Wednesday, 10 August 2022

"Hunter Biden Breathes Sigh Of Relief As FBI Raid Team Passes By His House On Way to Mar-A-Lago"

WEST PALM BEACH, FL — High-level Chinese asset and sex trafficker Hunter Biden breathed a sigh of relief this evening as an FBI raid team passed by his West Palm Beach vacation home to raid Donald Trump's residence in Mar-a-Lago.

"Whew! Thought they had me for a minute there," Biden sighed, according to sources before going back to smoking crack with a hooker on a pile of cash freshly delivered by Chinese agents. "Glad to know the FBI is still working for my Dad!"

The FBI arrived at Mar-a-Lago shortly after, but things got awkward after the FBI raid team ran into the FBI evidence planting team due to a scheduling mistake.(
With thanks)

More seriously:
RE the “Mishandling of the Classified Information” charge, I say this, as an ex government servant cleared to Top Secret level: officials and politicians take classified information home all the time. Standard practice. The Handling of Government Information Act the FBI are counting on is rarely enforced. The fine for “mishandling” is $3,000. That’s a misdemeanour, like jaywalking. 
The New York Times confirms: If found guilty under the Act, Trump would NOT be barred from contesting 2024 Election. It’s a Constitutional issue.
ADDED: Just saw Alexander Vindman on CNN. Previously on Trump’s NSC team he testified against Trump in the Ukraine impeachment attempt. During that he said “Trump did not follow US foreign policy”, forgetting or not knowing that Foreign policy is made by the president. He’s now scared Republicans will try to punish him if they get back the House. Thus CNN manages to make Dems like Vimdman the victims after they unleashed the FBI on Trump. They’re the victims. Quite some chutzpah.

Lab Leak Theory Redux

I’ve followed this issue -- what was the origin of the SARS CoV2 virus -- since the beginning of the pandemic. When we were told by a letter in Lancet that it was a conspiracy theory, which I accepted at the time. Then it turned out that the letter was authored by one Peter Daszak who was deeply implicated in funnelling gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which conflict of interest was not disclosed at the time. The Lancet later withdrew the paper. 

I’ve read books on the subject and heaps of articles, on both sides. The two sides being: 

(1) Zoonotic origin Hypothesis: transfer of the virus from an animal at the Huashan Wet market in Wuhan to humans.

(2) Lab Leak Hypothesis: From a leak of an experimental virus from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Here’s my sum of the evidence on both sides, all the evidence being circumstantial, as there is no hard evidence. 

Zoonotic origin Hypothesis: Zero evidence

 Lab Leak Hypothesis:         Heaps of evidence.

On the Zoonotic side: there has not been a single animal found with the virus or anything like it, despite years of searching and testing of over 80,000 animals. In the case of SARS of 2002, a transfer animal was found within weeks. 

On the Lab Leak side: Experts who saw the structure of the virus early on (early 2020), thought it looked like it had been engineered. They include the top expert in the field, Kristian Andersen. He and the others were quickly contacted by the indomitable Dr Fauci and recanted (without telling anyone until recently). We know from emails that surfaced earlier this year that there were factors relating to their funding at stake: shortly after they recanted, they were allocated millions of dollars in grants. 

We know that gain-of-function research was being carried out at WIV. We know that part of the funding came from the NIH, run by Dr Fauci, via Peter Daszak. We know that the gain-of-function research was into the very area that became our Covid coronavirus. 

And more, and more....  For nerds, the best book on this is Viral, by Alina Chan and Matt Ridley. And the video above is an excellent summary. Megyn Kelly does her research, and Josh Rogin is well read on the subject. Significant that he works for the Washington Post, which is of the Left, and was an early denouncer of the “conspiracy theory” of the Lab leak hypothesis. 

Why this matters is we need to know the origin, so we don’t make the same mistake. As Rogiin says, if we have a plane crash, we spare no effort to find out the cause, so we don’t do it again. So for Covid. We must find out where it came from. Shame on the US and the West that we have not pressured China. Australia tried to press the issue and got hammered economically by China for its efforts. 

Robin is also good on China. He rather pooh-poohs the idea of sticking to the status quo, while I think it’s a pretty good place to be (in the case of Taiwan). 

ADDED: I forgot: what prompted this is the publication of the peer-reviewed version of an article back in February in the New York Times, claiming that they had “dispositive evidence” that the epicentre was the Huashan market. In the peer-reviewed version, that certainty -- “dispositive”! --  is dialled right back to “insufficient evidence”.... Yet the non-peer reviewed report will prevail because it was front-paged and the peer-reviewed was buried on inside pages. Great. 

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Equator at Kenya, 26 September 2011

 

Row, row, row your boat … towards the new normal

逆水行舟,不進則退
(mine, dashed off, and with errors, like not crossing a “T”)
The Chinese have a saying (don’t they always?): 

Loosely translated: “when rowing a boat upstream, if you stop moving forward you fall back”. 逆水行舟,不進則退nì shuǐ xíng zhōu , bù jìn zé tuì.

