Venezuelans, with help from world capitals led by Washington, seem close to toppling the oppressive, corrupt regime that misrules them. Don’t be surprised if Iran follows a similar course. There, less visible but widespread protests continue to cast doubt on the mullahs’ grip on power.
In both cases, once-strong popular regime support has vanished. Tumbling oil prices and sanctions aside, corruption and mismanagement have transformed two of the world’s leading petroleum exporters into basket cases.
The mullahs, like Venezuela’s socialists, are more interested in exporting their revolution abroad than helping their people. Both run police states with sham elections that lend a veneer of democratic legitimacy. No wonder the two are such close friends.
The late Hugo Chávez saw the potential in a Caracas-Tehran alliance early on. He would pop up in Tehran often, merging the Latin-tinged “Yankee Go Home” with the Persian “Death to America” chants.
Daily direct flights between Caracas and Tehran were soon established. Tehran’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, and other Iranian operatives use Venezuela for money laundering. Iranian officials seeking to evade American sanctions can easily obtain Venezuelan passports.
Now the two regimes find themselves in the same boat.
Today, February 10, the Iranian regime officially celebrates the 40th anniversary of the day it seized power. The fundamentalist and Islamist party of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini surprised the international community and the Iranian people when in 1979, it hijacked a revolution. The successful power-grab sentwaves through global politics.
Although some people were aware of the intentions of the Islamist party, many underestimated the extent of its organizational skills and power. To harness both the trust and the loyalty of the people, Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers initially portrayed themselves as spiritual people who had no desire to rule the country. Many, including several political parties, also believed that, during a transitional period, the ruling mullahs would relinquish any power gained.
The Trump Administration unveiled a sweeping set of actions—including criminal charges—against China’s Huawei Technologies Co. in its latest salvo against the telecom giant, with authorities unsealing a set of indictments just days before U.S.-China trade talks are set to resume.
In a pair of cases unsealed Monday, federal prosecutors accused Huawei of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and of stealing trade secrets from a U.S. business partner, portraying the company as a flouting U.S. laws while trying to do business in the country.
China has extended the olive branch back to the United States by offering a path to eliminate Washington’s burgeoning trade deficit with the country, Bloomberg reported Friday. The news comes less than a day after The Wall Street Journal reported that the Trump administration was considering lifting tariffs amid the ongoing trade war.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported Friday that China has offered to significantly boost its purchase of U.S. goods over a six-year period in an effort to re-balance trade between the two superpowers. By increasing its annual imports from the United States, Beijing would reduce its trade surplus to zero by 2024. That would require a spending boost of more than $1 trillion.
Last year, Beijing’s surplus with the U.S. stood at $323 billion.
Trade War Truce?
Trade talks between the U.S. and China are progressing at breakneck speed, a strong sign that both sides are looking to end the tariff dispute before March. That’s when the 90-day truce agreed to by President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping is set to expire.
U.S. officials are reportedly considering lifting tariffs on Chinese imports to give Beijing a bigger incentive to negotiate a fairer trade deal. Last year, the Trump administration announced duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and threatened additional tariffs if Beijing responded. Tensions have simmered down since December when the leaders of both countries met face-to-face on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Last week marked the first face-to-face meetings between Chinese and American trade delegates since the G20 summit. The meetings, which went a day longer than planned, resulted in China agreeing to purchase more U.S. farm and agricultural commodities. Chinese officials have also agreed to grant wider access to mainland markets to U.S. firms.
Several risks stand in the way of a comprehensive end to the trade war. Chief among them is the ongoing drama involving Huawei Technologies Corp. U.S. federal prosecutors are following up on civil lawsuits against the tech giant by launching a wider investigation into the company. According to The Wall Street Journal, the investigation has reached an advanced stage and could lead to an indictment shortly.
Meanwhile back at the ranch.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump plans to meet face-to-face with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next month for a second nuclear summit, the White House announced Friday.
