Beer Garden

Anything goes here.. :) Now with Beer Garden for our smoking patrons.
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Re: Beer Garden

#3151 Post by Nort » Wed Apr 08, 2020 11:35 am

Whichever doctor recommended that a tinfoil lined white hood is a good protection against Covid-19 should offer you a refund.

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Re: Beer Garden

#3152 Post by rev » Wed Apr 08, 2020 11:58 am


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Re: Beer Garden

#3153 Post by rev » Wed Apr 08, 2020 12:02 pm

Image

Despite things like this, you can visit supermarkets and whatever, and still see too many people who don't maintain the 1.5m distance or more.
Walking past each other, standing next to each other, like nothings going on.

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Re: Beer Garden

#3154 Post by Nort » Wed Apr 08, 2020 8:01 pm

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-08/ ... k/12133078
South Australian councillor spat at in racist coronavirus attack

ABC News SHARE
South Australian councillor spat at in racist coronavirus attack
Posted6 hours ago
Councillor Sarah Ouk
Councillor Sarah Ouk said she was shaken by the incident.(City Of Salisbury)
A South Australian councillor says she was spat at during a coronavirus-related racist attack as she went to pick up groceries last week.

Key points:
A councillor in Adelaide's northern suburbs says she was shaken after a racist attack
The perpetrator then allegedly spat at her as she crossed the road
Anti-discrimination agencies have recorded a spike in racism reports
Councillor for the City of Salisbury Sarah Ouk said she was waiting on an island to cross a road on her way to pick up groceries last Monday, when a man in a passing car shouted at her.

"[The driver] started to scream that 'you Asians bring corona[virus] to Australia'," Ms Ouk said.

"He stuck his head out and tried to do sneezing, coughing, and then he spat at me.

"I don't know whether it landed or not because my back was towards him."

After the car passed, Ms Ouk finished crossing the road and went into the store, but she said the incident had made her feel afraid.

"I crossed to the other side to go to Aldi with that fear — I was like 'what's happening? What did I do wrong?'" she said.

"I went in [with] all these mixed emotions … into the store, and then this couple was looking at me really weirdly, like I'm full of viruses or something.

"I [thought] 'oh my god, oh my god, this is not good'.

"So, I just got all my groceries that I needed … and quickly came out and [went] back home."

'No-one deserves this'
Ms Ouk said she almost broke out in tears afterwards.

"I was really devastated — no one deserves this," she said.

"Everyone should have the equal opportunity to shop freely and shop safe.

"Racism … is not fair and it's not right.

"Anyone does not need this kind of behaviour — it's not on."

Ms Ouk said did not see the car's registration number, or see the man's face clearly, so she was unable to make a complaint about the incident to SA Police.

However, an informal report was made to the Office of South Australia's Equal Opportunity Commissioner.

Commissioner Dr Niki Vincent described the attack as "sickening" and called on all Australians to show kindness to each other.

Racism reports increase during coronavirus pandemic
Dr Vincent said human rights and anti-discrimination agencies across the country had recorded an increase in racial discrimination complaints related to the coronavirus.

"Across Australia, there have been reports of nursing and medical staff being shunned because of their race, people being denied entry to places or services because of fears they will transmit COVID-19 and people of Asian heritage being racially abused while shopping," she said.

"I am sure most South Australians would agree that this kind of behaviour is incredibly harmful at an individual and community level.

"Can you imagine how your wellbeing would be impacted if you were out doing your shopping in this already stressful time, and then had a stranger racially attack you in public and accuses you of bringing COVID-19 to Australia?"

She added that racial abuse was against the law in Australia and that "this is a time when we need, more than ever, to be compassionate and kind".

"It's against the law to insult, humiliate or abuse someone in public because of their race," Dr Vincent said.

"As an inclusive, multi-racial and welcoming society this kind of behaviour is unacceptable."

South Australians can report instances of discrimination to Dr Vincent's office via the website www.eoc.sa.gov.

Racial vilification can be reported to SA Police or to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

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Re: Beer Garden

#3155 Post by GrowAdelaide » Thu Apr 09, 2020 10:20 am

rev wrote:
Wed Apr 08, 2020 12:02 pm
Image

Despite things like this, you can visit supermarkets and whatever, and still see too many people who don't maintain the 1.5m distance or more.
Walking past each other, standing next to each other, like nothings going on.
So true, so annoying.

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Re: Beer Garden

#3156 Post by rev » Thu Apr 09, 2020 7:56 pm

"He stuck his head out and tried to do sneezing, coughing, and then he spat at me.

"I don't know whether it landed or not because my back was towards him."
If her back was towards him, how does she know he stuck his head out of the window?

He spat at her, allegedly, she doesn't know if it landed because her back was towards him...but when she got inside the Aldi, she didn't bother to check or ask someone? Interesting..so she decided to carry on potentially with someone's spit on her and even went home potentially with it on her. Right.
Ms Ouk said did not see the car's registration number, or see the man's face clearly, so she was unable to make a complaint about the incident to SA Police.
Funny that eh?
She has every other detail including a wonderful sob story which culminates in her breaking down in tears when she gets home, despite her back being turned toward the person, has no actual details of the individual, the vehicle, there isn't even footage of it, no photos, nothing. In this day and age. Remarkable.

From the story she spins, there's clearly other people around.
But she didn't call out for help? Right..

I'm not saying she's full of shit, but the dots in her story don't connect so....

It's ok though, keep referring to your "fear" at every opportunity...I'm sure the bleeding heart communist robots will fall for it.
"I went in [with] all these mixed emotions … into the store, and then this couple was looking at me really weirdly, like I'm full of viruses or something.
Oh but wait, it wasn't just the guy driving past that yelled at her, spat at her, coughed and sneezed at her, who she conveniently didn't get any details about the person or the vehicle, it's people in the store who are a problem too.

Seems she thinks everyone's a racist.

"It's against the law to insult, humiliate or abuse someone in public because of their race," Dr Vincent said.

"As an inclusive, multi-racial and welcoming society this kind of behaviour is unacceptable."
It's also unacceptable to make up stories for sympathy and whatever agenda your pushing.

It's also against the law to make false police reports, which is why she didn't report it to the police because the incident didn't occur.
There's a thing called CCTV. She simply had to give a description of the vehicle, road/location, direction it was travelling in. Date and time. Police can follow up with that. But none of those details are available, because "her back was turned towards him".

Bullshit story.

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Re: Beer Garden

#3157 Post by madelaide » Thu Apr 09, 2020 10:39 pm

Awesome story in InDaily today. Would be great if the SA Gov and associated organisations could land this event in Victoria Park, with battery change / pitstops in the Adelaide Street Circuit area...

This is why I think Formula E would be great for Adelaide. The development of next level technology is at full throttle. If Adelaide doesn't embrace the future of motor racing now, like it did when Holden went from making horse saddles to manufacturing automobiles... the city will miss out on hosting events like this.

https://indaily.com.au/news/science-and ... aking-off/

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Re: Beer Garden

#3158 Post by rev » Fri Apr 10, 2020 7:03 am

madelaide wrote:
Thu Apr 09, 2020 10:39 pm
Awesome story in InDaily today. Would be great if the SA Gov and associated organisations could land this event in Victoria Park, with battery change / pitstops in the Adelaide Street Circuit area...

This is why I think Formula E would be great for Adelaide. The development of next level technology is at full throttle. If Adelaide doesn't embrace the future of motor racing now, like it did when Holden went from making horse saddles to manufacturing automobiles... the city will miss out on hosting events like this.

https://indaily.com.au/news/science-and ... aking-off/
I've been saying for years we should bring the Formula E to Adelaide. Others are only now waking up to it.

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Re: Beer Garden

#3159 Post by rev » Fri Apr 10, 2020 7:17 am

Now here's what happens when someone really yells abuse at you and spits and coughs at you in this time, especially when claiming to have the virus.
Girls claiming to have coronavirus cough, spit at train inspector at Noarlunga Centre
Ben Harvy, The Advertiser
April 9, 2020 5:45pm
Subscriber only

Two girls who coughed and spat on a train inspector, then claimed to be infected with coronavirus, were making a “death threat”, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union says.

The sickening attack at Noarlunga Centre interchange on Tuesday afternoon has forced the male worker into self-isolation, with fears he could contract the deadly disease.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union SA Secretary Darren Phillips said the girls approached victim randomly and started to abuse him about 2.30pm.