I’ve always rather liked it. But consider: there's a third alternative. You can row just fast enough to stay in the same place. Like Michael Phelps’ swim spa. And that’s the status quo

The status quo is often very good place to be. It’s been the case for Taiwan my whole life: all three parties agreeing to disagree in a policy of “strategic ambiguity”. [It’s also the best for the Israel/Palestine issue...]

And now Pelosi has stumbled in and rocked the boat, changed the status quo, thrown an oar out the boat, disturbed the rowers, and our little boat of status quo is falling back downstream.

China is now encircling Taiwan at will. It has exclusion zones surrounding it, and is freely sailing its warships right up to the coast. That’s a new normal. And it’s not good for Taiwan. 

Three articles today and one from yesterday in the Post are some decent coverage. There’s a view from China, by Xie Maosong. For it matters not one tittle and not one jot what I think about this. Or what Tim Plate thinks, or what other expats think, or what the Hong Kong people think, or even what the Taiwan people think (which happens to be over 80% against “reunification”). What matters is what China thinks. 

Tom Plate makes an interesting point which I should’ve known but didn’t. That Pelosi’s San Francisco electorate is heavily Taiwanese. I’ll take Tom’s word for that. But Pelosi is 82 for goodness sake! What’s she doing being driven by electoral politics?  [ADDED: my mate at the coffee shop, an SF resident, Chinese-American, says that used to be the case, but now the Chinese community there (~16% of the SF population) is more 50/50 mainland and Taiwanese]. The articles:

Monday, 8 August 2022

Agrigento, Sicily, 27 May 2018

Cliff Notes (on leaving Hong Kong)

I knew I knew Cliff Buddle back in the day. He’s been an honest, open, critical commenter in the local scene, writing a regular column in the South China Morning Post. And now he’s heading back to the UK. With very mixed feelings. That I’d share if I were doing the same. Which I’ve thought of, and wrote of recently, but which I’m not going to do. At least not quite yet.

Cliff on the hard choice of leaving Hong Kong:

On a late summer’s day in 1994, I left my life in London behind and boarded a plane to Hong Kong. I would never have guessed this first visit to the city would last 28 years. It has been the trip of a lifetime.

Last week, I took a one-way flight in the opposite direction. I returned to England for the first time since the pandemic began. And I intend to stay. It is time for a change of scene.

Leaving was hard and sad. My reasons will be familiar to many who have joined the “expat exodus”. Hong Kong’s travel curbs hit those with family overseas hard. My younger son is studying in the UK and I have hardly seen him for three years. I have not seen my parents at all.

The tough Covid-19 measures have lasted too long. They have sucked much of the joy out of everyday life and left the city isolated.

Then there is the politics. The protests, the national security law, mass arrests and relentless rhetoric have all had an impact. I have so many cherished memories of the city. But they mostly belong to an era that has ended. The city will, however, continue to occupy my thoughts. My elder son will stay and I will be back to visit. I will continue to work for the Post and hope the distance will give me fresh perspective when writing this column.

Will the grass be greener in the UK? I have arrived back at a perilous time. “Britain slides into crisis”, as The Times put it last week. A long recession and rampant inflation loom. There will, no doubt, be frustrations and surprises ahead. But it is exciting to walk the London streets where I began my career. The absence of Covid-19 restrictions makes the UK seem like a different world. I feel naked without my mask, but it is a liberating experience. The flip side, of course, is that I am almost certain to catch Covid-19. That’s the price of living with the virus.

Crowds flock to the bars and restaurants beside the River Thames. There are even tourists! It is a reminder of the vibrancy and the buzz Hong Kong has lost. The city desperately needs to get this back. 

My initial excitement on arriving in the UK will, no doubt, fade. When in the midst of a cold and dark British winter, I am sure I will long for sunny days in Hong Kong. The depressing battle of narratives that passes for debate these days has extended to the question of which is the better place to live. There is an easy answer. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. It depends what you are looking for. For me, after 28 years, it is time to return to the UK.

But if I was 30 again I would still take the chance to seek adventure in Hong Kong. The city, for all the troubles and changes it has faced, continues to have much to recommend it. The stunning skyline, the country parks, the wonderful food, low crime rate, low taxes, and enduring spirit of the people all remain. There is so much I will miss. One of my last duties in Hong Kong was, as emcee, to welcome new Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu to the stage at the Post’s China Conference last month. In an upbeat speech, he promised the city “another leap forward”.

I hope he will make good on his promise to start a new chapter. Hong Kong needs to get over its obsession with Covid-19, reconnect with the world and find a way back to being the diverse, free and open city we love. Farewell Hong Kong, you are part of who I am. Thank you for making me so welcome. I wish you all the best and look forward to this wonderful city enjoying happier times in the future.

Border skirmishes

Here’s a thing I don’t get. New York — together with Washington DC and some other states — has declared itself a “sanctuary city”. That is, a place that welcomes refugees. That was a reaction to border states like Texas and Arizona complaining they were being overrun by illegal (“undocumented’) immigrants flooding in to their states at over 200,000 a month

Next, Texas takes New York at its word and busses over a few hundred of the tens of thousands arriving there every day, essentially uncontrolled by specific federal government policy.

Mayor of New York Eric Adams, cries foul. “We are being overrun and can’t cope” he says. 

I don’t get that. Isn’t it the rankest hypocrisy to criticise border states for complaining about a couple hundred thousand arrivals overwhelming local abilities to handle them, to call yourself a “sanctuary state” and then yourself complain when you receive a tiny fraction of them?

I don’t get it. And neither does ex New York Times editor Bari Weiss

Sunday, 7 August 2022

“PLA Warships and jets push deeper”

The exercises finish tomorrow. 

That pic is of a Chinese marine monitoring a Taiwanese warship. 

I think fair to say the Pelosi visit achieved exactly zero, or minus zero. It would have helped if she’d pulled out of her bag an agreement to sell defensive missiles. But Congress just did the opposite: voted down a $280 billion military package.  WTF??

This all feels pretty damn close, to us here in HK. We’ve had sailing races to Kaohsiung in south Taiwan. Have been there many times. The people there, FWIW, are some of the friendliest folk in the world. How they’d handle invasion, who knows? 

But they do need to be like a porcupine.

A lesson from Ukraine. If a big and powerful country is monstering a smaller neighbour, threatens to attack, give them defensive military gear before, they’re attacked. Don’t wait till they are attacked. Make Taiwan a porcupine.

Saturday, 6 August 2022

“China suspends cooperation with U.S. on climate change”

Alternative: “I don’t like what you did so I’m going to destroy the world”.

Except… who knew? That China had “cooperation with the U.S. on climate change”. If one can call photo ops with the sepulchral John Kerry, U.S. climate Czar, “cooperation”. 

In any case China is doing its own thing on climate change, and it’s not a little. It has the largest programs of new nuclear (150), new solar and new wind programs, than the rest of the world combined. (Though the same is true of coal fired stations. Then again, Germany is reopening coal mines and plants). China has clear goals to decarbonise electricity production. Goals that strike me as more attainable than the “net zero” fantasies policies of many.

“Cooperation on tackling drugs trade” (the bit I underlined above): what cooperation? China is the major supplier of Fentanyl which kills 200,000 Americans a year. There is zero evidence that they are making any serious attempt to control this. To the extent that there are voices in the US calling for it to take out Fentalaabs in China. It’s a serious and underreported issue. 

Friday, 5 August 2022

“Drills tear up military rule book”

Elsewhere we learn that the China Twitterati — online ultra-nationalists — are upset that it’s only live fire excercises. They were urging the PLA to shoot down Pelosi’s jet and invading Taiwan. For goodness sake!!  They are seething mad. “Mad” in both senses: crazy and angry. That’s down to the Beijing regime, of course. They nurture these murderous pink-red fascist warriors. 

I think Pelosi’s trip was ill-conceived, mainly coz she did nothing. Maybe if she’d signed a deal for some more defensive missiles, or something. But to go over only to bloviate? Silly, stupid. Taiwan is left to pick up the pieces. Still, once her plan to visit Taiwan was leaked, she could hardly cave in to China pressure. 

ADDED: Turns out that just as Pelosi is whispering her support for the democracy of Taiwan, the Biden administration has just blocked a major package of military aid to the island. Nancy’s mouth is writing cheques her own administration won’t cash. America’s bouncing cheques.

Thursday, 4 August 2022

“Effectiveness of BNT162b2 Vaccine against Omicron in Children 5 to 11 Years of Age” |

DRAFT LETTER TO SCMP. 
(UPDATE: I haven’t sent this for various reasons amongst which that HK does seem to have more infections and deaths of youngsters than Singapore, for reasons unknown. Meantime experts in the US are questioning the CDC decision to promote vaccines amongst the very young. The data is not there they say. So the while issue of how young we should be vaccinating is an open question).

Our Health Minister Lo Chun-mau has said he will ignore "foreign theories", on how to handle Covid. Does this mean he will ignore foreign data as well? 

Specifically on the issue of vaccinating our "toddlers".

The decision to vaccinate our toddlers is based, we are told, on a study by HKU ("… jab for toddlers gets green light…" SCMP, 3 August 2022)

I can't find that study online. Neither the government nor the Post has given us a link. The closest I find is quotations from the study in The Standard, but those figures don't tally with those quoted in yesterday's Post article. 
The Post quoted the HKU study: 
Number studied: not stated
Children in ICU = 1.3%
Children deaths = 2%.
The Standard
Number studied: 1,147children
Children in ICU = 1.3% 
Children deaths = 0.2%. “Llikely overstated percentage because many infected children with few or no symptoms have stayed at home". Note: 1/10th of the Post figure on death rates. (Figures at the government’s website are 1/200 th)

Meantime a recent large-scale study of children in Singapore seems to have been ignored. Its conclusions in a nutshell: 

Number studied: 255,936 (67.7% fully vaccinated)
Children in ICU = Four. Or 002% (650 times fewer than the Post quotes)
Children deaths: Zero
Adverse effects requiring ICU admission: 22 

The study concludes “Our findings indicate the protective effect of vaccination against infection and severe illness.” Protection against ad issuing to ICU was less clear, while there were 22 "adverse events" from the vaccines requiring intensive care. That is 4.4 times the number of children in ICU from Covid. Surely this is relevant when considering vaccines for our own children?

