Archive for July, 2013

Weiner Communication Director Barbara Morgan shares photo of her ‘swear jar’ stuffed with cash

July 31, 2013

  • Communication director Barbara Morgan  couldn’t contain her anger over Olivia Nuzzi’s article about Weiner’s faltering  New York mayoral campaign
  • Nuzzi claimed many interns only joined  the campaign to get close to Huma Abedin ahead of Hillary Clinton’s expected  2016 presidential run
  • She said Weiner mistakenly called her and  other interns Monica
  • Morgan called Nuzzi a series a  expletives, apparently unaware that her rant was ‘on the record’
  • She has since issued an apology and said  she contacted Nuzzi to personally say she was sorry

By  Daily Mail Reporter

The spokeswoman for Anthony Weiner’s mayoral  campaign is trying to laugh off her vitriolic rant against a former intern, whom  she branded a ‘fame-hungry b****’ and a ‘sl**bag.’

Barbara Morgan has apologized for the  comments she made about Olivia Nuzzi to the blog Talking Points Memo, and  said she thought her comments were off the record.

But she tried to shrug off the shocking slurs  by tweeted a picture of a ‘swear jar’ full of cash and a credit card.

‘Not my best day yesterday. Should’ve known  better, been better. Gotta pay up,’ she wrote.

Scroll down for video

Apologies: Embattled Barbara Morgan, right, is seen here with her embattled boss Anthony Weiner. Weiner has promised to stand by his spokewomanApologies: Embattled Barbara Morgan, right, is seen here  with her embattled boss Anthony Weiner. Weiner has promised to stand by his  spokewoman
Apology: Morgan tweeted this picture of her 'swear jar' stuffed full of big bills and a credit cardApology: Morgan tweeted this picture of her ‘swear jar’  stuffed full of big bills and a credit card
Ouch: Oliva Nuzzi wrote a scathing article about her time as an intern for the Anthony Weiner campaign.
.
Ouch: Oliva Nuzzi wrote a scathing article about her  time as an intern for the Anthony Weiner campaign

‘In a moment of frustration, I used  inappropriate language in what I thought was an off-the-record conversation. It  was wrong and I am very sorry, which is what I said tonight when I called and  emailed Olivia to apologize,’ she said in a statement.

Embattled New York mayoral candidate Weiner  is standing by his embattled communication director. When asked if she was still  employed with the campaign, he said ‘Yep.’

Nuzzi, for her part, accepted the  apology.

‘As to Barbara Morgan’s apology, of course I  accept it,’ she wrote on Twitter.

More…

However her account on the social media site  includes a not-so-subtle reference to the scandal. In he description of herself,  she writes that she is a ‘sl**bag, t*** and c***’ – all hateful terms that  Morgan called her.

Morgan’s over the top outburst was prompted  by Nuzzi penning an article, published in Tuesday’s New York Daily News,  in which she was highly critical of how Weiner’s campaign was  run.

She claimed many interns had only joined to  get closer to Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, in the hope of landing a role in any  potential presidential campaign for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

She claimed that one campaign staffer had  left because he had only been paid one-third of what he was promised and that  Weiner incorrectly referred to her and other interns as ‘Monica.’

In the controversial article Nuzzi  said ‘a  lot’ of Weiner’s staff had ‘short résumés,’ including Morgan,  who Nuzzi had  mocked because she ‘last worked as the press secretary for the New Jersey state  education commissioner.’

‘I’m dealing with like stupid f**king interns  who make it on to the cover of the Daily News even though they signed NDAs  and/or they proceeded to  trash me,’ Morgan told TPM, referring to a  non-disclosure agreement that Nuzzi would have signed.

‘And by the way, I tried to fire her, but she  begged to come back and I gave her a second chance.’

 

Besieged Anthony Weiner refuses to talk to media

Need a break? New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner rubs his eyes during a candidate forum on small business in Manhattan on Monday as his latest sexting scandal refuses to go away

Need a break? New York mayoral candidate Anthony  Weiner’s campaign is in meltdown after a former intern revealed what it was like  to work for him and his comms director lost her cool in a very public manner

‘Quit isn’t the way we roll’ new Anthony Weiner  campaign ad

dNot how we roll: In a slick new ad, pictured, Weiner  states: ‘I know that there are newspaper editors and other politicians that say,  “Boy, I wish that guy Weiner would quit”‘

Morgan went on to suggest in her conversation  to TPM that  Nuzzi would be unable to ever get another job in New York politics  as a result of her actions.

