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Showing posts from August, 2018

Republicans Spread Fake China Hacking Story To Deflect From Trump's Subservience To Russia

FBI headquarters (by Aude via Wikimedia Commons ) On August 29 Donald Trump tweeted: "Hillary Clinton’s Emails, many of which are Classified Information, got hacked by China." Hillary Clinton’s Emails, many of which are Classified Information, got hacked by China. Next move better be by the FBI & DOJ or, after all of their other missteps (Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Ohr, FISA, Dirty Dossier etc.), their credibility will be forever gone! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2018 The tweet came shortly after Fox News reported on a story by the right-wing media outlet  Daily Caller alleging that China had hacked Hillary Clinton's e-mail server .  "A Chinese-owned company operating in the Washington, D.C., area hacked Hillary Clinton’s private server throughout her term as secretary of state and obtained nearly all her emails," the report claimed, citing "two sources briefed on the matter." However, on Augu

Germany Warns Of Russian Cyber Attacks On Europe's Power Grids

Headquarters of Germany's Federal Intelligence Office, Berlin (by Fridolin Freudenfett [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons ) Cyber security experts of the German government have warned of possible Russian cyber attacks on power plants that could cause blackouts across Europe. According to German magazine Der Spiegel , the National Cyberdefence Centre (Nationales Cyber-Abwehrzentrum, NCAZ), an agency set up by the German federal government in 2011, issued a report warning that Russian hacking attacks on infrastructure could disrupt energy, water and gas supply as well as traffic. Due to the interdependence of Europe's infrastructure, a cyber attack on Germany could impact other European countries. The report was drawn up by experts from the Federal Criminal Police Office, the Federal Intelligence Service, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the Federal Office for Information Security and other government bureaus.  The German authori

TOEFL Website Lists Taiwan As Part Of China

In July 44 airlines bowed to Chinese pressure and listed on their websites Taiwan as part of China . Now the official website of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) has changed the name of Taiwan to "Taiwan, China". TOEFL is a test organized by the Educational Testing Service  (ETS), which according to its website develops, administers and scores more than 50 million tests annually in more than 180 countries at more than 9,000 locations worldwide. Apple Daily reports that in the past Taiwan was listed as a separate country and that Taiwanese students recently noticed the change. Not only the website, but also registration forms and grade reports show Taiwan as being part of China.   Asked by an Apple Daily reporter to comment on Taiwan's name change, ETS replied that the organization values "students coming from every part of the world" and that it looks forward to "continuing to serve all test takers."  C

China Eyes Taiwan's Last Diplomatic Ally In Africa After El Salvador's Defection

Taiwanese President Ts'ai Ing-wen visits El Salvador, 2017 (official photo by the Presidency of El Salvador via Flickr ) On August 21 Taiwanese Foreign Minister Wu Chao-hsieh announced Taiwan's decision to sever diplomatic ties with El Salvador after the Central American country had asked Taipei for an "astronomical sum" of financial aid. The statement came shortly after the end of Taiwanese President Ts'ai Ing-wen's  visit to the United States, Paraguay and Belize . The trip had been deemed a success by Taiwan, but it had angered China. On Tuesday  El Salvador and China  signed a joint communique on the establishment of diplomatic relations at a ceremony in Beijing. "The Government of the Republic of El Salvador recognizes that there is but one China in the world, that the Government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's t

Why Liberals Should Embrace Fair Trade, Debate Role Of Tariffs

(Image by kees torn (CSCL GLOBE) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons On the latest episode of Last Week Tonight, comedian John Oliver made fun of Donald Trump's tariffs and mocked him for not understanding how free trade works.   Oliver noted that tariffs are paid by importers and typically passed along to US consumers, leading to higher prices. Tariffs could cost the US hundreds of thousands of jobs, Oliver argued.  Trade deficits "aren't actually always bad, and many economists believe, for very complex reasons involving savings rates and the dollar's special status as the world's reserve currency, that America's trade balance might be more or less where it should be," he said. Oliver argued that "the overwhelming consensus among economists is that trade between countries generally speaking can create jobs, lower costs, and be a net benefit to both nations."  But is John Oliver right? We shall argue that although Tr

Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl's Curtsy To Vladimir Putin Draws Criticism

Vladimir Putin (by Kremlin.ru [CC BY 3.0 ] via Wikimedia Commons ) Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl's curtsy to Russian President Vladimir Putin has drawn criticism from Austrian politicians and international media. On Saturday, August 18, Putin attended Kneissl's wedding in the state of Styria, in southeastern Austria. Among the guests were Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the conservative Austrian People’s Party, and vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the far-right Freedom party (FPÖ). Karin Kneissl  is a former journalist. On December 18, 2017, she was sworn in as Austria's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and Integration. She is an independent, but she was recommended for the role by the Freedom Party. At the wedding Vladimir Putin gave a short speech congratulating Kneissl and her husband, businessman Wolfgang Meilinger. Kneissl danced with Putin and at the end of the dance she gave the Russian leader a curtsy. Foota

Taiwan's Economy and the Myth of Free Market

Taipei skyline (Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas via Wikimedia Commons )   In a world dominated by  neoliberal  mainstream economic thinking, the wealth of nations is often explained in culturalist terms. A country is rich because its people are hard-working and enjoy the freedom to pursue profitable economic activities. A country is poor if its people are lazy and / or its politicians are corrupt and inefficient. However, it would be wrong to underestimate the role of the government in promoting economic development, especially in the case of Taiwan. First of all, an industrial revolution does not come about through hard work alone. Asian people have always been renowned for their laboriousness, but for a long time their industry lagged behind that of the West. A rural country whose people are mostly hard-working peasants does not automatically shift production from agriculture to industry. Economists  Ha-Joon Chang  and  Erik Reinert  have explained that rich countries di

Trumpism And The Ku Klux Klan Nativist Tradition - The 1924 KKK Statement On Immigration Vis-a-Vis Republican Anti-Immigration Rhetoric

Donald Trump 2016 RNC speech (By Voice of America via Wikimedia Commons ) Immigration has always been a thorny issue in American society. Demographic changes have oftentimes resulted in the emergence of nativist movements opposed to the arrival of new people who were deemed dangerous and "unassimilable". In 1840 the US population was a little over 17 million. The largest city, New York, had but 312,000 people. In that decade, however, a new wave of immigration, mainly from Ireland and Germany, led to a rapid increase in the US population, which by 1860 had reached 31.4 million. Those immigrants, despite being white and Christian, were often met with suspicion and hostility. An anti-immigrant movement arose among native-born English-speaking protestants, who viewed the newcomers as a threat to the identity and the political system of the country. Associations spreading xenophobic ideas were formed, the most influential of which was the Know-Nothing Party .