No Country for Young Men | The Imposterble Burger | China’s Little Red App Raises Big Red Flags

APRIL 9, 2019  /   SUBSCRIBE


“Politics is war without blood, while war is politics with blood.” – Mao Tse-tung

“All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means.” – Zhou Enlai

“The United States brags about its political system, but the [American] President says one thing during the election, something else when he takes office, something else at midterm and something else when he leaves.” – Deng Xiaoping



Xi’s Little Red App Raises Big Red Flags: Chinese President Xi Jinping isn’t just a regular autocrat—he’s also an accomplished digital dictator. His Propaganda Department, along with technology giant Alibaba, developed an app called Study the Great Nation which debuted this year. The app promotes Xi and the Communist Party, and has become the most downloaded app on Apple’s digital storefront in China. Registrants must provide a mobile number and a national identification number to access videoconference and chat features. The Propaganda Department keeps users’ data. It’s all part of Xi’s sweeping effort to strengthen ideological control in the digital age and reassert the party’s primacy as the center of Chinese life, much like Chairman Mao once did with his Little Red Book.

State news media says it has more than 100 million registered users, although the plan is undoubtedly to brainwash all billion and a half Chinese. The app has a TV series called “Xi Time”; there are his quotes on topics like building a strong military and achieving a “Chinese dream” of prosperity and strength, and “golden sentences” from his latest speeches. Lighter fare about traditional Chinese culture, history and geography is offered, as is a censored version of current events—nothing negative, of course, like China’s mass detention of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang for example.

People cannot just ignore Study the Great Nation. Users earn points for staying atop news about Xi, and those who fall behind or score low can be punished. Students, civil servants and workers must constantly demonstrate their usage of the app or suffer consequences ranging from criticism and shaming to a pay dock and loss of bonuses. The government’s pressure to use the app has resulted in a flourishing “cheating industry,” which officials have been quick to try shutting down. Last month police in the southeastern province of Jiangxi detained a man selling cheating software; he was accused of running an illegal business.




Nuclear Name Calling: On Monday the Trump administration designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization. For decades the US had labeled Iran a state sponsor of terrorism, but in a White House statement, President Trump said: “This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft. IRGC is the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign.”

The new designation means anyone who deals with the IRGC could risk facing criminal charges. It’s the first time the US has declared an element of a foreign government to be a terrorist organization and reflects the extent to which the Trump administration intends exerting “maximum pressure” on Tehran after abandoning the nuclear deal brokered during the Obama administration. More than 970 Iranian entities and individuals were already under US sanctions before Monday’s announcement. Iran’s leaders said they will retaliate in kind, and that their lawmakers have prepared legislation that would label part of the US military as a terrorist group. (NPR) Additional read: “What is the Revolutionary Guard? A look at the Iranian military unit Trump has deemed terrorists.” (WaPo, $)

Freed Whales Go To See World: The Kremlin has decided to free 11 orcas and 87 beluga whales held in cramped cages for months after being captured by a company that intended to sell them to aquariums and Chinese buyers. Images of the whales in a bay, near the Sea of Japan port city of Nakhodka in far east Russia, first appeared last year and triggered a storm of criticism. Authorities decided to release the whales after a visit to the enclosures by the French oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of the famous marine expert Jacques Cousteau. The governor of the Primorsky region said: “Scientists from Cousteau’s team and Russian scientists will decide when and which animals to release.” He added that authorities would set up a rehabilitation facility for the whales where the conditions would be as close as possible to their natural environment and where any sick animals could be treated. (Guardian)

The Imposterble Burger: Kudos to the director of public affairs at the Missouri Farm Bureau who tried out Burger King’s new meatless Impossible Whopper and honestly recommends it! In a review of the sandwich, which uses the plant-based meat substitute made by California’s Impossible Foods, Eric Bohl wrote: “If farmers and ranchers think we can mock and dismiss these products as a passing fad, we’re kidding ourselves. This is not just another disgusting tofu burger that only a dedicated hippie could convince himself to eat.” The Impossible burger is designed to “bleed” like a conventional burger and uses genetically modified yeast to produce heme, a protein that mimics the flavor of meat. So until we find out what genetically modified yeast is doing to our bodies, Enjoy! (Guardian)



Trickle Down Sadness: Next time you’re feeling miserable during tax season, know this: it was Ronald Reagan who said: “Taxes should hurt.”He was governor of California at the time, and he was resisting the introduction of state-tax withholding, a process that would make paying one’s taxes so much easier. For tens of millions of Americans, the government already has the information that you “provide” to it on your tax forms. Employers send wage information to the IRS, and financial institutions send information about financial accounts. Why should taxpayers have to tell the government what it already knows? Because Republicans want people to know that paying taxes is a painful process, and that the government is taking your money.

Make it too easy for the government to take money and it becomes too easy for taxpayers to miss what’s happening. Here’s what’s done in the Netherlands: you look over the form the government sends you with your taxes already calculated. You check it, you sign it, you send it back. You can always question the calculations, of course, but less than 25 percent do. 75 percent of taxpayers are fine with it. And that’s how it is in country after country. In the US, however, filing taxes is painful by design. It’s the outcome of three forces: corporate lobbying, a stubborn resistance to borrowing good ideas from other Western nations, and the GOP’s decades-long campaign against taxation itself. Those numbers about hours and dollars spent filing taxes come in handy in campaigns against taxes in general. (Atlantic)

All About Pete



An Inconvenient Boy: Dr. Warren Farrell is an American social scientist, educator and author of seven books on men’s and women’s issues. He is particularly concerned about what he calls “the boy crisis.” Farrell says his half-century of research on boys and men has taught him that this phenomenon is true, that it is a global crisis, and it is particularly egregious in America. Farrell says worldwide, boys are 50 percent less likely than girls to meet basic proficiency in reading, math, and science, that ADHD is on the rise, and that as boys become young men, their suicide rates go from equal to girls to six times that of young women. Past senses of purpose for boys, being a warrior, a leader, or a sole breadwinner, are fading, and many bright boys are experiencing a “purpose void” — feeling alienated, withdrawn, and addicted to immediate gratification. Mass shooters, prisoners and Islamic State terrorism recruits are at least 90 percent male.

Ferrell believes what Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on 60 minutes last month, about the peril to America’s economy posed by “young males,” is true. Powell warned that young males not looking for work, being addicted to drugs (like opioids), and being unprepared for the transition to technology is not only an economic problem, but a national security risk as well. According to Powell, America exacerbates the problem by falling behind every developed nation in preparing boys for the changes in technology. The US neglects vocational education, and boys with no college education have a 20 percent chance of being unemployed — about five times the national average. By contrast, Japan has extensive vocational education programs, with 99.6 percent of their graduates receiving jobs after graduation. (USA Today)

The Amazon is a jungleAmazon shoppers misled by ‘bundled’ star-ratings and reviews: Guardian study finds inferior items appear highly praised, making ratings worthless (Guardian) And Jeff Bezos will likely have no regrets with ever starting Amazon but he probably will have some regrets about his personal life: Billionaire Jeff Bezos: To live a happy life with no regrets by age 80, ask yourself these 12 questions (CNBC)




“The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career.” – C.S. Lewis

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