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‘Truth isn’t truth’: Giuliani trumps ‘alternative facts’ with new Orwellian outburst

Rudy Giuliani appears on Meet the Press.

When the definitive history of Donald Trump’s presidency comes to be written, many years hence, 11.02am on Sunday 19 August 2018 will surely be granted a special mention.

It was the moment when the phrase was coined that might be said to sum up the spirit of the Trump era: “Truth isn’t truth.”

Truth isn’t truth. The seismic shock of the remark was so forceful it had Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s Meet the Press, struggling to contain his giggling.

“Truth isn’t truth? Mr Mayor, do you realize … I mean, this is going to become a bad meme.”

The Mr Mayor to whom he was referring, creator of the bad meme, was Rudy Giuliani, legendary New York mayor on 9/11. Now Trump’s attorney on the Russia investigation, he was trying to justify why the White House has been dragging its feet over granting an interview between the president and special counsel Robert Mueller.

Giuliani said: “When you tell me [Trump] should testify because he’s going to tell the truth so he shouldn’t worry, well that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth, not the truth.”

“I don’t mean to…” Todd spluttered, his face contorted with disbelief.

And then it came, like manna from heaven, the glorious mantra for which Trump’s White House has been waiting so long.

“No, it isn’t truth!” Giuliani roared. “Truth isn’t truth.”

In a world that has given us “fake news”, “enemy of the people” and – infamously and also to a disbelieving Todd – Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts”, Trump’s war on reality had just found its jingle.

“No, no, don’t do this to me,” Giuliani said, head in hands, when he realized the hole he had dug for himself.

“Don’t do ‘Truth isn’t truth’ to me,” Todd replied, still scarcely holding it together.

At which point, Giuliani did the only thing that came to mind: he dug deeper, into competing versions of events regarding former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Russia and fired FBI director James Comey.

“Donald Trump says, ‘I didn’t talk about Flynn with Comey’, Comey says, ‘You did talk about it’. So tell me what the truth is, you’re such a genius.”

Chuck Todd may not be a genius. But he was smart enough not to answer the question.

He just sat back, still bearing a broad grin, and let the new bad meme soar into the digital firmament.

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Who is Kelly Thomas? And what’s #Oct22?

Kelly Thomas (April 5, 1974 – July 10, 2011) was a homeless man diagnosed with schizophrenia who lived on the streets of Fullerton, California. He was killed by six members of the Fullerton Police Department, on July 5, 2011.

YouTube video: https://youtu.be/ariXIEUJkyI

Celeste Guap, now 19, told reporters in 2016, that she had sex with dozens of police officers from Bay Area forces, including three while she was underage.

ABC News video: https://youtu.be/OsH7CzF7ikA

Police sexual misconduct is not a one-off. These are not isolated incidence as we’ve been told but a pattern. A national epidemic. The proof is that police commit domestic violence four times as much as the general population.

Hello, my name is unimportant, as I seek neither fame nor fortune. Instead I’d like to call your attention to a statistic that shows LE (police) are beating on their own wives and children, three to four times as often as the general population. There are many reliable sources for this. Here is an article wrote by the FBI titled: “The Impact of Police-Perpetrated Domestic Violence” that you can find on the internet. [©2000 Diane Wetendorf All Rights Reserved. Domestic Violence by Police Officers. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice, 2000.]

The problem is not new and no nothing’s being done. The obvious problem here now is that every time an unarmed citizen is beaten or killed by LE, the patent excuse has always been that the victim was not following orders, was resisting, or was a threat to the officer. But was the cops wife or child also resisting? Is the cops wife just a cop hating criminal who is only making stuff up? Because that is what the public has always claimed about police brutality, right? And if the police are beating on their own wives and children what chance do we the people possibly have?

Police brutality and the use of excessive force, including police beatings, unjustified shootings and the use of dangerous restraint techniques to subdue suspects are as American as apple pie. Nothing is being done to monitor or check persistent abusers, or to ensure that police tactics in certain common situations minimize the risk of unnecessary force and injury.

Neither City councils or state legislatures seem willing to act, it has been left to the people to bring justice. I would now like to call your attention to a quote from Jesus Christ that says we should not be concerned with the splinter in our brothers eye, when we have a 2×4 stuck in our own eye. Yet our leaders are more concerned with starting another war when they can’t even win the wars that we are already in.

