Top Chinese General Accuses US And Japan Of “Provocative Actions”; Russia Wonders Why “US Has To Lead”

Now that the Ukraine pseudo civil war is slowly drifting off into limbo, with western support for the eastern regions of the nation no longer on the table, and Germany making it clear no further sanctions against Russia are coming, the Ukraine conflict is on its way to becoming a second Syria: a nation split in two, with US support for one group, Russian support for the other, and the only real victor being the Kremlin, which has regained possession of the Crimea (which earlier today officially adopted the Ruble as its currency). Which explains why the US, embarrassed in its foreign affairs for the second year in a row, is pivoting once again, only this time using China as a distraction.

On Friday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said China has taken “destabilizing, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea” (which incidentally is not called the South American Sea). Hagel added that the U.S. will continue to raise cyber issues with China, and by raising he likely meant accusing PLA members of hacking, resulting in China dropping more US tech firms as critical suppliers.Following the Us Defense Secretary, it was the turn of Japan’s PM, Abe who said Japan would give more support to southeast Asian nations that are facing Chinese pressure.

He concluded that the U.S. takes no position on competing territorial claims, however the damage was already done: according the FT, a top Chinese general on Sunday accused the US and Japan of teaming up to stage “provocative actions” against China, as escalating maritime tensions spilled into an Asian regional defense forum.

Because if the US thought its latest pivot away from Russia and Syria into China (even if supported by Japan) would happen seamlessly, it is about to get an unpleasant surprise:

Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Wang Guanzhong, deputy chief of the Chinese general staff, lambasted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chuck Hagel, US defence secretary, for telling the forum of Asian defence ministers that China was using intimidation to assert its territorial claims.


The speeches by Mr Abe and Mr Hagel gave me the impression that they co-ordinated with each other, they supported each other, they encouraged each other and they took the advantage of speaking first . . . and staged provocative actions and challenges against China,” said Gen Wang.


Mr Hagel on Saturday said China was undermining? its claims that the South China Sea was a “sea of peace, friendship and co-operation” by using coercive tactics, adding that the US would “not look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged”.


On Friday, Mr Abe said Japan would give more support to southeast Asian nations that are facing Chinese pressure.

As for Japan, China had one word: “fascist.”

In the face of mounting efforts by the US and Japan to shore up or build new security relationships in Asia, Gen Wang said China opposed both the practice of building military alliances and “attempts by any country to dominate regional affairs”. In a jab at Japan’s wartime history, Gen Wang said China would “never allow fascism . . . to stake a comeback”.

In the meantime, with Russia expanding geographically, China is doing the same, and in the process steamrolling over Vietnamese objections.

This year’s event became more heated because of the escalating disputes in the South China Sea and East China Sea. China is embroiled in maritime disputes around the region, including with Manila and Tokyo. Scores of Chinese and Vietnamese ships are also involved in a stand-off near the disputed Paracel Islands after China started drilling for oil there in early May.


Gen Wang said China did not take provocative actions, but was being forced to respond to such actions from other countries. But when asked what Vietnam had done to trigger the decision to move the oil rig to disputed waters, sparking the worst crisis in China-Vietnam relations in years, the general did not respond.


While Shangri-La is designed to tackle a range of Asia-Pacific security issues, the focus has, in recent years, shifted squarely to China, with most of the participants this year asking China to explain its policies and actions.

Finally, Russia also chimed in:

Some experts questioned whether a new Cold War was emerging in Asia. Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s deputy defence secretary, took exception to comments by Mr Hagel that the US was the only power that could lead in the Asia-Pacific region. “Why does the US have to lead? To lead what?”

Based on his recent remarks at West Point, even Obama is not quite sure of the answer to that.

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

Andrea Castillo on the Future of Bitcoin

Andrea CastilloWhen the
world’s largest Bitcoin exchange, Tokyo-based Mt. Gox, went
offline, critics of the cryptocurrency called for greater
regulation. But Mercatus Center researcher Andrea Castillo
(pictured) says the worries are premature. In March, she told
Reason three things the Mt. Gox collapse reveals about the
future of Bitcoin.

View this article.

from Hit & Run

Mozilla’s Vice President: Trading Away Your Privacy

Do you trust the National Security Agency or the Internal
Revenue Service more than Google or Facebook? If so, you’re not
A recent Reason-Rupe poll found that most
Americans do not trust big tech companies. 

Mozilla’s Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs, Denelle
Dixon-Thayer, says “data hygiene” should be something every new or
established tech company should be thinking about. Dixon-Thayer sat
down with Reason TV at the 2014 South by Southwest Interactive
Festival in Austin, Texas this year. 

The interview was originally published on April 24, 2014.
Orginal write-up below:

Don’t trust Facebook or Google with your personal
information? You’re not alone.

A recent Reason-Rupe poll found that when it comes to their
personal info, more Americans trust even the National Security
Agency or the Internal Revenue Service over Google or

Mozilla’s Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs, Denelle
Dixon-Thayer, says “data hygiene” should be something every new or
established tech company should be thinking about.

“Trust is our currency,” said Thayer to Reason TV at the 2014 South
by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas. “If we don’t
have the trust of our users then we actually aren’t going to be
successful as a company.”
Dixon-Thayer says big data companies need to be upfront with users
about who has access to their data, how long their data is stored,
and do what they can to inform users of government data

“With data, may come a reward, but also a substantial risk,” says
Dixon-Thayer, who points out that if you keep information for a
long time your company becomes open to subpoenas and NSA

“It’s just thinking about what that data can do for you and when
does it lose its value to you,” says Dixon-Thayer

In October 2013, Mozilla endorsed the USA FREEDOM Act, which would
have amended the PATRIOT Act and ended dragnet collection of phone
data while providing more oversight of surveillance programs and
the FISA court. The bill is pending in the house judiciary

from Hit & Run

Reality Show President: Inside the White House PR Machine


The White House announced yesterday that
Jay Carney is stepping down as White House press secretary
Carney recently made an appearance in a Reason TV documentary,
“Reality Show President: Inside the White House PR Machine,”
which details how the administration’s unprecedented focus on
image is undercutting journalists as well as Obama’s promise of

Original release date was May 12, 2014 and original writeup is

“I am who the media says I am. I say what they say I
say. I become who they say I’ve become.”
Obama, The Audacity of Hope, 2006.

“Let me say it as simply as I can: Transparency and
the rule of law will be the touchstones of this
Barack Obama, 2009.

Which Barack Obama is telling the truth here? Writing as a U.S.
senator from Illinois, Obama laments that there will always be a
barrier—the independent media—between him and the people he serves.
As a public figure, his identity will be created by reporters and
critics that he cannot control, distorted by the lenses of
photographers who don’t answer directly to him. 

Only three years later, as commander in chief, President Obama
took a far more trusting tone with the media. In his earliest
speeches, he promised an administration of unparalleled openness,
access, and integrity. Indeed, he asserted he was running “the most
transparent administration in history” just four months before
Edward Snowden spilled the beans on the National Security

“The White House has effectively become a broadcast company,”
says Michael Shaw, publisher of, a site
dedicated to the analysis of news images. Shaw explains how
strategically composed photos, taken by official White House
photographers, travel from social media sites that are controlled
by the administration to the front pages of newspapers around the

The press publishes the official White House photographs because
independent photographers and videographers  are
increasingly barred
 from covering the president. This
practice has diminished the power of the independent media as an
exclusive distribution channel while empowering official
photographers such as Pete Souza, who are on the presidential

And so, says Shaw, the public has been fed a steady diet of
whatever kind of president the news cycle demands. When conspiracy
theorists questioned Obama’s patriotism, we saw images
of Obama
the American everyman
. To celebrate the anniversary of Rosa
Parks’ 1955 refusal to move to the back of a public bus in
Montgomery, Alabama, we saw Obama
reenact her famous image
. Time and again, we
see Obama striking poses out of John F. Kennedy’s
 The official White House photographers have
created a presidential identity for every conceivable occasion—as
long as the image is flattering, and almost always, larger than

While presidents have always sought to control their image, Shaw
and many in the press say that Obama has restricted media access to
an unparalleled degree. As the AP’s director of photography wrote
last year in The
New York Times
, the Obama administration has
“systematically tried to bypass the media by releasing a sanitized
visual record of his activities through official photographs and
videos, at the expense of independent journalistic access.”

Media boycotts of official photographs have been ineffective in
persuading the president to live up to his promise of transparency.
It is only by a tradition of public openness, not law, that
photographers have enjoyed access to the official business of the
president. So we could revert to the practice before the JFK
administration, when photographers were mostly kept away from the
inner workings of the White House.

Short of generating public outrage, there is little the
independent media can do. “Because [the White House] can distribute
directly through all these different [new and old media] channels,”
says Shaw, “there’s really not much downside to it, there’s not
much accountability.”

All over the world, heads of state are producing idealized
versions of their own identities on social media, a technology that
empowers leaders every bit as much as the rest of us. Heads of
state and politicians are increasingly free to project their own
self-image directly to the public, with less accountability than
ever from an independent press. From the White House on
 to Ten Downing Street on
 to Bashar al-Assad’s Instagram
, we may never see our politicians in the way that we did
just a few years ago.

About 12 minutes. 

Produced, shot, and edited by Todd Krainin.

All still photography from the White House.

Music by Chris Zabriskie, Lee Rosevere, Kevin MacLeod, and
Setuniman at FreeSound.

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from Hit & Run