‘F****** s***bag. Nice f**king glamour shot  on the cover of the Daily News. Man, see if you ever get a job in this town  again,’ said Morgan.

She also described Nuzzi’s allegation as   ‘b*******.’

Nuzzi is believed to have stopped interning  for the campaign four weeks ago  and worked on the campaign for about a  month.

Morgan said Nuzzi’s initially showed some  enthusiasm for working for Weiner, but claimed that her ability left much to be  desired.

‘She sucked. She like wasn’t good at setting  up events. She was clearly there because she wanted to be seen. Like it was,  like, terrible and I had to like – she would like, she would just not show up  for work,’ said Morgan.

‘For the four weeks she worked there – she  didn’t work weekends, so twenty days total. Of those twenty days, she missed  probably five because she would just like not show up and not tell me she wasn’t  going to be there. So, yeah, so there’s that.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2382132
/Anthony-Weiner-campaign-Spokesowman-Barbara-M
organ-apologizes-trashing-intern.html#ixzz2aeoaafp6

Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Advertisements

Is The White House Intentionally Making Vice President Biden Look Old and Useless?

July 31, 2013

By Charles Hurt
The Washington Times

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Perhaps in this brave new era where nobody’s a traitor anymore, it’s not such  a big deal how badly President Obama is shortchanging his vice president. But it  is fairly extraordinary considering how much Mr. Obama owes his presidency to Joe Biden.

Mr. Obama picked Mr. Biden for his unmatched  foreign-policy expertise to offset his own haunting lack of experience in the  field. Mr. Biden was the seasoned steady hand  on the wheel during the  campaign. Probably no one ever in the history of the universe has had more  experience campaigning for president than Joe  Biden.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden and President Obama. (courtesy: White House)  Photo by:  Pete Souza

Without the avuncular, “aw shucks,” backslapping, truth-speaking pol on the  ticket, who knows whether Mr. Obama could have won Ohio, Florida, Indiana,  Virginia or North Carolina?

So what does Mr. Obama do now that he has wrung every last drop of personal  use out of old Joe Biden? He dumps him and  endorses his most tenacious mortal enemy from the campaign, Hillary  Rodham Clinton.

But, you say, Mr. Obama has not officially endorsed anyone yet for 2016.  Perhaps not using mere words. But in terms of imagery — the only language this  White House speaks — the president most  certainly has endorsed Mrs.  Clinton.

The picture posted this  week on the official White House photo page  says it all. Mr. Obama and Mrs.  Clinton sitting at a picnic table for a private lunch in the bushes — just  one-on-one. Both are relaxed and laughing. Mr. Obama is demurring, looking down;  Mrs. Clinton is dominating  confidently, gazing directly at Mr. Obama with a pleasant smile on her face.

The White House message is clear: This is  a woman who is so capable, so in  charge and so likable, she might even be a better president than the current  one.

So where is Mr. Biden? Virtually nowhere. At  least if you are looking for him in pictures on the White  House’s official photo stream.

Sure, in the early years, Mr. Biden made it  into plenty of official pictures. Especially when Mr. Obama still needed him for  re-election. But now? They are not even faking it.

A review of more than 100 of the most recently posted official pictures, Mr. Biden cannot be found but four or five times.  One was just posted Tuesday, the first picture of Mr. Biden to make the feed since June 13.

Otherwise, it’s near total absence of Mr.  Biden from the official photos chronicling this administration. Big meeting  of top officials in the Oval Office? No Joe  Biden. High-level scary meeting with everybody down in the Situation Room  looking serious? No Joe Biden. It is like they  waited for him to run to the can to snap the picture.

You see pictures of Mr. Obama with such Republicans as John McCain, Chris  Christie, George W. Bush. But hardly any with Mr.  Biden.

It is not just Mr. Biden’s absence from the  photo feed. It is also the pictures of him the White House does choose to include. He is  usually photographed with children, in large  groups where he is unavoidable or in some kind of unflattering light.

When the White House does throw the old  man a bone, it often comes at some price to his  dignity. Such as the picture it posted of Mr.  Biden in a big boy meeting with Mr. Obama and Director of National  Intelligence James R. Clapper. But the picture is far from flattering. Mr. Obama  and Mr. Clapper are blurred. The focal point of the picture is Mr.  Biden’s gnarled hand clasping a cup of coffee. It looks like an ad for an  arthritis treatment.

