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HMM: Baby Boomers Are Experiencing Greater Cognitive Decline Than Previous Generations, Study Finds.

Though people do generally lose a step or two in their brain power as part of the normal aging process, the study found there was an improving trend in cognitive function across generations born before and during World War II. The study had data for the following cohorts: Greatest Generation (born 1890-1923); Early Children of Depression (born 1924-1930); Late Children of Depression (born 1931-1941); War Babies (born 1942-1947); early baby boomers (born 1948–1953); and mid baby boomers (born 1954–1959).

While each generation before the boomers had improved later-life cognition compared to the one before it, the boomers showed a decline compared to war babies, breaking the pattern of improvement.

“It is shocking to see this decline in cognitive functioning among baby boomers after generations of increases in test scores,” study author Hui Zheng, professor of sociology at The Ohio State University, said in a statement released by the university. “But what was most surprising to me is that this decline is seen in all groups: men and women, across all races and ethnicities and across all education, income and wealth levels.”

Zheng also tried to account for age-related declines in cognition by looking only at the scores of people in their early 50s. But again, early baby boomers in their 50s on average had lower test scores than did people from earlier generations in that same age group. That likely means that whatever is causing this drop in cognition, the decline started becoming apparent by the time baby boomers were still middle-aged.

If this study pans out, I’d guess the results are due to increases in obesity and/or drug use.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Beijing appoints tough-talking party official Zheng Yanxiong to lead powerful new agency in Hong Kong. “Zheng Yanxiong, known for his hardline approach to handling protests in Guangdong, chosen to head the Beijing office in Hong Kong.”

HMMMM: One Flu Out Of The Wuhan Nest. Did Shi Zhengli’s team’s own virus database get deleted?

Background on “Shi Zhengli, the virologist known as China’s ‘batwoman’ for her work with bat coronaviruses” here: What is China covering up about the coronavirus?

SO THE CLAIM THAT THE WUHAN CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC MAY COME FROM A CHINESE LAB HAS GONE FROM CRAZY RIGHT-WING THEORY TO WAPO STANDARD IN RECORD TIME: U.S. Diplomats Warned about Safety Risks in Wuhan Labs Studying Bats Two Years before Coronavirus Outbreak.

U.S. officials warned in January 2018 that the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s work on “SARS-like coronaviruses in bats,” combined with “a serious shortage” of proper safety procedures, could result in human transmission and the possibility of a “future emerging coronavirus outbreak.”

In a series of diplomatic cables, one of which was obtained by The Washington Post’s Josh Rogin, U.S. Embassy officials warned their superiors that the lab, which they had visited several times, posed a serious health risk that warranted U.S. intervention. The officials were concerned enough about their findings to categorize the communications as “Sensitive But Unclassified,” in order to keep them out of the public eye.

“During interactions with scientists at the WIV laboratory, they noted the new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory,” the cable reads.

“The cable was a warning shot,” one U.S. official told Rogin. “They were begging people to pay attention to what was going on.”

While China has stated the virus emerged from a seafood market in Wuhan, U.S. officials are skeptical of the claim, with National Review detailing how the Wuhan Institute of Virology posted jobs in November and December of last year to show how they had been working on “long-term research on the pathogenic biology of bats carrying important viruses,” which had “confirmed the origin of bats of major new human and livestock infectious diseases” in December.

“The idea that is was just a totally natural occurrence is circumstantial. The evidence it leaked from the lab is circumstantial. Right now, the ledger on the side of it leaking from the lab is packed with bullet points and there’s almost nothing on the other side,” a U.S. official told Rogin.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology is China’s first laboratory to achieve the highest level of international bioresearch safety, known as BSL-4. But its work on bats — led by Shi Zhengli, the Chinese virologist nicknamed “Bat Woman” for her work with that species — is conducted at the lower protection level of BSL-2.

The 2018 cable confirms that Shi — whose team published research in November 2017 revealing that horseshoe bats they had collected from a cave in Yunnan province were very likely from the same bat population that spawned the SARS outbreak of 2002-2003 — was then working on “SARS-like coronaviruses.” Shi’s team was also the first to reveal in February that the new outbreak was a bat-derived coronavirus.

A smart friend of mine is convinced that there’s a connection to the arrest of Harvard chemist Charles Lieber for undisclosed ties to China. I remain skeptical: Lieber’s work — which is on nanotechnology and virus detection — seems a far cry from bat viruses, but who knows at this point? Stay tuned.

CHINA HOPES YOU WON’T NOTICE THIS: Hong Kong Police Arrest Opposition Politician Under Colonial-Era Law: Police say Cheng Lai-king, a member of the Democratic Party, was arrested for ‘seditious intention’ in relation to Facebook post.