“(They) coughed and spat on him and told him that they have COVID-19” he said.

“It’s a death threat.

“Frontline workers are out there doing their everyday jobs and for the community and then you have people like this threatening their lives.”

Mr Phillips would not comment on worker’s health, but said the union expected the suspects to be hit with the “full penalty of law” to “get them out of our society”.

“What we want to see is the public get behind frontline workers and staff wherever that is and for the community to report anything like this to police immediately,” he said.

A police spokesperson said officers were investigating the incident with positive leads, but were yet to make any arrests.

In New South Wales, authorities have signed off on a new reform which means people caught spitting and coughing on public officials – like healthcare workers or police – can be slapped with a $5000 on-the-spot fine. Offenders could also be jailed for up to six months.

The tough new measures are in response to a number of shocking acts in NSW in recent weeks.
https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/coronavi ... 96e3334dde

But that poor little councillor, no witnesses, no footage, no photo, no details on the alleged offender, no description of the vehicle, but she knows what the mysterious person in the mysterious vehicle did to her while her back was turned towards him....and then had people looking at her weird because everyone who doesn't look like her is a racist. She ran to the media, not the police to top it off. :lol:

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Re: Beer Garden

#3160 Post by rev » Fri Apr 10, 2020 10:56 am

Such a lovely regime over there...must be a dream living under communist totalitarian authoritarian assholes.
How can anyone in their right mind be supportive of economic ties with this crap, let alone promote and push socialist nonsense..
We've seen religious persecution and massive restrictions on peoples human rights in the USSR. We weren't dumb enough to make our selves dependent on that shit hole regime though. But we've gone and done it with China, who is USSR 2.0

The 'relationship' with China needs to be brought to an end ASAP.

Some long reads, but Australians and westerns in general need to start waking up to the threat posed to the rest of the world by communist China.
This virus pandemic is just another example. SARS started in their wet markets, and this new SARS that's gone pandemic globally started there too. And they've re-opened the same wet markets already while the rest of the world struggles to contain the outbreak and prevent their economies from collapsing.
China’s Communist Party in brutal crackdown on Christianity

In a brutal show of force, China has violently moved against its 100 million-strong Christian population — right on the eve of Christmas.

Chinese police have launched a Christmas crackdown against Christians — arresting a prominent pastor, raiding churches and charging followers with ‘subverting the state’.

It’s all part of an effort to bring the religion under Chinese Communist Party control. While the party itself is officially atheist, it allows believers to attend state-sanctioned places of worship run by approved priests.

There are some 100 million Christians in China. Many worship in ‘home’ churches to avoid state interference.

In one example of the recent raids, police on Saturday stormed a children’s bible class in Guangzhou. Children are banned from attending places of worship.

In Guangzhou, 60 police stormed a church, seized religious materials and confiscated the mobile phones of worshippers.

And earlier, a prominent Sichuan pastor was arrested. His crime was openly preaching to his 800 followers, and circulating a petition against the government’s push to clampdown on religion.

CHRISTMAS CRACKDOWN

“Halfway through the children’s bible class, we heard the footsteps of dozens of police and officials stomping up the stairs,” one churchgoer said, according to the South China Morning Post.

“They read out law enforcement notices declaring our venue was an illegal gathering [that had engaged in] illegal publishing and illegal fundraising and confiscated all bibles.”

This report of a weekend raid is just one of many that have been conducted in recent weeks.

On December 9, Pastor Wang Yi of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, Sichuan, and his wife Jiang Rong were detained. A church administrator and many of his 500 followers were raided and arrested in the following days.

All face charges of inciting subversion of state power. If convicted, they face a 15-year jail sentence.

Pastor Wang had reportedly anticipated the move, writing a letter to be released in the event of his arrest. In it, he says he was “filled with anger and disgust at the persecution of the church by this Communist regime”.

“I firmly believe that Christ has called me to carry out this faithful disobedience through a life of service, under this regime that opposes the gospel and persecutes the church,” he wrote. As a pastor of a Christian church, I must denounce this wickedness openly and severely. The calling that I have received requires me to use nonviolent methods to disobey those human laws that disobey the Bible and God.”

At the weekend, a group of 60 or so of his followers attempted to gather in a nearby park for a worship service. They were arrested.

‘APPROVED’ WORSHIP

In February, the Chinese Communist Party officially announced regulations to “preserve Chinese culture and party authority against ideological threats”.

The ensuing crackdown against Muslim and Christian congregations is seen as part of this campaign.

Some one million Uigher Muslim ethnic group members in Xinjian province have been forcibly detained in ‘re-education’ centres.

And Beijing has moved to seize control of the Catholic Church in China, while restricting protestant worship to the Communist Party approved and run “Three-Self Patriotic Movement” of churches. These use a version of the bible rewritten to conform with state dogma.

One anonymous underground church member told the BBC that the idea of the state-run churches was “hilarious”, adding that they “don’t spread genuine gospel, but spread the thoughts of loving the Party, loving the country”.

Another anonymous member of the Early Rain church told the BBC the raids would not defeat worshippers. Instead, they’d just go further underground to celebrate Christmas.

“We will continue the gathering. The church is shut down so it’s impossible to have a big gathering, but there will be small gatherings on Sunday and on Christmas Day,” he said.

A common report following such raids is that congregation members find Communist Party officials knocking at their doors, demanding they sign documents declaring they have left the faith and withdrawn their children from church-run schools.

One Early Rain Covenant follower told the BBC several worshippers were “under house arrest or are followed all the time”.

“On Sunday, some members tried to gather at other places for worship, but got taken away as well,” she said. “The Church building has been manned with police and plainclothes officers, not allowing anyone to enter to do worship service.”

It’s a scene being repeated across the country, with unofficial church doors being sealed, bibles and religious icons confiscated, and names-and-addresses being taken down.

STATE PERSECUTION

In September, one of the largest ‘underground’ churches in Beijing was forcibly shut down.

The Zion Church had 1500 members. It’s leadership had refused a Communist Party demand to install surveillance cameras in all places of worship.

Earlier this month, another Beijing place of worship — the Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate — was shut down indefinitely. Despite a heavy police presence, the official reason given was “for repairs”.

Some Chinese Catholics fear the move was “a veiled attempt to hamper Christmas celebrations, which attract thousands of people, even non-Christians,” Asia News reports.

The closure came as Pope Francis bowed to Communist Party pressure, recognising two previously excommunicated state-backed bishops as the valid heads of Chinese dioceses.

The Vatican had previously been in conflict with Beijing over a group of Pope-approved bishops who refuse to recognise the authority of the Communist Party over their religion. But, last year, it ‘requested’ several key dissident bishops step down.

Chinese state media has announced the Communist Party-approved Bishop Zhan Silu is to become head of Mindong Diocese. Vatican-appointed Bishop Guo Xijin, who has headed the diocese since 2006 and who has been detained by authorities a number of times in the past year, has agreed to step down.

State-backed Bishop Huang Bingzhang becomes head of Shantou Diocese. The fate of the prior Bishop, Zhuang Jianjian, 88, remains unknown. The same applies to up to 30 other Catholic bishops who have so far refused to join the Communist Party’s patriotic association.

“The mission now is to unite Catholics in the diocese and reduce divergence so as to achieve the common goal of better serving church members,” Bishop Huang told Chinese state-run media.

The Global Times quoted an expert on Catholic studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences as saying there may also be changes to church property ownerships and diocese distribution, adding that such talks would be “complicated and time-consuming.”

“It’s up to the Chinese government to decide when is the right time,” Wang Meixiu said. “In recent years, the government has recognised at least six underground bishops which it hadn’t formerly recognised. Therefore, acknowledgment from the government is possible.”

CULTURE CLASH

President Xi Jinping’ is determined to “Sinicize” all of China. “Chinese characteristics” must be incorporated into all activities, beliefs and traditions. Chief among them — unwavering loyalty to the Communists party.

“China isn’t backing away from the religious persecution; it seems to be expanding,” said Sam Brownback, the US ambassador international religious freedom said last week. China has once again been listed among the US State Department’s 10 worst religious freedom violators.

RELATED: The apocalyptic vision of Trump’s evangelicals

International monitoring group Human Rights Watch says the raids are further evidence of President Xi’s attempts to seize control over all aspects of Chinese society.

“As major holidays in many parts of the world — Christmas and New Year — are approaching, we call on the international community to continue to pay attention to the situation of China’s independent churches and speak against the Chinese government’s repression,” a Hong Kong-based representative wrote.