It might be objected that I'm comparing apples and oranges as the HKU study was of unvaccinated kids, the Singapore study of both unvaccinated and vaccinated. But that's exactly the point. The Singapore study enables us to compare and includes issues of adverse events to properly weigh the risks and benefits of vaccinating the very young. (The Singapore study is of the Pfizer vax, while HK will start with Sinovac. But we will inject Pfizer as soon as supplies are available).

In sum: we have the government acting on an HKU paper, unpublished, non-peer reviewed study of just over 1,100 children, with figures that are massively higher than a large-scale peer-reviewed, published study of over 255,000 children. The latter study indicates higher "adverse events" than those in ICU from Covid, a fact ignored, as far as one can tell, in the HKU study.

This is an important issue for our cherished young ones. 

Why can't we have links to studies driving these decisions? Or is the government simply acting because worried parents want them to "do something"? 

Is it too much to ask for more transparency? For more links to studies quoted? For information on "adverse events"?

Or is that just another silly "foreign theory"?

Peter Forsythe
Discovery Bay 
9308 0799

The NEJM is: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2203209. You can get it by Googling "NEMJ children study"
The "HKU Study" I have Googled but get nothing than the The Standard article
And, by the way, I'm far from anti-vax. Our whole family is triple vaxxed.

Pelosi in Taiwan | PLA live-fire drills

At least it’s a fake war, not a real war. Troubling here in Hong Kong: our new chief executive John Lee pledges to Beijing to “take any steps necessary” waiting to be told how low to kowtow. When China slapped bans in wine and lobsters from Oz, we did not follow suit. We maintained our “free port”. But now are we going to follow along? Do damage our Free Port status? Was Lee told he had to? Or is this unilateral kowtowing by Lee? I suspect the latter, showing his good “patriotic” credentials. But I don’t know for sure. 

The Taiwanese say they are prepared for what Beijing’s up to. 

I’m not sure there’s a consensus on the outcome of a visit that did appear completely unnecessary. At least that it didn’t achieve much, if anything. Many feared war. I didn’t, given Beijing has too much to loose. And they’re not quite ready. A live fire war games scenario seems a clever response. 

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Muddling along in Hong Kong

Pool by our house, looking East to Hong Kong Central
ADDED: I realise this may seem like apologia for Hong Kong. It’s not, and I’ve often been critical of both Beijing and our own government. I guess that whenever one tries to balance an issue, xxx, on which the world has a set negative narrative, one will be charged with “oh, so you love xxx”. All I’m doing here -- if I”m doing anything -- is to put a couple of counter points, to what seems to be the narrative out there, in the west, of Hong Kong as a ruined place. 

I’ve been asked over the recent years “how are you guys doing?” and I’ve answered in a couple of blogs posts: “How are we doing?”. And some Occasional Readers continue asking, so herewith latest version. 

Occasional Readers ask how it’s going here. “Isn’t it sad for Hong Kong?”. I wonder, but don’t ask, do they mean: (1) “sad" about what China’s up to? Or do they mean: (2) “sad" because of our tough Covid restrictions.

(1) What China’s up to in Hong Kong is not so much “sad” as predictable, and actually better than might have been. Consider: 

Back in 2019, critics of Beijing, the protesters, ex-governor Patten, were all saying that Beijing is a “tyrant” (Patten: “clapped out tyrants”). And then were surprised that Beijing acted like a tyrant?! Which it did in the face of protests, which morphed into riots, many of which I attended in person, which called for the downfall of the Communist Party (“tyrants”!), which called them a “Black Party” (黑党), which called for “independence”, which called for for “liberation”, all this thrown at the tyrant?! And then they’re surprised? It might  have resulted in the tanks coming in, Tian’anmen-style, crushing protesters. 

Instead Beijing passed a National Security Law. Do we like it? Of course not; many call it “draconian”. And indeed, it’s too broad. It’s been used to jail some of the protesters from 2019. If you’re one of them, and went out calling for “independence” for Hong Kong, then it’s kinda, well, too bad, buddy. That’s subversion and most countries don’t like it. But a “police state”. No. I agree with Christine Loh in today’s paper on this (though for sure I don’t agree with a lot else that she says today):

Allegations that Hong Kong has become a “police state” – as the term is commonly understood – are untrue. This is not a totalitarian jurisdiction controlled by a political police force that secretly supervises every activity.

