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Posts Tagged ‘China’

Here we go again. Last night our administration did a 180 on Syria, the whole America First thing was a sham, a synonym for Wall Street First. As a famous general pointed out this morning, we are now fighting a “proxy war,” It’s happened before – a tactical missile strike – in 1986 when Reagan bombed Libya, and last night. It’s a classic “Let’s you and him fight” scenario. We are backing the royal family of Saudia Arabia in the region, as usual, and Russia and Iran are backing Syria’s Assad regime.

And this morning all the pundits are talking. On Twitter, a Brian Williams hashtag took off because it appeared as if the network couldn’t trust Rachel Maddow to report Breaking News. In this house, I was watching Huck try to escape a sinking car on Scandal. We had been under a tornado watch, so trees were still creaking and the wind was moaning. I’d been furiously cleaning and occasionally “cooking” for Passover, which begins Monday night.

Jews everywhere will be preparing a Seder and reenacting the Exodus at their dinner tables. I am a novice Seder-maker, a maker-of-haroses for many years, but never the principle player. There will be half the number of people at my Southern table, and I won’t be making certain fried delectables in chicken fat that nobody eats. Lucky for me Ada and Hudson will be here early, so I will be tutored in the art of making perfect matzoh balls for the chicken soup!

Just as we will detail all the plagues that finally convinced a Pharaoh to let our people go, to leave slavery behind and wander in the desert, let’s examine what led up to our tactical tomahawk missile strike last night.

There was a chemical attack on innocent people, and we saw the pictures in living color. Civilians have been dying and fleeing Syria for years now, but the immediacy of watching “beautiful babies” suffer must have been Mr T’s red line. And he is a knee-jerk reactor as we know from his Twittersphere.

This last week we discovered more connections linking Trump with Russia:

  1. Eric Prince (founder of Blackwater and brother of Betsy DeVos) met a Russian official in the Seychelles with a crown prince of the UAE;
  2. Jared Kushner met a Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov, in NY, and hey, he’s willing to talk about it;
  3. Carter Page (ex-policy advisor on energy to T’s campaign) met a Russian spy, Victor Podobnyy, in NY.  http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/05/politics/trump-associates-russians-meetings/

But let’s not forget that St Petersburg was recently the target of terrorism…and that Secretary of State Tillerson is cozy with Putin…and that we called Russia to let them know we were going to strike that air base. Is that something you would do to your enemy? I can’t help but think that behind the scenes, even though Putin must publicly decry our actions, something else is going on in this proxy war. I wonder if Mr T asked his “friend,” China’s Xi, down at the Florida palace what he would do now? #WWXD?

What we know is that instead of talking about trade with China, this airstrike has taken precedence. “One of the most urgent issues for the US is North Korea, which is trying to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the west coast of the US with a nuclear device. It fired a medium-range missile into the Sea of Japan on Wednesday, the latest in a series of launches.” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39517569

I wonder what North Korea is thinking this morning. That is truly our existential crisis. I’m living in a whirlwind of Seder preparation and packing, sometimes it feels like I’m sinking inside that car Huck was trapped in, bleeding and hallucinating. I wanted to wake up this morning and think it was all just a nightmare…what US president would bomb a country without notice against international law? Like Asia and Kim Jong-un, we are dealing with an unpredictable leader who travels from the Hill to the links at his Mar a Lago resort, treating his presidency like a lark.

I can only hope for our sake that Tillerson and Putin are fighting a fair proxy war, and that chemical weapons will never see the light of day again. Ask yourself four questions, Mah Nishtanah – 1) How was last night different from 1986?  2) Why did we only warn Russia of the attack? 3) Why is a chemical attack worse than a bomb? 4) Is this just another ploy to distract us from the Russian Connection?