The underground churches in China have reached out to international supporters to appeal for assistance.

“Lord, look at the injustice done against your children,” reads an Early Rain prayer request shared by the China Aid ministry. “This country is trampling on the dignity of your children, but these children are the apple of your eye. You will heal these wounds with your loving hands and teach us, in the midst of this suffering, the love of God and the endurance of Christ. Lord, come quickly!”
https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/chris ... 79bae9cd7f
Uighurs fled persecution in China. Now Beijing’s harassment has followed them to Australia.

By
Rick Noack
Feb. 11, 2019 at 6:16 a.m. GMT+10:30

ADELAIDE, Australia — Alfiraa Dilshat and Rashida Abdughufur were picnicking in the small seaside town of Victor Harbor in late December when Abdughufur got a video call from her mother.

With Abdughufur living in Adelaide, a city in southern Australia, and her mother in the Xinjiang region of China, it was a rare chance for the two to connect. At first, Abdughufur said, she was excited because she hadn’t talked to her mother in a long time.

Then came “disaster.”

Abdughufur’s mother appeared on the screen in handcuffs, sitting next to a police officer. “They started interrogating me,” Abdughufur said. Fearing for her safety, she complied, sharing sensitive details and documents the police demanded from her, including her Australian driver’s license.

When Abdughufur finished the call, “her face was pale,” her friend Dilshat remembered. Shortly thereafter, an audio message from Abdughufur’s mother arrived. “These people will look for you,” it said. The WeChat account used to contact Abdughufur was disconnected soon after. Abdughufur hasn’t heard from her mother since.

This was the kind of danger that she and other Uighurs had hoped to escape. In the past few years, China has conducted a sweeping campaign to suppress Uighur identity and restrict the practice of Islam. As many as 1 million Uighurs and members of other minority groups — mostly Muslim ones — are being held without charges in brutal internment camps, according to the United Nations. It is just the latest episode in a decades-long history of tension between Uighurs and the staunchly secular, Han Chinese-dominated government in Beijing.

Abdughufur herself fled Xinjiang in 2017, when China intensified its crackdown. Shortly after moving to Australia, her younger brother and father were sent to internment camps.

After months of denying the camps existed, China switched last year to justifying them. Beijing insists it is merely providing job training and “de-extremism education” in a region that is poor and steeped in fundamentalism. “As a result of the vocational education and training, the social environment of Xinjiang has seen notable changes, with a healthy atmosphere on the rise and improper practices declining,” said Shohrat Zakir, the de facto No. 2 official in Xinjiang, in October.

The Chinese embassy in Australia did not respond to requests for comment.

The cone of silence around China’s Muslim ‘gulags’

On Friday, Uighurs across Australia rallied in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide to highlight the plight of their communities in China, but also to protest against their treatment by Beijing abroad.

Uighurs in Adelaide said efforts to infiltrate their community go back more than a decade. One man, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he still has family in China, said that during a visit to China in 2005, he was offered what was then an average wage in Australia if he agreed to spy on his community. Another woman, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect her family, said she was approached with a similar request as recently as 2011.

Open intimidation on Australian soil is a much more recent concern. It has taken the form of WeChat messages or phone calls, often from individuals claiming to be Chinese officials. They may ask for a call back regarding passport or visa matters, or claim a package has arrived at the embassy for the person they are calling; many of them demand sensitive personal information that Uighurs believe Chinese authorities would already have because of prior visa requests.

That pattern, said Michael Clarke, who researches the treatment of Uighurs at Australia’s National Security College, is “consistent, not just with incidents in Australia, but also in other places around the world.”

Some researchers caution that there is no statistical evidence of such tactics, but Uighur community leaders say complaints about calls, messages and video chats have proliferated as Adelaide’s Uighurs have become more politically active over the last two years. Uighurs say the calls began in March, just hours after the community staged its largest-ever protest in Canberra, Australia’s capital, to highlight the plight of China’s Uighurs.

“After the protest in Canberra, even young kids who were born here got the phone calls,” said 37-year-old Adam Turan, who said his 80-year-old father died weeks after being released from an internment camp in Xinjiang in the fall.

A spokesman for Australia’s Department of Home Affairs told The Post that “the Australian Government takes seriously its responsibility to protect our sovereignty, values and national interests from foreign interference" and highlighted the passage of a stringent new espionage and foreign interference law last year.

The calls and messages have taken a heavy toll. The tightknit Adelaide Uighur community of about 170 families has watched helplessly as an increasing number of their relatives in China have been taken to the internment camps. Many think their activism has led to such imprisonments — and, in some cases, deaths. The community’s growth has also trickled to a standstill as leaving China has become harder and harder for Uighurs.

“Because we live here, they suffer,” Turan said. As he sat in a Uighur restaurant in central Adelaide and recalled his own father’s death, he was interrupted by the restaurant’s owner, who approached the table to share details about his own family’s disappearance.

All of the Uighurs interviewed for this report said they had experienced depression or anxiety following the detention of their relatives and continuing harassment. “Sometimes I want to kill myself,” said Almas Nizamidin, 28, a construction worker who says his wife is being detained in a Chinese internment camp and who has lobbied Australian lawmakers unsuccessfully to raise the issue with Chinese officials.

“We all have psychological issues here,” Turan agreed. “At work, I try not to cry.”

For him, the questions he used to fear most began early in the morning, at the breakfast table with his children. “Do you have parents?” his 5-year-old son repeatedly asked. “Why are they not here?”

“Even the children go through this trauma,” Turan said. “That’s the hardest part.”

China is Australia’s biggest export market, putting Canberra in an awkward position. Australia’s government is a vocal critic of the treatment of Uighurs; it joined the United States as recently as November in calling on China to close its camps. But Nurmuhammad Said Majid, the president of the East Turkistan Australian Association (“East Turkistan” is the term used by Uighurs to describe Xinjiang), believes that Australia’s increasing dependence on China has made it more difficult for his community to have their complaints heard.

“We’re paying a heavy price for what we do here,” Majid said.

While sitting for an interview at Southern Australia’s State Library in Adelaide, Majid noticed red lanterns outside the library, announcing a new exhibition on ancient China. Such exhibitions and other intercultural exchanges have become more frequent in recent years, despite Australia’s criticisms of China’s human rights record.

“When I see those lanterns,” Majid said, pointing to them, “I see the blood of our families.”

This story has been updated with comments from the Australian Department of Home Affairs.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/20 ... australia/
DESPITE the glowing smiles and proud tone of Chinese news presenters, all is not peace and harmony behind the Great Wall.

As the West’s eyes linger on China’s artificial islands and expansionist moves into the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Beijing finds itself forced to focus on what’s going on at home.

The social advances of recent decades have been undone.

Embryonic democratic and human rights movements have been silenced. Moves to bring the Communist Party itself under the rule of law quashed.

Every aspect of Chinese society is being brought back firmly under State control.

And there are troubled times ahead.

“There are a number issues that can become real problems for China,” says University of Adelaide Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies Dr Gerry Groot. “Climate change is one. Water shortage is another. A rapidly aging population is a third. Sex imbalance is another … Then there are its repressed peoples.”

The Chinese Communist Party appears determined to muscle its way through them all.

To do so, it’s strengthening its grip on every aspect of the economy, and society.

Online. In the workplace. In public.

Every Chinese citizen is being watched - and graded.

And the shadow behind every loss of liberty belongs to President Xi Jinping.

After the shock of the 1980s Tiananmen Square uprising, China sought to ease social tensions by relaxing controls. It gave people more freedoms and opening up as the economy boomed.

For two decades, there was a steady flow of positive stories about improvements to human rights and restrictions to the power of the Party.

The days of this more relaxed China are now long gone, Dr Groot says.

But the perceptions of the rest of the world are lagging far behind.

“One of the problems we have in Australia when most people attempt to understand what’s happening in China is they can’t really understand the nature of the Communist Party, how it works and how it controls things,” Dr Groot says.

When talking about China and China, we’re not talking about the general population, he says. We’re talking about what the Communist Party does, through its many arms. It’s an enormous bureaucratic system. And there’s no opposition.

“There are periods when the Party has allowed criticism. But this isn’t one of them,” Dr Groot says. “We’re seeing a crimping of the space for criticism. We’re seeing a rollback of key policies.”

