Chinese Are Questioning the Government’s Response to Pyongyang’s Nuclear Tests

A cartoon by @badiucao published on September 6, 2017, titled #NorthKoreaNukes: Dictators Are Dictators’ Own Nightmare.

Chinese political cartoonist Badiucao’s latest work, “Dictators Are Dictators’ Own Nightmares,” perhaps best captures public sentiment in China on North Korea’s recent aggressive military moves.

The cartoon shows a white-gloved Kim Jong-un slapping his adversary, US President Donald Trump, and his ally, Chinese President Xi Jinping, in exactly the same manner — one that would probably be embarrassing for a leader who tries to project an image of strength.

It was published after Pyongyang fired a missile on August 28 that flew over Japan’s Hokkaido island and landed in the sea after travelling for 1,700 miles – a distance that can reach major cities in northern and eastern China, including Beijing and Shanghai. Then a week later conducted a nuclear test and claimed that it was an advanced hydrogen bomb designed for long-range missiles.

The nuclear blast yield of the latest hydrogen bomb test, according to Norwegian Seismic Array’s estimation, is up to 120 kilotons, which is the strongest of North Korea’s six nuclear tests and more powerful than the two nuclear bombs dropped on Japan’s Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US during World War II.

Pyongyang’s actions followed a series of chest-thumping statements from Trump, and happened at a time when Xi was in the international spotlight hosting the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in Xiamen, a port city in southeastern China.

Diplomatic analysts have theorized that the timing of the tests were meant to cause “maximum embarrassment” for Xi as a means to put pressure on him, in the hopes that he influences the US towards opening up meaningful negotiations with Kim Jong-un.

The matter certainly seems to have touched a nerve in China. Beijing’s official response was brief and moderate, and authorities began to censor key terms such as “hydrogen bomb” on Chinese social media.

But netizens are still finding ways to cynically comment on China’s response and debate about what North Korea’s actions mean for their own country.

On September 3, Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece the Global Times urged people to stay calm in their editorial, arguing that China should stand firm on the possible radiation from North Korea’s tests polluting northeast China, but implying that China should recognize North Korea as a defacto nuclear power:

朝鲜最新核试爆和最近的一系列中远程导弹试验显示,平壤软硬不吃,它决心获得中远程核打击能力,不会向任何外来压力屈服,朝核问题几近成为死结。

中国需面对这一复杂态势保持高度冷静,从中国的国家利益出发采取措施,最大限度地减轻中国社会从中面临的风险。

中国东北的安全是第一位的,我们需要通过各种管道明确告诉平壤,它的核试验不能污染中国东北。中国的战略安全与环境安全是中国对其采取克制行动的底线。

North Korea’s latest round of nuclear tests and missile launches indicated that Pyongyang won’t accept neither hard-handed nor soft-handed negotiations. It is determined to equip the country with mid-range to far-range nuclear missile power and won’t submit to any pressure from outside. The whole situation is in a deadlock.

China needs to be cool in this highly complicated situation. Decisions should be based on national interest — reducing the risk to Chinese society.

The security of northeast China is most important. We need to tell Pyongyang that its nuclear tests cannot pollute the Dongbei region. The strategic and environmental security is the baseline for Beijing’s restraint.

Readers responded critically:

谴责就行

All we have to do is condemn [Pyongyang].

不用理它,继续做我们的中国梦

Let it be. Let’s continue our China dream.

看完了 这文章重点就是 不能被拖下水 不能冲锋陷阵 前提是东北安全 但是问题来了 你咋保证东北安全……

The main point of the editorial is: don’t be dragged into troubled water, don’t fight. The premise is Dongbei’s security, but if there is no way to ensure Dongbei’s security when the problem of [radiation] arises.

Many discussions about the hydrogen bomb test happened underneath a post from the China Meteorological Administration on the popular social media platform Weibo that urged radiation monitoring stations in northeast China, also known as Dongbei, to keep a close eye on radiation levels.