If you want to tell them you noticed, they can be reached here.

STONEHENGE HAS NOTHING ON SCOTLAND’S CRANNOGS: Since we’ve all got more reading time during the coronavirus crisis, now is perhaps a good time to expand our range a bit and maybe even discover new interests.  Here’s a start, courtesy of National Geographic:

You’ve heard of the mystery of Stonehenge in England. But archeologists recently discovered that Scotland’s crannogs are even older and more mysterious. I mean, why did those who lived there more than 3,000 years ago build islands of no obvious purpose in the middle of a Loch? Careful what you say by way of answering that question. I’m a McFarland on my mother’s side of the family.

RACISM! XENOPHOBIA! Coronavirus: EU to suspend all non-essential foreign arrivals to halt pandemic spread.

Oh, wait, it was only racist and xenophobic when Trump did it, back when it was early enough to do some good.

NBC IS MUSCLING IN ON THE TIMES’ EFFORTS TO REHABILITATE COMMUNISM:

And speaking of the Gray Lady:

More here: China is In Denial About Coronavirus—Here’s What You Should Know.

More than just dodging responsibility, the Chinese government reportedly has pushed propaganda that the United States started the virus.

The Washington Post reported last week that China’s communist government was promoting conspiracy theories online about U.S. involvement.

“In recent days, run-of-the-mill mockery of the White House has taken a darker turn as the Chinese internet became inundated by the theory, subtly stoked by the Chinese government, that the coronavirus originated in the United States,” the newspaper said. “The U.S. government, one version of the theory goes, has been covering up mounting cases, and perhaps thousands of deaths, by classifying them as regular flu.”

There have been false internet rumors in the United States about China as well, but there is a clear difference, said Dean Cheng, senior research fellow for Asian studies at The Heritage Foundation.

“The problem here is that this seems to be echoes of Soviet information warfare,” Cheng told The Daily Signal. “America has a free press, from CNN to Alex Jones, The New York Times, and the National Enquirer. China’s press is state run. So these rumors are not random charges.”

The goal of the Chinese government is to define the virus as being as distant from government leaders and the Communist Party as possible, Cheng said.

And the DNC-MSM is apparently happy to play along, to simultaneously fill column inches, and bash the Bad Orange Man: CNN Plays the ‘That’s Racist’ Card on Virus, Forgets Own History:

The Chinese government says calling the coronavirus the “Wuhan Virus” is racist.

Specifically, The Global Times, which Wikipedia describes as “a daily tabloid newspaper under the auspices of the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper, commenting on international issues from a nationalistic perspective” headlines this: “Labeling China as a ‘disease incubator’ is unscientific and racist: experts.”

The Chinese Communist paper says this:

“Regionalizing pandemics is not only unscientific and potentially racist, but also ignores China’s contribution of research progress in infectious disease control around the world, they stressed.”

And faster than you can say “identity politics,” CNN abruptly began to toe the Chinese Communist party line. One CNNer after another began saying that, yes indeed, the phrase “Wuhan Virus” or “Chinese Virus” is….racist.

But as the Media Research Center quickly and vividly illustrated —  oops! Yes indeed, as this video illustrates, no less than one CNN host after another had been using the very term that suddenly, [all] of a sudden, was now racist. Oops indeed.

Fortunately, not everyone is willing to go along with the DNC-MSM’s charade: Tom Cotton: Anyone who casts ‘Wuhan Virus’ as xenophobic is a ‘politically correct fool.’

Speaking of which, great moments in projection from Ben Rhodes:

 

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: Venice Cancels All Public Events Including Carnival As Coronavirus Spooks Europe.

Austria stops train from Italy due to coronavirus suspects – report.

Northern Italy shutting down as coronavirus cases surge; three dead.

Spread of coronavirus triggers European travel curbs.

Iran says 43 infected with coronavirus, eight dead – official.

Seven nations including Turkey and Pakistan ban people crossing the border from Iran after eight people die from coronavirus and 43 are infected.

Moscow targets Chinese with raids amid virus fears.

Impact of the Coronavirus Ripples Across Asia: ‘It Has Been Quiet, Like a Cemetery.’

Pandemic Seems Likely as Coronavirus Outbreaks Worsen in Several Countries.

Feds backtrack on transfer of quarantined coronavirus patients to Alabama.

Coronavirus is China’s fastest-spreading health crisis, Xi Jinping says.

What happens if the coronavirus can’t be contained?

Central bankers will look at options for responding to coronavirus – Mnuchin.