American public education ranks 29th out of 33 industrialized countries. And instead of tackling the real problems that hard-working, everyday Americans face, our leaders are trying to distract us with nonsense and avoid the real issues, again. In a classic game of divide and conquer.

By not addressing mental health care issues our leaders have ensured more mass shootings. And the next one could be at your own children’s school.

American justice has failed to protect the most vulnerable among us by allowing pedophiles to be released back into our society to re-offend.

Our leaders, from both political parties have made mental health care scarce which has forced people with problems to live on the streets and to self medicate. This is a dangerous recipe. While LE fails to protect us from terrorist attacks or mass shootings, while allowing crime to flourish. Worse still, LE is now abusing the very citizens they are sworn to protect and serve.

Our leaders have saddled our own children with astronomical runaway national debt while giving themselves and the already super wealthy even more tax cuts while they laugh all the way to their offshore bank accounts. This should be unacceptable and should not be tolerated by a free and brave people.

Welcome to Ron’s Spot.org, the new underground railroad / resistance.

What can we the people do?

October 22-A National Day of Mourning

On October 22nd, we are all Americans, we stand as one people, one nation, without color, creed or division. We are one, we are America.

OCT. 22ND A NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER AND CALM

This is a call for a day of prayer and calm. To mourn the victims both living and dead. This is a non-violent protest. A day of remembrance, not a day for violence.

1.) To participate we call on everyone everywhere to wear black to mourn the dead.

2.) Do not go to work, or to school or to church, as remembrance of the dead.

3.) No shopping. Do not spend one dime on October 22nd. No buses, no trains and no planes for one day to show our solidarity with those who have been murdered.

4.) We must organize and become our own media. There will be zero discussion of this day of prayer by the national media so we must become our own media and get the word out. Use this link:  http://ronsspot.org/who-is-kelly-thomas-and-whats-oct22/  PROMOTE IT!!

FBI Warns That a Worldwide ATM Bank Heist Is Coming

By Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics

The FBI is warning banks that a large cyberattack is coming, and criminals are expected to exploit a vulnerability in ATMs to steal millions or billions of dollars over the next few days. According to the FBI, this attack is expected to be global in scale and could target any of a number of different banks.

“The FBI has obtained unspecified reporting indicating cyber criminals are planning to conduct a global Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cash-out scheme in the coming days,” reads the FBI alert.

The FBI first became aware of this possible attack when hackers started using it to target small banks around the world. The hackers uploaded malware to bank systems that allowed them to edit customer accounts at will, giving them the ability to withdraw effectively unlimited money from ATMs.

Since then, the FBI has issued a warning to multiple banks around the country, although the agency never notified the public directly. The security blog Krebs on Security recently published the text of the warning publicly.

“Historic compromises have included small-to-medium size financial institutions, likely due to less robust implementation of cyber security controls, budgets, or third-party vendor vulnerabilities,” said the FBI alert. “The FBI expects the ubiquity of this activity to continue or possibly increase in the near future.”

The FBI warning also comes with several tips for banks to prevent them from being targeted, including limiting the number of administrative accounts, monitoring network traffic for vulnerable applications or encrypted traffic, and only allowing trusted applications to be installed on their networks.

Source: Krebs on Security

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Control of information

#FreeRicardoFierro A “citywide protest” is scheduled for Wednesday

By Megan Burke

The Racine Interfaith Coalition reported Tuesday night that three more men have been detained in Racine by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, suspected of illegally immigrating into the U.S.

According to a RIC release, the arrests were “following the same pattern” in which Ricardo Fierro was arrested two weeks ago, in which the men were followed before being arrested Tuesday morning. Several public and community leaders have called for Fierro’s release, many sending letters to ICE pleading for him not to be deported.

The identities of the three men arrested Tuesday morning have not yet been released.

“Racine officials, community members and clergy were immediately outraged over the arrest of Fierro, a well-respected community leader, and have called for his immediate release,” RIC said in a news release.

Racine’s City Council passed a resolution by a 12-1 vote on Monday condemning Fierro’s deportation. Fierro is a RIC member.

A family friend told The Journal Times that Fierro had entered the country legally at age 16 in 1995, was deported two years later after overstaying his visa, and came back in 1998. He has seven children, all of whom are U.S. citizens.