“The President looks forward to meeting with Chairman Kim at a place to be announced at a later date,” according to the White House readout of Trump’s meeting with top Kim deputy Kim Yong Choi.
Trump and Kim Yong Choi had planned to discuss “relations between the two countries and continued progress on North Korea’s final, fully verified denuclearization,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement before Friday’s meeting.
Twitter is warning it may censor content by Western users that the social giant deems a violation of Pakistan law.
Russian-born Canadian columnist Jamie Glazov explained the situation on The Glazov Gang, an online talk show.
Remember, one was also arrested in Canada by our request.
This is not unusual in the world of espionage.
In the IC – the Intelligence Community – this used to be called ‘Non Official Cover’. Now, for obvious reasons, it’s called ‘Commercial Cover’. The spy masquerades as an employee of a (most of the time) actual legitimate private company. Of course, in China, any and all international businesses are to be considered state owned and thus nothing more than a spy ring that happens to have a commercial enterprise as a sideline.
For years, Washington has labeled Huawei a national security threat, saying it could be forced by China to use its knowledge of the telecommunications equipment it sells around the world to tap into, or disable, foreign communications networks. Huawei has denied that forcefully through the years. Part of its defense has been that it hadn’t been implicated in overseas spying allegations.
Officers of Poland’s counterintelligence agency this week searched the local Huawei office, leaving with documents and electronic data, as well as the home of the Chinese national, said Stanislaw Zaryn, a spokesman for Poland’s security coordination office. The Chinese individual wasn’t named, but was identified by Polish state television as a graduate of one of China’s top intelligence schools, as well as a former employee of the Chinese consulate in the port city of Gdansk.
People familiar with the matter identified him as Weijing Wang. He is known in Poland as Stanislaw Wang, according to these people and a public LinkedIn page that matches his biographical details.
A person who knew Mr. Wang described him as a well-known figure in local business circles, often spotted at events sponsored by Huawei in Poland. “He spoke great Polish,” this person said. “He was a really well-known Chinese guy in Poland and was always around.”
Lu Kang, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, was critical of McCampbell’s FONOP during his regularly scheduled briefing with the media.
“The Chinese side immediately sent military vessel and aircraft to conduct verification and identification on the U.S. ship and warned it to leave. We have lodged stern representations with the U.S. side,” Lu said, according to the official English translation of the ministry’s press conference.
Starting in the 1990s, in a move not recognized by international maritime law, China claimed a straight baseline around the entire Paracel Islands archipelago, which it calls the Xisha Islands. The Chinese government wants foreign warships to ask permission before operating near the islands. Vietnam and Taiwan also claim the chain.
In response, U.S. Navy officials stated McCampbell operated within the standards of international maritime law.
Many times in the past, a tyrannical regime has somehow believed that if they will strike a “decadent” Western nation hard enough, it will fold immediately. But history has proven that a wrongheaded assumption again and again. Free nations enjoy have resources of political will that more authoritarian regimes don’t have and never will. If Peking’s commie leaders choose to ignore that lesson, it’s to everyone’s peril, but mostly theirs.
China perceived the lack of strategic focus of the George W. Bush administration and the passive “lead from behind” foreign policy of the Obama administration as American decay and decline. In reality, the foundational aspects of the American economy remain surprisingly strong and the American fighting spirit is not dead — merely sleeping. Those who would believe that the sinking of two aircraft carriers would trigger an impulse toward retreat would do well to make themselves aware of the United States’ history and the impact events such as the sinking of the Lusitania, the attack on Pearl Harbor and the collapse of the World Trade Center had on the national psyche. What some have labeled the Jacksonian impulse could be described as a tendency toward great power rage. To be sure, it burns itself out. After all, the U.S. is considering leaving Afghanistan, 17 years later.