Hong Hong is nothing like so much of  the foreign media claims. Some American conservatives talk as if it was, literally, PLA garrisons in China, marching into Hong Kong, crushing all rebellion and taking over the government to install a police state. It’s nothing like that. We still have nearly all the “Seven Freedoms” as I’ve called them, that we had before the protesters -- freedom to read and write this blog zero Great Firewall, freedom of movement, of religion, of currency, of conscience. The main English language paper in Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post, remains robust in its international reporting and Opinion, as I show in my survey of articles in the Post

(2) Covid restrictions: there’s a lot of angst and annoyance about these. I’ve noted many of them ongoing, under the labels Zero Covid Policy. Pretty much everyone has had it with the quarantine and how much to of kilter we are with the rest of the world. That’s not so much “sad” as “maddening”. For me, it means staying put. I don’t want to travel anywhere, while there are still mask, vaccine and quarantine mandates. I’m waiting for a “more normal” time. 

So, I guess, all up, we’re muddling along. 

Oh... I ought to say that we do appreciate, continue to appreciate, other aspects of Hong Kong.

Safety: HK is very safe. Always has been and still is. One appreciates this a lot more the more one sees of the craziness in the world. Here, you can go to any part of the city, any time, day or night, man or woman, Caucasian or not, and be perfectly safe. 

Hong Kong is clean, neat and tidy. Yes, even our waters are getting cleaner, and we have regular beach cleaning activities. 

Efficiency: apart from the nonsense at our now nearly empty airport, HK is still very efficient. 

Health system: For me, as a mid-seventies guy, with health issues, the medical system is fantastic. World-class if you pay for it. High-quality if you go public, cheap, good, and efficient.  And, related, and increasingly important (for me) is having full-time live-in household help. That’s something easy in Hong Kong, not so easy in most other places we might ever think of going to: Australia or the US. 

Centrality: The China-US-Taiwan issue that’s on the front burner today, with Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taipei giving Beijing palpitations, reminds us that we’re at a confluence of world events. China, love it or hate it (and I do both), is a major world story. And we’re right here. Sometimes being fought over, which we’d rather not. But still....

Thoughts, comments? Email me

Speaker Pelosi in Taiwan: nearly, but not quite historic

So, in the end she went. I guess she had to, as she’d painted herself into a corner. Now we wait for the Chinese reaction. Which they’ve been fulminating is going to have the US “consumed by fire”, “bearing all the consequences”, and again, for good measure “engulfed in fire”. Fire is the metaphor of the day. And so — to shift-back metaphors —  Beijing too has painted itself into a corner. Perhaps if it’s opposite corners they’ve painted themselves into things will be fine.
In this household we have differing views. Some see serious consequences. Including China deciding to invade Taiwan, now. Me, I’m more sanguine. Naive? We can only wait and see.
Why Pelosi’s visit  it’s not quite historical is that a previous Speaker of the House visited Taiwan. That was the other Party and that was Newt Gingrich in 1997. I was here in ‘97 and I don’t recall much fuss.
Times are different, I know, and now we have the more assertive Xi Jinping. 
Still, is this something to go to war over? Surely not. I mean: there’s a precedent! That’s enough to hang a cooling-off on.

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Hong Kong Sevens in a bubble

I’ve often been to the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens. A great event, time to catch up with mates for a bit of a binge. Cause Covid it’s been postponed five times. Now proposed to go ahead in November but in a “closed loop” like the Beijing Winter Games. Ain’t gonna work. At least, it will be a pale imitation. More like HK government is in a Bubble, believing it’ll work. They don’t seem to realise that people are not going to come even if quarantine is down to 3+4 or 4+2 or even 0+7 (hotel + home) or whatever.  Only zero quarantine — like the whole rest of the world — and eating + drinking like it used to be, will draw foreigners. It was always the foreign contingents that made it a great event.
Most upvoted comments:

West D.
until there is zero quarantine for inbound travellers there will be no "normal life"

David K.
You cannot signal 'openness to the world' without opening up. Half measures like 4+3, 3+4 etc will not work when most overseas attendees to the Sevens only come to HK for a week at most. The return of the tournament is a positive for sport in HK but let's not kid ourselves that it's not going to be a very different event this time with the vast majority of attendees being HK based and the 'fun police' out in full force fining people for mask violations..........

Monday, 1 August 2022

“As Xi Jinping warns Joe Biden on Taiwan, history of ‘yao guan’ shows US cannot laugh off China’s intentions” | SCMP

In today's world riven with great geopolitical uncertainties, people seldom agree on anything. One of the few things literally everyone can agree on is that ties between China and the United States, perhaps the world's most consequential bilateral relationship, are at their lowest point since the countries re-established diplomatic ties in the 1970s.

As Beijing and Washington openly spar over a wide range of issues from trade to technology to human rights, people wonder if the relationship can get any worse. Well, it can.

Despite China's repeated warnings, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to be pushing ahead with a controversial visit to Taiwan. She has not confirmed the trip reportedly scheduled for early August but media reports on Thursday indicated that her office began inviting other lawmakers to travel with her to the island.

Over the past week, spokespeople from China's foreign ministry and ministry of national defence have warned that a visit by Pelosi would cross "a red line" and be met with "forceful measures".