A “citywide protest” is scheduled for Wednesday, starting at 3:30 p.m., displaying public disapproval to the arrests and potential deportations of all four men.

The protest is planned to be a “nonviolent march” starting at Racine Family Dollar, 2341 Rapids Drive, which is reportedly near where the men were arrested and where they had lived. The march will go through a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood in the northwest corner of the City of Racine before ending at Douglas Avenue.

According to the Pew Research Center, ICE arrests increased from 110,104 in 2016 to 143,470 in 2017. 2016 was the fewest arrests ICE had made in many years, having made nearly 300,000 in 2007. Reliable data for 2018 have not yet been compiled.

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‘Generation Wealth’ Director Lauren Greenfield on Why Our Luxury-Obsessed Society May Be Doomed

By

A rich German hedge fund manager buys his son a prostitute for his 16th birthday. A lucrative sex worker gets $30,000 to attend a sex party at Charlie Sheen’s house. A single mother goes deep into debt to fund her dangerous plastic surgery addiction.

These are some of the stories of toxic greed and luxury-gone-overboard that populate Lauren Greenfield’s disturbing new documentary, Generation Wealth. Greenfield, a veteran photographer who has published a book with the same title, gains uncomfortable access to the inner lives of her status-obsessed subjects as she seeks to understand how the love of money displaced the value of love. That thesis seemed validated when, near the end of her filmmaking process, the country elected to the presidency a self-proclaimed billionaire who lives in a lavish marble-and-gold tower.

“Trump is a symptom of generation wealth rather than the disease itself,” Greenfield says. Onscreen, she also turns the camera on herself, exposing her own prep-school upbringing and tracking down some of the rich-kid teens she photographed at the start of her career, more than 20 years ago. Her previous documentary, The Queen of Versailles, chronicled a billionaire couple’s perverse attempt to construct one of the largest single-family homes in the United States. Like that film, Generation Wealth contains no simple answers but plenty of eye-popping glimpses of opulence and excess gone berserk.

In an interview, Greenfield spoke with Newsweek about rampant materialism and why she believes our status-obsessed society is “heading towards the brink” of disaster.

How has the reaction to Generation Wealth been so far?
People laugh in a lot of places—some places you wouldn’t really expect. Also, some were crying. It’s weird; a lot of people have said to me that it changed their life or was transformative. It seems people are reacting very viscerally and personally rather than as a distant story about other people.

Do you think it change pesople’s lives because viewers are becoming more aware of our fetishization of wealth?
A lot of people said it made them rethink their values. Several men told me, “I want to go home and hug my kids.” I think people get that we’re all complicit in the kinds of desires and even addictions that come up in the movie.

Your last film was The Queen of Versailles. What is it about the subject of wealth that has captivated you for so long?
It wasn’t really about wealth. It’s been about how wealth affects us, the influence of affluence. How the images and exposure to wealth and luxury—which has increased so much in the last 25 years—make us desire these things. My own experience have kind of informed the things I wanted to look at. It came out of my own high school experience, when I went to a fancy private school and was introduced to this world where kids had BMWs at 16 and super-fancy parties and designer clothes. My parents were academics, and not only could they not afford those things, they didn’t believe in giving them to me. My experience in high school is what people experience watching TV and social media, starting with Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous.

The film explores your upbringing, and the photographs you took in the 1990s. Do you believe society’s relationship with wealth has gotten worse since then?
I definitely do. I see it as starting in the Reagan ’80s: this shift in ethos where money was considered good, [where] being rich meant you were a good and accomplished person. That culminates with Trump, in a way. Everything has amplified exponentially, and the media is a big driver of that.

What I was looking at in the ’90s was the beginning of MTV and hip-hop as a case study for how media drove materialistic values. [Then came] reality TV and social media, and the images of luxury just started to increase and increase. The research shows that as these images increased, more people think those things are normal, and that’s combined with a breakdown of traditional values, like the countervailing values we might’ve gotten in prior generations from religion or family or Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. We become more awash in the influence of what brands want to sell us.

One of the most powerful quotes in the film is from a journalist, who says: “It’s like the fall of Rome. Societies accrue their greatest wealth at the moment they face death.” Do you think our society is facing death?
It does feel like we are heading towards the brink. I started to feel that after the financial crash, because it seemed like the financial crash was this correction—this moment of reckoning—where a lot of people I had been following learned lessons. Yet after the crash, it seemed like we went right back into it with even more fervor. There’s also the post-moral piece, the Kim Kardashian effect, where anything is worth trading for fame and fortune and it’s fine to start with a sex tape as long as that brings the kind of money and lifestyle people are looking for.