And will somebody tell the South that a Passover section in the grocery store should NOT contain anything with flour! I’m going to try and make kugel muffins, with matzoh meal or potatoes. Wish me luck!  wide-spinach-kugel-cupcakesjpg

 

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What’s a girl to do? It seems the UN has spoken and Wonder Woman will not be the  “…honorary ambassador to promote messages about women’s empowerment and gender-based violence.” The campaign to sack the first female super hero in herstory was successful; a sexualized, Barbie-doll image combined with a sado-masochiostic costume were the deciding factors. Her detractors insisted the image she projected was “not culturally encompassing or sensitive!” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38300727

Well I don’t know about you, but I sure wish Hillary had that lasso of truth to wrangle some sense out of Mr T, particularly while he was stalking her during their debates. And let’s not forget Mr Comey and the FBI’s eleventh hour letter about her emails. What in the world was he thinking? Given the latest CIA intel about Russia’s interference by hacking our election and swinging more votes toward Mr T, I’m really really wishing Wonder Woman could swoop down and have a word with our Electoral College. Wishful thinking.

Still, if you’re out and about wishing and hoping to find the latest toy trend, shopping for Christmas, Hannukah and what-not, and you happen upon that Amazonian Princess from Themyscira, chances are she was made in China. Last night I stayed up until midnight watching a fascinating documentary on PBS, “Having Xmas Without China” http://www.pbs.org/program/xmas-without-china/

Imagine you have two small kids and this young Chinese American guy asks you to empty your house of everything that was made in China – the coffee maker, the Xbox, the computer, the toys – and for the whole month of December, until Christmas Day, you can’t buy anything that was made in China! I was hooked from the very beginning, and you will be too. It asks us to re-examine the true meaning of the holiday and Tom Xia, the film maker, shares his coming-of-age journey between two worlds in an intimate and tender way. http://www.pbs.org/program/xmas-without-china/

I tried doing this once. I was looking for a hostess gift for my brother Mike and his wife Jorja as we’d been invited to stay at Walter Place during their daughter’s wedding week. It had to be something beautiful, and classic to fit into their Antebellum home and I noticed a gorgeous silver picture frame. Perfect for a wedding picture! It was a Kate Spade, something that says this designer’s name on the box also presumes it is coming from NY. In fact it says, “Kate Spade of New York” on the box. But when I looked deeper into the packaging as I was wrapping it, it was designed in NY and made in China! I had been hoodwinked!!

What a great old word “hoodwink” – some synonyms are “dupe, cheat, swindle, gyp.” Kind of like this last election don’t you think? The one that saw Hillary win almost 3 Million popular votes!

I told Bob this year I want a Christmas Tree. We’ve never had one since we were raising Jewish children, even though I kept Santa Claus in the loop. But this year in particular, we all need a little Christmas, and Hannukah starts on Christmas Eve. The tree is simply an old pagan ritual, it shouldn’t be blue or white and try to resemble a Jewish idea of a tree. It doesn’t even have to be a real evergreen tree, dropping pine needles everywhere. It can be small and only needs to sparkle, and lift our spirits just a bit. We are currently in negotiation.

Is Super Girl the new Wonder Woman? Where have you gone Lynda Carter? Well I happen to know she lives in Nashville, the Bride may have run into her once or twice, at a coffee shop, and she is still fighting for social justice. This is what she told Joan Rivers on the Tonight Show in 1987:

I think that you’re probably familiar with a problem in Hollywood, and that is that they market you, and they use you. They did a mask of my face and put it on the doll, and they put my name on for the first run of it. And then they took my name off and said they didn’t have to pay me anymore. So it’s the kind of thing that you can be used so much in this industry. I make nothing. I don’t even make anything from the reruns. Don’t ever settle for net profits. It’s called creative accounting.

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How else can one explain what is happening in China over the last few years? Mr T Tweets at 3am, and now he’s calling the Taiwanese Prez, which is like snubbing your nose at your big (or little depending on your POV) brother or sister. Only this sibling doesn’t sleep, and could suffocate you with his or her pillow all while continuing to pollute our environment.

Remember back in February when I recommended a compelling non-fiction book about China? “Age of Ambition – Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the new China” by Evan Osnos. https://mountainmornings.net/2016/02/27/mj-fever/

If you’re not one for the long read, how about a couple of articles in this month’s Atlantic, “China’s Great Leap Backward?” Kisssinger explains China 101 and tells us how to avoid a trade war, among other things. And James Fallows tells us that freedom is even harder to find in the new China; “It has become repressive in a way that it has not been since the Cultural Revolution.”