Wang Xiangwei is no Beijing apologist. He has been robust in criticism of China policies, like its Zero-Covid policy which is something like a religion at upper levels of apparatchikery. So, sounding alarm over Pelosi's I'll-considered plan to visit Taiwan, we should take seriously. Trouble is, of course, that she's painted herself into a corner. How does she cancel Taiwan without upsetting her domestic supporters?  Even the US Military has urged her to cancel. 

“China’s foreign businesses adapt by looking inward for talent as zero-Covid keeps expats away” | SCMP


Foreigners leaving Beijing 
Foreign businesspeople, having struggled throughout the pandemic to cope with China's draconian lockdown measures, are holding out hope that leaders in Beijing will allow for more leeway to address the nation's economic hardships after this autumn's critically important 20th Party Congress.
Doing so would serve to help bring more expatriates back to China, they say, according to representatives of foreign business chambers operating in the country.
And some also say Hong Kong should take the lead in relaxing its quarantine policy – shifting it away from mandatory hotel quarantines.
Such compulsory precautions remain a hindrance to some business operations in the international business hub where 94 per cent of the population has received at least two vaccinations against the coronavirus.

My own contacts, residents in Beijing and Shanghai, tell me they have seen a sharp increase in wealthy Chinese applying for an Australian "golden visa" passport, where money gets you residence. Sharp increases since the draconian lockdowns, earlier on Shanghai and now Beijing and other cities. They're fed up with the Zero Covid policy and want a bolt-hole "just in case".

“Neither 3+4 nor 4+3: Hong Kong should just end its hotel quarantine policy, not just tweak it”

Scraps on plastic plate. This is the standard in 
all quarantine hotels in HK
SCMP Letter is 100% right. We must scrap quarantine here in Hong Kong. Not fiddle around the edges. We’re not achieving Zero Covid, but Zero science, in our current policy. Almost all Letter writers express the same: enough of quarantine, already!
Apart from us and our dear mainland motherland, only two other countries still have quarantine on arrival for all arrivals: Cameroon and Ukraine — which I guess has some other issues factoring into that policy.
How we feel…

Sunday, 31 July 2022

Voter ID — it’s all Jim Crow, don’tcha know?

What’s wrong with requiring some form of ID when you vote? To most, including virtually all Black Americans one cares to interview, there’s nothing at all wrong with requiring voter ID. Or not having random “drop boxes” which can be stuffed with “harvested ballots”, by either party. That is, to great everyone the same. Not “separate but equal” which is the Jim Crow, Gary Trudeau is smearing above. No, it’s not. It’s all the same and to a reasonable, checkable, standard. Not the chaos of the 2020 election. Which, by the way, I don’t think was “stolen”, I’m not one of them “stop the steal” types, even if there were Covid-generated lapses. Which, why not fix?

Also: I clearly remember, the day after the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, and then, dutifully, her whole party, claiming that the election was stolen. By “the Russians”! You can find on YouTube mash-ups of one after another Democrat calling “the election was stole “. This Doonesbury take is the rankest hypocrisy. 

Saturday, 30 July 2022

"Green Dreams, Inflationary Realities"

 

That’s our house above, newly sheathed in Rooftop Solar PV. And we have compost bins, and we recycle all our stuff, and so that’s our green credentials right there. 

Still, it seemed weird -- and kind of mad -- for countries like Japan and Germany to close down perfectly well-operating nuclear power stations. Given the zero death toll of Fukushima -- an ancient generator designed with pencils and slide-rules -- what could make sense? And for California -- highest electricity prices in the US by far -- to close down its nuclear stations as well.

And the for Joe Biden to stop drilling and transporting oil, only to have to go cap in hand to Saudi Arabia and Venezuela for oil. How on earth could that make any sense, environmentally even, let alone financially and having to deal with horrid regimes? Nothing towards reducing carbon emissions, only hassle and inflation at home, for no net carbon-reduction effect. Again, how can that make any sense?

In the Comments there’s much criticism of the article. Including from people who laud the “off the grid” folks. I follow a number of those folks on YouTube and like them a lot. I admire those folks. But to think that that life style can solve the eco problems is fantasy. Not to mention that even the most fastidious of them is never really fully “off grid”. 

I enjoyed this article. If you don’t agree with it, perhaps you’ll find some solace in the comments. 

Friday, 29 July 2022

South China Sea provocations

Note Chinas claim — black dashed — cuts across all other countries
And has been found illegal by the International Marine Tribunal.
Which China ignores
Simple summary: since WW2, the United States has kept the South China Sea as an open passage for international shipping. China, especially since Xi, is unilaterally grabbing islands and reefs. And making a maximalist claim,  so-called “nine-dash line”. And then blaming everyone else when there’s pushback. As does the reliably oleaginous Zhao Lijian, highlighted below. IOW, it was China created the “disputed” in “disputed waters”.
Online version here
By the way, we have often sailed across those “disputed waters” in our boats Thea and then  Xena. In races from Hong Kong to the Philippines and to Hainan Island and Vietnam and Thailand. 
In 2008 we raced Thea to Na Trangh in Vietnam, a pretty wild and woolly race, high winds, knocked down a couple of times, pretty dramatic.
In 2010 we raced Xena to Hainan island. On the last day we were accompanied for a while by a Chinese Navy frigate. We chatted in the VHS. And we felt good that they were there to protect us from pirates! That was the, before Xi Jinping. Would we be so happy to have a Chinese navy vessels approach us today? Not so sure. They might be there to “express sovereignty” and kick us out. While the US claims China’s claims are “unlawful”. 

Thursday, 28 July 2022

Some crazy Covid stuff

I saw a Tweet recently from a scientist that if we’d been more forceful right at the beginning we’d have saved 6 million deaths. To which I thought: “Right. And if we’d been more vigilant in Pearl Harbour in 1941, we’d have saved the Japanese attack; or if the Archduke’s car had turned one street earlier, avoiding Gavrilo Princip’s gun, we’d not have had a “Great War”. Really! 

Not to mention that it was, let’s please not forget, that it was China that foisted this on us. And didn’t close straight away. And jailed whistleblowers. And allowed flights from Wuhan to Italy (a major buyer of Wuhan’s textiles) to continue, and that Italy closed down strictly straight away and still didn’t stop its spread, and that Wuhan allowed a Chinese New Year bureaucrats’ super-spreader feast to go ahead, and even that the terrible Trump closed flights to China, for which he was labelled a “racist”.  

All of that, and people say “woulda, coulda”. No, it doesn’t wash. 

This article is a decent summary of the duplicity of government bureaucrats. Including Fauci, who is deeply implicated in funding of the Wuhan Institute of Virology program of gain-of-function research on the coronavirus. His National Institute of Infectious Diseases funded millions to EcoHealth Alliance, that passed it on the WIV for investigation into bat coronavirus. Hmmm?

“holes"

Now this is funny. Coz I was just thinking of the place of science in the Bible. Coz I’d just read a headline in the Babylon Bee, which is a Christian Satire site, The Onion of Bible bashers. Not that I’ve any time for their religious stuff, being an atheist an’ all, but they’re often funny. This piece on the Bible “10 Great Reasons for Not Reading the Bible”, has an intro: "We get it. It's hard to read the divinely inspired word of the creator of the universe. He's so judgy!”. 
Which gets me thinking: not that “judgy” stuff so much that has me wondering’. It’s like: “he’s the creator of the universe, and he’s sending a message to humankind. Why didn’t he mention Black Holes, or Quarks, or neutron stars, or string theory, or gravity waves, or atoms, or quantum theory, or....”. 
Well you get the pic and one could go on. 
I guess apologists would say “well of course He (“he”?) didn’t because at the time you wouldn’t have understood it”. But then there are plenty of other things we don’t understand in the Bible. Like what is it with snakes talking? Or burning bushes talking? Or Arks  that can hold all the animals in the world (in twos)? So that’s not the reason. 
And in any case, surely He could have updated us from time to time. I mean, Mohammad was much later than Jesus and even more much later than Moses, so why didn’t he have any new info for us? Like a Bible 2.0 or Koran v2? 
We had to figure out all this stuff ourselves, no thanks to Him. 
But now, as we wonder if there is life on other planets, which the James Webb Space Telescope (not God) will help us find out, why couldn’t God or Allah or Thor, or Zeus, or whichever god takes your fancy, why couldn’t They (that’s their pronoun now, I guess) give us a clue? Like: “There is sentient advanced life on a star in the middle of Andromeda Galaxy. Coordinates are.... “

ADDED: “Black holes mentioned in the Koran”?? [from the panel above]. Like the alleged prognostications of Nostradamus. Nonsense stretched stretched into long long slim slivers of angel hair pasta. Silly and the triumph of hope and Blind Faith over reason. The“evidence”:
Then I swear by the setting place of the stars,  
And indeed, it is a mighty oath – if you could know. 
-- Surah Waqiah 56:75-76
That’s it?? You’re kidding, right?

“Peaceful reunification ‘still an option for Taipei’”

Like in the Sopranos: Salvatore "Coco" Cogliano saying to the store owner “nice business you got there. Pity if something should happen to it”. The Beijing offer. But not quite yet an offer they can’t refuse. 

China’s number four, Wang Yang, has the gall to say “democratic consultations” when everywhere else “democracy” is a poisonous word to the CCP. 

In the red box above: sinister, wicked, threat.

Biden: Pelosi visit to Taiwan is a “bad idea”. Even so, they’re in a bind as cancelling the visit will be hammered for giving in to the bullies. 

Meantime: 80% of Taiwan residents want nothing to do with “reunification”. That number has only gone up in the era of Xi Jingping (>2012). Not that the people matter! HK people didn’t, in the negotiations on the Joint Declaration. Our views were studiously ignored. 