Did you ever anticipate we would have a billionaire president at this moment in time?
I never could have predicted the rise of Donald Trump. Yet in a lot of ways he is the apotheosis of this generation wealth, and an expression of all the values that are in the work, from ascribing goodness to wealth to the value of fame, of reality TV, or using beautiful women as an expression of success. And, in a way, a sort of post-moral society, like the ends justify the means.

I think you feel him through the movie. I didn’t make him a major part, because I felt like my contribution was to show the culture that made him possible. There’s a line in the film where Trump says at a campaign rally: “This isn’t about me, this is about you.” And that’s what I wanted to leave with the audience—that in a way, Trump is a symptom of generation wealth rather than the disease itself.

His election seems to have proven that our country does value wealth more than any other quality.
Wealth and fame. He seems like the ultimate culmination. Sometimes the things I’d been looking at seemed extreme, and the elites could say: “”That’s not us—we don’t want to look at reality TV culture or beauty pagents or gold decor.” But when he was elected, it was like: We can’t shy away. We have to face this part of our culture that does affect us all on a daily basis.

The people featured in the film confess pretty dark and disturbing aspects of their lives. How did you earn their trust?
It’s hard to explain exactly how it happens. It’s like trying to explain to your kid how to make friends. It seems impossible to forge these relationships and have that trust, and then you do it and feel like you’ve always had it. I try not to be judgmental. I’m really trying to show the world from the subject’s point of view, even if it’s someone you might not normally meet, like a billionaire hedge fund banker or a porn star.

You also spend a lot of time with this one woman’s experience using an expensive surrogate to have a baby.
I first met her for a story I was doing for Marie Claire about who spends the most on body maintenance, and Suzanne spent the most. She would get botox and microdermabrasion from a dermatologist on a regular basis. She was a high-powered career woman in banking. There aren’t that many of them, as women. She had waited to have kids, which really spoke to me, because I had so many friends who were in that situation where a woman says: “Oh, I forgot to have children!”

It’s also interesting that she was able to spend so much money to pay for someone else to carry her child.
What you see in the movie is [that] our bodies are also part of the capitalist cycle. Her surrogate was doing it to get paid, and in her case, she was doing it to get a bigger house. I was interested in how everybody was part of wanting more. There is a transactional quality when you’re renting somebody else’s womb, and on the other hand, what resulted broke through the transaction and was this life-changing, transformative experience. I think Suzanne realized what mattered, and it wasn’t money or her job. It was her daughter and being a mother.

What’s the most disturbing story you came across while working on this film?
The bukkake scene [involving a lucrative sex worker who is interviewed in the film] is just so unbelievably degrading and humiliating. I included it because I feel it’s so important to show the utter humiliation that a woman like Daphne in the sex work business undergoes. And the consumption of pornography is so widespread. I even asked my son when he was first exposed to pornography, and he said sixth grade. I felt it had to be included so that it’s not sensationalized or seen through a prism of neo-feminist empowerment, where women think they’re getting the benefit of leveraging their bodies or their sexuality. The cost for her is devastating. Newsweek

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Immigration Worker Charged with Sexually Molesting Eight Migrant Children at Detention Facility

An immigration worker who is HIV-positive has been charged with sexually abusing at least eight unaccompanied immigrant boys at an Arizona detention center.

Levian Pacheco, 25, is facing 11 sex-related charges, including allegations that he performed oral sex on two teenagers, and tried to force another to penetrate him anally, according to ProPublica.

All of the victims were between 15 and 17 years old. The other six teenagers have accused Pacheco of groping them through their clothing. The alleged crimes took place between August 2016 and July 2017,  according to a court filing last week.

Pacheco was indicted in August 2017 and the case is now proceeding through U.S. District Court in Phoenix. Pacheco has pleaded not guilty and denied the charges in court documents, ProPublica reports. Pacheco’s attorney, Benjamin Good, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Pacheco was employed as a youth care worker at Casa Kokopelli, a Southwest Key detention center in Mesa, Arizona, that was cited by the Arizona Department of Health Services in 2017 for failing to run background checks on employees.