We Americans have been asleep. We don’t want to wake to the nightmare of last month’s election, and why should we? We would rather come home from work, open a craft beer, and watch Netflix. Only the latest sci-fi series I told you about, Black Mirror, is actually coming true in China! https://mountainmornings.net/2016/10/25/feeling-twitchy/

If you need a respite from politics, and all the mud-slinging of this election, I have a Netflix show to recommend from England. “Black Mirror” (a trope to our attachment to the smart screen) is about how technology is changing the course of human history in a very scary, sinister and smart way. I’ve only seen the first few episodes of Season 1, created by Charlie Brooker, but if you are wondering where our dystopian obsession with devices is going, tune into the future.

So that’s what I said in October…and now China is creating a nightmare for its citizens with their tacit consent.

It is collecting “Social Credit Scores,” in other words, the dragon has a highly developed Big Brother with a big pillow under his head. All electronic purchasing data, social media networks, and algorithmic sorting devices are being collected to give each citizen a score between 350 and 950. This system not only monitors whether or not you could pay for your apartment. but how compliant you are politically, and what kind of spouse you might make! If you hit a score of 700+ you are allowed to travel to Singapore…

Black Mirror is no longer science fiction, it is becoming fact. The Regime can now keep a tally of any message with a mention of Tienanmen Square for example, which would not only lower your score, but those of your friends and family! All of the scores are available to everybody in China online, and strangely enough like salmon swimming furiously upstream, citizens have embraced this system.

And just like the American 12 year old I overheard bragging about how many Instagram followers she had, I am finding this brave new world frightening. After all, we have Google and Amazon and Facebook et al collecting our data, but our government isn’t quite yet in cahoots with them, is it? http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-34592186

It’s enough to make me want to crawl right back under the covers and hibernate the winter away. But first a prayer for what it’s worth, please God, let Mr T pick Romney over Giuliani for Secretary of State. We don’t need any more bulls roaming free in a China shop. Let me know when it’s time to wake up and get off the grid. From an exhibition in LA at the Broad Museum – this is Jenny Holzer 1979 – it’s strangely prescient

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Spring brings daffodils, now my lilacs are beginning to bud. And along with showers, we can anticipate windy conditions. What we didn’t expect was downed power lines for Great Grandpa Hudson’s 90th birthday party. The restaurant luckily had a back-up generator for lights and stoves, while the crush of 80 people supplied the body heat we needed as temperatures outside dropped.

The wind followed us south; power lines were down on one side of Cville. Bob had to batten down the hatches of his hot tub and lock the screen porch door. I retrieved some deck furniture from the woods. We sit facing the Blue Ridge, so the the western wind can be relentless. This morning, not only can I hear the wind roaring like a train in a valley, freezing temperatures have returned.

The wind is a precursor to change. It sweeps everything clean in its path. It whips dirt into our eyes, and makes us catch our breath. We lean into it in order to stay standing, our sense of balance is in jeopardy. And since the release of leaked Panama Papers, a treasure trove of information about secret hiding places for the money of the world’s most elite, many king-pins may actually tumble and fall.

The Panama Papers comprise the biggest leak in history, involving 11.5 million documents from Panama-based Mossack Fonseca, the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm. The documents implicate a dozen current or former heads of state, as well as scores of other politicians, celebrities and businesspeople, in owning offshore accounts that could help them conceal their wealth or avoid taxes.      http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-china-panama-papers-censorship-20160405-story.html

At first I thought, who cares? We all know how the uber-rich avoid taxes with high-priced lawyers and accounts in Grand Cayman. But the reaction of China is telling. Their department of propaganda, oops excuse me “information,” immediately released a bulletin telling all new media to stand down. Do not report on the Panama Papers, or else. “Find and delete reprinted reports on the Panama Papers,” according to a circular leaked on Tuesday by the California-based news website China Digital Times. “Do not follow up on related content, no exceptions. If material from foreign media attacking China is found on any website, it will be dealt with severely.”

So the supreme leader of China has been implicated in hoarding wealth, along with his brother. Only China, teetering on the brink of democracy, could so succinctly censor information. Right?

