The Dawn of the Asian Century | Grindr of Mass Destruction | Mission Impossible: Life

APRIL 1, 2019  /   SUBSCRIBE


“I’ve read hundreds of books about China over the decades. I know the Chinese. I’ve made a lot of money with the Chinese. I understand the Chinese mind.” – Donald Trump, The Art of the Deal

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” – Confucious



And Boom Goes China’s Construction: China has been enabling development and construction projects across the globe, but jurors and courts have questioned the work ethics and labor practices implemented during those projects. A Brooklyn jury heard testimony in early March of virtual slave labor for Chinese laborers constructing Chinese government buildings in the United States – 14 hour workdays with physical violence and no payment.

However, despite the various controversies and cases, these companies have increasingly looked abroad for projects as an economic slowdown and regulatory tightening halt projects at home. Some projects such as China’s Belt and Road Initiative, begun in 2013, aim to fund and construct infrastructure and commercial projects in more than 60 countries while continuing such ancient practices and inhumane treatment of workers.

One case in particular which has made headlines is that of China Rilin’s director, Dan Zhong, who coerced workers to help build Chinese state facilities by confiscating their travel documents and forcing them to pay security deposits to ensure they would not leave. China Rilin Chairman Wang Wenliang was listed as the 289th most wealthy Chinese individual in 2016 and Forbes had estimated his net worth being 1.2 billion – though he made neither list in 2018.

Additional read: “The Asian century is set to begin: The region was the envy of Europe in 17th century and the world is about to turn full circle.” (Financial Times)



Comedic Gold: The last poll prior to the Ukranian vote stated that TV Comedian Volodymyr Zelensky held thirty percent of voters’ support despite his lack of political background. In a field of thirty-nine candidate – the majority of which holding political experience – could a TV comic come out and determine the future of a country that has become the European front line in a new era of confrontation between Russia and the West? (NYT, $)

Grindr – Weapon of Mass Destruction: With more than twenty-seven million users, gay-dating app Grindr has been stated as being a “national security threat” following its acquisition by Chinese company Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd. Though The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has refused comment on what exactly that means, some speculate it has to do with loads of personal data stored in Grindr’s databases. (Verge)

Trickle Down SanctionsUS sanctions are exacerbating Iran’s financial crisis and hurting its ability to fund its support for militant groups and political allies who bolster Iranian influence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere. “The golden days are gone and will never return,” one fighter with an Iranian-backed militia in Syria said after losing a third of his salary and other benefits. “Iran doesn’t have enough money to give us,” he added. (NYT, $)

#NunsTooTwo: A couple weeks ago in #NunsToo, the Pnut lauded Lucetta Scaraffia, founder and editor of Women Church World, for bravely shedding light on a secret kept buried by Roman Catholic hierarchy — the widespread sexual abuse of nuns by priests. For seven years Scaraffia’s publication carried everything from theological essays to stories about cuisine. But the topic of the abuse of nuns in her February issue captured global attention. Scaraffia’s article was based on documented instances in which nuns were abused or raped by clerics and sometimes forced into having abortions. Hundreds told of their experiences. Scaraffia wrote an open letter to Pope Francis in which she said her publication had received so many “painful” letters from women she felt it was her duty to speak out. But now, citing what they call “a newly difficult work environment” and a “Vatican attempt to undercut the women’s voices on sensitive issues,” Scaraffia and her all-female staff have resigned en masse. This time her letter to the Pope said: “We are throwing in the towel because we feel surrounded by a climate of mistrust and progressive delegitimization.” (WaPo, $)

Additional World News



Presidential Gender Agenda: America has never elected a woman president, and until 2008, had never elected a person of color. But the crowded, diverse field of 2020 Democratic hopefuls could change that, and it’s affecting the way how traditional white male candidates campaign. An expert on women and politics at Rutgers University said: “Perhaps for the first time in presidential politics, white men are being asked about the degree to which their race and gender inform both their access to the presidency as well as their agendas and perspectives that they’ll bring to presidential politics. It just has them answering the same questions that women and candidates of color have always been asked.”

Several white men in the race have been asked about how they would look beyond their male points of view. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper was asked at a town hall if he’d consider a woman running mate. He tried a jocular comeback that didn’t quite go over: “How come we’re not asking more often the women, ‘Would you be willing to put a man on the ticket?’” When Beto O’Rourke kicked off his campaign in Keokuk, Iowa he started by saying he’d had a call from his wife Amy, who, he went on admiringly, was back in El Paso raising their three kids almost single-handedly. Beto was probably trying to give Amy a compliment, but it seemed to many like a flip acknowledgment that he was handing off parenting duties to his wife while he pursued his political dreams. At least O’Rouke has said several times on the campaign trail that both his gender and his race have been a privilege.

It’s interesting that 27 years ago this month, Hillary Clinton was askedabout the appearance of conflicts of interest between her work as a partner at a prestigious Arkansas law firm and her husband’s position as governor of the state. Hillary found the question sexist and insulting, but her defensive response — “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life” — drew much more opprobrium from women. (NPR, Politico)



Social Media’s Grapes of Wrath: In short, online civility is all but a myth – people hiding behind screen names and possibly millions of miles of distance can attack and battle with anyone they please at any point in time from anywhere. Addictive and divisive, social media is leading many toward a path of explosive online confrontations. (NPR)

World Wide Angry Social Media Web:

Fake It Until You Break It: Appearances and branding matter not only to the already famous: The Woman Who Has Styled Justin Bieber, Anita Hill, and the iPod: Karla Welch works hard to make her clients look like themselves. (The New Yorker, $) but also to the wealthy: Hey, Look at Me! I’m a Venture Capitalist (NYT, $) If one wants to look the part of a venture capitalist, then it’s quite doable with the VC Starter Kit.

Every piece of clothing is a political statement: The Myths We Wear (The Paris Review) And whenever I think of my grandmother I always think of her lotus feet: On High Heels and Lotus Feet (Granta) Appearances can be deceiving: ‘Fake it until you make it’: the strange case of New York’s socialite scammer: Anna Sorokin, who went by ‘Anna Delvey’, is accused of perpetrating a two-year, $275,000 scam of friends, banks, designers and upscale hotels (Guardian)

Mission Impossible: Life: Life is incredibly challenging. It’s difficult to just accomplish the blocking and tackling of what makes a good life: eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising. But without a strong foundation of those three it’s really hard to do anything else successfully. Can exercise reverse the ageing process?: While many in their 80s and 90s may be starting to take it easy, 85-year-old track star Irene Obera is at the other end of the spectrum. (BBC) And What Your Exercise Habits Might Say About How Long You’ll Live: If people start to exercise in midlife, even if they have not worked out for years, they can rapidly gain most of the longevity benefits of working out. (NYT, $) And Can What We Eat Affect How We Feel?: Nutritional psychiatrists counsel patients on how better eating may be another tool in helping to ease depression and anxiety and may lead to better mental health. (NYT, $)

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Yes, I want to sound marginally more intelligent: