Politically Correct and PCs | Surrounding China With Aircraft Carriers
July 7, 2020
“All the evidence of history suggests that man is indeed a rational animal, but with a near infinite capacity for folly. . . . He draws blueprints for Utopia, but never quite gets it built. In the end he plugs away obstinately with the only building material really ever at hand–his own part comic, part tragic, part cussed, but part glorious nature.”
“I want to say, and this is very important: at the end we lucked out. It was luck that prevented nuclear war. We came that close to nuclear war at the end. Rational individuals: Kennedy was rational; Khrushchev was rational; Castro was rational. Rational individuals came that close to total destruction of their societies. And that danger exists today.” [Additional read: Bill Perry Is Terrified. Why Aren’t You? How an 89-year-old cold warrior became America’s nuclear conscience. (Politico)]
“Rationality will not save us.”
“Be prepared to re-examine your reasoning”
Daily Pnut’s Tim met Secretary Perry several times while in graduate school and greatly admires the man. Perry is in many ways the direct intellectual descendant of McNamara (both were Secretary of Defense). Both became thoughtful and vocal critics of the possession and use of nuclear weapons. Additional read: A World Free of Nuclear Weapons (written by Shultz, Perry, Kissinger, and Nunn, WSJ, $) Additional video: The substance that ‘can withstand 75 nuclear blasts’ (BBC)
(Pacific Press via Getty Images)
The Dakota Access Pipeline funnels oil underground from North Dakota to Illinois for some 1,172 miles. It makes 200 river crossings, including the Missouri and Mississippi. Initial construction plans called for the pipeline to run near the city of Bismarck, North Dakota, which has an overwhelmingly white population. After objections, the pipeline was relocated to a site near Native American land.
Relocation meant the pipeline would cross beneath the Missouri River just upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation’s drinking water. The tribe protested, claiming the pipeline threatened their water supply and cultural heritage. The EPA agreed, warning that leaking oil could pollute the rivers. In solidarity with the tribe, protests were held throughout 2016 in dozens of US cities, Europe, Japan, and New Zealand. The US Army Corps of Engineers’ assessment was that the pipeline could safely proceed. In September federal judge James Boasberg concurred, rejecting a legal attempt by tribal leaders to stop construction.
In December of 2016, the Obama administration denied pipeline permits to cross the Missouri and ordered a full environmental review to analyze alternative routes and the impact on the tribe’s treaty rights. But in January 2017, a newly-inaugurated President Trump signed executive actions expediting construction of the $3.8 billion pipeline, which was finally completed in June of the same year. Legal challenges continued, but the tribe wasn’t successful at halting the pipeline’s operation.
Then on Monday, Judge Boasberg reversed his decision, ruling that after three years the pipeline remains “highly controversial” under federal environmental law, and a more extensive review was necessary. Boasberg acknowledged that shutting down the pipeline would cause disruption, but concluded that “the seriousness of the Corps’ deficiencies outweighs the negative effects of halting the oil flow for the 13 months” it will take for a new, in depth environmental assessment.
Seas the Day
(AFP Contributor via Getty Images)
- Two US Navy aircraft carriers, the USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan, are in the South China Sea, where, according to a Navy statement, they “conducted several tactical exercises designed to maximize air defense capabilities, and extend the reach of long-range precision maritime strikes from carrier-based aircraft.”
- It’s the first time two US carriers have operated together in the location since 2014, and the latest show of military might from Washington as it pushes back against China’s sweeping claim to much of the contested region. The carriers arrived just as China was wrapping up its own set of naval exercises near the Paracel Islands, known in China as the Xisha, a chain also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.
- The timing of the US arrival wasn’t lost on Beijing’s state media, which carried reports boasting of the country’s readiness to repel any American attempt to challenge its claims. US-China relations have continued to deteriorate this year.