Barbarians at the gates

Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, est 1849
This is the most recent article attacking various clubs around Hong Kong

Including the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, of which we’ve been members for 20 years. Of course we would defend them. But broader Hong Kong must too. The RHKYC is not just a members-only club for the rich. It encourages anyone to come in, of any age and race and on any race day; to sign up on a whiteboard to be a crew -- on the “Crew Wanted” board. That simple procedure has been the start of a lifelong love of sailing for many a youngster. It’s free, open to anyone from anywhere. 

The same for rowing. And also, tangentially, for bowling, snooker and even golf. This is an open club.

Moreover, it’s a “not-for-profit” club, which means that any surplus goes to charity. And the RHKYC is very active in numerous charities. 

The fact that this club and some others applied for money under a government wage-subsidy scheme during the worst of the pandemic, is a side issue, explained in the body of the article itself -- namely that while member fees were still being charged, there was zero income for months from the usual activities that were cancelled because of our lockdowns. 

There’s a lot of envy out there, driving this, I think. It’s possible, though I don’t say it, that some of the envy is driven by the idea that these are clubs for wealthy gweilos. That might have been the case thirty years ago, it most certainly is not now. All of the clubs mentioned in the article are now mostly local membership. 

Maybe the envious ought to hie themselves to the Yacht club and get out on the water. Would give them some chillax. 

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

Hong Kong’s “leap forward”. Okay. As long as it’s not “Great”

Hong Kong from the Peak, looking NE
Let’s hope it’s not a Mao-style Great Leap Forward....

Cheap shot aside, I’m posting this for the propaganda and for reference, a place-marker as it were, to see how reality matches to our new Chief John Lee’s projection. 

Hong Kong will take “another leap forward” in the next five years 

US: “Recession” or “Holistic improvement”?

Source: Wikipedia, with my notations on Republicans 
Interesting. The word “recession” has long been defined as "two consecutive quarters of negative growth”. 

Now that it looks like the US is in a recession, the Biden administration is busily redefining it, so the the US is not in a recession: that it’s more “holistic” and that really everything if fine. As CNN reports: “Who decides we’re in a recession? 8 white men you’ve never heard of”, tossing in the gratuitous racism for good measure. 

Bill Clinton famously said “it’s the economy, stupid”. “The Democrats are better at dealing with the economy, so vote for us” is the message. 

But like so much else, the data do not support it. A while back I gathered data on crime rates, violent and non-violent in the top cities of the US. 85% of the States with the highest crime rates are run by Democratic mayors. 

For economic performance, 65% of the top 20 States in the US are run by Republicans. Statistically significant, because the US states break 50/50 Red/Blue. The above table is to 2019 -- the trend is even stronger since the pandemic: to wit, Red states, which were doing better than Blue ones to 2019, are doing better still coming out of the pandemic than are Blue states. 

Democrats would object, perhaps: “not fair; there are confounding factors”. Which, sure. There are. But if the Democrats are so good at what they say they are -- controlling crime and running state-level economies -- one would expect some evidence of it in the data. Some, surely. In fact we have the opposite: by the data Democrat-run cities and states do worse on crime and worse on the economy. Which is why there’s a rush out of heavily Democrat (Blue) States like California and moving to heavily Republican (Red) States like Florida. 

Ex radical leftie, turned student of homelessness, Michael Shellenberger, has more on the crime issue in his best-selling book San Fransicko.

ADDED: Top Outflow and Inflow cities in the US, from Redfin Real Estate
Outflow: San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, Seattle, Boston, Detroit.  (All Blue)
Inflow: Miami, Tampa, Phoenix, Sacramento, Las Vegas, San Diego, Dallas. (All Red)

Monday, 25 July 2022

Re “Bamboo Boom” in Business section print edition

For the proofreading and editors departments:

(LETTERS DEP'T: this is not really a "letter to the editor" though by all means print it if you wish. I'm more interested in trying to get a reaction from your editors. Why on earth have a *policy* of using incorrect punctuation? I don't get it) 

Re 吉安, the city in Jiangxi province, its pinyin spelling is Ji'an , NOT "Jian".
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ji'an. There is only one correct PINYIN spelling and it's "Ji'an".

Otherwise I might think it's 见,减,件,间 or 建, or a hundred other single characters pronounced "jian". And in fact I had to look it up to make sure it was two characters, so you are inconveniencing we readers.

Surely you are aware that the pronunciation of "Ji'an" and "Jian" are quite different.

What is it with the South China Morning Post — Asia's premier English language paper — that you stubbornly refuse to use the only correct spelling for such names in pinyin?? My favourite bugbear has been 西安, for which you continue to print the pinyin — *incorrectly* —  as "Xian". (Shudder)

I note, by contrast, you are punctilious about spelling "Turkey" with its new preferred name "Türkiye" in which there's a diaeresis, which are rarely used in English, while an apostrophe is an everyday thing. So you respect the Turkish, but you disrespect the Chinese, all for the sake of an apostrophe… huh?

Peter Forsythe
Chief of the Apostrophe Police
Discovery Bay Branch
93080799 WhatsApp 

Sent from my iPad

“Another day another heat record” Hong Kong

 

Top temp of 36.1C highest since records began 100 years ago.