But make no mistake: Any attack upon a single U.S. aircraft carrier by long-range aircraft, cruise missiles or ballistic missiles would surely generate a response against the bases from which those weapons were launched, the sensors associated with them and the command-and-control nodes that directed them, and then the United States would turn its attention on the Chinese naval and merchant fleet.
Before China knew what was happening, it would be cut off from the overseas sources of energy and raw materials that fuel its import/export economy. Within weeks it would be without fuel and its factories would be shuttered. The American economy, established in a nation that has most resources domestically available, would be able to ride out the storm, even if China attempted to climb the escalation ladder and attack targets in North America.
Looks like that ‘trade war’ all the political pundits said was going to happen due to President Trump’s tariffs on China didn’t happen as anticipated. What else can we suppose they’re wrong on too?
China is buying U.S. rice for the first time. The “South China Morning Post” reported Chinese customs officials cleared American rice for import on Thursday.
It’s not clear how much China will buy, but the U.S. rice industry calls China the 800 pound gorilla for the industry, and a market barrier it’s been trying to break for decades.
Johnny Sullivan of Producers Rice Mill, Inc. says “China is a monster of a market. The facts are based on the consumption rate of rice in China, the short story is China could chew through the entire U.S. crop in 14 days, so it’s unreal.”
The news comes as leaders from the two countries prepare to meet in mid-January to continue trade talks. The trade war ceasefire between the U.S. and China started earlier in December, when President Trump and President Xi Jinping met at the G20 summit in Argentina. The U.S. agreed not to raise tariff levels if the two countries can come to an agreement on a host of issues, including trade.
After a six month lull, China started buying U.S. soybeans in December. However, it hasn’t been enough to appease traders, hungry for China to start buying large quantities of U.S. beans.
Hail the victorious dead
KABUL, Afghanistan — Fourteen American servicemembers were killed in Afghanistan in 2018 as the longest war in U.S. history began its 18th year in October.
An employee at a local sporting goods store told us about a customer that recently got too good of a deal on a Leupold rifle scope at a gun show.
The scope was counterfeit. The seller was off to the next bazaar and a fresh crop of pigeons, and the buyer had no recourse. Leupold has no obligation to replace a counterfeit scope, nor does a retailer.
If you’re lucky, your ersatz Leupold is serviceable. Even fake Rolex wristwatches keep time for a while, but would you trust such a scope on a prized draw hunt that you’ve entered for two decades? I wouldn’t.
Most counterfeit Leupolds are of Chinese origin and are priced sufficiently below manufacturer’s suggested retail price on many websites to be irresistible. They’re cheap enough to draw you in, but not so cheap to scare you away. Of course, you don’t know it’s counterfeit until you’ve paid for the item and have it in hand.
On leupold.com, Leupold issues a warning against purchasing Leupold-labeled optics from wish.com, ioffer.com, aliexpress.com, alibaba.com and many others. The most commonly counterfeited products, according to Leupold, mimic Mark 4 rifle scopes, VX-III rifle scopes, Prismatic rifle scopes, CQ/T rifle scopes, LCO sights and Deltapoint Pro sights.
The products are illegally imported from the People’s Republic of China, which is a profligate violator of patent and trademark rights.
Leupold’s warning says, “These fake products bear many of the trademarks and trade dress of current Leupold & Stevens rifle scopes, and are sometimes difficult to distinguish externally from authentic Leupold products.”
Regrettably, owners learn the truth when they send faulty products to Leupold for warranty service. Leupold is famous for its “Full Lifetime Guarantee,” but it will not service counterfeit products. A counterfeit experience can sour a victimized buyer on the company, a phenomenon to which Leupold is sensitive.
All Leupold rifle scopes bear an individual serial number that’s engraved on the bottom of the turret. Counterfeit scopes often use fake serial numbers, all identical serial numbers, or incorrect numbering convention.
The date code is a quick way to assure authenticity. Since 1974, every Leupold scope includes a letter in the serial number as a date-code. Scopes with a letter at the beginning of the serial number were produced between 1974 and 1992. You are unlikely to encounter counterfeits from this era because those scopes are relatively inexpensive.
