling

Hayward: ‘Avengers: Endgame’ and the Golden Age of Mega-Storytelling

"Avengers: Endgame" made over a billion dollars worldwide in its first weekend, shattering just about every record the Hollywood publicity machine bothers to keep. That’s because Endgame is more than just Part 2 of a single story, but the culmination of a 22-film series (plus a few short films and loosely-connected TV shows) that racked up almost $20 billion in combined ticket sales.

U.S. Envoy Calls for Taiwan to Join Interpol, World Health Organization

U.S. Envoy Calls for Taiwan to Join Interpol, World Health Organization

U.S. envoy Brent Christensen, the de facto American ambassador to Taiwan, on Monday pledged continuing U.S. support for Taiwan to join international organizations like Interpol and the World Health Organization (WHO) despite China’s campaign to isolate the island nation.

Kim Jong-un Reshuffles North Korean Government, Tightens Control

Kim Jong-un Reshuffles North Korean Government, Tightens Control

It was not exactly a surprise to see Kim Jong-un “re-elected” as chairman of the North Korean State Affairs Commission – i.e. absolute dictator – on Friday, but quite a few other government posts were shaken up, suggesting Kim is determined to tighten his grip on power.

Russia Awards Highest State Award to Indian PM Narendra Modi amid Elections

Russia Awards Highest State Award to Indian PM Narendra Modi amid Elections

Russia on Friday awarded Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi the Order of St. Andrew, the highest civilian award the Russian Federation offers. Modi received the award for “exceptional services in promoting a special and privileged strategic partnership between Russia and India.

Report: Egypt Withdraws from Anti-Iran ‘Arab NATO’ Alliance

Report: Egypt Withdraws from Anti-Iran ‘Arab NATO’ Alliance

Reuters reported on Wednesday that Egypt is withdrawing from the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), a nascent organization proposed by the United States as an alliance against Iranian, Chinese, and Russian influence.

U.S. Will Introduce Classified Surveillance Info at Huawei Trial

U.S. Will Introduce Classified Surveillance Info at Huawei Trial

United States prosecutors said on Thursday that classified information gathered under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) will be introduced in the federal trial of Chinese telecom company Huawei, which has been charged with committing money laundering, bank fraud, and wire fraud in the course of violating U.S.

Donald Trump Called Xi Jinping ‘King’ of China: ‘He Liked That’

Donald Trump Called Xi Jinping ‘King’ of China: ‘He Liked That’

President Donald Trump spoke at the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) spring dinner in Washington on Tuesday, saying he referred to Chinese President Xi Jinping as the “king” of China during their 2017 meeting in Beijing and that Xi considered it a compliment.

Tsai Ing-wen in Hawaii: ‘U.S. Commitment to Taiwan Stronger than Ever’

Tsai Ing-wen in Hawaii: ‘U.S. Commitment to Taiwan Stronger than Ever’

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen made a stopover in Hawaii on Wednesday after visiting several of Taiwan’s Pacific allies. From there she held a teleconference with the Heritage Foundation in which she praised the Trump administration’s support for Taiwan and its positive response to a request for more advanced weapons to hold China at bay.

U.K. Officials Identify More Security Risks in Huawei Electronics

U.K. Officials Identify More Security Risks in Huawei Electronics

Security officials in the United Kingdom issued a report on Thursday identifying further security risks in equipment from Chinese telecom giant Huawei. The report noted Huawei has made no progress on addressing previously identified problems and said it would be “difficult” to manage the security risk from further Huawei purchases.

Report: Final Islamic State Stronghold in Syria Falls

Report: Final Islamic State Stronghold in Syria Falls

Fox News reported on Thursday that the final Islamic State stronghold in Syria, the village of Baghouz, has been liberated by the Kurdish-led, U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces.

Germany Furious at U.S. Ambassador for Calling Out Low Defense Spending

Germany Furious at U.S. Ambassador for Calling Out Low Defense Spending

German politicians on Tuesday threatened to expel U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell over his sharp criticism of Germany’s low defense spending. Grenell took Germany to task for failing to meet its own spending goals, let alone its commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Obama Administration Refused to Declare Public Health Emergency for Fentanyl

Obama Administration Refused to Declare Public Health Emergency for Fentanyl

The Washington Post on Wednesday published a searing indictment of the Obama administration for disregarding a plea from health experts to declare a public health emergency for overdoses from fentanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid that was already racking up a body count in 2016 and would go on to kill thousands of people over the next three years.