Another picture in which the White House is hosting a bunch of illegal-immigrant students looking for amnesty, all you  see of Mr. Biden is his bald spot.

One picture captures the old man from behind sitting outside on the porch  steps overlooking the Rose Garden, looking lost. A woman sits beside him as if  trying to ask where he belongs.

Just as with the picture of Mrs.  Clinton, the message here is clear, too: Mr.  Biden is old, doddering, lost, out-of-touch and should not be president.

If this is how Mr. Obama treats the elderly people he knows personally, just  imagine what he plans to do to older Americans under Obamacare. All Sarah  Palin’s talk of death panels sound more and more possible with every passing White House photo.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/20
13/jul/30/hurt-white-house-paints-picture-of-joe-bid
en-out-t/#ixzz2aeDbyRbY

Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

With good managers, Joe Biden could be cool

Homeland Security Has No Idea Where 1 Million People Went After they Entered the U.S.

July 31, 2013
  • ** FILE ** Janet A. Napolitano leaves a mixed legacy as Homeland Security secretary. Her celebrated response to weather emergencies, for example, is balanced by the unpopular addition of strict airline security measures. (Associated Press)

Janet A. Napolitano leaves a mixed legacy as Homeland Security secretary. Her celebrated response to weather emergencies, for example, is balanced by the unpopular addition of strict airline security measures. (Associated Press Photo)

The Homeland Security Department has lost track of more than 1 million people  who it knows arrived in the U.S. but who it cannot prove left the country,  according to an audit Tuesday that also found the department probably won’t meet  its own goals for deploying an entry-exit system.

By Stephen Dinan
The Washington Times

The findings were revealed as Congress debates an immigration bill, and the Government  Accountability Office’s report could throw up another hurdle because  lawmakers in the House and Senate have said that  any final deal must include a workable system to track entries and exits and cut  down on so-called visa overstays.

The government does track arrivals, but is years overdue in setting up a  system to track departures — a goal set in a 1996 immigration law and reaffirmed  in 2004, but which has eluded Republican and Democratic administrations.

“DHS has not yet fulfilled the 2004 statutory requirement to implement a  biometric exit capability, but has planning efforts under way to report to Congress in time for the fiscal year 2016 budget  cycle on the costs and benefits of such a capability at airports and seaports,”  GAO investigators  wrote.

Outside business groups and Republican donors are trying to breathe life into  the push for getting an immigration bill through Congress this year.

Nearly 100 top donors and former party officials signed a letter Tuesday  pleading with House Republicans to pass a bill legalizing illegal immigrants,  saying it could open the door to earning immigrants’ political support.

“Doing nothing is de facto amnesty. We need to take control of whom we let in  our country and we need to make sure everybody plays by the same rules,” the  donors said in their letter.

They aimed their pitch at House Republicans, who are trying to figure out a  way forward and find themselves trapped between rank-and-file Republican voters  who say legalizing illegal immigrants is an amnesty, and the party’s elites and  donors who say the party cannot survive nationally without embracing  legalization as part of a strategy to win over Hispanic voters.

Read more:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jul/30
/homeland-security-loses-track-of-1-million-foreign/#ixzz2aeBZ6gVH

Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

Has Weiner Sexting Scandal Broken Free a Bill Clinton and Monica Recording?

July 31, 2013

A sex tape that Monica Lewinsky recorded for Bill Clinton at the height of their scandalous affair has leaked, during which the former White House intern is heard planning a secret sexual rendezvous with the president and declaring she is “too cute and adorable” to be ignored.

On the audio tape obtained by The National Enquirer, Lewinsky at one point tries to seduce the commander in chief: “I could take my clothes off and start… well… I know you wouldn’t enjoy that? I hope to see you later and I hope you will follow my script and do what I want.”

Lewinsky, who turned 40 last week, made the three-minute, 47 second recording in November 1997 and addressed it to “handsome.”

Details of the sexually explicit tape are in the new issue of the Enquirer, which hits newsstands Thursday.

PHOTOS: Political Hotties

It was believed to have been destroyed years ago, but a copy was secretly made and has subsequently surfaced.

Lewinsky is the only voice heard.

On it, she tells the 42nd President: “Since I know you will be alone tomorrow evening, I have two proposals for you, neither of which is you not seeing me.”

Lewinsky then orders the leader of the free world to use his secretary, Betty Currie, as a go-between and plan the presidential schedule so they could covertly meet without a formal record of her visit.