Scopes with a letter at the end of the serial number were produced after 1992.
Since 2014, the serial suffix contains two letters, always beginning with A. “AA” is 2014, “AB” is 2015, and so on.
Leupold does not use the letters I, O, and Q in its serial numbers because they are easily mistaken for 1, 0, and 0. If a scope has these letters in a serial number, it’s fake. If it does not contain a letter at the end, it’s fake.
Leupold scopes bear distinctive physical characteristics. The gold ring near the end of the objective bell is a well-known trademark. It’s an actual metal ring, not a decal. Contemporary models have black engraving within the gold ring that designates the model number, focal range and Leupold name.
Inlaid on the left side of the turret is a gold logo signet. Old models are engraved with LEUPOLD.
Additionally, a new scope will be in a cellophane-wrapped box. Inspection requires breaking the seal, which sellers usually do not permit. Authorized dealers have samples on display for inspection. From any other source you buy on faith.
If possible, write down the serial number and call 1-800-LEUPOLD. The company can usually confirm a scope’s authenticity by its serial number.
Well all righty then.
ANYER, Indonesia—The volcano that unleashed a tsunami and killed more than 400 people has collapsed to about a third of its previous height and is ejecting superheated magma into the sea, magnifying the power of the eruptions and sending ash more than a mile into the air.
The volcano, called Anak Krakatau, partially collapsed in a violent spasm on Dec. 22, causing a massive landslide that sent high waves barreling toward both shores of the Sunda Strait, the narrow passage between the islands of Java and Sumatra. The volcano’s cone is now about 360 feet above sea level, Indonesian officials said Saturday, reduced from more than 1,000 feet before the collapse.
Iraq has made Christmas Day a national holiday, its government confirmed this morning.
The Iraqi Cabinet approved an amendment to its national holidays law which creates a new official one ‘on the occasion of the birth of Jesus Christ’.
Previously, Christmas Day had been designated as a religious break only for the Iraqi Christian community, but the amendment extends the holiday to everyone.
‘Happy Christmas to our Christian citizens, all Iraqis and to all who are celebrating around the world,’ the Iraqi government wrote on Twitter.
Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul-Mahdi (centre), whose Cabinet announced today that it is extending the holiday of Christmas Day, originally just for Christians, to everyone in Iraq
Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul-Mahdi (centre), whose Cabinet announced today that it is extending the holiday of Christmas Day, originally just for Christians, to everyone in Iraq
‘We extend our warmest wishes to Christians in Iraq and around the world for a very happy and peaceful Christmas,’ it added.
Iraq is a 95 per cent Muslim country – 66 per cent are Shia and 29 per cent Sunni.
There are thought to be only around 300,000 Christians remaining in the country, the vast majority of whom are
Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s arrest in Vancouver on Dec. 6 led to immediate blowback.
Furious Chinese Communists have begun arresting innocent Canadians in retaliation. So far, three of these “revenge hostages” have been taken and are being held in secret jails on vague charges. Beijing hints that the hostage count may grow if Meng is not freed and fast.
Even for a thuggish regime like China’s, this kind of action is almost unprecedented.
So who is Meng Wanzhou?
Currently under house arrest and awaiting extradition to the US, she will face charges that her company violated US sanctions by doing business with Iran and committed bank fraud by disguising the payments it received in return.
But to say that she is the CFO of Huawei doesn’t begin to explain her importance — or China’s reaction.
It turns out that “Princess” Meng, as she is called, is Communist royalty. Her grandfather was a close comrade of Chairman Mao during the Chinese Civil War, who went on to become vice governor of China’s largest province.
She is also the daughter of Huawei’s Founder and Chairman, Ren Zhengfei. Daddy is grooming her to succeed him when he retires.
In other words, Meng is the heiress apparent of China’s largest and most advanced hi-tech company, and one which plays a key role in China’s grand strategy of global domination.
Huawei is a leader in 5G technology and, earlier this year, surpassed Apple to become the second largest smartphone maker in the world behind Samsung.
But Huawei is much more than an innocent manufacturer of smartphones.
It is a spy agency of the Chinese Communist Party.
How do we know?
Because the party has repeatedly said so.
First in 2015 and then again in June 2017, the party declared that all Chinese companies must collaborate in gathering intelligence.
Yes, that Krakatoa. The other end of the island of Sumatra from the quake and tsunami that killed a 1/4 million people almost exactly 14 years ago.
At least 168 people have been killed on the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra when a tsunami struck areas around the Sunda Strait late on Saturday following an undersea landslide caused by a volcano.
The tsunami was the result of an underwater landslide caused by volcanic activity
Pandeglang regency, Serang, and South Lampung were inundated with water
Indonesian authorities have said they are not aware of any foreigners affected
According to a statement by the government’s Disaster Mitigation Agency, another 745 people had been injured in the incident.
“It was caused by a combination of an undersea landslide resulting from volcanic activity on Anak Krakatoa and a tidal wave,” disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.
Not all the affected areas have been reached and Mr Nugroho said the death toll may still rise.
At least 30 people were missing.
According to a statement from the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency, “the tsunami hit several areas of the Sunda Strait, including beaches in Pandeglang regency, Serang, and South Lampung”.
The White House has ordered the Pentagon to draw up plans for a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, two defense officials and a person briefed on the matter told NBC News.
The plans are due shortly after the new year, according to the officials. They cautioned that no decision has been made, but President Trump wants to see options.
The White House has asked the Pentagon to look into multiple options, including a complete withdrawal, the officials said.
An Afghan official told NBC News that Trump is considering a substantial drawdown of U.S. troops in the country.
The Pentagon did not return a request for comment.
The officials described the Afghanistan request a day after the Trump administration said it was pulling all U.S. forces out of Syria.
The U.S. has approximately 14,000 troops in Afghanistan. Trump has repeatedly expressed his impatience with the 17-year-old war.
China was involved in 90 percent of all economic espionage cases handled by the Department of Justice over the last seven years, according to a report submitted Wednesday to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“From 2011-2018, more than 90 percent of the Department’s cases alleging economic espionage by or to benefit a state involve China, and more than two-thirds of the Department’s theft of trade secrets cases have had a nexus to China,” the report stated.
The Trump administration is reportedly set to condemn China this week over economic espionage and hacking campaigns, a move that would likely increase tensions between the two countries amid a trade war truce.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that multiple government agencies are expected to call out China over what the U.S. says is a pattern of behavior that includes attempts to steal trade secrets and technology, as well as government information. The administration is reportedly planning to declassify some intelligence documenting those efforts.
Have no doubts, the demoncraps would love to have a system like this here.
They are transforming the Internet into the greatest tool of surveillance that humanity has ever seen, and if we stay on the road that we are currently on it is only a matter of time until our society becomes a hellish dystopian nightmare. I wish that this was an exaggeration, but it isn’t. Over the past couple of decades, the Internet has completely changed the way that we all communicate with one another. At one time, all forms of mass communication were tightly controlled by the elite, but the Internet suddenly allowed us to communicate with one another on a massive scale without having to go through their gatekeepers. This radically altered the landscape, and at first the elite were unsure of how to respond to this growing threat. There was no way that they could roll back time to an era before the Internet was invented, and so they have decided to use it for their own insidious purposes instead.
Today, the Internet has become the centerpiece of their “Big Brother surveillance grid”, and they are gathering information on all of us on a scale that has never been seen before in all of human history. But of course it was never going to stop there. Over the past couple of years we have started to watch the elite use all of this information to punish those that are doing or saying things that they do not like.
