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  1. #8956

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Quote Originally Posted by Ti-Amie View Post
    This weeks Slate Money had a segment on Bolivia. It's part of their premium offering (Slate+) so I will try and summarize as best I can.

    Anna Szymanski's point was that the commodity boom has now slowed and/or ended in South America and that those newly admitted to the middle class, a middle class that may not be as wealthy as those found elsewhere but still middle class in relation to where they'd been, don't want to go back to where they were economically.

    She also talked about what Morales did that so incensed Bolivians (I mean he needed a margin of 10%, didn't have it, a "glitch" stopped counting and when it resumed he had the 10% margin) and then she went on to talk about why a right winger like Bolsonaro in Brazil could get elected, still using the example of a newly emergent middle class.

    To my knowledge they don't put out a transcript.
    I think that's not 100% precise. I think it has more to do with how Morales managed power during his time in power. After winning the presidency in 2006 he modified the Constitution and in it stated that there could be no more than two consecutive terms. He won his reelection and after this second term presented himself for a third with the excuse that since his first one had begun under the old Constitution, it shouldn't be counted for the two term limit. That right there is shady enough.
    Well, not content with his third term, he wanted to go for a fourth, even in violation of his own Constitution. For that he held a referendum defering to the power and wisdom of the people. He lost. Suddenly, the people were not the source of power and didn't have to be heard, so he went to the Electoral Tribunal (stacked by him) and they concluded that it was his human right to be able to present himself for another term. That was this election.

    What went wrong? He won it, but primary recounts were saying that he fell short of the 50% mark needed for a win or the 45% with a 10pt differential. Suddenly the recount was halted mysteriously for a couple of days and when it restarted he was leading by the necessary 10 point margin. That led to the protests and all that followed, all aggravated by the fact that the OAS detected cases of fraud in the election calling for a new one to be held.

    So I think it had more to do with his abuse of power and desire to perpetuate himself in power than an informed analysis about the economic future of the new middle class.
    Meet again we do, old foe...

  2. #8957

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicted on charges of bribery, fraud, breach of trust
    By Steve Hendrix and Ruth Eglash
    November 21, 2019 at 11:45 a.m. EST

    JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was formally charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust on Thursday, making him the first Israeli premier to be indicted while in office and sending Israel’s already stalemated political system into further disarray.

    Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit capped almost three years of investigation and months of speculation by handing down a 63-page indictment against the country’s longest-serving prime minister and its center of political gravity for the last decade.

    The cases against Netanyahu center on police allegations that the prime minister and his wife, Sara, accepted more than $260,000 worth of luxury goods in exchange for political favors and that Netanyahu interceded with regulators and lawmakers on behalf of two media companies in exchange for positive news stories.

    Netanyahu has steadfastly denied wrongdoing during a wide-ranging probe that he has repeatedly dismissed as a politically motivated “witch hunt.”

    In October, his legal team spent four marathon days in front of prosecutors arguing that the charges should be reduced or dismissed, and few here expect him to do anything other than ferociously fight the counts that emerged.

    Of more immediate concern is how the indictments could scramble his standing in Israel’s chaotic political standoff.

    “We are in a historical and unprecedented situation with new legal questions almost every day,” Suzie Navot, a professor of constitutional law at the Haim Striks Law School in Rishon LeZion.
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.

    ― Frank Zappa

  3. #8958

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Barak Ravid

    BREAKING: Highly unusual statement from the conference of presidents of the Jewish organisations in the U.S. on Netanyahu's indictments:
    "The announcements made today by Israel’s Attorney are obviously deeply disturbing. No one is above the law"
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.

    ― Frank Zappa

  4. #8959

    Re: World News Random, Random

    3hr ago

    Report: State prosecutor says Netanyahu can’t form government under indictment
    State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan is reportedly saying in closed meetings that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won’t be able from now on to receive the mandate to form a government due to the criminal charges against him.

    Sources within the Justice Ministry are quoted by the Globes website as saying Nitzan has said that while the law allows a premier to keep serving under an indictment and doesn’t compel him to resign, past Supreme Court rulings support the thesis that he cannot form a government when facing charges.

    Nitzan refuses to comment on the report, and his office says that “no decision has been made yet on the matter.”
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.

    ― Frank Zappa

  5. #8960

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Quote Originally Posted by suliso View Post
    Well, I can only say from what I have read and my imagination... High mountains usually provide ample opportunity for trekking and these mountains are much higher than Alps. Also how about trips deep into the rainforest? Could be a lot of fun with even minimal support. La Paz I hear is worth spending few days at and indeed the top attraction is probably that salt dunes/lake. Not saying it's the top place to be in SA, but not bad either. Would help if it was cheaper to reach for Europeans and Americans.

