Thursday, December 8, 2016

Why conservatives might be more likely to fall for fake news

By Christopher Ingraham
December 7 2016

This week, a North Carolina man took an AR-15 rifle into DC's Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant to "self-investigate" a fake internet conspiracy theory involving Hillary Clinton, John Podesta and a child sex ring.

It's the latest example of the impact that "fake news" -- untrue or wildly misleading stories masquerading as fact, usually to appeal to a particular worldview -- is having on the real world.

Numerous reports have highlighted how fake news creators began targeting conservative readers after finding them receptive to stories that reinforced their existing worldview. As one fake news creator told NPR, "We've tried to do [fake news with] liberals. It just has never worked, it never takes off. You'll get debunked within the first two comments and then the whole thing just kind of fizzles out."

A Buzzfeed analysis found that three main conservative Facebook pages were roughly twice as likely as three leading liberal Facebook pages to publish fake or misleading information.

China should heed the lessons of Pearl Harbour


DECEMBER 8, 2016

The anniversary of Pearl Harbour is commemorated on Dec 8 in Japan — the time locally when, thousands of miles away, its ships and warplanes sank much of the United States Pacific Fleet and launched war against America.

For 75 years now, many Japanese have reflected on that moment with great remorse, appalled by the hubris and miscalculation that led to the attack. Later this month, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will travel to Pearl Harbour to commemorate the tragedy. Sadly, though, the leaders and citizens of another Asian power appear to have forgotten those lessons.

For all the differences between Imperial Japan in the 1930s and Communist China today, I cannot help but see parallels between the two. Like Japan then, China is a rising Asian nation whose thinking is informed by patriotism, suspicion of outsiders and the remnants of an inferiority complex toward the West. Its military seems not entirely constrained by civilian control. And just as Japan did in the 1930s, China is defying international opinion and challenging the maritime status quo in the western Pacific, where the US defends vital sea lines of communication for all nations.

Pizzagate: From rumor, to hashtag, to gunfire in D.C.

By Marc Fisher, John Woodrow Cox and Peter Hermann

December 6 2016

What was finally real was Edgar Welch, driving from North Carolina to Washington to rescue sexually abused children he believed were hidden in mysterious tunnels beneath a neighborhood pizza joint.

What was real was Welch — a father, former firefighter and sometime movie actor who was drawn to dark mysteries he found on the Internet — terrifying customers and workers with his ­assault-style rifle as he searched Comet Ping Pong, police said. He found no hidden children, no secret chambers, no evidence of a child sex ring run by the failed Democratic candidate for president of the United States, or by her campaign chief, or by the owner of the pizza place.

What was false were the rumors he had read, stories that crisscrossed the globe about a charming little pizza place that features ping-pong tables in its back room.

The story of Pizzagate is about what is fake and what is real. It’s a tale of a scandal that never was, and of a fear that has spread through channels that did not even exist until recently.

Pizzagate — the belief that code words and satanic symbols point to a sordid underground along an ordinary retail strip in the nation’s capital — is possible only because science has produced the most powerful tools ever invented to find and disseminate information.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Donald Trump’s Peace Through Strength Vision for the Asia-Pacific

[Was the faux pas of speaking directly to Taiwan's President intentional and strategic? Note: this is partial to Trump.]

How the Republican nominee will rewrite America’s relationship with Asia.

NOVEMBER 7, 2016f

In 2011, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced with great fanfare in Foreign Policy that the United States would begin a military “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific. This beating of the American chest was done against the backdrop of China’s increasing assertiveness in the region and the sense among many longtime American allies that the United States had lost sight of Asia’s strategic importance during 10 years of Middle Eastern wars.

President Barack Obama’s administration was right to signal reassurance to our Asian allies and partners. However, this pivot (and later “rebalance”) failed to capture the reality that the United States, particularly in the military sphere, had remained deeply committed to the region. This pivot has also turned out to be an imprudent case of talking loudly but carrying a small stick, one that has led to more, not less, aggression and instability in the region.