Perhaps the most extreme example of this phenomenon is what is going on in China. The following comes from BuzzFeed…
Chinese journalist Liu Hu always knew he’d have trouble with the authorities; he had been exposing corruption and wrongdoing for years. He was used to being hassled with regular fines and forced apologies imposed by his authoritarian government. He nevertheless persisted in truth-telling.
One day in 2017, Hu logged onto a travel site, but couldn’t book a flight because the site said he was “not qualified.” Soon he discovered he was blocked from buying property, using the high-speed train network, or getting a loan. And there was nothing he could do about it. His rights to essential goods and services were now circumscribed through an algorithm designed to discriminate against the 7.5 million people on China’s “Dishonest Persons Subject to Enforcement” list.
In China they call it a “social credit score”, but in reality it is nightmarish authoritarianism at its worst.
They are monitoring all that their citizens do and think — their political opinions, their shopping patterns, their travel history, their Internet behavior, etc. — and if they upset “the Beast system” then they could ultimately lose access to everything.
Put yourself in their shoes for a moment.
Just imagine a world in which you will no longer be able to buy, sell, open a bank account, get a loan, use public transportation or get a job.
Chinese authorities are even putting up surveillance cameras in the schools so that they can constantly monitor students…
Yeah, this is going to end well.
Senior U.S. officials confirmed early Monday that Iran has successfully test-fired multiple nuclear-capable missiles in violation of United Nations restrictions on such activity, drawing a fierce reaction from the Trump administration, which will pressure European leaders this week to take immediate action aimed at countering Iran’s latest military moves.
Refuting Iranian claims that its illicit missile tests are defensive in nature, Trump administration Iran envoy Brian Hook vowed tough reprisals for Iran’s most recent missile tests, which are among the most provocative in recent memory.
“Iran has launched missiles that are capable of carrying multiple warheads, including a nuclear weapon,” Hook confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon while talking to reporters aboard Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s airplane en route to Brussels for NATO meetings.
The Iranian ballistic missile test comes on the heels of new evidence unearthed by the United States tying Tehran to the proliferation of advanced weaponry and missiles across the Middle East, including in Yemen, where Iranian-backed rebels continue to attack a Saudi coalition seeking to stem the violence.
The Trump administration’s response to these latest tests stands apart from that of its predecessor, the Obama administration, which intentionally left Iran’s ballistic missile technology off the table when inking the landmark nuclear pact.
The real story is that China has poor public health safety.
A disease sweeping through Chinese hog herds is helping negate the effects of the trade war for American farmers, with U.S. pork sales to the Asian nation back to levels before tariffs were introduced.
China was the third-largest buyer of pork in U.S. Department of Agriculture weekly data released Thursday. The 3,300 metric ton-purchase was the most since February, a month before China imposed tariffs on U.S. pork. Hog futures rose 4.4 percent in Chicago, the most in two weeks.
“This is a game changer,” said Dennis Smith, a senior account executive at Archer Financial Services Inc. “It gives confirmation that the disease is far worse than what we’ve been told.”
The State Department announced Friday afternoon North Korea has released an American citizen.
“The United States appreciates the cooperation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the embassy of Sweden in facilitating the release of an American citizen,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released in a statement. “The United States is grateful for the sustained support of Sweden, our protecting power in North Korea, for its advocacy on behalf of American citizens. The safety and well-being of Americans remains one of the highest priorities of the Trump Administration.”
According to NPR, “North Korea’s official KCNA news agency identified the American as Bruce Byron Lowrance and said that he had told his captors that he was controlled by the CIA.”
The release of Byron comes after talks between North Korean officials and Pompeo in New York City were postponed.
“Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo’s meeting with officials from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, scheduled for this week in New York, will now take place at a later date,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert released in a statement last week. “We will reconvene when our respective schedules permit. Ongoing conversations continue to take place. The United States remains focused on fulfilling the commitments agreed to by President Trump and Chairman Kim at the Singapore Summit in June.”