The post, published on September 4, did not mention anything about North Korea nor the hydrogen bomb test. Netizens did the same, discussing the crisis without mentioning any keyword to avoid censorship:

在重大的历史节点上,大家都以为这是个平常的午后。

In a critical historical moment, everyone thinks it is just an ordinary day.

政府说没事,那就没事,继续跳舞,嗨起来

The government says it is okay, let’s continue our dance, come on, get up!

消除污染最有效的办法:封消息,抓人,然后组织民众看战狼

The most effective way to clean nuclear pollution is to block information, arrest people and organize people to watch [the patriotic movie] Wolf Warriors.

完全看不懂热评,首先,这已经是第六次核试验了,而且第六次也已经是48小时之前的事了,那些看过新闻开始觉得自己浑身疼的能不能不带节奏?还有那些说东北怎么样跟你无关的,你可能不在东北,一辈子也没去过东北,但你绝对吃过东北的食物,如果东北被污染,全中国就得玩完,14亿人口的口粮都没了。

I don’t understand why people are making such cynical remarks. This is the sixth nuclear test, and the latest one happened 48 hours ago. But the news hadn’t addressed people’s concern. The comments saying that what happened in northeast China has nothing to do with them [aren’t accurate]. Perhaps you are not in Dongbei, or you’ve never been to Dongbei and never eaten Dongbei’s cuisine. But if Dongbei is polluted, China will be too, as the rice that feeds 1.4 billion people will not be edible.

这世界在变好。但没有想象中那么好。 这世界在变坏,远比你想象中坏。

The world is getting better, but not as good as imagined. The world is getting worse, but far worse than imagined.

可是山东这边真的没有什么很强烈的消息和通知告诉市民要注意规避户外什么的啊,如果不是朋友翻墙看到的新闻告诉我我根本不知道已经严重到这个地步。所以政府到底要干什么呢,自欺欺人很有意思吗?

No information or notice in Shandong [province, across the Yellow Sea from North Korea] telling people what they should be aware of. If my friend did not climb over the [Great Fire]wall and tell me the news, I would have no idea of the severity of the situation. What is the government doing? Why is it burying its head in the sand?

发这个有用吗?具体指数是多少?会不会有危险?低剂量有害核辐射人体在不知觉的情况下可能就受伤了。维稳就能拿人命抵?

This alert is useless. Exactly what is the level of radiation? Has it reached a dangerous level? Radiation even at a low level can be harmful to the human body. Maintaining [social] stability is more important than human life?

Written by Oiwan Lam · comments (0)
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Dicamba drift? This is on you, Monsanto. | Pesticide Action Network

For decades, Monsanto has enjoyed unrivaled dominance in the pesticide and biotech seed marketplace. However, in recent years, the company’s monopoly control of agricultural seeds and pesticides — built largely on the marketing of its genetically engineered Roundup Ready seeds designed to maintain sale of its flagship herbicide Roundup — has begun to crack. Farmers have been struggling with the emergence and spread of RoundUp-resistant “superweeds” now infesting over 90 million acres of farmland. RoundUp has been found in nearly all stream and air samples tested in the Midwest. And the World Health Organization has concluded that glyphosate — the active ingredient in Roundup — is a probable carcinogen.Rather than clean up its act, Monsanto has redoubled its efforts to follow the same recipe for disaster, racing against rivals like Dow AgroScience to introduce new lines of transgenic seeds engineered to resist even more chemical herbicides.

Source: Dicamba drift? This is on you, Monsanto. | Pesticide Action Network

Indian Journalist’s Murder: The Ultimate Form of Press Censorship?

India’s democracy is sinking? Hope not but it needs more than hope at this point to reset its course for democracy again.