- Meanwhile Washington has steadily increased its operations in the South China Sea, including staging Freedom of Navigation operations close to Chinese-held islands, performing overflights by Air Force heavy bombers, and conducting joint naval operations with partners such as Japan and Singapore. (CNN)
- How China’s Communist Party has used US protests to its advantage (SupChina) & Beijing detains one of Xi Jinping’s most prominent critics (SupChina) Daily Pnut is fond of SupChina and believes it is the very best publication when it comes to covering news from China. SupChina is a USA based company that provides a thoughtful-nuanced-balanced-factful-honest view of what is happening in China. Full disclosure, Daily Pnut’s Tim is on their advisory board.
Empathize With Your Enemy
- Daily Pnut Commentary: we are all about containing to outright neutralizing national security threats but using Robert McNamara’s first lesson in Fog of War of “Empathize with your enemy” it is interesting to note that the United States surrounds China, more than China surrounds other countries. US forces in Japan, South Korea, and now with aircraft carriers. War is not something to stumble into and we think every national security personnel should watch Fog of War. It is likely Daily Pnut’s favorite war movie. The Fog of War (trailer) and here are some excellent songs from the documentary (which we think might be the best links we share in today’s edition as they are incredible songs): Philip Glass – “Invitation” and Phillip Glass – 67 Cities.
- Daily Pnut’s Tim has long warned about the threat and perceived threats that China poses to the USA and the broader international community (from 2009): China’s Growing Military Might (NYT) & Now Hear This: Understanding China (Proceedings, $)
Beijing Gets FaceBlocked
- In a rare public questioning of Chinese policy, Facebook announced Monday that it is temporarily suspending Beijing’s requests for user data in order to review the government’s sweeping new national security law targeting Hong Kong. The company said its assessment of the law, which has already been used to arrest people calling for Hong Kong’s independence, will include human rights considerations.
- Facebook’s decision raises questions about how the security law will be applied online in Hong Kong, where the internet is not censored like it is in the rest of China. Google and Twitter have also paused processing data requests from Hong Kong authorities, and the popular messaging app Telegram said it would suspend the provision of user data until a consensus was reached on the new law.
- After Facebook’s announcement, Hong Kong officials released new rules giving the police powers to take down internet posts and punish internet companies that do not comply with data requests. (NYT)
- Daily Pnut commentary: welcome to the nationalization-balkanization of the internet. Increasingly the internet is being regulated and countries are bending the internet’s laws to fit their national goals. Facebook is out of control. If it were a country it would be North Korea (Guardian)
- Additional reference: Splinternet (Wikipedia)
- Exclusive: TikTok says it will exit Hong Kong market within days (Reuters)
- Pompeo says U.S. looking at banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok (Reuters)
Additional World News
- Russian Court Convicts Journalist for ‘Justifying Terrorism’ (NYT, $)
- EU threatens escalation in tariff fight over Boeing and Airbus subsidies (BBC)
- Britain, Charting Its Own Course on Human Rights, Imposes New Sanctions (NYT, $)
- Iranian Military-Owned Conglomerate Sets Up Shop in Venezuela (WSJ, $)
- Kung Fu Nuns Of Kathmandu Honored For Empowering Girls (NPR)
- Uighur Exiles Push for Court Case Accusing China of Genocide (NYT, $)
- Indian soldiers unarmed and caught by surprise in China clash, families say (Reuters)
- ‘Life-saving’ Covid-19 drugs sold on black market (BBC)
- Months Into Virus Crisis, U.S. Cities Still Lack Testing Capacity (NYT, $)
- Virus Revives Italy’s Age-Old Shadow Safety Net: The Pawnshop (NYT, $)
- Global report: India becomes third worst-affected country as giant Covid-19 hospital opens (Guardian)
- 12 inconvenient truths about schools and kids that should be considered before reopening — from a teacher (WaPo, $)
- DNA Linked to Covid-19 Was Inherited From Neanderthals, Study Finds (NYT, $)
Power to the Popular (State) Vote
- On Monday, the US Supreme Court upheld state laws that remove or fine Electoral College delegates who refuse to cast their votes for the presidential candidate they were pledged to support. There were no dissenters.
- Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the court: “The Constitution’s text and the nation’s history both support allowing a state to enforce an elector’s pledge to support his party’s nominee — and the state voters’ choice — for President.” Laws that remove or penalize delegates reflect “a longstanding tradition in which electors are not free agents; they are to vote for the candidate whom the State’s voters have chosen.”