Emerging Market Review: Spread of Coronavirus Beyond China Saps Risk Appetite.

Coronavirus Hits the Global Supply Chain.

Coronavirus could start to empty shelves in some U.S. stores by mid-April.

P&G Says 17,600 Products Could Be Affected By Coronavirus In China, Highlighting Supply Chain Risk.

Coronavirus outbreak could cause shortages of 150 drugs.

Coronavirus crisis shows pharmaceuticals have offshored supply chain, Navarro says.

Shipping lines, ports count cost as coronavirus hits supply chains.

Coronavirus to test supply chain analytics, business demand visibility.

Flashback: Coronavirus outbreak fuels concerns about pharma’s global supply chain.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS:

Shot: John Kerry on climate change: ‘We’ve got to treat this like a war.’

—The Washington Examiner, yesterday.

Chaser:

I would like to talk on behalf of all those veterans and say that several months ago in Detroit we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged, and many very highly decorated, veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia. These were not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command. It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit – the emotions in the room and the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.

They told stories that at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

We call this investigation the Winter Soldier Investigation.

—John Kerry, testifying before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, April 22, 1971, as quoted by WinterSoldier.com.

“Freud called it displacement,” Julia Gorin wrote in “Backstory: Global warbling,” at the Christian Science Monitor in 2006. “People fixate on the environment when they can’t deal with real threats. Combating the climate gives nonhawks a chance to look tough. They can flex their muscle for Mother Nature, take a preemptive strike at an SUV. Forget the Patriot Act, it’s Kyoto that’ll save you.”

Or as Tim Blair joked when AOC was evoking FDR and WWII during her disastrous unveiling of the Green Nude Eel, “Fair enough. Nuking Hiroshima it is, then.”

THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO BE BIG STONEHENGES, BUT THE MANUFACTURER CONFUSED FEET FOR INCHES: Hong Kong protesters’ little stonehenges impede police cars.

PEOPLE WHO CALL TRUMP HITLER 24/7 ARE OFFENDED BY AN AD: Ilhan Omar Blasts GOP Ad Depicting Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Burning: ‘Pull This Garbage Off the Air.’ The truth hurts.

LEFTISTS ARE STILL TRYING TO COPE WITH THE LOSS OF THEIR ACCUSTOMED IMPUNITY: The Ad That Ran During The Dem Debate That Has Ocasio-Cortez Outraged.

It’s here:

Ocasio-Cortez’s response is to call Cambodian refugee Elizabeth Heng a “white supremacist.” Because of course.

DECOUPLING: China’s factories had a surprisingly good month. But there’s trouble ahead for the economy.

The latest data presented some troubling signals. New export orders fell to the lowest level this year — an indication that foreign demand is declining as the US-China trade war rages on, said Zhengsheng Zhong, director of macroeconomic analysis at CEBM Group.

The trade war has shown no signs of abating, and the most recent escalation comes as concerns about slowing global growth are building, and as the fear of recession stalks several major economies. The latest round of tariffs that the United States and China imposed on each other went into effect Sunday.

Zhong pointed out in a note accompanying the Caixin data that there was “no sign of improvement” in business confidence.

“China’s economy showed signs of a short-term recovery, but downward pressure remains a long-term problem,” he wrote.

Plus: “What China is doing now to support its economy may not be enough to stave off problems later this year.”

While China’s military buildup and neoimperialist ambitions are worrisome, Trump is hitting them where it hurts.

UNLIKE HIS PREDECESSORS TRUMP GETS CHINA: Paul Mirengoff excerpts Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng’s Washington Post op-ed that praises the Trump Administration’s China policy. Chinese dissidents “note and appreciate what [Trump] is doing.” Read the whole thing.

BACON: IS THERE ANYTHING IT CAN’T DO? Stonehenge construction may have been aided by lots of pig fat.

COLD WAR II: Engineer faces 219 years in prison for smuggling US military chips to China.

On Tuesday, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) said that Yi-Chi Shih, a part-time Los Angeles resident, attempted to secure semiconductor chips used in US military applications in order to transfer them to Chinese associates.

The 64-year-old was subject to a six-week trial in a Los Angeles, California federal court.

Prosecutors alleged that Shih, alongside co-defendant Kiet Ahn Mai of Pasadena, California, conspired to gain access to a sensitive system belonging to an unnamed US firm which manufactured semiconductor chips and Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits (MMICs).

The victim company’s PC systems were accessed fraudulently after Mai posed as a potential customer, giving Shih the opportunity to obtain custom processors. While the firm in question believed the chips would only be used in the United States, Shih transferred the products to the Chengdu GaStone Technology Company (CGTC), a Chinese firm building an MMIC manufacturing plant.