Gauri Lankesh. Credit: Wikipedia

By Manipadma Jena
BHUBANESWAR, India, Sep 7 2017 (IPS)

Dauntlessly crusading against curbs on freedom of speech, fifty-five-year-old Indian journalist Gauri Lankesh was gunned down at her very doorstep in Bengaluru city on the evening of Sep. 5, taking three bullets of the seven fired in her lungs and heart. She was shot from just three feet away.

Known for her vocal stand against India’s growing right-wing ideology, communal politics and majoritian policies, Lankesh ran bold and forthright anti-establishment reports on the eponymous Gauri Lankesh Patrike, a regional language tabloid published, owned and edited by her since 2005.”Gauri Lankesh’s death is another stark reminder of how violence is the new normal (in India).” –A senior journalist

She ran the paper only on subscriptions from loyal readers from across remote villages of Karnataka State. The paper carried no advertisements, following in the tradition of her socialist poet, playwright and journalist father who started the original tabloid.

Gauri Lankesh described herself on her Twitter handle as a journalist-activist. Fluent in both English and the regional Kannada language, she fearlessly broadcast her far-left of centre and pro-Dalit ideologies against religious fundamentalism and the caste system, reaching a huge mass grassroots population.

Speaking at her funeral, Karnataka’s chief minister M Siddaramaiah said, “Gauri brokered deals with Naxalites (Left-wing extremists) in Karnataka. She helped them enter the mainstream and played a vital role of a negotiator between the State and the extremists.” An activity which extremists cadres may have wanted to halt, Lankesh’s brother Indrajit Lankesh said today.

Known as a sympathizer of left-wing extremists, Lankesh was among the few who could empathise with the poverty, oppression and injustices that had pushed these people to pick up arms against the government.

In November, Lankesh was convicted in two libel suits filed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentarians for her 2008 article alleging that they had criminal dealings. She was, however, granted bail and was planning to appeal to a higher court.

Majority of journalists killed wrote on politics and corruption

Lankesh’s voice being silenced once again highlights that journalists covering politics and corruption in India are most at risk of being silenced by killing.

Over half of the 27 journalists murdered in the country since 1992 were covering politics and corruption – the two beats most likely to provoke violent repercussions, finds the Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ). The threat from these seems to be rising.

India continues to languish in the bottom third of the 2017 World Press Freedom Index, ranking 136th of 180 countries. Among India’s neighbours, most fare better, including conflict-torn Afghanistan at 120, Pakistan at 139, Sri Lanka at 141, , Bangladesh at 146, Nepal at 100, Bhutan at 84 and China at 176. Norway leads while North Korea is at the bottom.

The Index ranks countries according to the level of freedom available to journalists. It is a snapshot of the media freedom situation based on an evaluation of pluralism, independence of the media, quality of legislative framework and safety of journalists in each country.

Source: RSF

‘It is not what you said, but why you said it’

A friend of the slain journalist who was also from the media fraternity is quoted as saying that Lankesh was very “in your face” in her brand of progressive activism against radical Hinduism.

“In my frequent interactions with her, I would tell her that her whole rhetoric should be more subtle,” her friend says. “She was very naive and she was politically incorrect. She was very bold, but indulged in sloganeering of a certain kind which I said would not achieve anything. She needed to strategize.”

“Our right to dissent is being threatened,” the intrepid journalist said instead.

Bold red placards at her funeral read, “It is not what you said, but why you said it.”

“Given the ways in which speech is being stifled, dire days lie ahead,” Lankesh told an online portal a few months before her death, in an intuitive foretelling of her violent end.

She installed two closed circuit surveillance systems a fortnight before the fatal attack.

No link has yet been established between her death and her ideology or writing by police investigations, but because she so fiercely fought for freedom of speech and freedom of thought, large sections of Indian media protesting her killing are expressing concern over what they described as a growing intolerance of dissenting political voices.

A senior journalist sums up the current sentiment saying, “Gauri Lankesh’s death is another stark reminder of how violence is the new normal (in India). Alternate opinion is no longer debated, it is silenced.”