Before Xi Jinping, there was a clear attempt to improve procedural fairness in China. To make it less personalistic, which is a major source of corruption, and to improve the administrative and legal system.

“That was the space that allowed in the NGOs and rights defenders because, for the first time since 1949, ordinary citizens could sue the state,” he says.

“Xi sees that all as the weakening of party control.

“But it’s all gone by the board now. We’ve seen the criminalisation of lawyers. And we’ve seen the very active expansion of the Party through the United Front Work Department into law firms to stop them becoming political through pushing human rights.”

Before Xi, the rule of law had started to mean something, Dr Groot says.

“Now we’ve very clearly got a return to rule by law. And the law means whatever Xi Jinping or the Party wants it to be, that’s the problem.”

Foreign nationals rarely have any negative encounters with China’s Communist Party behemoth, be they ordinary Australians, observers or even travellers in China, “especially business people who tend to have a very limited view of the world,” Dr Groot says.

“But they’re often bouncing up against it in a positive way. So they don’t see it for what it is.

“They’re not seeing what’s happening to Christians … they’re not seeing what’s happening to the Muslim Uyghurs … and the plight of the Falun Gong is way down the list of priorities. They just don’t see it yet. There would have to be something like a Tiananmen moment for people to shake that favourable view of China.”

DYSTOPIA RISING

Poor Winnie the Pooh has become the symbol of China’s all-encompassing dystopia.

The roly-poly bear of children’s literature bore a certain resemblance to President Xi’s soft features. This was seized upon in Chinese social media memes.

The honey-loving bear was quickly banned.

“It’s an expression of resistance, and even that’s too much for the Party,” Dr Groot says. “The leadership has become highly politicised, and they try to push that down the system. People at lower levels, to try to cover themselves, become hypersensitive to anything that might be interpreted as negative to their seniors.”

In China, dogma is rapidly replacing pragmatism.

“This dystopian element is really interesting because, under Maoism, there was a lot of emphasis on ideological correctness,” Dr Groot says. “Mao’s belief that as long as you had the right political attitude, anything could be achieved. It’s one of the reasons for the disasters of the ‘great leap forward’ between 58 and 61.”

Restoring this ideological correctness is a central plank of President Xi’s presidency.

“Xi is trying to reimpose a correct political line. The problem is, they can’t really decide what that is!” Dr Groot says.

“He believes in the legacy of the Party and the role of the Party and the centrality of the Party for China to achieve greatness. And, basically, unsaid is only he can do it. Clearly, enough people in the party have bought that for him to exercise this power.”

So Xi is trying to forge a new Chinese identity - founded on his own thoughts.

“He seems to think of himself as indispensable, and as a guardian of the revolutionary heroes – like his father and others including Mao. So you cannot criticise Mao anymore.”

Dr Groot says the Communist Party still wants to emphasise Marxism. But they’ve given up on the ideas of class struggle, fighting capitalism and eliminating the profit motive.

“It’s because that’s an obvious weakness a lot of outsiders tend to dismiss this new ideology as window dressing. But I think that’s a mistake.

“They’re desperately casting around for ways to fill that vacuum. They way they’re doing it is to redefine aspects of previous Chinese customs and traditions as part of Marxism. Now the fact that it doesn’t fit proper Marxist theory is not the point.”

DEMOCRACY ECLIPSED

Signs of China’s social reversal began to emerge a decade ago.

The economy was booming. The populace was experimenting with its new-found freedoms.

But clouds were beginning to appear on the horizon.

“Growth is fine,” Dr Groot says. “But there’s an enormous debt burden.”

There is central state debt. There is private company debt. There is local government debt.

But, for the first time, there’s also personal debt. And this is a new experience for many Chinese.

Managing that debt relies on continued growth.

“Growth is going to have to slow because of the need to try to preserve the environment, and because China’s likely to run out of water,” Dr Groot says, referring to reports of acute water shortages and pollution.

“They’re also running out of a young workforce as well, as the population is ageing quite rapidly,” he added.

Growing debt. Shrinking growth. An unbalanced social demographic.

It’s all pointing towards difficult times ahead.

“If the Communist Party can’t manage the economy – even if it’s just a dramatic slowdown rather than a dramatic recession – then the Party is going to have lots of trouble because so many urban people will be hurt,” Dr Groot says.

“They used to worry about the countryside. But they now know that’s not where future problems will be. Instead, it will be the rising urban middle class, many of whom have become accustomed to constantly improving standards of living, many of whom have got themselves into extensive debt to buy apartments and things …”

The fallout of China’s one-child policy is now being felt. Mainly because so many families chose to have boys - not girls - to support them in their old age.

Those boys are now men. And their prospects for romance are remote.

“People who have sons who want wives have often got themselves into severe debt to buy apartments so the son can be marriageable,” Dr Groot says.

“If all of a sudden, the bottom drops out of the property market, it could be a disaster that the Communist Party would find hard to control.”

But Beijing is busily putting in place measures to weather just such a storm.

ONE UNITED FRONT

The Chinese Communist Party’s strength lies in its carefully managed United Front Work Department.

It’s a complicated, interwoven structure of social and professional associations. The Party establishes all of them. The Party appoints all association leaders. And while associations inform the Central Committee on developments in their field, they’re also a tool to enforce Party policy.

“The United Front is particularly useful in managing crises,” Dr Groot says.

“Just before Xi came into power in 2012 – when they increased the size of the United Front Work Department quite dramatically by 40,000 - I wondered if that was because they were worried about problems arising.”

Political muscle in China does not come from being a President with a limitless term. It comes from being Party Chairman.

“Xi’s power comes from the fact that he is the head of the party. And there was never any limit on that. There were informal conventions that had sort of arisen that many hoped would continue and be formalised. But these are now gone.”

And the dominant hand he wields over Chinese society is the Communist Party’s United Front Workers Department.

The United Front is very close to Xi’s heart. His father was a key figure in the organisation. And if you control it, you control the Party.

“There’s a really fascinating aspect of social dynamics in China … the paradox of trust.

“That paradox is that people trust the centre – Xi Jinping and the Central Committee – but they don’t tend to trust the Communist Party and government officials nearest to them. They also have little trust in other Chinese people that they don’t know.”

This is part of the United Front’s success.

“One element of United Front work that plays into that is to have all these associations that people can actually associate with and feel some sort of commonality with – especially ones based on home province.”

This broadens the Party’s reach. And power.

“Interestingly, one of the reasons we’re not hearing about what’s happening to the Tibetans and Uyghurs, in particular, is the success of the United Front Department in shutting down these disparate critics,” Dr Groot says. “They’ve even turned up in Adelaide to do their work.”

THOUGHT CONTROL

It’s political correctness in the extreme. Be it mass media or simple web-based social chat rooms, all must conform with the Party line.

That applies to current affairs. It also applies to history.

“There used to be a lot of fairly free discussion at Chinese elite levels and in academia,” Dr Groot says, “but one of the interesting things about Xi is his crackdown on opinion and an increasing importance on ideological education.”

News editors and producers, internet content managers and celebrities must now undergo extensive and repetitive political education.

“The biggest danger for the Communist Party is some sort of economic crisis - not an external one,” Dr Groot says, “but they keep on focussing on external threats to keep people looking away from internal problems.”

And keeping the minds of the populace ‘on topic’ is an important Party policy.

Schools and universities are pushing strict Party political training - even down the level of defining how the ‘perfect’ Chinese woman conducts her life.

Culture is being manipulated. Patriotic and militant traditional tunes are ‘killing pop’, Chinese state media proudly declares.

The Chinese Communist Party has even pushed through laws preventing the criticism of the Party, its history and its people. It’s a direct reversal of the relaxations of the 1990s which resulted in tacit admissions that things hadn’t always been rosy.

“You criticise those now, and you can be accused of historical nihilism,” Dr Groot says. “The consequences can range from being rapped over the knuckles to losing your job to being imprisoned.”

It’s political correctness, with Chinese characteristics.

“One of the really interesting things about Xi Jinping, I think, is that he seems to take a lot of past propaganda at much more face value than any of his predecessors did,” Dr Groot says. “His predecessors tended to know the difference between what really happened and what they say happened. But he’s much more literal about it.”

DISSOLVING DIFFERENCE

If there’s one thing the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t like, it’s difference.

Difference of thought. Difference of race. Difference in ideas.

“There’s a strong racial element to Chinese nationalism,” Dr Groot says. “The willingness to entertain difference, for example even among Tibetans, Uyghurs or Kazakhs – or even the Hui who are the sort of ethnic Chinese Muslims – has declined dramatically.”

