Cause it’s Politics, Man, Politics
October 11, 2019
“The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”
“Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.”
“Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.”
– John Wooden
China Goes For The Rebound
Chinese officials apparently had second thoughts about fanning the nationalistic outrage over Monday’s tweet from an NBA team executive showing support for Hong Kong’s anti-government protesters. For three days the communist country’s state-run news outlets and tightly controlled social media platforms were ablaze with anti-NBA rhetoric. Scheduled broadcasts of two preseason NBA games were cancelled, Nike and NBA store shelves were cleansed of Houston Rockets merchandise, and several Chinese companies suspended or severed ties with the league.
Public anger has been so over-the-top concerns began spreading in Beijing that the rhetoric was damaging China’s global interests. The furor appeared to be increasing interest in the protests in Hong Kong, with high-profile athletes and their fans around the world paying attention for the first time. More importantly, officials were realizing that tying sports to their handling of the Hong Kong protests could increase the risk of an international boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics, scheduled to be held in a town just outside Beijing.
On Thursday a major about-face occurred when editors at state news outlets told reporters to stop emphasizing the basketball controversy, and it fell off the government-guided list of top 10 trending topics on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like blogging service. Still, when Thursday’s preseason NBA game went on as scheduled in Shanghai, hundreds of Chinese basketball fans waved national flags.
- No One Wants to Admit It, but Lakers-Nets in China Wasn’t a Normal Game (The Ringer)
- NBA sorry reporter’s China question stopped (ESPN)
- Yang rips China, says NBA should stand up for free speech (The Hill)
- China’s business bullying jumps to new heights over tweet by NBA Rockets GM (USA Today)
- Chinese anger over Hong Kong ensnared 3 big US businesses this week — and critics say they bent to Beijing (CNBC)
Anti-Semitism In the Country of We Must Never Forget
- A right wing extremist with clear anti-Semitic motives chose Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism, to gun down two worshipers inside a synagogue in the city of Halle, in eastern Germany.
- The assailant live-streamed Wednesday’s attack, which government authorities said would have been much worse had the gunman’s apparently improvised weapons and explosives not malfunctioned. Some 80 worshipers were inside the synagogue at the time of the attack.
- On Thursday a number of mainstream German politicians laid blame on the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, saying its officials’ radical rhetoric was inspiring anti-Semitic hatred. (WaPo)
- German synagogue gunman aimed to commit massacre, prosecutor says (Reuters)
- Alone before an invisible audience: German gunman lived online (Reuters)
The Trump World Order: Casually Forget America’s Allies
- In a combative speech at a meeting of lawmakers from his Justice and Development party on Thursday afternoon, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned EU states he would “open the gates” for some 3.6 million Syrian refugees in his country to migrate to Europe if the continent’s leaders label Turkey’s military campaign in north-eastern Syria an “occupation”.
- Dozens of people have been killed or wounded and more than 60,000 have fled the area since Turkey launched its attack Wednesday afternoon against Kurdish forces, allies of the US that were left to fend for themselves when President Trump withdrew America’s peacekeepers and greenlighted Turkey’s offensive.
- Erdogan rebuked critics of the operation in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, saying ISIS fighters captured in the military campaign would be imprisoned in Turkey if their home countries refused to claim them.
- Trump’s decision to abandon US allies, who had fought alongside American troops for almost five years to take down the Islamic State in Syria, has been universally condemned. But hours after Turkey’s attack began the president downplayed the US-Kurdish partnership, saying: “They didn’t help us in the second world war, they didn’t help us with Normandy… but they’re there to help us with their land.” (Guardian)
- Civilians Flee As Turkish Forces Strike Kurds In Northern Syria (NPR)
- The Danger of Abandoning Our Partners: The Syria policy reversal threatens to undo five years’ worth of fighting against ISIS and will severely damage American credibility and reliability. (Atlantic, $)
- GOP congressman ‘heartbroken’ over President’s Syria moves and says he no longer supports Trump (CNN)
Foreign Agent Man, Foreign Agent Man, They’ve Given You A Number And Taken Away Your Plan
- Jailing him, accusing him of money laundering, and searching the homes and offices of his supporters nationwide didn’t work, so now Russian president Vladimir Putin has a new tactic to come after his most vocal critic, opposition leader Aleksei Navalny. Putin has classified Navalny’s organization, the Anti-Corruption Foundation, as a “foreign agent,” a label frequently used to stigmatize groups critical of the Kremlin, and open them to intrusive audits and inspections by authorities.
- Russia’s foreign minister claimed Navalny’s group had received funds of around $2,100 from a Florida company that sells doors and a Spanish man. (NYT)
- Johnny Rivers – Secret Agent Man
Rudie Can Fail
- Two associates of President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, have been arrested on charges of campaign finance violations brought by the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan. Lev Parnas was born in Ukraine and Igor Fruman was born in Belarus; both are now US citizens.
- The indictment lays out two separate conspiracies that Parnas and Fruman allegedly engaged in. The men are also alleged to have helped Giuliani in his efforts to dig up dirt on former VP Joe Biden in Ukraine.
- According to the indictment, the men met with a member of Congress identified only as “congressman-1” during the 2018 election cycle, for whom they had committed to raise $20,000. The men were seeking the congressman’s “assistance” in getting then-US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, removed.
- Yovanovitch was removed from her post this spring amid complaints from Giuliani and others. She is scheduled to testify behind closed doors on Friday as part of the House impeachment inquiry against Trump. (NPR)
- Mike Pompeo’s senior adviser resigns (CNN)
- Giuliani’s Ukraine Team: In Search of Influence, Dirt and Money (NYT, $)
- The Clash – Rudie Can’t Fail (Official Audio)
Silencing Critics With Cool Smartphones
- China’s leaders must also have been anxious to quiet the NBA uproar back home prior to the opening of trade talks with the US on Thursday. After a five month stalemate negotiations resumed amid expectations that Beijing’s emissaries are ready to offer compromises aimed at getting President Trump to hold off on tariff increases set to take effect next week and in December.
- The White House recently cleared the approval of licenses for American firms to do business with Chinese technology giant Huawei, a move that, if completed, would improve the environment for the talks.
- For its part, Beijing has resumed buying some American agricultural products, but has balked at making deep structural changes in its economy and enforcing them with new laws, as demanded by the Trump administration through the tariff-led trade war.
- In August US importers paid a record $7 billion in tariffs. US manufacturing jobs stalled this year after rising in 2017 and 2018. Trump planned to meet on Friday with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the White House, and financial markets rose in anticipation of some headway being made. (WSJ)
The Unholy Trinity Returns
- According to a new report from the CDC there were almost 2.4 million cases of STDs — chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis — reported in the US in 2018. It’s the highest cumulative number ever recorded. The spike in cases over the last few years is truly astounding, since as recently as a decade ago these diseases were nearly eliminated.
- Experts say these factors are among those attributable to the spread of the diseases:
- The rise of condomless sex among men who have sex with men
- STDs are spreading more broadly and into populations that weren’t traditionally affected — like babies
- The rise of dating apps and sites like Tinder, Grindr and OkCupid make sex more readily available and more anonymous, which in turn makes it harder for health investigators to track outbreaks
- The numbers may be higher because officials may be better at detecting cases in some groups
- Cuts to public health funding mean fewer STD clinics. There are 50,000 fewer public health jobs since 2008, and many STD clinics have had to reduce their hours or shut down. (Vox)
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