The Reporters without Borders (RSF) 2017 index report too blames the rise of Hindu nationalism for India’s drop in ranking.

“The three-year-old (federal) administration has been trying to banish all “anti-nationalist” discourse from the Indian press. Journalists who refuse to censor themselves are the targets of defamation suits or are prosecuted under section 124A of the penal code, under which “sedition” is punishable by life imprisonment, the organization reiterated today.”

Getting away with murder

Hundreds of journalists are murdered, but in nine out of 10 cases their killers go free.

India’s unsolved journalist murders rose by 24 percent within just one year, finds CPJ’s latest Global Impunity Index 2016 which documents the top countries where the killers of journalists go unpunished and where cases of journalists killed remain unsolved. In comparison, Syria is up 85 percent and Brazil 36

CPJ finds it is most often criminal and political groups, government officials in India who get away with journalist murders. Rural and small-town journalists reporting on local corruption, crime, and politics are targeted most. Worse, in addition to failing to solve any journalist murder, India has never responded to UNESCO’s requests for the judicial status of journalist killings in the country.

Impunity is widely recognized as one of the greatest threats to press freedom. The Impunity Index finds globally, 95 percent of victims were local reporters. More of them covered politics and corruption than any other beat. Also in 40 percent of cases, the victims reported receiving threats before they were killed. Threats however are rarely investigated by authorities and in only a handful of cases is adequate protection provided. Of serious concern is CPJ’s finding that only 3 percent of total murder cases over the 2006 – 2016 decade have been brought to justice, including the prosecution of the masterminds.

No data on the murder of journalists is maintained separately, according to India’s home ministry, which administers law and crime. Since 2014 the national crime records bureau (NCRB) has however started collecting data only on grievously injurious attacks on media persons.

The federal or any of the State governments is yet to act on RSF’s 2015 call to the Indian government to launch a national safety plan for journalists, or at least establish alert and rescue mechanisms that would also send a strong message of support for media freedom.

India’s information and broadcasting ministry rejected RSF’s index ranking earlier this year, saying it found the sampling random in nature and it does not portray a proper and comprehensive picture of freedom of the press in India.

Earlier in February U.N. Secretary General António Guterres agreed to take steps to address the safety of journalists, at a meeting where RSF and CPJ called for the appointment of a special representative to the UNSG to end impunity, ensure safety.

Attacks on Asia Pacific’s free press escalates: Cambodia’s clampdown via huge back tax

With 34 countries and more than half the world’s population, the Asia-Pacific region holds all the records including the biggest number of “Predators of Press Freedom,” according to RSF.

Earlier this week, the English-language Cambodia Daily newspaper published its last issue on Sep. 4 after fighting for the right to report the news freely and independently for 24 years. It was forced to close by an unprecedented form of government pressure – a sudden demand to pay 6.3 million dollars in alleged back taxes, according to RSF.

The newspaper’s editor, Jodie DeJonge regards it as arbitrary and politically motivated, pointing out that no tax audit had been carried out, according to RSF, which also says that the Cambodia Daily has been one of the relatively few independent media outlets to cover corruption, deforestation and other stories that are embarrassing for the government. This clampdown on independent media outlets has come as Cambodia prepares to hold elections next year.

“But this is not a tax issue, it is a free press issue,” DeJonge told RSF.

The post Indian Journalist’s Murder: The Ultimate Form of Press Censorship? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

New AI can work out whether you’re gay or straight from a photograph

Great – not – advertisement for researchers for hire eager to sell AI and souls.

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An algorithm deduced the sexuality of people on a dating site with up to 91% accuracy, raising tricky ethical questions

Artificial intelligence can accurately guess whether people are gay or straight based on photos of their faces, according to new research suggesting that machines can have significantly better “gaydar” than humans.

The study from Stanford University – which found that a computer algorithm could correctly distinguish between gay and straight men 81% of the time, and 74% for women – has raised questions about the biological origins of sexual orientation, the ethics of facial-detection technology and the potential for this kind of software to violate people’s privacy or be abused for anti-LGBT purposes.