Among the most dramatic recent moves have been against religious believers.

“It is a sudden change in policy towards forced assimilation.”

The Muslim Hui, in particular, have become very wary about attending mosque, Dr Groot says.

“The Communist party is trying to redefine what it is to be Christian and what it means to be a Muslim, that’s what I mean about forced assimilation. Sinoficationis what it’s called. And basically, they’re rewriting the Bible. They’re even trying to find out ways they can reinterpret the Koran to better suit the Communist Party’s role.”

And China’s not attempting to hide the fact.

Zhang Yijiong, the leader of the United Front Work Department, told the October Chinese Communist Party Congress that all religious faiths must subscribe to the country’s “socialist core values.” He said the Party wanted to prevent anyone from “taking advantage of religion to harm national security” and “endangering national unity.”

It’s a recurring theme.

Dr Groot highlighted the recent plight of at least 500 people who posted on WeChat groups that had endorsed the opinions of a Chinese-American billionaire real estate investor who had been openly critical of the Communist Party.

“They have been called in by local Party and United Front representatives for cups of tea, forced off WeChat groups and so forth. That’s a little example of what they can do if they want to.”

It’s all part of China’s dystopian reality.

“Surveillance in China isn’t taken seriously by many people,” Dr Groot says. “But what they don’t realise is that if the Party becomes interested in you, in a very short time they can pull together dozens, hundreds of bits of information about you, and build a very comprehensive picture about you probably within minutes if not hours.”

Such monitoring isn’t new, Dr Groot says. Even in the 1990s and 1980s, Chinese authorities could do this in a day or so.

“But the nature of things has changed. Once upon a time people could be guided, controlled and watched over by the other people in their work unit. But with the diversification of the economy and the rise of private employment, other means had to be found. Colleagues no longer make that difference.”

Now, Beijing has another tool to do that for them.

COLD COMFORT

China is using technology to build the foundation of its dystopia.

And it’s being imposed under the guise of security, safety and efficiency.

“If you think about Chinese history, you’ve never had a China which is so integrated organisationally and bureaucratically, with roads, with railways, with the military, with the police … there’s never been in all of Chinese history a level of integration as there is now,” Dr Groot says.

Now, the Chinese – like much of the rest of the world – are almost eager to carry the ideal surveillance device with them everywhere: their smartphones.

“The Party can monitor everything on your phone – and it’s almost impossible to get around China without a smartphone. If you go to China and you can’t use Alipay or something, you’re going to have a hard time using your credit card and cash is often simply not welcome.”

This is an anti-corruption measure. But it’s also incredibly convenient. Even beggars have Alipay accounts – so people simply swipe their phone over a beggar to give them some money.

“The social media service WeChat is also completely compromised. But everything’s on WeChat,” Dr Groot says. “The reason a lot of official stuff goes through WeChat is precisely because they know it is monitored. Not because it’s private.”

Knowing one’s words can be seen, approved - and potentially improve your social standing - offers a sense of security, he says.

It’s all because of the Party’s social credit scheme – which is not one scheme but a number of them – is purportedly welcomed by lots of people. It amounts to a secret loyalty score applied to each and every citizen. It can affect everything from job prospects to travel opportunities.

“Most people are just passively accepting,” Dr Groot says. “And those people that are anti-Party are going to keep to themselves. Especially when it’s so easy to ferret them out these days if they do anything, or if they post anything.”

But the desire to win Party approval can drive people to extremes.

“You end up with ridiculous examples of actions – such as local officials going and paying homage at trees that were planted by Xi Jinping or something. Because it can’t hurt to go over the top, right? But you might get into trouble for not showing you were doing something.”

It’s all about covering your bases and keeping the Party onside.

“A lot of officials don’t know how to cover themselves. That’s a problem. That encourages overreaction and over-zealousness,” Dr Groot says.

SIGNS OF THINGS TO COME?

Not everything about the surveillance state and social score sits comfortably with China’s population, however.

“One of the ironies about this Chinese dystopia, and some of the Chinese have twigged to this, is that they can pick out a dissident in a crowd of 10s of thousands - but they can’t stop scammers,” Dr Groot says. “Or they’re unwilling to stop scammers, presumably because the scammers are still able to get around anti-corruption campaigns”.

But it’s been high-profile anti-corruption campaigns that have stood President Xi in good stead with ordinary people.

“This is because they don’t trust rich business people, and a lot of those have been jailed or disappeared,” Dr Groot says.

“Although there has been a bit of blowback lately. The anti-corruption campaign is very popular, but you can see that it hasn’t really been all that effective in some key areas.

“That’s why the first massive strike they’ve had in ages has been happening … there’s a national trucker strike. That’s a huge surprise. It’s had very little coverage.”

Truck drivers have been ceasing work all over the country over poor conditions, corrupt charges and corporate manipulation.

So there is still room within society for civil action.

“Some people can get away with actions that others can’t. So, there’s been repeated protests by not insignificant numbers of retired soldiers, in particular, complaining about their pension conditions and failure to deliver on promises to look after them.”

And failure to address such core issues can eventually fester into open revolt.

“Very rapidly, China’s social problems could create a backlash even the best surveillance state will struggle to contain,” Dr Groot says. “They will have to use brute coercion in ways that will undercut Party legitimacy.

“Xi Jinping and the technocrats seem to be counting upon improvements in artificial intelligence and surveillance can compensate for any other weaknesses on how they can control people. So even if there is a crisis, I’m sure the Party can weather it. But whether Xi Jinping and the leaders can is another question.”
https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/spe ... 57fdf0c8de
Harvard University Professor and Two Chinese Nationals Charged in Three Separate China Related Cases

The Department of Justice announced today that the Chair of Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department and two Chinese nationals have been charged in connection with aiding the People’s Republic of China.

Dr. Charles Lieber, 60, Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, was arrested this morning and charged by criminal complaint with one count of making a materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statement. Lieber will appear this afternoon before Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler in federal court in Boston, Massachusetts.

Yanqing Ye, 29, a Chinese national, was charged in an indictment today with one count each of visa fraud, making false statements, acting as an agent of a foreign government and conspiracy. Ye is currently in China.

Zaosong Zheng, 30, a Chinese national, was arrested on Dec. 10, 2019, at Boston’s Logan International Airport and charged by criminal complaint with attempting to smuggle 21 vials of biological research to China. On Jan. 21, 2020, Zheng was indicted on one count of smuggling goods from the United States and one count of making false, fictitious or fraudulent statements. He has been detained since Dec. 30, 2019.

Dr. Charles Lieber

According to court documents, since 2008, Dr. Lieber who has served as the Principal Investigator of the Lieber Research Group at Harvard University, which specialized in the area of nanoscience, has received more than $15,000,000 in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Defense (DOD). These grants require the disclosure of significant foreign financial conflicts of interest, including financial support from foreign governments or foreign entities. Unbeknownst to Harvard University beginning in 2011, Lieber became a “Strategic Scientist” at Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) in China and was a contractual participant in China’s Thousand Talents Plan from in or about 2012 to 2017. China’s Thousand Talents Plan is one of the most prominent Chinese Talent recruit plans that are designed to attract, recruit, and cultivate high-level scientific talent in furtherance of China’s scientific development, economic prosperity and national security. These talent programs seek to lure Chinese overseas talent and foreign experts to bring their knowledge and experience to China and reward individuals for stealing proprietary information. Under the terms of Lieber’s three-year Thousand Talents contract, WUT paid Lieber $50,000 USD per month, living expenses of up to 1,000,000 Chinese Yuan (approximately $158,000 USD at the time) and awarded him more than $1.5 million to establish a research lab at WUT. In return, Lieber was obligated to work for WUT “not less than nine months a year” by “declaring international cooperation projects, cultivating young teachers and Ph.D. students, organizing international conference[s], applying for patents and publishing articles in the name of” WUT.

The complaint alleges that in 2018 and 2019, Lieber lied about his involvement in the Thousand Talents Plan and affiliation with WUT. On or about, April 24, 2018, during an interview with investigators, Lieber stated that he was never asked to participate in the Thousand Talents Program, but he “wasn’t sure” how China categorized him. In November 2018, NIH inquired of Harvard whether Lieber had failed to disclose his then-suspected relationship with WUT and China’s Thousand Talents Plan. Lieber caused Harvard to falsely tell NIH that Lieber “had no formal association with WUT” after 2012, that “WUT continued to falsely exaggerate” his involvement with WUT in subsequent years, and that Lieber “is not and has never been a participant in” China’s Thousand Talents Plan.