    A random picture of Bolivia from the internet:

    On the other hand I'm not usually chasing the most popular and famous places. We returned from South East Asia ten days ago - Laos instead of far more touristy Thailand. Was a great trip.
    Glenn Harmon, What is your opinion? I'm sure that you have probably hiked through the country at some time. I say this as someone who is a little envious, since you have hike so many different countries and mountain ranges.

    Ponchi, thanks for your insights and thoughts. I always find your travelogues (well, all your opinions) interesting and insightful as well.
    "And for my next fearless prediction..."

  6. #8961

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Ponchi and Drop know much more about Bolivia than I do, since I've never been there. I would like to go. The only serious hiking I did in South America was in Ecuador on and near Mount Cotopaxi. It was stunning, and we got caught once in a pretty heavy snowstorm...of course, not surprising when you know the elevation, but being so close to the Equator, it seems weird. I also spent 8 days on the Galapagos Islands, which involved a lot of short hikes.

    I know that logistics, especially getting supplies, would have to be difficult, but I have to imagine that hiking in Bolivia would be quite interesting and there would certainly be some stunning scenery in the right places.


  7. #8962

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Sacha is making waves today. Short clip at the link.

    Adam Best

    Sacha Baron Cohen says the Silicon Six billionaires care "more about boosting their share price than about protecting democracy," calls Zuck a modern Caesar and jokes that explains his haircut. Seriously, make sure to watch this entire speech. The whole thing is (fire emoji)
    Last edited by JazzNU; Today at 09:21 AM.

  8. #8963

    Re: World News Random, Random

    If you want to see the entire speech he made after watching the above clip, here it is. This has always been Sacha.

  9. #8964

    Re: World News Random, Random

    I watched the clip. That's a lot to think about. Thanks Jazz.
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.

    ― Frank Zappa

  10. #8965

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Adam Klasfeld

    INBOX: In an email briefing to readers, Ha’aretz, Israel’s paper of record, scorches Netanyahu’s “seditious call to arms” in describing his corruption indictment as a “coup.”

    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.

    ― Frank Zappa

  11. #8966

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Defecting Chinese spy offers information trove to Australian government
    By Nick McKenzie, Paul Sakkal and Grace Tobin
    November 23, 2019 — 5.00am

    Chinese spy has risked his life to defect to Australia and is now offering a trove of unprecedented inside intelligence on how China conducts its interference operations abroad.

    Wang “William” Liqiang is the first Chinese operative to ever blow his cover. He has revealed the identities of China’s senior military intelligence officers in Hong Kong, as well as providing details of how they fund and conduct political interference operations in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia.

    Mr Wang has taken his material to Australia's counter-espionage agency, ASIO, and is seeking political asylum – potentially opening another front in Australia’s challenging bilateral relationship with China.

    A sworn statement Mr Wang provided ASIO in October states: “I have personally been involved and participated in a series of espionage activities”. He faces certain detention and possible execution if he returns to China.

    Mr Wang is currently at an undisclosed location in Sydney on a tourist visa and seeking urgent protection from the Australian government – a plea he says he has passed on in multiple meetings with ASIO.

    In interviews with The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes, he has revealed in granular detail how Beijing covertly controls listed companies to fund intelligence operations, including the surveillance and profiling of dissidents and the co-opting of media organisations.

    He has given previously unheard details about the kidnapping of five booksellers from Hong Kong and their rendition to the Chinese mainland. His testimony shows how Beijing’s spies are infiltrating Hong Kong’s democracy movement, manipulating Taiwan’s elections and operating with impunity in Australia.

    ASIO has repeatedly warned that the current threat of foreign interference is “unprecedented” and that the number of foreign intelligence officers currently operating in Australia is higher than it was during the Cold War. ASIO has never publicly named China as a primary source of its concerns, as the government grapples with how to balance public awareness with the risk of diplomatic and economic retaliation.

    However, on Friday, former ASIO boss Duncan Lewis said the Chinese government was seeking to "take over" Australia's political system through its "insidious" foreign interference operations.

    Among his key revelations, Mr Wang said he had met the head of a deep-cover spy ring operating with impunity in Australia.