According to ProPublica, Pacheco worked at the shelter for nearly four months without a full background check. A subsequent review of his records did not show any past arrests or sex offense convictions.

Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told ProPrublica that the agency issued a stop placement order and removed all unaccompanied minors from the Casa Kokopelli facility. He declined to say when the order was issued.

“These are vulnerable children in difficult circumstances, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families treats our responsibility for each child with the utmost care,” he said. “Any allegation of abuse or neglect is taken seriously.”

News of the charges comes amid an influx of migrant children entering federal custody, after the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy separated more than 2,500 migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Facing intense backlash, President Donald Trump signed an executive order in June ending his policy of separating migrant families at the border. As of last week’s court-ordered deadline to reunite the families, 1 in 3 children remained separated from their parents, according to NBC News.

Though Pacheco’s alleged crimes took place before this ongoing crisis, there are other more recent reports of children being mistreated in detention centers since President Trump’s policy was announced in April.

On Tuesday, a worker at an immigrant children’s shelter in Phoenix, Arizona, was arrested for allegedly molesting a 14-year-old girl at the facility in June, according to CNN. And a 6-year-old girl who had been separated from her mother as a result of Trump’s policy was allegedly sexually abused by an older detainee at another detention facility in Glendale, Arizona, The Nation reported last week.

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Pastor praises Trump as ‘pro-black’ at prison reform event

By Associated Press

President Donald Trump was lauded by inner-city pastors, including one who said he may go down as the “most pro-black president” in recent history, during a White House roundtable on Wednesday that was focused on efforts to reform the prison system.

Trump told the group, which included pastors and bishops from across the country, that his administration has been making progress on efforts to make it easier for prisoners to re-enter society and find work.

“When we say hire American, we mean all Americans,” Trump said.

Among those gathered was Darrell Scott, a black Ohio pastor who was an early supporter of Trump’s campaign and has been working with the administration on urban and prison issues.

“This is probably the most pro-active administration regarding urban America and the faith-based community in my lifetime,” Scott told the group, adding, “This is probably going be … the most pro-black president that we’ve had in our lifetime.”

He compared Trump to his predecessor, Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, and said: “This president actually wants to prove something to our community, our faith-based community and our ethnic community.”

“The last president didn’t feel like he had to,” he added, saying of Obama: “He got a pass.”

During his campaign, Trump accused Democrats of doing too little to help urban communities and often asked African-Americans what they had to lose by voting for him.

The White House has been focusing its criminal justice reform efforts on improving re-entry, rehabilitation and workforce training programs, instead of sentencing reform, which many advocates argue would make a bigger difference.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, has been leading the effort, which has included lobbying Congress to pass a bill called the First Step Act.

The House passed the bill in May.

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China’s invasion of Taiwan has already begun

By ANI

China’s invasion of the “renegade province” of has already begun. Of course, not a physical assault by military forces – not yet, at least – but rather a campaign of psychological and diplomatic pressure against that has seriously intensified in recent months.

Take, for example, the issue of airline reservations, with issuing a directive in April to 44 that they change the name “Taiwan” to “Taiwan, China” on their global websites.

Numerous carriers such as Qantas, Air India, Lufthansa, and caved in, even though the White Housecriticized Chinese demands as “Orwellian nonsense” and “part of a growing trend by the [CPC] to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies”.

In like fashion, the chain, clothing and Mercedes-Benz have all at some point felt China’s wrath for offending its sensibilities about descriptions of or Each apologized for not complying with China’s standards.

The Chinese government urged the U.S. not to allow Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen to stop over in the U.S. on her way to Belize and Paraguay this month as she has on previous trips to Latin America. It’s Beijing’s latest gambit in an ongoing campaign to wipe Taiwan off the map as an independent political entity. This campaign is forcing everyone from national governments and NGOs to airlines and clothing companies to take a stance on the contentious issue of Taiwan’s status.

Related: China lodges complaint over Trump-Taiwan call

This Chinese pressure has been ramping up since Tsai Ing-wen of the took office in in January 2016. There was an immediate cooling of relations with Beijing, and has attempted to marginalize Taiwan at every opportunity. Tsai insists she wants to maintain the status quo in terms of bilateral relations, but the CPC fears she will push for formal independence.

