August 16, 2019
“To reap a return in ten years, plant trees. To reap a return in 100, cultivate the people.” – Ho Chi Minh
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin
Absolute Power To Quell, Quells Absolutely
- Protests in Hong Kong have swarmed the streets, airports, and the media for over four months now, and China has made their most divisive statement yet, announcing that the government has “enough solutions and enough power to swiftly quell unrest.” The statement was followed by a direct response to the United Kingdom’s interference in Hong Kong affairs.
- A proposal by the foreign affairs select committee chairman, Tom Tugendhat, to extend UK citizenship rights to Hong Kong Chinese lead China’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Liu Xiaoming, to accuse some British politicians of harboring a “colonial mindset,” and stating that they should, “regard Hong Kong as a part of China, not a part of the UK.”
- The Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed in 1984 and began the handover of Hong Kong back to China, with promises of a “high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs” as well as “executive, legislative and independent judicial power.” Many civilians have felt those terms have begun eroding, which has been led pro-democracy protests and demonstrations, and served as a major driving force in the protests which began in late March.
- United States national security advisor, John Bolton, also warned that China should stray away from creating a “new” Tiananmen Square situation following the massive media coverage of pro-democracy protests and major clashes between citizens and the armed forces in Hong Kong.
- Trump Offers Meeting With China’s Xi To Resolve ‘Hong Kong Problem’ (NPR)
- Going From Hong Kong to Mainland China? Your Phone Is Subject to Search (NYT $)
- Swine Fever Is Killing Vast Numbers Of Pigs In China (NPR)
- Hong Kong protests: Brand ‘witch hunt’ takes over Chinese internet (BBC)
Mixed Message Memorials
- On the anniversary of Japan’s World War Two surrender, the emperor and prime minister of Japan participated in two annual memorial ceremonies yesterday, one showing remorse for Japan’s role in World War Two, the other remembering its soldiers. Japan’s newest ceremonial leader, Emperor Akihito, continued his father’s tradition of displaying his deep regret for Japan’s wartime actions in the Second World War. At the same time, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid respects to fallen Japanese soldiers at the Yasukuni shrine.
- Japanese emperors have long refused to pay their respects at the shrine, and Prime Minister Abe has also curtailed his visits in recent times instead electing to send offerings without traveling to the shrine in person. Yesterday was no different, as Abe sent another offering to the shrine.
- The day was also of significance in South Korea, Japan’s rival in an escalating trade war. Japan’s surrender at the end of World War Two marked the beginning of Korean independence, and despite tensions between the two nations, Korean President Moon Jae-in chose to strike a note of reconciliation on a day of celebration in his country. He pushed for “dialogue and cooperation” between the to countries, stating that he would gladly work to a solution with Japan. (NPR)
- Japanese urged not to see rare fish as omen of earthquakes: Theory linking seismic activity and appearance of rare oarfish fails to hold water (The Guardian)
Mind the Drop
- 9 major economies around the world are now poised for a slide into recession, and could bring the US down with them. Key nations, including China, Russia, the United Kingdom, and South Korea are all teetering on the edge of recession, as are other US allies.
- Germany, Italy, the UK, and Mexico all faced small economic slumps, with their economies shrinking a few tenths of a percent in the second quarter of 2019. Brazil is expected to stay in contraction once its official numbers are released, as its economy shrank 0.2% in the first quarter of the year. Russian officials also warned of coming recession, after a slow start in the first half of 2019. South Korea actually grew 1.1% this quarter after a 0.4% slide in the first quarter. Argentina and Singapore are worse off, with Argentina in full-on recession and Singapore declining by 3.3% this quarter after a 3% climb in the first quarter. (NYT, $)
My Country, ‘ Tis of Thee, Sweet Land of Oligarchy
- Guardian reporter George Monbiot explores the rise of nationalism on the world stage, with leaders who are preposterous exhibitionists, backed by billionaire oligarchs. He names these “killer clowns”: Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Donald Trump, Narendra Modi, Jair Bolsonaro, Scott Morrison, Rodrigo Duterte, Matteo Salvini, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Viktor Orban.
- He asks why the ultra-rich, who used to use their money and newspapers to promote charisma-free politicians, now fund a circus of jesters. According to Monbiot, it’s because the nature of capitalism has changed. Chaos is the profit multiplier for the “disaster capitalism” on which the new billionaires thrive — their patrimonial wealth accumulation arising not from entrepreneurial brilliance, but through inheritance, monopoly and rent-seeking. (Guardian)
Additional World News
- India independence day celebration takes place under strict security in Kashmir Drones and helicopters fly above heavily fortified cricket stadium as Indian flag unfurled (The Guardian)
- North Korea snubs peace talks with South Korea over war drills (BBC)
- Israel bars Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from visiting (BBC)
- Gibraltar Releases Iranian Tanker U.S. Tried To Seize (NPR)
- How to save a sinking island nation: Weather-related events are estimated to displace 143 million people by 2050 – but rising seas are already threatening tiny tropical nations. Can anything be done to help them? (BBC)
Slow And Steady Kills A Race…
- The US healthcare system is undeniably a hot-button topic, especially with the 2020 elections rounding the bend. A look into healthcare in the US shows us even more problems than today’s debates on the validity of universal healthcare: US healthcare has a race problem, rooted in power disparities as far back as the Civil War.
- After the end of the Civil War, thousands of now-free African-Americans resided in crowded camps as they looked to start their lives in a reborn nation. These camps, ravaged by smallpox due to unsanitary conditions, reached out to the US government for assistance.
- However, white leaders did not lend a hand despite their in-depth knowledge of quarantine and disease containment, displayed in the healthy (and white) camps of the Union Army.
- During the Reconstruction era, Southern states banded together to push for states’ rights, giving them more power to stack the deck against black Americans, banning them from medical exams and segregating them in medical facilities.
- While America’s racial problem in healthcare has undoubtedly improved over the years, with hospitals desegregating and coverage increasing, we still have a long way to go towards true equality. (NYT, $)
- Why the U.S. Has Long Resisted Universal Child Care: Americans still aren’t in agreement that mothers should work at all. (NYT, $)
Additional USA News
- Unequal Outcomes: Most ICE Detainees Held In Rural Areas Where Deportation Risks Soar (NPR)
- In NYC, Cycling Deaths Increase But Gears Turn Slowly On Safety Measures (NPR)
- Man dies after taco-eating contest in California: Fresno Grizzlies ‘devastated to learn’ of Dana Hutchings’ death following event at minor-league baseball game (The Guardian)
- In the War Against Gerrymandering, an Army of Voters Meets a Dug-in Foe: Grass-roots campaigns against partisan district maps won big victories last year, but after an adverse Supreme Court ruling, they face an uphill battle. Wisconsin shows why. (NYT, $)
If Any Of This Harmful Tech Comes In Contact With Your Eyes Or Face, Please Wash Your Data
- The chemical industry and its regulators realized some 60 years ago that simple communication of hazards is critical to safety. Introduced in 1960 by the National Fire Protection Association, the ‘fire diamond’ is the universally understood symbol of chemical safety. They’re on propane tanks, chemical containers, and laboratories: cartoon rhombuses divided into colored quadrants, each filled with a number, between 0 and 4, indicating a substance’s toxicity (blue), flammability (red), and reactivity (yellow).
- The diamond is the standard for communicating the most basic and essential safety information of hazardous materials in the US. Even if users don’t read the safety data sheet, they can’t ignore this bright, unavoidable summary of material hazards every time they look at the container.
- Conversely, the tech industry has worked to make it increasingly difficult for consumers know what hazards their products pose (hello, FaceApp). As technology companies use and misuse the personal data they collect in increasingly sophisticated ways, user agreements have only become longer and more byzantine.
- It is high time for big tech to provide a clear and concise rating system of privacy and security risks, to warn users when its products and services are hazardous. (Wired)
“I will tell you how to become rich. Close the doors. Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.” – Warren Buffett
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU