China

John Oliver: US prisons are full because ‘our drug laws are a little draconian, and a lot racist’

oliver_prison

The Raw Story

On an extended segment on HBO’s Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver tackled the subject of America’s prison system — from high incarceration rates due to “draconian” drug laws to prison rape and privatization.

Oliver began by pointing out that America has more prisoners than any other country in the world, with nearly one in every 100 adults in America incarcerated.

“That’s true. We have over 2 million behind bars right now,” Oliver explained. “We have more prisoners at the moment than China. Than China. We don’t have more anything than China other than, of course, debt to China.”

Pointing out that America’s prison population has expanded eight-fold since 1970, Oliver stated, “The only other thing that has grown at that rate, since the seventies, is varieties of Cheerios. F*ck you, Fruity Cheerios, you’re trumped up Froot Loops, and you know it!”

Noting that over 50 percent of America’s prison population is incarcerated on drug charges, Oliver said “Our drug laws are a little draconian, and a lot racist.”

“While white people and African-Americans use drugs at about the same amount, a study has shown that African-Americans have been sent to prison for drug offenses at up to ten times the rate for some utterly known reason,” Olver said, drawing laughter from the audience.

“It reminds me of a joke. Black people who commit drug offenses, they go to jail like this,” Oliver said, miming hand held together with handcuffs. “Whereas white people … don’t go to jail at all.”

Oliver pointed out that so many people are incarcerated in America that Sesame Street is forced to to explain prison to children.

“Just think about that,” Oliver asked. “We now need adorable singing puppets to explain prison to children in the same way they explain the number seven or what the moon is.”

Addressing prison rape, calling it the “most horrifying things that can potentially happen,” Oliver shared a collection of clips from popular TV shows and movies — including children’s cartoon Spongebob Squarepants — making light of rape.

Oliver continued on, discussing the privatization of prisons leading to inadequate medical care, increased prison deaths, maggots in food served by outside vendors, and for-profit publicly-traded companies that run prisons pitching investors on growth opportunities due to the lure of high recidivism rates.

Watch the video from Last Week Tonight HERE…

Petco to stop selling treats from China, after 1,000 dog deaths

As a pet lover, this is old news and should have ceased years ago.  So no kudos for Petco.  My question is: What took you so long? Also, why stop at the “end of the year?”

America Blog

Hallelujah. Pet store giant Petco has announced that it will stop selling pet treats from China by the end of this year, after thousands of reports of dogs and cats falling ill, and 1,000 dogs dying.

While the US Food and Drug Administration has been unable to track the exact cause for the illnesses, all signs keep pointing to chicken, duck and sweet potato treats imported from China.

As I’ve written before, check the labels — I no longer buy any pet foods from China.

three-eyed-fish

The FDA reports that it has received 4,800 complaints of pets becoming ill after eating Chinese imported treats, and an additional 1,000 dogs dying.  Only 24 of the reported illnesses were cats.

The FDA says the following symptoms have been observed:

Approximately 60 percent of the cases report gastrointestinal/liver disease, 30 percent kidney or urinary disease, with the remaining 10 percent of complaints including various other signs such as neurologic, dermatologic, and immunologic symptoms. About 15 percent of the kidney or urinary cases also tested positive for Fanconi syndrome, a rare kidney disease that has been associated with this investigation.

I was surprised recently to see that one brand of jerky treats, Happy Hips, is made in China. I threw that bag out and stopped buying it months ago.

happy-hips-12 happy-hips-2

I’ve found the country-of-origin labeling on other treats to be almost impossible to read.

Of course, it’s not just pets.  Guess who else is eating chicken processed in China? You and me, baby.

Now, keep in mind that other Chinese products for humans aren’t much better.  As I’ve noted before, consumers have been plagued with Chinese poisonous toothpaste, dangerous tires that leave out a special safety featuretainted baby milktainted porktoxic rice, kidney-damaging cookies, cake and candiesbird-flu infected chickendying pigs, the cooking oil made from sewer sludge, or the 89% of Chinese herbs tested that contained pesticides, and then there’s toxic fish.

Mmm… toxic fish.

Perhaps my favorite Chinese quality-control disaster was the exploding watermelons (which brings back memories of the old exploding Soviet television sets).  I have to admit, an exploding watermelon could be kind of fun.

AP reports that PetSmart didn’t respond to their request for comment.

China Installed More Solar Power in 2013 than the US has in its Whole History

As long as dim-witted people are running Congress, the above headline will be commonplace around the globe, except for the United States and that’s a sad commentary…

Informed Comment – Joshua Hill

Despite predictions all through 2013 suggesting that Japan would walk away the dominant solar PV market, Bloomberg New Energy Finance has revealed that China “outstripped even the most optimistic forecasts” to install a record 12 GW of photovoltaic projects in 2013.

In fact, a massive boom at the end of the year could even have pushed the nation’s market up to 14 GW, a phenomenal feat considering that no country has never added more than 8 GW in a year.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) had predicted that Japan would come out on top in 2013, ahead of China and then the US, but with a feed-in tariff for large PV projects ending on the first of 2014, the year-end rush will not be wholly understood until March.

“The 2013 figures show the astonishing scale of the Chinese market, now the sleeping dragon has awoken” said Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “PV is becoming ever cheaper and simpler to install, and China’s government has been as surprised as European governments by how quickly it can be deployed in response to incentives.”

Even China’s state news agency could not have predicted the massive boom which took place. And in July it was announced that China aimed to add 10 GW of solar power a year for the next three years — a target they seem to have hit rather easily.

Surprisingly, many market analysis companies scoffed at China’s targets for 2014. IHS and Mercom Capital both released reports earlier this year suggesting that China would struggle to reach their aim of 12 GW for 2014, but with 2013′s impressive stats, one wonders whether analysts will be revising their predictions in the next few weeks, especially in the wake of new estimations suggesting that China is aiming for 14 GW in 2014.

With the majority of solar projects located on the country’s sunny and empty western provinces, China’s state-owned power generators China Power Investment Corporation, China Three Gorges and China Huadian Corporation have become the world’s largest owners of solar assets.

Why can’t you trust Snowden? Let me count (some of) the ways…

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQnXDPMeGCIgTC-A19_krKhyk79_55zoE0sCaHksYV6BPdxUtBh

Edward Snowden’s Russian ID

From the onset, let me say that I know some of our TFC readers are pro Snowden and that’s perfectly fair.   This particular article happened to be “anti Snowden”.  I’ll be sure to balance it out within the week.

Sulia – Milt Shook

I just read a comment on a blog post in which a poster claims it was the $250 million investment to Glenn Greenwald’s “news” website start-up that made her think that, perhaps, Snowden was full of crap.

Really? It was that, which is completely unrelated to Snowden? Why?

I would think that what Snowden has done would certify him as full of crap. Think about it…

He lied and took a national security job under false pretenses.

He got NSA employees to give him usernames and passwords under false pretenses.

He stole thousands of documents that he had no right to.

He lied to his bosses to get time off to hightail it to China with the stolen documents.

He lied to us in his introductory video about what his job was and how much he was supposedly “giving up.”

Who knows what he’s doing with the documents he stole, other than giving them to Greenwald and reporters.

He even lied about not taking the documents to Russia. How is he determining what to release unless he’s looking at them?

Seriously. Greenwald’s a money whore; we all knew that. But that has nothing to do with why you can’t trust Snowden.

10 things you need to know today: December 26, 2013

Ice, ice baby.

Ice, ice baby. (REUTERS/Gary Hershorn)

The Week

Resignations rock Turkey’s government, ice storms leave hundreds of thousands without power, and more

1. Resignations rock Erdogan’s government
Three ministers in Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s cabinet abruptly resigned on Wednesday after their sons were implicated in a corruption investigation. One said Erdogan should step down — a rare challenge from someone within a party known for stifling dissent. Erdogan, who promptly replaced the ministers, has denounced the deepening crisis as part of a foreign plot against his Islamist-supported government. [New York Times]
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2. Winter weather leaves hundreds of thousands without power
Ice storms left about a half million customers without electricity on Wednesday, most of them in Michigan, New York, New England, and Canada. Some of the power lines were toppled as early as last weekend. Crews, many from other states, are working around the clock but thousands of people in the hardest hit areas won’t get power restored until Friday. [Los Angeles Times]
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3. A majority says this is the worst Congress ever
Two-thirds of Americans think the current Congress is the worst they have ever seen, according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Thursday. Nearly three-quarters say it is a “do-nothing” Congress that has so far failed to address any of the nation’s problems. All groups — men and women, rich and poor — share these dim views, but older Americans, who have seen more congressional sessions come and go, are the most negative of all. [CNN]
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4. Bombers target Iraqi Christians on Christmas
At least 37 people died in two Christmas Day bombings targeting Christians in Iraq. A car bomb killed at least 26 people near a church during Christmas Mass, and another blast in an outdoor market killed 11. Nobody claimed responsibility, but al Qaeda-linked insurgents have attacked Iraq’s half-million Christians in the past. The U.S. is rushing the Iraqi government missiles and drones to help it contend with rising insurgent attacks. [Fox NewsNew York Times]
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5. Storms and high demand delay some UPS Christmas deliveries
UPS apologized to customers after many packages it promised would arrive by Christmas didn’t get delivered on time. The shipping company said bad weather and a surge in demand that exceeded projections overloaded its systems. The scope of the problem remains unclear, but two big UPS clients — Walmart and Amazon — said they would issue gift cards to customers whose packages did not arrive on time. [New York Times]
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6. Haitian immigrants die after boat tips over
Eighteen Haitians trying to reach the U.S. died on Wednesday when their sailboat capsized off the Turks and Caicos. The boat was being towed to port after being intercepted by police. Thirty-two other suspected undocumented immigrants were rescued from the water. Police were still searching late Wednesday for several other people who reached shore and fled. [Reuters]
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7. Abe visits a controversial war shrine, infuriating China
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited a controversial World War II shrine on Thursday, stoking U.S. fears of deepening tension between Japan and China, the world’s second- and third-largest economies. Beijing called the visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors soldiers killed in battle as well as Japanese leaders convicted of war crimes, “absolutely unacceptable.” Abe said he was merely expressing his resolve avoid another war. [ReutersBBC News]
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8. Kidnapped American pleads for help in video
A government contractor kidnapped by al Qaeda militants in Pakistan recorded a video message emailed to journalists saying he felt “totally abandoned and forgotten,” and calling on the Obama administration to negotiate with his captors. “You are now in your second term as president of the United States,” the contractor, Warren Weinstein, says to President Obama, “and that means that you can take hard decisions without worrying about reelection.” [Washington Post]
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9. McDonald’s closes website where employees bashed its food
McDonald’s has shut down an employee “McResource Line” website where workers posted what it called “inappropriate commentary.” CNBC reported that posts on the site had bashed fast food and branded McDonald’s fare as unhealthy. News of the criticism went viral. The company said the scrutiny that resulted was “unwarranted.” A McDonald’s spokesperson said the company would still offer employees the help they once got from the website — by phone. [CNBC]
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10. Girl dies shortly after receiving final wish
An eight-year-old Pennsylvania girl named Laney Brown died on Wednesday days after some 10,000 people gathered on her street to sing her Christmas songs after hearing that one of her two dying wishes was for carolers to come by her house. Laney, who suffered from leukemia, also got her other wish, which was to meet country music superstar Taylor Swift. The two video chatted on Friday, her birthday. [Allentown Morning Call]

Why does China’s Moon Rover exhibit show a nuclear mushroom cloud over Europe?

(REUTERS)

The prospect of the moon being turned into a death star type battle station to launch nuclear weapons is scary…

The Week

The exhibit could renew concerns about China’s space program

China has made a major diplomatic faux pas by illustrating its Moon Rover exhibit with a stock image of a nuclear mushroom cloud over Europe.

While it’s probably just an embarrassing error, it’s still an unsettling image given the Chinese government’s recent statements concerning plans to build a missile base on the Moon.

On December 3, The Beijing Times reported that Chinese experts are discussing whether the People’s Liberation Army could establish a missile base on the Moon. Per the Taiwan-based, English-language site Want China Times:

An expert from the China National Space Administration’s Lunar Exploration Programme Center told the [Beijing Times]that China plans to send its first astronaut to the moon by 2030. By 2050, the moon could become a base from which to send the country’s manned spacecraft to explore deep space, the source said. [Want China Times]

Innocent enough, right? But the source added that the Moon could be transformed into a deadly weapon. Like the Death Star in Star Wars, the Moon could be used as a military battle station, bristling with ballistic missiles that could be launched against any military target on Earth.

Lest you think this is all science fiction, there has been a worrying trend toward a militarization of space. Officially, the Outer Space Treaty bars states from placing nuclear weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction in orbit around Earth, installing them on the Moon or any other celestial body, or otherwise stationing them in outer space. It exclusively limits the use of the Moon and other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes. China, the United States, and Russia are all party to this treaty.

Yet in 2011, Wikileaks leaked documents showing that the United States and China had both shot down their own satellites using sophisticated missiles, with each country attempting to show the strength of its respective military capabilities in space.

 

10 things you need to know today: November 29, 2013

Black Friday shoppers carry discounted items from a Florida Best Buy that opened at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

Black Friday shoppers carry discounted items from a Florida Best Buy that opened at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The Week

HealthCare.gov braces for a key test, Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping rush, and more

1. ObamaCare website faces crucial new deadline
The Obama administration’s technology team is scrambling to complete a workaround for the ObamaCare website ahead of the self-imposed Saturday deadline to fix it. The focus is on a new mechanism called EZ App to let people enroll without calculating the precise subsidy they could receive to help cover their health insurance premiums, eliminating a major complaint since the site’s disastrous Oct. 1 launch. Administration officials say 80 percent of users will find the site faster, but some will still encounter delays. [Washington Post]
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2. China patrols its disputed defense zone with warplanes
China said Thursday that it had sent fighter jets to patrol its newly declared air defense zone over a disputed part of the East China Sea, raising the stakes in a dispute with Japan over control of a remote island chain. China’s show of force came after Japan and South Korea defied Beijing’s new claim on the area by flying surveillance aircraft through the area. The U.S. also sent military aircraft into the area this week and condemned China for demanding to be notified before any aircraft enter the zone. [Washington Post]
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3. Black Friday kicks off holiday shopping spree
American retailers officially launched the holiday shopping season with deep discounts in Black Friday sales, hoping to lure in shoppers still hurting as the economy limps through a slow recovery. Brawls broke out at several stores. A dozen major chains, including Target, Walmart, and Toys R Us, got a jump on the competition by offering savings on Thanksgiving Day. Last year Thanksgiving sales reduced the Black Friday haul by $810 million, but it was still the biggest shopping day of the year with $11.2 billion in sales. [Associated PressNew York Daily News]
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4. Karzai vows to not sign security deal if drone strikes continue
Afghan President Hamid Karzai harshly criticized the U.S. for two alleged drone strikes that reportedly killed civilians, including a 2-year-old, in southern Afghanistan. Karzai suggested that he would not sign a long-term security agreement with Washington as long as the attacks continue. Tribal leaders last week overwhelmingly approved the pact, which would let the U.S. leave behind thousands of troops to train and support Afghan forces after NATO withdraws at the end of next year. [New York Times]
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5. Thai leader rejects new elections despite protests
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Friday ruled out holding early elections following six days of protests calling for her to step down. Yingluck called for negotiations on Thursday after surviving a no-confidence vote, but protest leaders rejected her plea. At least 1,000 demonstrators forced their way into the country’s military headquarters on Friday to call for the army to back them, then left peacefully. Yingluck has vowed not to use force to quiet the protests. [BBC News]
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6. Iran clears inspectors to visit key nuclear site
The International Atomic Energy Agency announced Thursday that Iran had invited its inspectors to visit a heavy-water production facility that is part of a site where Tehran is building a new reactor. The invitation marked the first concrete step by Iran to honor its obligations under alandmark deal with world powers to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of some of the international sanctions hobbling its economy. The reactor, if completed, would produce plutonium that could fuel a nuclear bomb. [New York Times]
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7. SpaceX aborts satellite launch
SpaceX called off the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket just before it was supposed to lift off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Thursday. The problem was a “slower than expected thrust ramp,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said. It was the second time the launch had been delayed in three days. The private aerospace company has a contract with NASA to fly supplies to the International Space Station, but this mission will put a telecommunications satellite into orbit. SpaceX will inspect the rocket and try again in a few days. [CNN]
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8. Abenomics stops deflation in Japan
Prices in Japan rose by the most in 15 years, in what government officials said Friday was a sign Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s aggressive effort to stimulate the economy and stamp out deflation was working. Prices, not including energy and fresh food, increased by 0.3 percent in October, a little better than economists expected. The Bank of Japan’s easy money policy has weakened the yen by 15 percent against the dollar, pushing up prices for imports. Next Abe wants companies to hike wages to sustain growth. [Bloomberg]
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9. Part of comet lives through a close encounter with the sun
Scientists say a part of Comet ISON might have survived a near crash with the sun. The comet passed through the solar corona on Thursday. Karl Battams, a comet scientist for the Naval Research Laboratory, says the comet appears to have re-emerged and started to brighten, although its too early to be sure about its fate. “It’s throwing off dust and (probably) gas,” Battams says, “but we don’t know how long it can sustain that.” [CNN]
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10. Unpublished Salinger stories leaked online
Three unpublished works by the late reclusive author J.D. Salinger reportedly were leaked online this week. Scans of the works were posted after an unauthorized book was sold on eBay. It includes the short stories PaulaBirthday Boy, and The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls, which is seen as a prequel to Salinger’s best known novel, Catcher in the Rye. [Reuters]

10 things you need to know today: October 29, 2013

China suspects a crash in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square was a premeditated suicide attack.

The Week

A judge blocks new Texas abortion restrictions, China suspects a crash at Tiananmen Square was a suicide attack, and more

1. Judge strikes down key Texas abortion restrictions
On Monday, a federal judge rejected two abortion limits that Texas state lawmakers had approved during a special legislative session in July. One of the rules limited doctors’ options in prescribing pregnancy-ending drugs; the other required doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion clinic. District Judge Lee Yeakel said the measures, which were to take effect Tuesday, unconstitutionally restricted women’s abortion rights. [USA Today]
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2. China suspects Tiananmen crash was a suicide attack
Chinese authorities suspect that the people who drove an SUV into a crowd of people at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square were carrying out a premeditated suicide attack, Reuters reported Tuesday. The vehicle burst into flames, killing five people, including three who were inside. At least 38 others were injured. The incident occurred ahead of a November conclave of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, which is expected to announce major economic reforms. [Reuters]
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3. Obama may ban spying on friendly heads of state
President Obama is preparing to order the National Security Agency to stop spying on leaders of U.S. allies, as the governments of Germany and Spain protest allegations of NSA eavesdropping. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Monday that the U.S. shouldn’t collect phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers. She said her committee would review all intelligence collection programs. [New York Times]
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4. University agrees to pay Sandusky accusers millions
Penn State said Monday that it would pay $59.7 million to 26 men who said they were sexually abused by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who was sentenced to 30 to 60 years last year. Sandusky admitted to taking showers with some of the boys, but denied molesting them. He has appealed his conviction from prison. University President Rodney Erickson said the settlement payments should be a “step forward in the healing process.” [Los Angeles Times]
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5. Al Shabab leaders killed in apparent drone strike
An airstrike reportedly killed two commanders of the terrorist group al Shabab in southern Somalia on Monday. Locals said the attack destroyed a vehicle the men were riding in. A Kenyan military source said government troops had raided nearby Jilib, but witnesses reported that the vehicle was hit by an armed aerial drone. Al Shabab was behind a terrorist attack that killed 67 people at an upscale Kenyan mall last month. [BBC News]
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6. Apple stock sinks despite strong iPhone sales
Apple shares dipped by 12 percent after hours on Monday after the smartphone and tablet powerhouse reported disappointing quarterly profits, despite strong iPhone sales. Apple sold 33.8 million iPhones in its third quarter. The company said it made between $55 billion and $58 billion, a bit better than Wall Street expected. Investors, however, had hoped for an even stronger showing, so many sold shares to cash in on the stock’s recent gains. [Reuters]
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7. White House extends ObamaCare penalty deadline by six weeks
The White House officially announced Monday night that it was extending by six weeks the deadline for Americans to get health insurance without incurring a penalty. People without insurance will now have until March 31 to avoid penalties. Medicare administrator Marilyn Tavenner is set to testify to Congress on Tuesday. [New York Daily NewsPolitico]
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8. Brazilian surfer may have set big-wave record
Brazilian surfer Carlos Burle on Monday may have ridden the biggest wave ever surfed. Witnesses said the massive wave off the coast of Portugal appeared to be 100 feet tall. That would beat a record Hawaii native Garrett McNamara set in January in the same spot. Burle’s feat came shortly after he rescued his friend Maya Gabriel, who nearly drowned trying to catch another monster wave. [CBS News]
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9. Town sues Sriracha maker over spicy odors
The city of Irwindale, Calif., filed a lawsuit on Monday asking a judge to shut down a Sriracha factory, because people are complaining that spicy odors are giving them headaches and burning their eyes. City officials said they just wanted Huy Fong Foods, maker of the Asian hot sauce, to come up with a plan to eliminate the problem with the fumes. The factory processes the chilis needed for the whole year’s worth of sauce in the three months between September and December. [Los Angeles Times]
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10. Red Sox take game five
The Boston Red Sox took a 3-2 lead in the World Series with a 3-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night. The Red Sox got help from star David Ortiz, who went three for four with an RBI double and is now hitting .733 in the Fall Classic. The Red Sox are now just one win away from their third baseball championship in 10 years, and the final two games scheduled will be at their home field, Fenway Park. [Boston GlobeBBC News]

China calls for ‘new world order,’ blaming Congress for risking global economy

Image: Chinese and U.S. flags

One has to wonder if the Tea Party caucus and others in both houses of Congress  have a clue about the consequences if the U.S. goes into default…

NBC News

China state media blasts US shutdown, calls for a ‘de-Americanized’ world

With days to go before the United States debt default deadline, Beijing aired its frustrations with the shutdown Sunday, saying it was time to consider a “de-Americanized” world order.

With $1.28 trillion in U.S. Treasuries, China is easily the biggest foreign holder of American debt.

China has also funneled billions of dollars into private American investments – to the tune of an estimated $54 billion in 2012 alone.

“As U.S. politicians of both political parties are still shuffling back and forth between the White House and the Capitol Hill without striking a viable deal to bring normality to the body politic they brag about, it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world,” according to a stinging op-ed article by state news agency, Xinhua.

The article, published Sunday, conveyed Beijing’s frustration with the spending and debt impasse that has paralyzed Washington for more than two weeks.

“Days when the destinies of others are in the hands of a hypocritical nation have to be terminated, and a new world order should be put in place, according to which all nations, big or small, poor or rich, can have their key interests respected and protected on an equal footing,” the piece added.

Should Congress not come to an agreement by Thursday’s deadline on a new raised debt ceiling – the upper limit set by Congress on the amount of money the Federal government may borrow – China’s potential losses stand to be devastating.

Prior to Sunday’s commentary article, Chinese officials had been more measured in their analysis of the U.S. budget impasse. Last week, Vice-Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao  noted only that “we have to see that the clock is ticking.”

To many in China, the restraint on the part of China’s ruling Communist Party over its second-largest trade partner’s government problems was perhaps based in the belief that neither party, Democrat or Republican, would allow the U.S. to not honor its financial obligations.

“If we are really rational, I cannot imagine why someone would dare to bear this kind of responsibility because any real default will have a huge impact not only on the U.S. and China, but on the global economy,” said Professor Zhao Longkai, a dean at the Guanghua School of Management at Beijing University. “It’s hard for us to imagine anyone can be that crazy to push the limit to that level.”

Zhao said the patience China had shown until recently was rooted not only in Beijing’s confidence in America’s ability to deal with the budgetary crisis, but also its own burgeoning self-confidence.

“For average Chinese people [the budget crisis] is a show there and we’ve seen it before… we also know that it’s not only the United States that we are relying on, we have a lot of other investments,” Zhao said.

The Xinhua commentary may raise eyebrows in Washington, but Beijing’s frustration underscores a key point: Despite a desire to diversify its holdings, the Chinese government continues to buy U.S. Treasury bonds out of political and economic necessity.

As long as China’s domestic growth and stability are boosted by American debt, the deep ties between the two countries will likely endure.

10 things you need to know today: August 22, 2013

Bradley Manning, who will now go by Chelsea Manning, is escorted out of a military court facility during the sentencing phase of his trial on Aug. 20.