Continue reading…

Giving the ‘gay cure’ quack a TV platform is an abuse of free speech | Owen Jones

Pimping to the right wing is all part of trying to build audience or fake being fair.

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Giving a TV platform to a ‘gay cure’ quack highlights a trend. The idea that free speech guarantees the right to incite hatred of minorities must be resisted

So-called “gay cure therapy” isn’t medicine, science, or indeed therapy: it’s abuse. Medical professionals regard the practice, which sees homosexuality as a fixable “condition”, as scientifically discredited, unethical and harmful. When my first boyfriend came out, aged 15, his parents drove him to a pseudo-scientist to be cured of his homosexuality: consider this against a context of being bullied at school for being gay. Today, he is recovering from crystal meth addiction.

This week, Good Morning Britain provided a platform for a “gay cure” quack named Mike Davidson. “On next we’ll meet the man who claims we can ‘cure’ homosexuality in men,” the show casually tweeted. “Any thoughts?” All of a sudden an abusive practice that inflicts horrendous psychological harm, that is rooted in extreme bigotry, in the very idea that being gay is a bad thing and that gay people should cease to exist, became an opinion worthy of national television. However much Piers Morgan harangued him, Davidson’s presence on air conferred on him a legitimacy he doesn’t deserve. There are different views, after all, on how much the rich should be taxed, or how high the minimum wage should be, or who should own the railways. But whether homosexuality should be erased by an abusive practice treated as a valid alternative perspective? Believing LGBTQ people to be inferior and desiring their disappearance from society is not simply a matter of opinion to be debated. It is bigotry – which causes profound damage to human beings.

Continue reading…

Thursday Open Thread | Trumpcare Demons are Back…Time to pick up the phone

From Balloon Juice:

Time to call the Senate again

by David Anderson

at 2:12 pm on September 6, 2017

MCCAIN says he supports Graham Cassidy healthcare bill. Would vote for it

— Peter Sullivan (@PeterSullivan4) September 6, 2017

Graham-Cassidy would shift money from states that have successfully implemented the ACA to non-expansion states and then ratchet down the block grants.

Time to call the Senate again.

We need to run out the clock to 12:01 October 1, 2017 at which point the healthcare reconciliation instructions expire. Encourage Senate Democrats to submit bills to the CBO for scoring so that they are back-logged and can not rapidly score anything that needs to be scored for reconciliation. Call and encourage the Sanders budget team to go to town with the Parliamentarian. 24 days need to be burned.

Here’s what’s in Graham-Cassidy:

There’s one Obamacare repeal bill left standing. Here’s what’s in it.

By Kim Soffen

Sept. 6, 2017

After a dramatic series of failed Senate votes in July, there’s one repeal-and-replace plan for the Affordable Care Act left standing. Trump is pushing for a vote, per Politico, and John McCain has announced his support, but the bill has yet to gain significant traction.

The proposal, crafted by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.), essentially turns control of the health-care markets over to the states. Rather than funding Medicaid and subsidies directly, that money would be put into a block grant that a state could use to develop any health-care system it wants. It also allows states to opt out of many ACA regulations. “If you like Obamacare, you can keep it,” Graham has said, using a common nickname for the health-care law. “If you want to replace it, you can.”

In reality, that may not be true. The Medicaid expansion and subsidy funding would be cut sharply compared to current spending, going to zero in a decade.

“You can’t actually keep the same program if your federal funding is being cut by a third in 2026,” said Aviva Aron-Dine, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. And even putting aside the cuts, she said, the block grant structure would fundamentally change the health-care landscape. “[Funding] is capped, so it wouldn’t go up and down with the economy,” when fewer or more people become eligible for subsidies.

These demons continue to want to take away healthcare from the most vulnerable. We must pick up the fight against them once again.
Call your Rep and Senators