Yanqing Ye

According to the indictment, Ye is a Lieutenant of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the armed forces of the People’s Republic of China and member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). On her J-1 visa application, Ye falsely identified herself as a “student” and lied about her ongoing military service at the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT), a top military academy directed by the CCP. It is further alleged that while studying at Boston University’s (BU) Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering from October 2017 to April 2019, Ye continued to work as a PLA Lieutenant completing numerous assignments from PLA officers such as conducting research, assessing U.S. military websites and sending U.S. documents and information to China.

According to court documents, on April 20, 2019, federal officers interviewed Ye at Boston’s Logan International Airport. During the interview, it is alleged that Ye falsely claimed that she had minimal contact with two NUDT professors who were high-ranking PLA officers. However, a search of Ye’s electronic devices demonstrated that at the direction of one NUDT professor, who was a PLA Colonel, Ye had accessed U.S. military websites, researched U.S. military projects and compiled information for the PLA on two U.S. scientists with expertise in robotics and computer science. Furthermore, a review of a WeChat conversation revealed that Ye and the other PLA official from NUDT were collaborating on a research paper about a risk assessment model designed to decipher data for military applications. During the interview, Ye admitted that she held the rank of Lieutenant in the PLA and admitted she was a member of the CCP.

Zaosong Zheng

In August 2018, Zheng entered the United States on a J-1 visa and conducted cancer-cell research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston from Sept. 4, 2018, to Dec. 9, 2019. It is alleged that on Dec. 9, 2019, Zheng stole 21 vials of biological research and attempted to smuggle them out of the United States aboard a flight destined for China. Federal officers at Logan Airport discovered the vials hidden in a sock inside one of Zheng’s bags, and not properly packaged. It is alleged that initially, Zheng lied to officers about the contents of his luggage, but later admitted he had stolen the vials from a lab at Beth Israel. Zheng stated that he intended to bring the vials to China to use them to conduct research in his own laboratory and publish the results under his own name.

The charge of making false, fictitious and fraudulent statements provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of visa fraud provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of acting as an agent of a foreign government provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of conspiracy provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of smuggling goods from the United States provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Field Division Joseph R. Bonavolonta; Michael Denning, Director of Field Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Boston Field Office; Leigh-Alistair Barzey, Special Agent in Charge of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Northeast Field Office; Philip Coyne, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; and William Higgins, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement, Boston Field Office made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorneys B. Stephanie Siegmann, Jason Casey and Benjamin Tolkoff of Lelling’s National Security Unit are prosecuting these cases with the assistance of trial attorneys William Mackie and David Aaron at the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

These case are part of the Department of Justice’s China Initiative, which reflects the strategic priority of countering Chinese national security threats and reinforces the President’s overall national security strategy. In addition to identifying and prosecuting those engaged in trade secret theft, hacking and economic espionage, the initiative will increase efforts to protect our critical infrastructure against external threats including foreign direct investment, supply chain threats and the foreign agents seeking to influence the American public and policymakers without proper registration.
https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/harvard- ... na-related
Four Members of China’s Military Indicted Over Massive Equifax Breach
Disclosed in 2017, hack into the credit-reporting company compromised data on nearly 150 million Americans


By Aruna Viswanatha,
Dustin Volz and
Kate O’Keeffe
Updated Feb. 11, 2020 10:09 am ET

WASHINGTON—Four members of China’s military have been indicted by the U.S. government on charges of hacking into Equifax Inc. and plundering sensitive data on nearly 150 million Americans as part of a massive heist that officials said also stole trade secrets from the credit-reporting agency.

In an escalation of U.S. efforts to counter China’s alleged attempts to use cyber theft and other means of technology acquisition to become the world’s dominant economic power, a federal grand jury in Atlanta returned a nine-count indictment made public Monday against the four Chinese nationals working for the People’s Liberation Army. They are accused of conspiring to steal reams of data as part of a sophisticated hacking operation that exploited a major vulnerability in the software used by Equifax’s online dispute portal.

The charges for the 2017 breach came as the U.S. and China remain locked in negotiations over trade after recently hammering out the first phase of an agreement. In brief remarks on Monday, U.S. Attorney General William Barr sought to distinguish the alleged Equifax theft from accepted intelligence gathering that governments conduct.

“This was a deliberate and sweeping intrusion into the private information of the American people,” Mr. Barr said. “We collect information only for legitimate national security purposes; we don’t indiscriminately violate the privacy of ordinary citizens,” he said.

China has historically denied involvement in hacks on U.S. businesses.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the country a “staunch defender of cybersecurity” and said of the charges: “The Chinese government, military and relevant personnel never engage in cyber theft of trade secrets.”

The indictment is the latest from U.S. authorities to blame China for a compromise of a massive tranche of personal data. Officials have previously blamed China for a hack of more than 20 million files on government employees and their associates at the Office of Personnel Management and a theft of tens of millions of records from the health-insurance provider Anthem Inc. Mr. Barr also mentioned China’s alleged hacks on managed service providers—a campaign known as Cloud Hopper—that a Wall Street Journal investigation in December revealed was far larger than previously known.

Investigators have concluded that China was responsible for the hack of hundreds of millions of records from hotel company Marriott International Inc. and are working to prepare an indictment related to that breach as well, people familiar with the matter said.

In May 2014 the U.S. indicted five Chinese military officers, publicly accusing employees of a foreign power with cybercrimes against U.S. firms for the first time.

Beijing has repeatedly denied conducting such activities and has rejected previous U.S. cybercrime prosecutions, calling them attempts to vilify China and warning that the accusations could harm relations between the two countries.

But in recent years, U.S. hacking charges against China—as well as Russia, Iran and North Korea—have grown increasingly common.

U.S. intelligence officials have warned that such large data sets like those allegedly pilfered by China can have significant counterintelligence value and can be collated with one another to create detailed dossiers on, for example, U.S. diplomats or spies working undercover.

“For years, we have witnessed China’s voracious appetite for the personal data of Americans, including the theft of personnel records from the Office of Personnel Management, the intrusion into Marriott hotels and Anthem health insurance company, and now the wholesale theft of credit and other information from Equifax,” Mr. Barr said.

Mr. Barr’s mention of Marriott appeared to be the first public U.S. acknowledgment that China is believed responsible for that breach, which was disclosed in November 2018.

Officials said they didn’t know what the alleged hackers did with the Equifax information, but said they expected Chinese intelligence could use the massive data trove—considered to be one of the largest hacks on record—to develop artificial-intelligence capabilities.

“If you get PII of people, personally identifiable information, you can do a lot with that. That can be monetized, it can be used…for targeting packages for U.S. government officials,” FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said, adding that the agency hadn’t yet seen such activity in the Equifax case.

The breach into Equifax, publicly disclosed in September 2017, prompted prolonged public outrage and led to a series of hearings in Congress in which the company came under bipartisan scrutiny and resulted in the resignation of then-chief executive, Richard Smith. It was viewed as especially severe due to its size and the richness of data compromised, and the Atlanta-based firm sustained withering criticism for not patching a months-old known vulnerability that a congressional study later concluded could have prevented the intrusion.

Though China’s alleged involvement had been previously reported in the media, the indictment lays out details of the operation in which hackers allegedly maintained persistent access to Equifax’s systems for weeks, stole login credentials and ultimately ran about 9,000 queries for data, which were masked through encrypted channels, before being detected and booted out.

But the indictment doesn’t provide much detail on a new claim that emerged Monday: That the Equifax act also constituted economic espionage. According to the indictment, the stolen trade secrets included information on how Equifax compiled personal data from a variety of sources “at significant effort and expense” and the use of a “proprietary database scheme” to store that information. It doesn’t state how or if that technology is being used to benefit the Chinese state.

The Trump administration has previously accused China of violating a 2015 bilateral pact not to engage in cyber theft of trade secrets. But experts who track Chinese nation-state hacking said the Equifax indictment seemed to lack strong evidence to support the claim of trade-secret theft and that the compromise of the database might have been incidental to the goal of siphoning another massive trove of data on Americans from a U.S. business.

Equifax has struggled with concerns about Chinese espionage for several years, including worries dating back to 2015 that a former employee had stolen information that could help China develop its national credit-reporting system, the Journal reported.