Evidence suggested that Shih managed to “defraud the US company out of its proprietary, export-controlled items, including its design services for MMICs.”

China’s been stealing our seed corn for a long time now.

TOM WOLFE MAY BE GONE, BUT WE’RE ALL STILL LIVING IN HIS VIRTUAL REALITY PROGRAM:

● Shot:

Infectious diseases—some that ravaged populations in the Middle Ages—are resurging in California and around the country, and are hitting homeless populations especially hard.

Los Angeles recently experienced an outbreak of typhus—a disease spread by infected fleas on rats and other animals—in downtown streets. Officials briefly closed part of City Hall after reporting that rodents had invaded the building.

* * * * * * * *

The diseases sometimes get the “medieval” moniker because people in that era lived in squalid conditions without clean water or sewage treatment, said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine and public health at UCLA.

“’Medieval’ Diseases Flare as Unsanitary Living Conditions Proliferate,” Scientific American, March 15th.

● Chaser:

In 1968, in San Francisco, I came across a curious footnote to the hippie movement. At the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic there were doctors who were treating diseases no living doctor had ever encountered before, diseases that had disappeared so long ago they had never even picked up Latin names, diseases such as the mange, the grunge, the itch, the twitch, the thrush, the scroll, the rot. And how was it that they had now returned? It had to do with the fact that thousands of young men and women had migrated to San Francisco to live communally in what I think history will record as one of the most extraordinary religious fevers of all time.

The hippies sought nothing less than to sweep aside all codes and restraints of the past and start out from zero. At one point the novelist Ken Kesey, leader of a commune called the Merry Pranksters, organized a pilgrimage to Stonehenge with the idea of returning to Anglo-Saxon civilization’s point zero, which he figured was Stonehenge, and heading out all over again to do it better. Among the codes and restraints that people in the communes swept aside—quite purposely—were those that said you shouldn’t use other people’s toothbrushes or sleep on other people’s mattresses without changing the sheets or, as was more likely, without using any sheets at all, or that you and five other people shouldn’t drink from the same bottle of Shasta or take tokes from the same cigarette. And now, in 1968, they were relearning . . . the laws of hygiene . . . by getting the mange, the grunge, the itch, the twitch, the thrush, the scroff, the rot. This process, namely the relearning—following a Promethean and unprecedented start from zero—seems to me to be the leitmotif of the twenty-first century in America.

—Tom Wolfe, from his 1987 essay “The Great Relearning,” included in his 2000 anthology, Hooking Up. 

Earlier, from Reason TV: We Shut Down State Mental Hospitals. Some People Want to Bring Them Back.

ARCHEOLOGY: Geologists have finally found exactly where some Stonehenge rocks came from, debunking old research.

A team of 12 geologists and archaeologists from across the United Kingdom unveiled research this month that traces some of the prehistoric monument’s smaller stones to two quarries in western Wales.

The team also found evidence of prehistoric tools, stone wedges and digging activity in those quarries, tracing them to around 3000 BC, the era when Stonehenge’s first stage was constructed.

It’s rock-solid evidence that humans were involved in moving these “bluestones” to where they sit today, a full 150 miles away, the researchers say.

“It finally puts to rest long-standing arguments over whether the bluestones were moved by human agency or by glacial action,” University of Southampton Archeology Professor Joshua Pollard said in an email.

That still leaves the mesmerizing question of how.

IT WAS A NEOLITHIC RED LIGHT DISTRICT:  Prehistoric sailors may be responsible for Stonehenge.

FLASHBACK: Byron York: When a foreign adversary meddled in a presidential election.

The country doing the meddling, of course, was China, and the presidential candidate was Bill Clinton, who was already in the White House and seeking re-election in 1996.

Looking back on press accounts from the era, it’s striking how brazen a number of the players were as they went about the task of funneling illegal foreign donations to the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The names have been mostly forgotten now — Charlie Trie, John Huang, Johnny Chung — but the record remains.

Chung, for example, who was born in Taiwan and became a U.S. citizen, was a prolific Democratic fundraiser. Between 1994 and 1996, he gave $366,000 to the DNC and visited the Clinton White House more than 50 times.

In 1995, Chung gave a $50,000 check to First Lady Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff at an event on the White House grounds. His memorable explanation: “I see the White House is like a subway — you have to put in coins to open the gates.”

In May 1999, Chung testified before the House Government Oversight Committee. He said that in 1996, during the Clinton re-election campaign, he met with the head of Chinese military intelligence in the basement of a restaurant in Hong Kong. “We really like your president. We hope to see him re-elected,” the Chinese spy, Gen. Ji Shengde, told Chung, according to Chung’s testimony. Gen. Ji continued: “I will give you 300,000 U.S. dollars. You can give it to the president and the Democratic Party.”