PHOTOS: 15 Of The Most Embarrassing Celebrity Moments 

“Now the first thing that has to happen is that you need to pre-plan with Betty that you will leave the office at, I don¹t know, at 7, 7:30 so that everyone else who hates me that causes me lots of trouble goes home,” she tells Clinton.

“Then you quickly sneak back and then in the meantime I quickly sneak over and then we can have a nice little visit for, you know, 15 minutes or half an hour. Whatever you want.”

Lewinsky also bemoans how their previous “60 seconds” encounter “was just not enough ­ even though you did look very handsome.”

Read it all:

http://radaronline.com/exclusives/2013/07/bill-clinton-sex-tape-monica-lewinsky/

How Bad is China’s Debt Problem? Can Local Governments Ever Repay?

July 31, 2013

By Sophia Yan

china government debtLocal governments in China have spent big on infrastructure. Beijing wants to find out just how much.

HONG KONG (CNNMoney)
China has a government debt problem — but even Beijing doesn’t know exactly what is lurking on the books of local and provincial governments.

In order to find out, the Chinese government has launched a review of all public debt, according to a one-sentence statement posted on a government website.

The audit, which will begin Aug. 1, is the third effort in as many years to “take the pulse” of China’s debt problem, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.

Analysts worry that China’s credit boom has saddled unworthy businesses with large loans, fueled the country’s shadow banking system and put local governments on the hook for trillions. Due to lax accounting and transparency standards, it’s difficult for outside analysts to estimate the size of the problem or quantify associated risks.

“It is a little unsettling that the government has to do an audit at this late date to determine the full extent of local government indebtedness,” said Jim Antos, a China bank analyst at Mizuho Securities. “This suggests that the full scope of borrowing has not been revealed.”

As Chinese economic growth drags, concerns are mounting over the ability of local governments to repay what they owe. If city and provincial officials are unable to meet their obligations, the central government will likely be forced to bail them out.

China’s extravagant government buildings

That means very few municipalities will default, Fitch Ratings analyst Terry Gao said. But a wave of bailouts could strain Beijing’s finances.

“The central government [has] the willingness and ability to prevent [defaults] from happening,” Gao said. Fitch currently estimates that total local government debt is in the 15 to 18 trillion yuan ($2.5 to 3 trillion) range.

China’s national audit office plans to suspend all other projects in order to conduct this “urgent” investigation, according to People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party.

Related story: China and European Union strike deal on solar panels

It’s worth noting that the credit worthiness of local governments can range widely. With 34 governing bodies at the provincial level, 333 at the prefecture level and more than 2,800 at the county level, local finances are all over the map.

By the end of 2010, Beijing reported 10.72 trillion yuan ($1.7 trillion) of local and regional government debt. In June, the government sampled debt levels in 36 select governments and found their average debt had increased 13% between 2010 and the end of 2012.

Related story: Is China’s debt a crisis in the making?

China’s borrowing binge has had its benefits. When the global financial crisis hit in 2008, the government ordered the credit lines open. Banks and other lenders responded, funding massive building and infrastructure projects.

The sharp increase in debt has drawn the attention of Chinese officials.

In March, central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan said that the country needed to pay attention to local government financing vehicles, as 20% of loans could be considered risky.

Even former party officials have stepped into the conversation. Former finance minister Xiang Huaicheng said in April that China’s local government debt may clock in at over 20 trillion yuan.

That same month, Fitch Ratings cut one of China’s key debt ratings, because of growth in the nation’s shadow banking system and a surge in easy credit. To top of page

China Daily Critical of Philippine Military Move To Subic

July 31, 2013

(The Philippine Star) | Updated July 31, 2013

In this 2009 file photo taken at Subic Bay, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Marines assigned to the 8th Marine Battalion load onto Landing Craft Utility 1634 for transport to the dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46) to participate in joint exercises with the US Navy. WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

MANILA, Philippines – China believes the Philippine plan to relocate major air force and navy bases to the former US naval base in Subic Bay in the West Philippine Sea is aimed at increasing pressure on it and bringing in more outside forces to the region.

In a report in the state-owned newspaper China Daily, Li Guoqiang, deputy director of the Center for Chinese Borderland History and Geography at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the Philippines is building up and concentrating military forces near the South China Sea to target China.

“If all related parties resort to military means as Manila has for a resolution, the region will surely become a powder keg,” Li said.

Li sees the move as a violation of the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and increases the risk of conflict in the region, the report added.