Last year, Equifax agreed to a $700 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in an effort to compensate victims.

“There was a very close collaboration with the authorities,” Equifax Chief Executive Mark Begor said. “This is obviously a pretty complex situation, particularly when you’ve got a military arm of a foreign state like China doing these kind of attacks on a company like Equifax.”

The data that was stolen included Social Security and driver’s license numbers, addresses, birthdays and other information. The breach began in May 2017 at the latest and continued through July 2017.

The indictment alleges that the defendants used 34 servers located in nearly 20 countries to infiltrate the company’s network.

The four defendants—Wu Zhiyong, Wang Qian, Xu Ke and Liu Lei—are allegedly members of the People’s Liberation Army’s 54th Research Institute, according to the indictment, and are believed to be residing in China, outside the reach of U.S. law enforcement. Officials acknowledged they were unlikely to face prosecution in a U.S. courtroom.

Mr. Barr and other senior Justice Department officials sought to link the cyberattack to what they called China’s overarching goals to supplant the U.S. through a range of underhanded and illegal acts as the world’s leader in advanced technology, a struggle viewed as having significant national-security implications.

At the news conference, prosecutors took the unusual step of displaying a Wanted poster translated into Chinese and also included the Chinese characters of the defendants’ names in the indictment.

Following PLA overhauls beginning in 2015, the 54th Research Institute was moved under the aegis of the PLA’s Strategic Support Force’s Network Systems Department, or China’s counterpart to U.S. Cyber Command, said Elsa Kania, a technology and national-security expert at Washington’s nonpartisan Center for a New American Security.

The 54th Research Institute, which has traditionally focused on supporting electronic warfare and intelligence as opposed to engaging in cyber espionage operations, wouldn’t at first glance appear to be the most likely suspect in such a breach, said Ms. Kania. But the indictment indicates “its missions may be evolving.”

Lawmakers in both parties applauded the indictment but warned that the Chinese cyber threat to U.S. interests remained substantial.

“Warning lights are still flashing red,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said. “The Chinese Communist Party will leave no stone unturned in its effort to steal and exploit American data.”

Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the intelligence panel, added that Equifax still bore responsibility as well. “The indictment does not detract from the myriad of vulnerabilities and process deficiencies that we saw in Equifax’s systems and response to the hack.”

—Catherine Stupp contributed to this article.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/four-membe ... _lead_pos1

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Chinese wet markets come back to life, sell bats and other animals as world continues to fight coronavirus

While most of these wet markets in China were shuttered as the disease widened its grip, it is now being reported that the dank, narrow markets have come back to life
By Pathikrit Sanyal
Published on : 23:46 PST, Mar 28, 2020

China’s wet markets have been internationally blamed for the rise and the spread of the novel coronavirus aka SARS-CoV-2. The pandemic, which has recorded over 660,000 cases and more than 30,000 deaths globally, had its point of origin in these wet markets, just like the SARS outbreak of 2003.

Apart from the coronavirus spread, these wet markets in China, like the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan that was shuttered in January 2020, also face regular criticism for animal cruelty. “When you bring animals together in these unnatural situations, you have the risk of human diseases emerging,” Kevin Olival, a disease ecologist and conservationist at the EcoHealth Alliance, told National Geographic earlier this year. “If the animals are housed in bad conditions under a lot of stress, it might create a better opportunity for them to shed virus and to be sick.”

While most of these wet markets in China were shuttered as the disease widened its grip, it is now being reported that the dank, narrow markets have come back to life. “China celebrated its 'victory' over the coronavirus by reopening squalid meat markets of the type that started the pandemic three months ago, with no apparent attempt to raise hygiene standards to prevent a future outbreak,” reported The Daily Mail.

The report added that thousands of customers flocked to a sprawling indoor market in Guilin, southwest China, even as several counties across the globe are right now under lockdown, in an attempt to prevent community transmission of the coronavirus. The Daily Mail correspondent described how cages of different species of animals were piled on top of each other. The same report added that in another meat market in Dongguan in southern China, a medicine seller advertised bats (widely believed to be the cause of the initial Wuhan outbreak) along with scorpions and other creatures on sale.

Official Chinese figures may imply that the country may now be free of infection, but it is worth asking if opening such wet markets so soon is a good idea, especially considering how unsanitary the conditions in these places usually are. “Everyone here believes the outbreak is over and there's nothing to worry about anymore. It's just a foreign problem now as far as they are concerned,” said a China-based correspondent who captured photos of the markets in operation for The Daily Mail on Sunday.

Another correspondent who visited Dongguan said: “The markets have gone back to operating in exactly the same way as they did before coronavirus. The only difference is that security guards try to stop anyone taking pictures which would never have happened before.”

Genetic analysis of the virus, many have reported, has revealed that the virus originated in bats. It is yet to be determined how the disease was transferred from bats to humans. Although a theory that is gaining more and more popularity in the scientific community is that it had to do with pangolins, the scaly anteater-like mammals that are trafficked illegally in China. Pangolins are often found in these wet markets.

Fingers have also been pointed at factory farming for the spread of the disease. But that doesn’t take away the blame from the wet markets altogether yet.
https://meaww.com/china-wet-markets-cor ... ts-reopens
Xi Jinping's COVID-19 failures reveal how low Chinese leaders will sink to retain power

Beijing's latest power play and the disregard for human life

By Marsha Blackburn - - Thursday, April 9, 2020

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Propaganda. Torture. Dissidents thrown into concentration camps. Are we describing 1960s China or the present day?

It matters little to the millions of Chinese held hostage by China Communist Party head Xi Jinping, who earned his place among history’s most notorious madmen well before he allowed 2019’s novel coronavirus to ravage his own country.

Mao’s “Great Leap” has devolved into Xi’s Great Charade, but communism’s brutal devices remain much the same. This time, the dissidents are doctors and lawyers, and the tanks in Tiananmen Square have been replaced by a smaller, silent threat.

Over the past several days, I have had the privilege of speaking with human rights activists who risked everything to expose Beijing’s latest power play. They are unanimous in their allegations that the China Communist Party (CCP) knew for weeks that COVID-19 was spreading, that it was highly contagious and dangerous, and chose to lie about it.

That deception has so far led to the deaths of thousands and endangered millions more. According to a timeline provided by Yaxue Cao at ChinaChange.org, on Jan. 21, the Hubei provincial government pushed forward with its Lunar New Year celebrations. CCP leaders gathered in the city of Wuhan to observe the festivities. Many of the more than 40 performers forced to participate in this “gala” were already shaking with fever.

Early the next morning, after ensuring party bosses were properly impressed, Hubei Province initiated a second-degree public health emergency response. The damage, however, was done long before that. The world would later discover that officials had waited 51 days before alerting the public to the novel coronavirus epidemic.

The depths to which Beijing will sink to retain its grasp on power are well known; but even now, in the face of a second outbreak, CCP officials persist with systemic repression, censorship and outright thuggery to control the flow of information.

Chinese human rights lawyer Jiangang Chen described to me the atmosphere of chaos and intimidation surrounding lawyers representing victims of COVID-19. Many who attempt to speak out are imprisoned and tortured, while others are contacted by CCP agents and warned to back off.

Beijing’s harassment of those closest to the pandemic’s origins should illustrate the flimsiness of their narrative. But according to Dr. Jianli Yang, president and founder of Citizen Power Initiatives for China, the CCP’s propaganda machine still enjoys stunning levels of influence, especially over young people. Fortunately, outside the mainland, a new generation of activists is committed to exposing Beijing’s crimes.

Hong Kong activist and Demosisto Secretary-General Joshua Wong railed at the idea of China as a guardian of global health, scoffing at the CCP’s recent attempts at “mask diplomacy.” “Beijing’s interests override the health of Hong Kongers,” he told me, as he described how misinformation about the coronavirus has compounded the difficulties of resistance. Fellow activist Kinmin Chan, who was just recently released from prison, described a Hong Kong where most would rather die of COVID-19 than step foot in a hospital and risk arrest.

Elsewhere in China, the CCP’s stranglehold has made it nigh impossible for Chinese to tell the truth about the roots of the pandemic. Uyghur advocate Rushan Abbas described for me unsettling parallels between Beijing’s coronavirus response, and their ongoing efforts to repress dissent in Xinjiang. One activist from the International Campaign for Tibet told me that CCP officials have made a habit of arresting dissidents under the guise of enforcing social distancing regulations.