- State laws that bind a state’s delegates to vote for the popular vote winner in their states supposedly ensure that the candidate with the most popular votes will also win the state’s Electoral College votes and become president. However, twice in the past two decades, the candidate with less popular votes became president, chosen instead by Electoral College votes: George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016.
- Monday’s decision brought a sigh of relief from election experts, who worried that, if Electoral College delegates were free to vote as they chose, the 2020 election would have turned into a free-for-all, with no rules to prevent corruption and manipulation, with delegates offered gifts and even cash for their votes, and blackmail also a possibility. (NPR)
- US to withdraw visas for foreign students if classes moved fully online (BBC)
- With Supreme Court Ruling, Expect Fewer Robocalls (NPR)
Additional USA News
- Fox News apologizes for ‘error’ of removing Trump from photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell (WaPo, $)
- Despite Coronavirus, Federal Workers Head to the Office (NYT, $)
- U.S. pandemic aid program saved 51.1 million jobs, but wealthy and connected also benefited (Reuters) & New data shows lawmakers secured millions in small business aid (Politico)
- ‘White power’ video was a glimpse into Trump-era political discourse in ‘America’s friendliest’ retirement community (WaPo, $)
- What the Lincoln Project Ad Makers Get About Voters (and What Dems Don’t) (Politico)
- Mary Trump’s book to be published early amid ‘extraordinary interest’ (Guardian) & Melania Trump’s former aide to release ‘explosive’ memoir (Guardian)
- Questions…questions…and more questions: Why Do the Rich Have So Much Power? (NYT, $) & What Keeps America Divided? (NYT, $) & American Boogaloo: Meme or Terrorist Movement? (Atlantic, $)
- West Point Graduates’ Letter Calls For Academy To Address Racism (NPR) Daily Pnut’s Tim was in the same West Point company/unit as Mary Tobin (H-3, Hurricanes), one of the leaders of this initiative and can’t help but personally vouch for her character (and shrugs off the times that she likely made him do push ups, “beat his face”, or told him his shoes and boots weren’t shiny enough).
PCs Get the PC Treatment
- The Black Lives Matter movement is prompting renewed scrutiny of diversity and equity in tech — including its vocabulary. The words “master” and “slave” have been widely used for decades in computing and other technical contexts, as a reference to situations where one process or entity controls another.
- Sometimes the metaphor is less precise: a “master” may simply lead, serve as a primary resource, or be considered first. Since 1976, the US has issued more than 67,000 patents using the terms, from an antenna system to a data encoding method to a “vehicle ramp assembly.”
- Microsoft’s GitHub, a popular software development platform with 50 million users, will replace the word “master” as the default branch name for new repositories. There’s never been a complementary use of “slave” in GitHub’s repository architecture, but as more organizations reexamine their language, coders are engaging in intense debates about the extent to which these words matter.
- If there is no “slave,” does “master” need to go? Are movements to change such words meaningful when so much else needs to be done to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the tech world? Dwayne Slater, a developer in San Jose, is one of more than 3,000 people who signed a petition opposing GitHub dropping the word “master.” The petition calls such moves “distractions, not solutions,” and says it “creates confusion and unnecessary work for developers.”
- Slater, who is Black, wrote in the comments, “To see GitHub use the color of my skin to make meaningless change is a slap in the face. There are more useful causes to bring to attention, words are not the issue, police brutality in the United States is the issue.” (Wired)
- Infosec community disagrees with changing ‘black hat’ term due to racial stereotyping: A Google security researcher withdrew from the Black Hat security conference and asked the community to stop using the ‘black hat’ term. (ZDNet)
- Daily Pnut commentary (or signs of the times): There are legitimate words that probably don’t need to be used. For example the word “blacklist” is used a fair bit to denote categories, companies, or people that are non grata. It’s a term used in media and advertising and at Daily Pnut we now use “block list” as it’s a more specific term.
- Daily Pnut laughs (instead of crying): “Scary, tricky, ruthless stuff that black ice. Perfectly safe neighborhood can suddenly be terrorized by the appearance of black ice.” – Key & Peele – Black Ice
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