Huawei To The Danger Zone | In Mueller We Trust | Black Days and Red Dawn in Venezuela

MARCH 26, 2019  /   SUBSCRIBE



“Of all creatures that breathe and move upon the earth, nothing is bred that is weaker than man.”

“A man who has been through bitter experiences and travelled far enjoys even his sufferings after a time”

– Homer




One Belt One Road: Huawei To The Danger Zone: Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte welcomed China’s president Xi Jinping Friday for a weekend of commemorating their new trading partnership. At a formal signing ceremony on Saturday Italy became the first of the G7 nations to officially join Bejing’s vast “One Belt One Road” project, which makes enormous infrastructure investments to move Chinese goods and resources throughout Asia, Africa and Europe. A host of Chinese and Italian ministers and business leaders gathered outside Rome at the 16th century Italian Renaissance Villa Madama to sign 29 separate agreements.

Both the US and EU tried dissuading the Italian government from allying itself with Beijing. Before Xi’s visit the Trump administration focused unsuccessfully on blocking any Italian use of 5G wireless networks developed by Chinese technology giant Huawei, warning that Beijing could use the networks for electronic espionage. Even various leaders within Rome’s coalition government disagreed over the partnership. But Italy is carrying a crushing debt load, and ultimately it is felt the lagging economy will be boosted by exporting more goods to China and inviting more Chinese investment. Saturday’s memorandum of understanding formalized a framework agreement for billions of euros in business deals between Italian and Chinese-state backed companies.

Still, opponents of the project worry that the country has turned itself into a Trojan Horse by inviting China’s economic, and possibly military and political, expansion to reach into the heart of Europe. In truth, China is eyeing opportunities in Italy’s ports, which indeed are connected to railways that run into the middle of the continent. But the president of Trieste’s port authority, who signed one of Saturday’s agreements, noted it’s only natural Italians would be looking to China because the Trump administration had withdrawn from the world. China, he said, “is opening up because it feels strong,” and ports must do business with those who engage in the world.
Additional read: “
France seals multi-billion dollar deals with China, but questions Belt and Road project.” (Reuters) Additional song: Tristeza by Golden Hill.




Dark, Dark Days For Venezuela: At least 14 of Venezuela’s 23 states are once again in darkness, hit by a second power failure less than three weeks after the worst power outage in the country’s history. In the capital city of Caracas shops were shuttered, public transportation halted, and office workers and ministries’ employees sent home. 57 percent of the country’s telecommunications infrastructure was offline. A 28-year-old call center worker, one of thousands of people walking home on Monday afternoon, set out for a 90 minute trek back to his home in the Petare shantytown. He spoke for so many when he said: “I feel frustrated, bored, resigned and I want to leave this country. There is no more hope. There is nothing else to do. This is getting way too common for us. It’s happening way to often and now I’m just tired.” (Guardian)

Russia’s Red Dawn Invasion of Venezuela: Nearly 100 Russian soldiers arrived in Caracas over the weekend, signaling Moscow’s support for embattled president Nicolás Maduro. A Venezuelan journalist tweeted that a Russian cargo plane with about 35 tons of military equipment also arrived on Saturday. A Venezuelan official said the aircraft’s arrival was part of ongoing military cooperation between the two allies who were planning to discuss equipment maintenance and training and strategy. An unnamed Russian official told the state news agency RIA Novosti that there was “nothing mysterious” in the visit. But in a phone call Monday with his counterpart, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was said to have called on Moscow to “cease its unconstructive behavior” in support of the “illegitimate regime of Nicolás Maduro.” (Guardian)


The Pen Is Mightier Than The $25 Gift Card: At the White House on Monday President Trump handed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu two gifts — the pen used to sign a proclamation that the US formally recognizes Israel’s authority over the long-disputed Golan Heights, and a big political boost for the PM in this year’s extremely close election race. Trump’s determination to act on Netanyahu’s behalf was actually announced last week. But as if on cue, a rocket launched from Gaza that hit an Israeli house Monday morning provided the president an example to cite “the significant security challenges that Israel faces every single day.” Trump’s decision, which he characterized as “historic action to promote Israel’s ability to defend itself and really to have a very powerful very strong national security, which they’re entitled to have,” reverses decades of American policy and is starkly at odds with international law. But now Netanyahu has a chance to polish his tarnished reputation as a national security hawk by deftly handling Israel’s military response to the mortar attack, while simultaneously diverting attention away from the corruption charges filed against him. (NYT)

Additional read: “Rocket From Gaza Hits Israel, Prompting Netanyahu to Curtail U.S. Trip.” (NYT)

Additional World News




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Democrats Put Trust In Mueller, Barr None: Monday was the first full workday of across the board reactions to the release of Attorney General William Barr’s brief summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion by associates of President Trump. The Democratic chairs of the House Judiciary, Oversight, Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, Ways and Means and Financial Services committees sent a letter to Barr demanding the release by April 2 of Mueller’s entire report, along with all underlying evidence of the nearly two year investigation, in order that congressional members can make an “independent assessment” of the probe.

Trump went from denigrating Mueller’s investigation as a partisan “witch hunt” led by “a prosecutor gone rogue” and a group of “angry” Democrats to calling the report a boon to his election campaign. Trump called Barr’s summary of the Mueller report a complete exoneration and added other people should be “looked at” for lying to Congress, committing “evil” deeds and participating in “treasonous things.” White House adviser Kellyanne Conway lambasted the media for their two year coverage of Mueller’s investigation and said that journalists owe an apology to the American people, while Vice President Mike Pence said “yesterday was a great day for our country, our president and every American who cherishes the truth.”

A high level Russian official posted on Facebook that the report “proved what Russians knew from the start: no collusion between Trump or his team with the Kremlin.” A Russian lawmaker tweeted that the investigation was “a biased, artificial, provocative, conspiratorial, designed-to-fuel-hatred towards Trump campaign. Its second goal was to demonize Russia and prevent any U.S. moves towards better relations with Moscow.” (CBS News)

Additional USA News




Bye Bye Baby: Results of the latest clinical trial of a once-a-day male contraceptive pill showed a reduction in sperm production with no significant side effects. The month long study found levels of the hormones required for sperm production fell in men who took the daily capsule; the next step is to confirm the fall and determine if it is sufficient. Forty healthy men enrolled in the phase one safety trial at Washington University and LA BioMed. Ten volunteers received a placebo capsule; the rest were assigned a 200mg or 400mg dose of the drug, 11-beta-MNTDC. All took one capsule daily with food for 28 days. None of the men dropped out or had less sex during the trial, but some reported mild side effects. Four to six had either headaches, fatigue or acne, five experienced a mildly decreased libido, two had mild erectile dysfunction, and some put on weight. Similar side-effects have hampered other experimental male contraceptives. The researchers said it could be a decade before a male pill is on the market, but the demand from couples seems quite strong. Evidence of demand from single males was unavailable. (Guardian)

Maybe in the USA a male contraceptive pill won’t be necessary given Americans are either not seeing eye to eye with one another or swiping on each other: It’s not just you: New data shows more than half of young people in America don’t have a romantic partner (WaPo, $) And Human Contact Is Now a Luxury Good: Screens used to be for the elite. Now avoiding them is a status symbol. (NYT, $)




“Take courage, my heart: you have been through worse than this. Be strong, saith my heart; I am a soldier; I have seen worse sights than this.”

“Sleep, delicious and profound, the very counterfeit of death”

– Homer


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