At the 46th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Meeting in Brunei, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the persistence of destabilizing actions in the West Philippine Sea continues to pose serious challenges for the whole region and is a violation of the DOC.

Del Rosario rebuffed Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s allegations against the Philippines at the regional security forum.

“What Manila sometimes did was to meet the needs of Washington and US allies, to seek more support from them,” he said.

The report, quoting the US-based Military Times website, said with the Pentagon’s strategic focus shifting to the Pacific, the Philippine bases are an ideal stopping point that is roughly 1,600 kilometers west of Guam, where four US ships are based.

Media quoted Carl Baker, a Hawaii-based defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as saying: “With this recognition of an existential threat from China, I think there’s much more interest in having the US presence.”

However, Su said the role the US can play in the future is still unclear.

“The US would like to see Manila posing threats to China or to back Manila behind the scenes, but it is reluctant to have open conflicts with China,” he said.

The China Daily report cited a statement of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin that as soon as funding is available, the Philippine government plans to transfer air and naval forces, with their aircraft and warships, to Subic Bay, northwest of Manila, to gain faster access to the South China Sea.

The report cited a confidential defense department document obtained by The Associated Press that stated Subic’s location will cut the time it takes for fighter aircraft to get to the South China Sea by more than three minutes, compared with flying from Clark Air Base, north of Manila, where some air force planes are currently based.

Subic Bay’s natural deep harbor can also accommodate two large warships that the Philippines recently acquired from the US.

Visiting US forces, ships and aircraft will also be granted temporary access to more military camps to allow for more joint exercises than are currently held, the media reported.

Air Force vice commander Maj. Gen. Raul Dimatatac told The STAR that 12 fighter jets to be acquired would be stationed in the Air Force base to be established in Subic Bay.

“There will be two phases (involved in the transfer to Subic),” he said. “The first involves our minimum requirements so that when the fighters come in, we will be able to operate the aircraft.”

Dimatatac said the second phase will involve the actual transfer of the fighter base and units from Clark to Subic Bay.

“We already have proposals and we are looking forward that ultimately, once everything is settled, we’ll be able to transfer to Subic,” he said.

Defense department spokesman Peter Galvez said Subic Bay has deep water port that could accommodate large Navy frigates.

Dimatatac said Subic Bay already has a runway and a parking ramp.

The hangars require some repairs so that they could operate the fighter jets, he added.

The defense department plans to spend P18.9 billion for the procurement of 12 FA-50 fighter jets for the Air Force.

Its Bids and Awards Committee had approved the terms of reference for the acquisition of the jets.

It is awaiting the approval from Malacañang of the project’s sales agreement.

Once the sales agreement is crafted, the defense department can begin negotiations with the supplier, Korean Aerospace Industries. – Pia Lee-Brago, Alexis Romero

Ahmadinejad: Iran Unleashes 5,000 New Nuclear Centrifuges

July 31, 2013
Iran to Start Operating 5,000 New Centrifuges, Says Ahmadinejad - Reuters

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at an Iranian nuclear facility in this file photo – Reuters

Iran’s outgoing president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said 5,000 new centrifuges are ready to start operating at the country’s nuclear facilities. These are in addition to the 12,000 centrifuges already in operation.

“12,000 centrifuge machines are now running in our nuclear sites and 5,000 new centrifuges are ready to start operation,” the hardline president told the country’s IRIB1 TV.

The development has come despite Yukiya Amano, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), expressing concern over Iran’s controversial nuclear programme.

The IAEA said in June that Tehran was violating international regulations by increasing the number of centrifuges.

The West fears Iran is making steady progress towards nuclear weapons while the  country insists its uranium enrichment was only for peaceful purposes.

Meanwhile, a US thinktank has noted that Iran may be able to achieve weapons-grade uranium by mid-2014.

The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said Iran could achieve this by installing thousands of centrifuges at its Natanz and Fordow nuclear facilities.

“Iran could have time to make enough weapon-grade uranium for one or more nuclear weapons,” says the ISIS in its July report.

Urging the IAEA to conduct inspections at the facilities more frequently, the report said: “IAEA inaction or caution could make an international response all but impossible before Iran has produced enough weapon-grade uranium for one or more nuclear weapons.”

The report adds that “by themselves these measures are not sufficient if Iran reaches critical capability”.

The American body, citing images of Iran’s nuclear sites obtained from commercial satellites, had earlier said Tehran was trying to hide the links between its Lashkar Ab’ad nuclear facility and firms involved in laser technology.