U.S. State Department Compares China’s Human Rights Abuses to Stalin and Hitler

U.S. State Department Compares China’s Human Rights Abuses to Stalin and Hitler

The U.S. State Department published its annual report on global human rights abuses on Wednesday, spotlighting China’s mass detention of Uighur Muslims in the rollout. The head of the State Department human rights bureau compared China’s actions to the horrors of Stalin’s Russia and Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

Doctors Report Dozens of Attacks on Ebola Treatment Centers in Congo

Doctors Report Dozens of Attacks on Ebola Treatment Centers in Congo

Medical teams frequently complain about the dangerous conditions in the violent rural areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). An alarming report published by Doctors Without Borders on Thursday said the effort to contain the Ebola outbreak in the Congo is “failing” due to community distrust and factional violence, including over 30 attacks on Ebola treatment centers over the past seven months.

Maduro: Massive Venezuelan Blackout ‘Directed by Imperialist United States’

Maduro: Massive Venezuelan Blackout ‘Directed by Imperialist United States’

Venezuela literally shut down on Friday as a massive nationwide blackout rolled into a second day, causing schools and business operations to close. Socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro blamed the blackout on sabotage “directed by the imperialist United States” and carried out by agents of the Venezuelan opposition.

Chinese Actress Blocked from Travel by Social Credit System

Chinese Actress Blocked from Travel by Social Credit System

Actress and former Miss Chinese International Michelle Ye Xuan, whose resume includes numerous films and television shows, has become the highest-profile “untrustworthy” citizen to be banned from travel by China’s social credit system, a massive surveillance and data-mining operation that grades Chinese for the quality of their citizenship and punishes those with poor scores.

Captive American Journalist Released, Deported from Venezuela

Captive American Journalist Released, Deported from Venezuela

American journalist Cody Weddle was released by the Maduro regime and expelled from Venezuela on Wednesday night after spending ten hours in captivity. Weddle said his captors seemed particularly upset about a report he filed about rank-and-file Venezuelan soldiers preparing to switch their allegiance to internationally-recognized interim president Juan Guaido.

Data Leak Reveals China Monitoring 364 Million Social Media Accounts

Data Leak Reveals China Monitoring 364 Million Social Media Accounts

A Dutch cybersecurity analyst claimed on Monday to have discovered a database created by Chinese police that contains private information about 364 million social media users, revealing a government surveillance network of breathtaking scale and uncertain purpose.

Chinese Hackers Target Universities to Steal Naval Technology

Chinese Hackers Target Universities to Steal Naval Technology

The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday quoted cybersecurity experts, including current and former U.S. officials, who said Chinese hackers have targeted almost 30 universities around the world since April 2017 in a bid to steal research associated with military naval technology.

China Uses Trudeau Scandal to Attack Canada for Arresting Meng Wanzhou

China Uses Trudeau Scandal to Attack Canada for Arresting Meng Wanzhou

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday used the scandal engulfing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration to question the fairness and independence of the Canadian judiciary and once again challenge the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

Al-Shabaab Gunmen, Suicide Bombers Attack Mogadishu Hotel

Al-Shabaab Gunmen, Suicide Bombers Attack Mogadishu Hotel

A suicide bombing attack on a hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia on Thursday evening quickly escalated into a massive gun battle between Somali security forces and jihadis loyal to al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda ally that is becoming increasingly active across the region.

North Korea Disputes Trump’s Account of Hanoi Negotiations

North Korea Disputes Trump’s Account of Hanoi Negotiations

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho gave a press conference from Hanoi, Vietnam, on Thursday in which he disputed U.S. President Donald Trump’s account of unsuccessful negotiations with dictator Kim Jong-un.

Maduro Removes Eight Tons of Gold from Venezuela’s Central Bank

Maduro Removes Eight Tons of Gold from Venezuela’s Central Bank

Opposition legislator Angel Alvarado told Reuters on Wednesday the Maduro regime has removed at least eight tons of gold from Venezuela’s central bank for unknown reasons. At current prices, the gold is worth over $300 million.

President Trump Announces Release of Hostage Danny Burch from Yemen

President Trump Announces Release of Hostage Danny Burch from Yemen

President Donald Trump on Monday announced the release of Danny Burch, an American citizen who has been held hostage in Yemen since 2017. Trump thanked the United Arab Emirates for assisting with Burch’s liberation and said his administration has now secured the freedom of 20 Americans held captive in various countries.

China Using American-Made Equipment to Track Uighurs with DNA

China Using American-Made Equipment to Track Uighurs with DNA

The Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher company on Wednesday announced it will no longer sell its equipment in the Xinjiang province of China because the Chinese government is using the gear to track Uighur Muslims through their DNA.

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