    Mr Wang said he was part of an intelligence operation hidden within a Hong Kong-listed company, China Innovation Investment Limited (CIIL), which infiltrated Hong Kong’s universities and media with pro-Chinese Communist Party operatives who could be activated to counter the democracy movement. He says he had personal involvement in an October 2015 operation to kidnap and abduct to the Chinese mainland a Hong Kong bookseller, Lee Bo, and played a role in a clandestine organisation that also directed bashings or cyber attacks on Hong Kong dissidents.

    His handlers in China issued him a fake South Korean passport to gain entry to Taiwan and help China’s efforts to systematically infiltrate its political system, including directing a “cyber army” and Taiwanese operatives to meddle in the 2018 municipal elections. Plans are underway to influence the 2020 presidential election - plans that partly motivated him to defect to Australia.

    Mr Wang said the Chinese Communist Party under Xi Jinping “infiltrates all countries in areas such as military, business and culture, in order to achieve its goal.”

    “You shouldn’t underestimate our organisation ... We were cultivated and trained by the organisation for many years before taking up important positions”. The Chinese Communist Party “wants to ensure no one threatens its authority”.

    Hong Kong’s Mr Big

    Mr Wang claimed his cover in Hong Kong was as a businessman working for CIIL, which he described as a front company used by various Chinese intelligence agencies and Communist Party officials. His boss, Xiang Xin, was a senior intelligence operative, he said.

    Mr Wang’s main task was coordinating the relationships between his organisation and other intelligence agencies and “collecting information related to pro-independence” activists. He took instructions from Chinese military intelligence officials.

    A key area of operations, he said, were Hong Kong universities. Mr Wang claimed his organisation had “infiltrated into all universities, including student associations and other student groups and bodies.” He had responsibility for recruiting mainland students using scholarships, travel grants, alumni associations and an education foundation.

    “I influenced them with patriotism, guiding them to love the country, love the Party and our leaders, and fight back strongly against those independence and democracy activists in Hong Kong.”

    His organisation directed cyber and physical attacks on independence movement leaders.

    “We sent some students to join the student association and they pretended to support Hong Kong independence,” Mr Wang said. “They found out information about those pro-independence activists … and made public all their personal data, their parents’ and family members’.”

    He said he personally helped to organise the infamous kidnapping to the mainland of Causeway Bay Bookshop owner Lee Bo. Mr Wang says one of the aims of his intelligence work and the targeting of dissidents was to spread fear: “to make all troublemakers in Hong Kong terrified.”

    A spokesman for CIIL said Mr Xiang did not want to answer questions from The Age, the Herald and 60 Minutes over the phone, because he had never spoken to the journalists who were calling, and when questions were emailed to Mr Xiang, the spokesman said Mr Xiang would not answer because he could not verify that the email was not sent covertly by the Australian government in order to obtain intelligence.

    Infiltrating the media

    Mr Wang claimed his organisation had infiltrated Hong Kong media outlets, financing some and planting operatives in others. A senior manager at a major Asian television network “is a current military cadre with a Division Commander rank,” said Wang.

    “He was the one responsible for organising the agents to kidnap and persecute Hong Kong democracy activists,” he said.

    In Taiwan, Mr Wang said his intelligence operation was in contact with media executives in order to influence Taiwan’s political system as part of a systemic election meddling campaign being waged by Beijing to topple candidates (including President Tsai Ing-Wen) considered hostile. He said his operation had backed presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu.

    Mr Wang said he was responsible for coordinating a “cyber army” to shift political opinion, similar to Russia’s cyber interference operations in the US elections.

    “Our work on Taiwan was the most important work of ours – the infiltration into media, temples and grassroots organisations,” said Wang.

    Mr Wang said his operation successfully meddled in the “nine-in-one” elections in Taiwan in 2018, leading to victories for pro-Beijing candidates. In May, he was given a fake South Korean passport and ordered to commence an operation on the ground in Taipei to influence the 2020 presidential elections with the aim of bringing down President Tsai Ing-wen.

    “I was requested to change my name and whole identity to go to Taiwan and be a spy there,” he says.

    Mr Wang said he had also met a high ranking intelligence operative he believed was conducting spy operations in Australia via a front company in the energy sector.

    “He told me at the time he is based in Canberra. I know his position is very important.”

    Mr Wang said that his organisation had dealings with several significant Australian political donors, including a one-time staffer in a federal MP's office. Mr Wang provided bank account transactions to back his claims.

    More on Chinese operations in Australia in The Sunday Age, The Sun-Herald, 60 Minutes and The Age and the Herald on Monday.
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.

    ― Frank Zappa

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