At the Lashkar Ab’ad facility, experiments of enriching uranium through laser isotope separation have been conducted in the past. However, IAEA officials, who probed the facility, say laser is used for civilian purposes.

Ahmadinejad, while speaking elsewhere, also noted that the country had achieved the technology to enrich uranium to higher purity levels through lasers.

<!–

–>

To report problems or to leave feedback about this article, e-mail:
v.sridharan@ibtimes.com To contact the editor, e-mail:
editor@ibtimes.co.uk

China, Japan Struggle To Resolve East China Sea Dispute

July 31, 2013
One of the disputed islands, in an image released by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force on 15 September 2010
Japan and China both claim an island chain in the East China Sea
The BBC

Media doubt Tokyo’s sincerity to mend ties amid anger over remarks by Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso.

Following Japanese Vice-Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki’s talks with senior Chinese officials in Beijing about the possibility of a summit between the two countries’ leaders, Xinhua news agency and other state media continue to call on Tokyo to take real action to mend relations.

A long-standing territorial dispute over islands known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and the Diaoyu islands in China has strained relations between the two countries.

“The key now is that Japan must acknowledge the Diaoyu Islands dispute and show sincerity and action to repair relations,” says the Wen Wei Po, a Beijing-backed Hong Kong newspaper.

The People’s Daily rebukes Mr Aso for suggesting that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party learn how the Nazis quietly revised Germany’s constitution under the Weimar Republic.

Japan’s current post-war constitution forbids the use of force to resolve disputes except in cases of self-defence, but some lawmakers feel it should be revised to widen the scope of permissible military activities.

Mr Aso is also under fire for defending visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which houses Japan’s war dead – including several convicted war criminals.

“Taro Aso’s speech is the most outrageous one to date regarding Japan’s constitutional amendments, and it is bound to trigger a high degree of concern and strong condemnation in the international community,” comments Liu Jiangyong, a professor of Japanese studies at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, in the People’s Daily.

Meanwhile, Chinese PC maker Lenovo tells the Global Times that it has yet to receive notice of “official bans” from foreign countries over the use of its equipment in the computer systems of intelligence agencies.

The Australian Financial Review alleged on Saturday that intelligence agencies in Australia, the US, the UK, Canada and New Zealand have been banning Lenovo equipment from their secret and top secret networks amid concerns that it can be hacked via a hardware “backdoor”.

“The official background of Lenovo, with the government-backed Chinese Academy of Sciences owning a big portion of stake in the company, is believed as the main reason why it is mistrusted by Western governments,” comments the Global Times.

However, the Australian Department of Defence denied the alleged ban when contacted by Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post.

Public safety concerns

The Southern Metropolis Daily and the Huashang Daily say public panic about the safety of paraxylene (PX) projects have been triggered again after a pipeline explosion at a soon-to-be-opened PX plant on Tuesday in Zhangzhou, Fujian province. Paraxylene, or PX, is mainly used to manufacture polyester.

The Zhangzhou project was relocated from the neighbouring coastal city of Xiamen in late 2007 following mass protests by residents.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has cast doubt over the government’s touted rates of rapid urbanisation.

The Beijing News says the state think-tank blames rising social conflicts and friction on the exclusion of many migrant workers who still cannot enjoy the same rights and benefits as urban residents.

Many newspapers, including the China Youth Daily, the Beijing Times and The Beijing News sympathise with the plight of an alleged airport bomber petitioner who was formally arrested on Tuesday, while also discouraging acts of violence to express grievances.

Ji Zhongxing was arrested on Monday for allegedly setting off a home-made bomb at Beijing’s international airport on 20 July. Mr Ji says authorities failed to help him to seek justice against security guards who allegedly crippled him during a fight.

Beijing police are also seeking to press “fabrication of terrorism information” charges against rock singer Wu Hongfei for writing a microblog post about wanting to “blow up” a local housing commission.

“In the Ji and Wu cases, there have been voices online that support them. Some claim the law should follow Internet opinions. This view is nothing but nonsense. In fact, the public is confused about the boundary between freedom of speech and threatening to commit violent crimes,” comments the Global Times.

Hong Kong’s Oriental Daily News says hundreds of residents in Changsha, in Hunan province, clashed with riot police while braving a scorching heat wave on Monday to protest against a government-led plan to build broadcast towers in the city centre.

A petrol-doused villager threatened to self-immolate when villagers in Ronggui, Guangdong province, fought off police while trying to stop a government land takeover, Hong Kong’s Ming Pao reports

And finally, The Beijing News says a heat wave in eastern and southern China has reached emergency levels. It features photos of pork, eggs and shrimp cooking within minutes on the sizzling streets of Shanghai, and even a chick embryo that hatched in an egg yolk due to high temperatures.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

US spy planes monitoring China in the South China Sea — Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario Says

July 31, 2013

MANILA (July 31, 2013): The Philippines said Wednesday that US spy planes were providing crucial intelligence on Chinese military activities in disputed areas of the South China Sea.

US Navy P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft frequently fly over areas that the Philippines says are within its legal territory but where China has deployed military vessels, said Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario.

“I think it’s of significant importance for us,” del Rosario told reporters, when asked about the value of the information gathered by the spy planes.

“We do have an interest in terms of what is going on with our exclusive economic zone, within our continental shelf, and we want to know if there are any intrusions.”

China claims nearly all of the sea, even waters close to the Philippines and other neighbours.

Analysts have long warned that China’s overlapping claims with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan could be a flashpoint of armed conflict.

U-2

Tensions have risen in recent years as China has adopted more aggressive diplomatic and military tactics to assert its claims to the potentially resource-rich waters.

The Philippines has repeatedly called on the United States, its former colonial master and close military ally, for help in resisting China.

While the United States insists it will not take sides in the South China Sea dispute, it has helped to upgrade the Philippines’ military capabilities.

When asked if the spy plane surveillance on China may jar with the United States’ insistence of neutrality in the maritime dispute, del Rosario emphasised the close US-Philippine ties.

He pointed out the allies had a mutual defence treaty, which calls on each party to help the other in times of external aggression.

He also said the United States was keen to maintain peace in the Asia-Pacific and ensure freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

“I think it is in that context that we believe they have a right to be there,” he said.

“It is also because we’d like them to be there, that is the bottom line.”

When asked how long the spy planes had been flying over the Philippine-claimed waters of the South China Sea, del Rosario said since at least he became foreign secretary in 2010.

He gave no further details on the timeframe but said the spy planes operated mostly, but not exclusively, during times of joint military exercises between the Philippines and the United States. – AFP

SR- 71

Obama’s Legacy is In Trouble: History judges U.S. presidents based upon what they did and did not accomplish

July 31, 2013

By

                                                July 31, 2013

(AP)

Two New York Times reporters recently posited for President Obama this grim scenario: Low growth, high unemployment, and growing income inequality become “the new normal” in the nation he leads. “Do you worry,” the journalists asked him, “that that could end up being your legacy simply because of the obstruction … and the gridlock that doesn’t seem to end?”

Obama’s reply was telling. “I think if I’m arguing for entirely different policies and Congress ends up pursuing policies that I think don’t make sense and we get a bad result,” he said, “it’s hard to argue that’d be my legacy.”

Actually, it’s hard to argue that it wouldn’t be his legacy. History judges U.S. presidents based upon what they did and did not accomplish. The obstinacy of their rivals and the severity of their circumstances is little mitigation. Great presidents overcome great hurdles.

In Obama’s case, the modern GOP is an obstructionist, rudderless party often held hostage by extremists. So … get over it. His response to The New York Times is another illustration that Obama and his liberal allies have a limited—and limiting—definition of presidential leadership.

I call it the White Flag Syndrome.

Their argument is best expressed by Ezra Klein of The Washington Post, who posted a thoughtful rebuttal in May to journalists like me who demand more leadership from the White House.

“The problems of American politics today are not overly complicated, or even overly controversial. They’re just hard to fix.

 

The two political parties have polarized. Unlike in the 1960s, when Jesse Helms was a Democrat, and George Romney was a Republican, today’s Republicans agree with Republicans, and today’s Democrats agree with Democrats. That, plus the zero-sum nature of elections and the rise of an ideological media and interest-group infrastructure that credibly threatens dissenters with primary challenges, has made bipartisan consensus on most big issues structurally impossible.

 

That’s fine. It’s how most political systems operate, in fact. But our political system, which is centered around Congress rather than the White House, requires extraordinary levels of consensus to operate smoothly. That leaves us with two choices: Either figure out a way to depolarize the parties or change the rules of the political system so it can operate more smoothly even amid polarization.”

Klein wrote that we’re not going to depolarize the parties, and thus the goal must to identify what “tweaks and reforms” we can make to the political structure so that it can withstand polarization. That won’t be easy, Klein wrote.