Tsai is facing extreme pressure from China, as well as internal political and civil pressure to modify her stance. Nevertheless, it appears that Taiwan is the only party intent on observing the status quo in cross-straits relations. certainly is not.

In March at the National People’s Congress, said, “It is a shared aspiration of all Chinese people and in their basic interests to safeguard China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and realize China’s complete reunification.”

Xi received rapturous applause when he threatened, “Any actions and tricks to split China are doomed to failure and will meet with the people’s condemnation and the punishment of history.The Chinese people share a common belief that it is never allowed and it is absolutely impossible to separate any inch of our great country’s territory from China.”

Related: China Is Trying to Wipe Taiwan Off the Map

Later, in June, Ma Xiaoguang, for the Taiwan Affairs Office in China, warned, “We have the stern will, full confidence and sufficient capability to defeat any form of Taiwan independence separatist plots.” He added that China “absolutely will not permit Taiwan independence forces to…interfere with the course of China’s great rejuvenation.Taiwan independence is a dead-end street.We warn Taiwan independence forces not to play with fire.”

Ian Easton, a research fellow at the Project 2049 Institute, a Virginia-based think tank, told ANI, “In the past ten years, most people took peace for granted. Most thought Taiwan’s going to be absorbed.by China. They thought this is a flashpoint not worth considering anymore. The US didn’t talk much about it and nor did its allies.”

However, Easton said the threat to Taiwan has grown greatly under Xi. “There’s no question about it.Clearly his approach is different to that of Hu Jintao – his personality is different, he’s much more ambitious, much more aggressive, he’s much more interested in Taiwan than Hu Jintao was.” Easton pointed out, “has been much more focused on preparing to one day occupy the island. It’s always been the party’s and the People’s Liberation Army’s [PLA] main strategic direction ever since the collapse of the

For now, China is prosecuting a short-of-war campaign tobludgeon Taiwan. Russell Hsiao, writing for The Jamestown Foundation, delineated ten elements to this pressure campaign: poaching Taiwan’s diplomatic allies; military coercion; economic coercion; excluding Taiwan from international organizations; pressuring foreign corporations; pressuring Taiwan’s non-diplomatic allies; economic incentives; political warfare; cyber espionage; and traditional espionage.

Related: Donald Trump Angers China With Historic Phone Call to Taiwan’s President

Taiwan now has diplomatic relations with only 18 countries worldwide. It lost formal ties with and Príncipe in December 2016, in June 2017, and the and in May 2018, after China lured them away.

Beijing, like it did with over the topic of a US Army missile defense battery stationed on its territory, is unafraid to use its considerable economic clout against Taiwan. Thus, it limited the number of tourists travelling to the islandsince Tsai assumed office, with the number falling 700,000 in 2017 alone.

In international organizations, China has gleefully pressured others to ostracize Taiwan. Thus, Taiwan was denied observed observer status at the Health Assembly in May. Another example is the (ICAO), with China pressuring the group to exclude Taiwan. The ICAO has remained silent on China backtracking on its 2015 agreement with Taiwan over using the commercial M503 flightpath near the centerline of the

Authoritarian China, thanks to its growing technological and digital knowhow, is increasingly taking advantage of the liberties and openness of Western and Taiwanese democracies. Indeed, Easton warned that China is subverting Taiwan’s democracy, “everything from espionage to cooperating with pro-unification and organized crime syndicates in Taiwan, gunrunning, drugs and smuggling people into Taiwan. They’re going to do things that will destabilize Taiwan’s society.” Easton even spoke of operatives being mixed in with pro-unification groups and their protests, some of which have turned violent.

Related: Forget trade — the Trump administration just crossed a far more dangerous ‘red line’ with China

Work Department (UFWD) is actively engaged against Taiwan. Hsiao commented, “In Taiwan, the UFWD targets a broad range of constituencies, including aborigines, local villages and townships, youths and students, pro-China political parties and groups, and Taiwan military veterans. has previously estimated that China spends at least $337.8 million per year on UFWD recruiting efforts in Taiwan, but has also said it believes there might be more ‘invisible funding’.”

China is routinely using disinformation, propaganda, “content farms” and bots to fan the flames of social instability via UWFD proxies. Taiwan has an extremely of 82.3% and penetration rate of 73.4%, and China can relatively easily spread fake news on messaging sites such as Line, as well as imagery. One example of the latter is a picture of a Chinese H-6K bomber flying near in Taiwan. Such an event did not occur, yet the image still went viral. China is also good at misquoting officials or ex-officials in either Chinese or Taiwanese forums to show purported approval of the CPC.