All this sounds familiar, because the story of China’s coronavirus failure is the story of communism itself. The façade protecting Beijing’s petty tyrants has crumbled, revealing an illegitimate nation that survives by virtue of its disregard for human life.

To stay silent is to condone systemic torment. To look away is to concede the global economy, and millions of lives. America, this shining city on a hill, is the world’s last best hope not just for survival, but for a new era of intolerance for despotism enshrined in the trappings of diplomacy. We must not fail.

Because hope, as one activist told me, is the only thing we have.
https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/20 ... low-chine/

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Re: Beer Garden

#3162 Post by rev » Fri Apr 10, 2020 10:59 am

Suddenly, the Chinese Threat to Australia Seems Very Real

After a businessman said Chinese agents sought to implant him in Parliament, that revelation and other espionage cases have finally signaled the end of a “let’s get rich together” era.


By Damien Cave and Jamie Tarabay

Nov. 28, 2019

CANBERRA, Australia — A Chinese defector to Australia who detailed political interference by Beijing. A businessman found dead after telling the authorities about a Chinese plot to install him in Parliament. Suspicious men following critics of Beijing in major Australian cities.

For a country that just wants calm commerce with China — the propellant behind 28 years of steady growth — the revelations of the past week have delivered a jolt.

Fears of Chinese interference once seemed to hover indistinctly over Australia. Now, Beijing’s political ambitions, and the espionage operations that further them, suddenly feel local, concrete and ever-present.

“It’s become the inescapable issue,” said Hugh White, a former intelligence official who teaches strategic studies at the Australian National University. “We’ve underestimated how quickly China’s power has grown along with its ambition to use that power.”

American officials often describe Australia as a test case, the ally close enough to Beijing to see what could be coming for others.

In public and in private, they’ve pushed Australia’s leaders to confront China more directly — pressure that may only grow after President Trump signed legislation to impose sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials over human rights abuses in Hong Kong.

Even as it confronts the specter of brazen espionage, Australia’s government has yet to draw clear boundaries for an autocratic giant that is both an economic partner and a threat to freedom, a conundrum faced by many countries, but more acutely by Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison continues to insist that Australia need not choose between China and the United States. A new foreign interference law has barely been enforced, and secrecy is so ingrained that even lawmakers and experts lack the in-depth information they need.

As a result, the country’s intelligence agencies have raised alarms about China in ways that most Australian politicians avoid. The agencies have never been flush with expertise on China, including Chinese speakers, yet they are now in charge of disentangling complex claims of nefarious deeds, all vigorously denied by China.

In the most troubling recent case, first reported by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, the Australian authorities have confirmed that they are investigating accusations made by Nick Zhao, an Australian businessman who told intelligence officials that he had been the target of a plot to install him in Parliament as a Chinese agent.

Mr. Zhao, a 32-year-old luxury car dealer, was a member of his local Liberal Party branch. He was a “perfect target for cultivation,” according to Andrew Hastie, a federal lawmaker and tough critic of Beijing who was briefed on the case.

He told The Age that Mr. Zhao was “a bit of a high-roller in Melbourne, living beyond his means.”

Another businessman with ties to the Chinese government, Mr. Zhao said, offered to provide a million Australian dollars ($677,000) to finance his election campaign for Parliament. But a few months later, in March, Mr. Zhao was found dead in a hotel room. The state’s coroner is investigating the cause of death.

In a rare statement, Mike Burgess, the head of Australia’s domestic spy agency, said on Monday that his organization was aware of Mr. Zhao’s case and was taking it very seriously.

The Chinese government, however, called the accusations a sign of Australian hysteria.

“Stories like ‘Chinese espionage’ or ‘China’s infiltration in Australia,’ with however bizarre plots and eye-catching details, are nothing but lies,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, said at a regular news briefing on Monday.

Beijing has similarly dismissed the case that emerged last week, which involves a young asylum seeker named Wang Liqiang.

Mr. Wang presented himself to the Australian authorities as an important intelligence asset — an assistant to a Hong Kong businessman who Mr. Wang says is responsible for spying, propaganda and disinformation campaigns aimed at quashing dissent in Hong Kong and undermining democracy in Taiwan.

China asserts that he is simply a convicted swindler. On Thursday, a Communist Party tabloid, The Global Times, released video of what it said was Mr. Wang’s 2016 trial on fraud charges, where a young man confessed to bilking someone out of $17,000.

Xiang Xin, the man Mr. Wang identified as his former boss, has denied having anything to do with him, or even knowing him.

The challenge of the case is just beginning. While some analysts have raised doubts about Mr. Wang’s assertions, elements in the detailed 17-page account that he gave to the authorities as part of an asylum application are being taken seriously by law enforcement agencies worldwide.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice detained Mr. Xiang and another executive with the company Mr. Wang said he worked for, China Innovation Investment Limited. Investigators in Taiwan are looking into assertions that their business acted on behalf of Chinese intelligence agencies.

Other details in Mr. Wang’s account — about the kidnapping of booksellers in Hong Kong, spying on Hong Kong university students, and the theft of military technology from the United States — are still being examined by Australian officials.

“Australia’s peak intelligence agencies are being put to the test,” said John Fitzgerald, a China specialist at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. “It’s a tough call, and they cannot afford to get it wrong.”

What’s clear, though, is that they are helping to push the public away from supporting cozy relations. Polls showed a hardening of Australian attitudes about China even before the past week.

Now Mr. Hastie, the China hawk and Liberal Party lawmaker who chairs Parliament’s joint intelligence committee, says his office has been overwhelmed by people across the country who have emailed, called and even sent handwritten letters expressing outrage and anxiety about China’s actions in Australia.

Questions of loyalty continue to swirl around another Liberal Party member of Parliament, Gladys Liu, who fumbled responses to questions in September about her membership in various groups linked to the Chinese Communist Party.

The espionage cases also follow several months of rising tensions at Australian universities, where protests by students from Hong Kong have been disrupted, sometimes with violence, by opponents from the Chinese mainland.

Several student activists have told the authorities that they have been followed or photographed by people who appear to be associated with the Chinese Consulate.

It has even happened to at least one high-profile former official, John Garnaut. A longtime journalist who produced a classified report on Chinese interference for former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2017, he recently acknowledged publicly that he had been stalked by people who appeared to be Chinese agents — in some cases when he was with his family.

These actions of apparent aggression point to a version of China that Australians hardly know. For decades, Australia has based its relations with Beijing on a simple idea: Let’s get rich together. And the mining companies that are especially close to Mr. Morrison’s conservative government have been the biggest winners.

But now more than ever, the country is seeing that for the Communist Party under President Xi Jinping, it’s no longer just about wealth and trade.

“The transactions aren’t satisfying them enough; they want more,” said John Blaxland, a professor of international security and intelligence studies at the Australian National University. “They want to gain influence over decisions about the further involvement of the United States, about further protestations to Chinese actions in the South China Sea, in the South Pacific, in Taiwan.”

Mr. Blaxland, along with American officials, often points out that Australia’s biggest export to China, iron ore, is hard to obtain elsewhere reliably and at the prices Australia’s companies charge. That suggests that the country has more leverage than its leaders might think.

Mr. Hastie, who was recently denied a visa to travel to China as part of a study group that included other members of Parliament, agreed. In an interview, he said the recent revelations were “the first time the Australian public has a concrete example of what we are facing.”

Now, he added, it’s time to adapt.
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/28/worl ... -zhao.html

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Re: Beer Garden

#3163 Post by madelaide » Fri Apr 10, 2020 7:03 pm

Awesome story in InDaily yesterday. Would be great if the SA Gov and associated organisations could land this event in Victoria Park, with battery change / pitstops in the Adelaide Street Circuit area...

This is why I think Formula E would be great for Adelaide. The development of next level technology is at full throttle. If Adelaide doesn't embrace the future of motor racing now, like it did when Holden went from making horse saddles to manufacturing automobiles... the city will miss out on hosting events like this.

https://indaily.com.au/news/business/20 ... aking-off/

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Re: Beer Garden

#3164 Post by rev » Sat Apr 11, 2020 6:50 pm


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Re: Beer Garden

#3165 Post by gnrc_louis » Mon Apr 13, 2020 11:28 am

https://www.smh.com.au/business/workpla ... 54hh0.html

I spoke of this earlier in the thread/or on another thread. Big potential ramifications for new office projects in the future.

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