“But that work is made harder by pundits who continue to falsely promise that the glowing briefcase of president leadership can fix what ails us. Telling the American people that the only thing missing is the president being more awesome promises them the easy way out. It says that all they need to do to fix our politics is get inspired by a new presidential candidate and then cast a hopeful vote for him or her at the polls. That’s terrifically convenient, because that also happens to be the part of American politics that voters most enjoy participating in and that media most enjoys covering.”

He accused me and other journalists of adhering to the “Green Lantern Theory”—a belief that U.S. presidents are endowed with superhero powers.

“But since the problem in American politics is not presidential leadership, telling them that the president—whether this one or a new one—can fix it traps voters in an endless cycle of inspiration and disillusionment. They vote for presidents expecting them to be ‘uniters,’ expecting them to ‘change Washington,’ and then they’re bitterly disappointed when their heroes fail. But on this score, presidents are going to continue to fail because they can’t possibly succeed.”

Klein is right about this: No president is a superhero. First, as Klein suggests, the U.S. political system faces enormous structural problems that make leadership challenging for any president. Chief among them is sophisticated redistricting that has helped create a polarized Congress packed with lawmakers with no incentive to compromise. Second, government austerity reduces the president’s ability to bargain with Congress. Third, the democratization of politics—and of big money in particular—has weakened the party structures. That has weakened a president’s powers that stem from his role as the titular party chief. Finally, the modern GOP is less willing than Democrats to compromise. There is something to Obama’s complaint that virtually any policy he supports will be met by resistance.

But none of these are excuses for failure. Presidential leadership (or the lack of it) still makes an enormous difference. Here’s where I respectfully disagree with Klein and others in his orbit:

1. Voter disillusionment is not caused by pundits who (quoting Klein again) “falsely promise that the glowing briefcase of president leadership can fix what ails us.” The greatest guilt lies with presidential candidates who overpromise. Obama explicitly vowed to change the culture of Washington. For two consecutive elections, he toted his glowing briefcase and waved his green lantern to give voters the audacity to hope. He knew the limits of his powers when he ran for the job. When his broken promises feed disillusionment, the president can’t shirk responsibility.

2. The extreme sorting-out of the two parties in Congress is nothing new. It was mostly complete after the 1994 midterms, and posed challenges for both Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush. Despite polarization, Obama’s two predecessors managed to find common ground with their obstinate opposing parties. Yes, politics is hard today—but no harder than, say, during the Civil War era or the turbulent 1960s.

3. The outsize attention given to the president gives him unparalleled advantages. Obama can make better use of it. He could talk to the media and the public more often with a more compelling and sustained message. He could build enduring relationships in Washington rather than being so blatantly transactional with his time. He could work harder, and with more empathy, on Capitol Hill to find “win-win” opportunities with Republicans. He could make better use of his Cabinet to message and enact policies. In private, he could talk less and listen more. In public, he could set reasonable expectations and meet them. He could pick his fights better. In hindsight, Obama should have gotten much more out of Congress when Democrats controlled both chambers.

In March, a reporter asked Obama why he didn’t lock congressional leaders in a room until they agreed on a budget deal. Obama’s answer was based on two assumptions. First, that his opinion is supreme. Second, he can’t break the logjam. What a remarkable combination of arrogance and impotence.

“I am not a dictator. I’m the president,” he said. “I know that this has been some of the conventional wisdom that’s been floating around Washington; that somehow, even though most people agree that I’m being reasonable, that most people agree I’m presenting a fair deal, the fact that they don’t take it means that I should somehow do a Jedi mind meld with these folks and convince them to do what’s right.”

Obama could still do great things. But not if he and his advisers underestimate a president’s powers, and don’t know how to exploit them. Not if his sympathizers give Obama cover by minimizing his influence. Cover to fail. Not if the president himself is outwardly and boundlessly dismissive of his critics, telling The New York Times, “I’m not concerned about their opinions.”

To say the situation is intractable seems akin to waving a white flag over a polarized capital: Republicans suck. We can’t deal with them. Let’s quit.

I’m afraid they have quit—all of them, on both sides. At the White House and in Congress, most Democrats and Republicans have abandoned hope of fixing the nation’s problems. If leadership was merely about speaking to the converted, winning fights and positioning for blame, America would be in great hands. But it’s not.

http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/what-if-obama-can-t-lead-20130731