Hsiao, of the Global Taiwan Institute, concluded, “The CPC has a long history of using propaganda and disinformation against Taiwan. In it has found a fertile information environment to amplify its time-honed tactics of political and psychological warfare. Flooding Taiwan’s society with propaganda and disinformation can weaken its people’s trust in democratic institutions and lead to political instability.”

He continued, “The CPC’s ultimate goal is the subjugation of Taiwan under the PRC, and propaganda and disinformation are means to weakening morale and people’s resistance towards that political end.”

Likewise, China is manipulating the cyber sphere to its advantage. Taiwan is the number one target of Chinese hacking, with a reported 20-40 million attempted hacks against its public sector each month throughout 2017.

Hsaio explained that Taiwan has suffered a number of embarrassing high-profile espionage incidents too, often involving the military. From 2006-16, some 40 Taiwanese – including military officers, businesspeople and government officials – were prosecuted for spying on behalf of China.

With such intense bullying of Taiwan and of anyone else that does not submit to Beijing’s narratives, and with mounting concerns over China’s hard-nosed One Belt, One Road initiative, China is beginning to face adverse reaction on the international stage. Ironically, Beijing’s squeezing of does permit more countries to see the ugly nature of this authoritarian regime and its leader.

While China is happy to bully those weaker than itself, it also shows a remarkably thin skin for a nation that regards itself as a global power. China was incensed by Trump accepting Tsai’s in December 2016. also feels antagonized by ongoing American military equipment sales to Taiwan, with the USA the only country willing to stand up to Chinese bluster.

China continues to ramp up pressure against Taiwan militarily. It has hundreds of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles aimed at the island. It has also boosted the number of military exercises near the island. For example, from August 2016 to December 2017, counted at least 26 PLA aerial exercises, of which 15 circumnavigated the island. There were just eight in 2015 and 2016 combined. The Chinese has passed Taiwan four times already.

ANI asked whether a military confrontation between China and Taiwan becomes more likely the longer Xi stays in power. Easton replied, “Yes, it does,” and he outlined two reasons. One is that Xi will inevitably get older, weaker and face more health issues. ‘There are going to be potential power struggles, and there are going to be all the problems associated with a dictatorship – especially a communist-style dictatorship – and we’ve seen this with Mao and

Easton described the potential for leaders to develop megalomania because they become godlike. “There’s already this incredible cult of personality in China, and being godlike makes people go crazy. It corrupts their sense of reality, so there’s a rea risk of that.” A related danger is that Xi will not receive accurate information from his underlings. After having done so much to eradicate opponents within the party and military, Xi could end up being surrounded by “yes men” who simply tell Xi what he wants to hear. This may lead to huge miscalculations, with Xi making decisions based on wrong assumptions.

The second reason given by Easton regarding the rising possibility of war is that the PLA will grow increasingly stronger over the coming 10-20 years. China has made huge investments in the PLA, but these may not bring a payback straight away. Indeed, it may take years to get a return on that investment.

“So a lot of the heavy military spending, research and development and training that we’re seeing right now, they’re going to come to fruition in the next one to two decades. When they do, China’s going to have so much more military power than it currently has and that it has had over its entire modern history. When that happens, I should think there’s going to be even greater temptation to do something that could be disastrous,” Easton warned.

UPDATE:

Earlier this month, a scathing editorial in Chinese state media warned the US Senate not to pass the Taiwan Travel Act, legislation to permit high-level talks between US and Taiwanese officials.

Unless US President Donald Trump “is ready to see the by and large stable and so-far profitable relationship derailed, unless he is determined to plunge his country into a pointless, mutually damaging altercation, or worse, he should resist the seducement,” the editorial said.

It added: “Unlike trade, though, Taiwan is a matter of sovereignty. For Beijing, it is a clearly defined core interest that is not negotiable.”

Anyway, on Friday, Trump signed the bipartisan bill into law.

And so here we are, with the market gearing up to watch us haggle over soybeans and Boeing aircraft (the US’s biggest exports to China, according to the Institute of International Finance ) like a farmer at the Iowa State Fair — when in reality the danger is much graver.

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