 

The Week

New revelations dog the NSA, Bradley Manning says he wants to live as a woman, and more

1. SECRET-COURT JUDGE SLAMMED THE NSA IN A NEWLY REVEALED RULING
A secret court opinion in 2011 found that the National Security Agency unlawfully collected tens of thousands of e-mails and other internet communications between Americans. The NSA discovered and fixed the problem. In the ruling, released after a freedom of information request, Judge John D. Bates said the NSA had violated the Constitution, and that this was the third time the government had “disclosed a substantial misrepresentation regarding the scope of a major collection program.” [Washington Post]
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2. MANNING SENTENCED TO 35 YEARS
A military judge on Wednesday sentenced Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret government documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks in 2010. Manning could have received up to 90 years for his crimes, which included several violations of the Espionage Act. Manning could be eligible for release in about nine years, but plans to request a presidential pardon. In his letter to President Obama, he says he acted out of love for his country. [TIMEAssociated Press]
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3. MANNING SAYS HE WANTS TO LIVE AS A WOMAN
On the heels of yesterday’s sentencing, NBC’s Today show revealed this statement from Manning Thursday morning: “I am Chelsea Manning. I am female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.” Manning’s lawyers suggested in his trial that his identity struggle had been a factor in his decision to leak documents. [Today]
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4. FRANCE CALLS FOR USING FORCE AGAINST SYRIA OVER CHEMICAL WEAPONS
France on Thursday called for a “reaction with force” against Syria if an investigation confirmsopposition claims of a poison-gas attack that killed hundreds of people. Estimates put the death toll as high as 1,400. Germany’s foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, demanded that Syria grant United Nations inspectors access to the site. Russia and China, however, shielded the Syrian government from a harsh condemnation in a Security Council meeting. Iran blamed rebels for the attack. [CNN]
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5. CHINA’S BO XILAI CLAIMS HE WAS FRAMED
Fallen former Chinese Politburo member Bo Xilai claimed he was framed as he publicly defended himself against corruption charges for the first time on Thursday. Bo was ousted last year and accused of taking $4.4 million in bribes. His trial, China’s most high-profile political scandal in decades, has pitted his supporters in China’s Maoist old guard against capitalist-leaning reformers. A guilty verdict is expected, but Bo’s spirited defense suggests he won’t go quietly. [Reuters]
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6. EGYPT SAYS MUBARAK WILL BE MOVED TO HOUSE ARREST
Egypt’s interim government has ordered former leader Hosni Mubarak to be put under house arrest, following a court ruling that he can no longer be held in prison on corruption charges. Many in Egypt fear that Mubarak’s release will trigger more violence between security forces and Islamists demanding the return of Mubarak’s freely elected successor, Mohamed Morsi. Mubarak still faces charges of complicity in the deaths of protesters before his 2011 downfall. [NBC News]
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7. UPS DROPS 15,000 WORKERS’ SPOUSES FROM ITS HEALTH PLAN
United Parcel Service is dropping the spouses of 15,000 workers from it health insurance plan. It blamed costs associated with ObamaCare — although some experts said the move looked like a simple attempt to save money. The change applies to spouses eligible for coverage from their own employers. The package delivery company told employees in a memo that their spouses should be covered by their employers, “just as UPS has a responsibility to offer coverage to you, our employee.” [New York Times]
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8. FINAL BATCH OF NIXON TAPES RELEASED
The Nixon Library on Wednesday released the last 340 hours of former President Richard Nixon’s once-secret White House tapes. The final batch — out of 3,700 hours in all — shows the sometimes reflective, sometimes profane Nixon struggling to contain the Watergate scandal in spring 1973. It also includes the only known recording of a superpower summit, in which Nixon told his Cold War Soviet counterpart, Leonid Brezhnev, that the world’s safety hinged on their mutual trust. [Los Angeles Times]
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9. FILNER REPORTEDLY REACHES SEXUAL-HARASSMENT SETTLEMENT
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner reportedly reached a settlement with city lawyers on Wednesday over the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by his former press secretary. The city filed a cross-claim to cover damages it could face. Officials didn’t disclose details, although an aide to one local elected official shared a video clip she said showed Filner leaving City Hall carrying boxes. The City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposed resolution on Friday. [USA Today]
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10. ACTOR WENTWORTH MILLER OUTS HIMSELF IN PROTEST OF RUSSIAN LAW
Prison Break star Wentworth Miller outed himself Wednesday in a letter declining an invitation to the St. Petersburg International Film Festival in Russia. In the letter, the actor said that, “as a gay man,” he had to decline because of the country’s harsh new anti-gay rules. “I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly,” he said. [Los Angeles Times]