China’s Yelling “Timber!” | Millennial War Criminal | The Laws of Attraction

APRIL 11, 2019  /   SUBSCRIBE


Apologies, we made an error in yesterday’s Daily Pnut as S.C. Johnson & Son is clearly not the same company as Johnson & Johnson.



“If you can imagine someone surpassing you, you should do it yourself.”

“In business, there is nothing more valuable than a technical advantage your competitors don’t understand. In business, as in war, surprise is worth as much as force.”

– Paul Graham



The Grass Is Always Barren, On The Other Side Of The Border: In 1998 Beijing initiated the Natural Forest Conservation Program (NFCP), which imposed logging bans on the ancient forests around the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers to halt the deterioration of the natural environment and safeguard sustainable development. Since restricting commercial logging in its own backyard, Chinese construction and furniture manufacturing companies increasingly turned to Russia and elsewhere to satisfy their voracious appetite for timber. Logging is ravaging Russia’s vast forests, leaving behind swathes of scarred earth studded with dying stumps, and the massive deforestation is causing outcries. An environmentalist who’s studied the impact of commercial logging in Russia’s Far East said: “In Siberia, people understand they need the forests to survive. And they know their forests are now being stolen.”

But Russia is also to blame, for selling Chinese companies logging rights at low cost and looking away when those companies extract more timber than is legal. Manzhouli was a sleepy town in China’s Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region that lies on the border with Russia. Since the NFCP was enacted, more than 120 companies and factories have opened there, transforming the town into one of China’s main hubs for wood processing and production.

Chinese demand is also stripping forests from Peru to Papua New Guinea, Mozambique to Myanmar. It’s one thing to overwhelm small, poor nations desperate for cash, but quite another to drain the resources of a far larger country that considers itself a superpower and strategic partner to China. Protests have erupted in Siberia, with environmentalists and residents complaining that logging is spoiling Russian watersheds and destroying habitats of the endangered Siberian tiger and Amur leopard. Russian lawmakers have assailed officials for ignoring the environmental damage being done. The World Wildlife Fund documented the destruction using satellite imagery over the period coinciding with the Chinese logging boom. The director of WWF’s forestry program in Russia said: “What we are doing … is destroying what is left of the original intact forest landscapes. It’s not sustainable.”




Potentially A Short Term Stay: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won a fifth term, and his conservative Likud party gained four seats in the Knesset. All this despite the possibility of the PM being indicted in three corruption cases. The number two leader in the centrist Blue and White party led by former general Benny Gantz said in a televised statement: “We didn’t win in this round. We will make Likud’s life hell in the opposition.” Netanyahu featured President Trump on campaign billboards to highlight their close relationship. The US president was aboard Air Force One on the way to Texas when he phoned the PM to congratulate him on his re-election. In July Netanyahu will become the longest-serving Israeli prime minister, overtaking the country’s founding father, David Ben Gurion. Should Netanyahu be indicted, he is expected to argue he should be spared in the national interest. Some analysts predict he may try to pass a law granting himself immunity, as a sitting leader, from trial. (Reuters) Additional read: Netanyahu’s winning strategy: big power statecraft and social media focus (Reuters)

Millennial War Criminal: The trial of a 27-year-old German woman got underway Tuesday in Munich. She is charged with murder, war crimes, membership in a foreign terror organization, and weapons violations among others. According to the indictment the woman and her husband, both members of ISIS, “bought a 5-year-old [Yazidi] girl in summer 2015 from a group of prisoners of war and kept her in their home as a slave. After the girl fell ill and wet her mattress, the defendant’s husband punished the girl by chaining her up outside in the searing heat and leaving her in great agony to die of thirst. The defendant let her husband do as he liked, and took no action to save the girl.” When ISIS overran northern Iraq in 2014, thousands of Yazidi women and girls were abducted and sold to ISIS members as slaves. They were also subjected to brutal sexual assaults. Prosecutors have the defendant’s own words on tape incriminating herself with the crimes. The woman had hired someone to drive her from Germany to the Middle East last year, unaware that the driver was working with the German security services and was recording their conversations as she told him all about her life in the organization. (NYT) Additional read: Iraq seeks multibillion dollar fee to receive Isis prisoners: Baghdad in talks with US to receive remnants of terror group held in detention centres in Syria (Guardian)



Final Tax Week and Missing Tax Returns: One week ago House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) made a written request to the Treasury Department to provide six years of President Trump’s personal and business tax returns to the committee to review in executive session. The deadline to provide the returns was Wednesday. Federal law clearly says the treasury secretary “shall furnish” the records upon the request of a House or Senate committee chairman.

The returns were not furnished to Chairman Neal. Instead Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin stepped in front of his IRS Commissioner to block what should have been a routine turnover of Trump’s tax returns to a requesting congressional committee chairman. Mnuchin said he would be overseeing the Treasury’s handling of the request and that the Department of Justice was being consulted “to ensure that our response is fully consistent with the law and Constitution.” (WaPo, CNN)

The Relatives Are All Right: Freelance journalist Luke O’Neil began collecting stories of estrangement from people whose loved ones were transformed by Fox News. He had experienced a close relationship of his own that was ruined by a family member who had become obsessed with Fox News. No matter where the stories came from, O’Neil wrote, “they all featured a few familiar beats: A loved one seemed to have changed over time. Maybe that person was already somewhat conservative to start. Maybe they were apolitical. But at one point or another, they sat down in front of Fox News, found some kind of deep, addictive comfort in the anger and paranoia, and became a different person — someone difficult, if not impossible, to spend time with. The fallout led to failed marriages and estranged parental relationships. For at least one person, it marks the final memory he’ll ever have of his father: ‘When I found my dad dead in his armchair … Fox News was on the TV,’ this reader told me. ‘It’s likely the last thing he saw. I hate what that channel and conservative talk radio did to my funny, compassionate dad. He spent the last years of his life increasingly angry, bigoted, and paranoid.’

Critics of O’Neil’s piece said it seemed silly or stupid to scapegoat a cable-news network for family members interpersonal shortcomings. Perhaps, but O’Neil wasn’t conducting a scientific experiment. He just wanted to know if others had experienced what he had, and felt like he did. And come to find out, there are many, many Americans who blame Fox News for changes in their loved ones, and many people out there who feel as though their friends and family members have been lost to a 24/7 stream of right-wing propaganda. (NY Magazine) Additional read: How Rupert Murdoch’s Empire of Influence Remade The World: President Trump’s Election Made The Murdoch Family More Powerful Than Ever. But The Bitter Struggle Between James And Lachlan Threatened To Tear The Company Apart.(NYT, $) Additional quote: “Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow.” – Rupert Murdoch

Additional USA News:



The Laws Of Attraction: A biological anthropologist at the Kinsey Institute, Helen Fisher, studies MRI scans to observe how the brain functions when it sees something attractive. She explains: “When you see an attractive person, the left ventral tegmental area (the left VTA) of the brain becomes active and will pump out dopamine. Dopamine is a stimulant to the brain, so some people might react with surprise or awkwardness.” That feeling is the weak-kneed giddiness that very attractive people can inspire, which can leave you fumbling for words and feeling off balance, even though a dopamine rush is a fundamentally pleasurable experience. Meanwhile, the right VTA provides the dopamine that fuels romantic love; the two responses are similar but neurologically distinct, which means that what people feel when they see a random pretty face isn’t necessarily a desire for romance or even sex. (Atlantic) Additional read: Can We Touch?: Physical contact remains vital to health, even as we do less of it. The rules of engagement aren’t necessarily changing—they’re just starting to be heard. (Atlantic)

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