Initially, Clinton’s pivot and the Obama administration’s stated interest in countering China’s rising clout were met with general bipartisan agreement in Congress. Inside the Beltway, the analyst community also appeared to share a similar consensus that the global financial crisis had emboldened China. As one of Washington’s leading experts on Chinese foreign and security policy, Bonnie Glaser, told one of the authors in an on-camera interview: “The Chinese saw the United States as weakened by the financial crisis; and it created opportunities for China to test the United States and to try and promote its interests in its periphery in the hopes that the United States would not respond forcefully.”

Thursday, December 1, 2016

China’s leaders emerge from the fog of pollution denial


DECEMBER 1, 2016

In mid-2012, Mr Donald Trump fired off this tweet: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US (United States) manufacturing non-competitive.”

Apart from its sheer absurdity, one of the most striking things about Mr Trump’s assertion is how similar it sounds to the paranoid ravings of Chinese nationalists, who blame almost everything on the CIA and evil, imperialist America.

With admirable patience, Chinese officials have pointed out in recent weeks that global discussions on climate change were started by the Reagan administration in the 1980s — at a time when China did not even acknowledge the existence of pollution within its borders.

Thanks to the election of Mr Trump, who remains unconvinced by the overwhelming scientific evidence for anthropogenic climate change, China is now poised to become the world’s leader in tackling global warming and the environment. Nobody is as surprised by this new responsibility as China itself.

Less than a decade ago, the Chinese government still refused to admit that the acrid clouds of choking smog hanging over most of the country had anything to do with industrial development.

Fed on a diet of government denials and propaganda, ordinary citizens in Beijing would insist the sulphurous haze enveloping the capital was in fact harmless “fog”, despite the fact the city is built on a desert.

The big shift in China’s policy and public perceptions was prompted, ironically, by the actions of the US government.

The election really was rigged

Dana Milbank 
Opinion writer
November 29

A voting scandal of epic proportion tilted this election. The scam involved millions of people.

No, I’m not talking about the recount the Clinton campaign joined in Wisconsin and may seek in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Hillary Clinton and her aides were correct before, when they said voting fraud is rare. The recounts won’t change the election’s outcome. And after rightly criticizing Donald Trump for saying he might not honor the election results, Clinton and her aides, who admit they have no evidence of skullduggery, risk looking hypocritical.

Neither am I talking about Trump’s outlandish and baseless claim that millions of non-citizens and dead people voted illegally. That’s as absurd as his preelection claims that the voting system was “rigged.”

Both distract from the real scandal, which is happening in plain sight. Millions of would-be voters didn’t participate because of obstacles designed to discourage them. The hurdles were, thanks to a 2013 Supreme Court ruling invalidating key parts of the Voting Rights Act, largely legal. And they arguably suppressed enough minority voters to cost Clinton the election.

Fourteen states had new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election, and 20 have had such restrictions put in place since 2010, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a group that opposes such laws. These include strict photo-ID requirements, cutbacks in early voting and new restrictions on registration. Other states are resisting efforts that would make voting easier with same-day, online and motor-voter registration.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Water War in Asia?


NOV 27, 2016 7

ERLIN – Tensions over water are rising in Asia – and not only because of conflicting maritime claims. While territorial disputes, such as in the South China Sea, attract the most attention – after all, they threaten the safety of sea lanes and freedom of navigation, which affects outside powers as well – the strategic ramifications of competition over transnationally shared freshwater resources are just as ominous.

Asia has less fresh water per capita than any other continent, and it is already facing a water crisis that, according to an MIT study, will continue to intensify, with severe water shortages expected by 2050. At a time of widespread geopolitical discord, competition over freshwater resources could emerge as a serious threat to long-term peace and stability in Asia.

Already, the battle is underway, with China as the main aggressor. Indeed, China’s territorial grab in the South China Sea has been accompanied by a quieter grab of resources in transnational river basins. Reengineering cross-border riparian flows is integral to China’s strategy to assert greater control and influence over Asia.