Then I heard about the DC Madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey operated Pamela Martin and Associates, an escort agency in Washington, DC, remember her, she supposedly killed herself a few years ago. But her lawyer, Montgomery Blair Sibley, is now threatening to open his Pandora’s Box of names and phone numbers, implicating so he says, some of our presidential candidates in a scandal. He actually started a self-funding site since he’s been disbarred after his days in the spotlight.

The Madam’s records had been sealed by our courts, but Sibley thinks we’d like to see them…which raises the question – exactly what is censorship? Oh the humanity! http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/04/04/_d_c_madam_lawyer_goes_to_supreme_court_to_release_escort_phone_records.html

Sibley must go through the courts to have the gag order surrounding the D.C. madam’s phone records lifted if he wants to release the information legally. Palfrey herself is deceased, and therefore cannot weigh in on the controversy. Just two weeks after being convicted on a plethora of charges related to her escort service, the D.C. madam was found dead in her mother’s shed, hanging with a rope around her neck. The cause of death was officially ruled a suicide, but there was speculation by many, including North Star Report, that the D.C. madam was killed because she knew too much about too many high-ranking clients.

Sounds like an episode of House of Cards! I could care less who was in the Madam’s little black book. But I suspect if the names are released, the American public will care quite a bit. The mighty wind that tossed a world-famous blond comb-over into the GOP, may sweep out the pompous, holier-than-thou candidates.

Let’s hear it for those investigative reporters who keep plugging, who hang on tight in a storm. They brought the Catholic Church to its knees in Boston, they delivered a world-wide laundry scheme to us via a Panama law firm, and now who knows? They just may save our republic. Here is Ms Bean, hiding from the sun, before the winds came.

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Over my morning cup of Keurig, I was trying to download an App. Redlaser “Shop Save Relax” is one of those barcode scanners for your smart phone, except instead of telling you how many calories or Weight Watcher points are in a serving of yogurt, this App will scan just about anything you want to buy and instantly compare prices!

Remember the days when you’d actually lift up a heavy/attached/to/the/wall phone and call a store to check if they had something in stock? Then you might timidly ask what the price is, only to be told they can’t tell you “over the phone” you’d have to get in your car and come on down to said store and find out?! Now you can see exactly who has the best price for whatever you scan, instore or online, and if that store happens to price-match, just call the manager over and voila. Instant discount.

My iPhone is now telling me that I succeeded in downloading Redlaser! It took awhile because everybody else watching Savannah Guthrie get schooled in Apps wanted this free marvel too. Why are these things free anyway? Somebody must be getting something out of this don’t you think – like my location, my likes and dislikes, my soul? But back to Thanksgiving week.

Pepe de Havana

Pepe de Havana

At one point I looked around and realized the younger generation was sharing their favorite Apps with us, and we were mixing it up too.

The Rocker and Ms Cait had us all playing Head’s Up! It’s kind of like Charades and Password; Ellen DeGeneres has been marketing it recently and she must be getting a cut because you have to pay for this one. It was pretty hysterical. Then I told Al about Hipstamatic, and before you knew it, we were all deeply downloading together!

In our younger days on Holden Beach we played the Mud Bowl, a touch football game that was usually played after a downpour for its comic relief. We played Pictionary and Trivial Pursuits. Sometimes, we’d all bring a favorite song to play and collectively try to guess who had picked it out; my Joni Mitchell songs were dead giveaways. I miss the music. We didn’t have any guitars on this trip so Sweet Judy Blue Eyes took a back seat to honky-tonks on Duval Street. But I’d sing my heart out to the Love Bug, IMG_2260and the Groom’s iPhone played Spotify for us.

The big tech news is that iPhones will be coming to China. http://www.knowyourmobile.com/apple/china-mobile/21528/apple-joins-worlds-biggest-network  It’s almost like Nixon! Billions of new App users. Last night via Netflix I watched the end of the first season of House of Cards on my Apple TV. I am seriously hooked on this political drama. A character was speaking Chinese into his smart phone in the middle of the night. Apparently, as much as the Pope would like us to shun capitalism, we want our color TVs Application Software.

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