That’s different because shut up.

Related: While Everyone Is Distracted By Russia, Chinese Spying And Influence Runs Wild.

TOP GRIEVANCE SCIENTISTS HARD AT WORK: Researchers identify 31 types of anti-atheist microaggressions.

Three researchers recently created a psychological survey to help therapists gauge how often atheist clients may suffer from microaggressions.

The Microaggressions Against Non-Religious Individuals Scale (MANIRS) was created by researchers Louis Pagano, Azim Shariff, and Zhen Cheng, and published for the first time last week in a journal run by the American Psychological Association.

According to the MANIRS scale, there are 31 microaggressions that are unique to atheists, many of which involve incidents during which an atheist is accidently assumed to be religious, or when an atheist overhears stereotypes.

Couldn’t they have chosen a more easily remembered number?

THIS IS GETTING REALLY OUT OF HAND:   Facebook blocks ad by Elizabeth Heng, GOP candidate for Congress.

UPDATE (by Charlie): This is the video:

HMM: Trade Fight With U.S. Complicates China’s Campaign to Contain Debt. “Recent economic expansion seems to be ebbing, triggering calls for Beijing to reopen credit spigot before trade conflict further dents growth.”

From behind the WSJ paywall:

The unusually-large liquidity injection surprised market participants, helping drive down the yuan’s value against the dollar to its weakest level in five months, at 6.4743 per dollar. The benchmark Shanghai Composite stock index plunged 3.8% Tuesday, dipping below 3,000, a psychologically-important level for investors and hitting its lowest mark in two years.

To fend off an economic slowdown, some officials in the State Council, China’s cabinet, are urging more aggressive loosening measures to boost lending and spur growth, such as reducing the portion of deposits banks are required to hold in reserve. Others, notably those at the central bank and other financial regulators, want to stay the course of debt control.

Companies ranging from property developers, local-government financing vehicles to manufacturers recently have missed payments on either bank loans or bonds, even though overall default rates remain low.

“Financial deleveraging is now trickling down to the real economy,” said Sheng Songcheng, a senior adviser at China’s central bank. “All those efforts would go to waste if monetary policy gets loosened now.”

“If the trade war gets worse from here, China’s policy makers will be forced into easing,” said Zhang Zhiwei, Deutsche Bank’s chief China economist. “That will probably delay the current policy agenda of deleveraging and containing financial risks.”

We have our own debt issues, but when free countries hit bad economic times, oftentimes the people vote the bastards out. When dictatorships hit bad economic times, sometimes the dictators find themselves with their backs against the wall.

A) SOME COINCIDENCE  B) ALIENS!  Stonehenge may have been in place before humans arrived – archaeologist.  Additional note: whoever has been putting crack in the faculty lounge coffee stop it.  It’s not funny anymore.

PRIVACY: Chinese Police Go RoboCop With Facial-Recognition Glasses.

China is already a global leader in deploying cutting-edge surveillance technologies based on artificial intelligence. The mobile devices could expand the reach of that surveillance, allowing authorities to peer into places that fixed cameras aren’t scanning, and to respond more quickly.

The devices, released late last year, were touted in state media this week as a means to help authorities during times such as the annual Lunar New Year migration that begins next week, when Chinese travelers flood train stations and airports.

The eyeglass-mounted camera is equipped with facial-recognition technology capable of “highly effective screening” of crowds for fugitives traveling under false pretenses, the official People’s Daily newspaper reported Monday. Its story included images of a policewoman wearing a sunglasses version of the device at a railway station in Zhengzhou, capital of central China’s Henan province.

Creepy.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW, THE LITTLE PEOPLE OF STONEHENGE? AND WHAT WOULD THEY SAY TO US, IF WE WERE HERE, TONIGHT? Victor Davis Hanson: Will Unfinished Train Overpasses Become California’s Stonehenge?

THIS WOULD DO THE PROFESSION A WORLD OF GOOD:

Stephen adds, “I’m a firearms instructor and teach a gun safety class to the interested reporters at the Free Beacon as a perk.”

CHINESE DEMOCRACY: Has Xi Jinping Become “Emperor for Life”?

In the CCP, power rests with those who can put loyal cadres in high positions. During the recent congress Xi did just that. As expected, General Secretary Xi and Premier Li Keqiang remain in the PBSC, China’s highest ruling body. The five new inductees to the PBSC, all born in the 1950s, have sworn fealty to the “supreme commander.” Li Zhanshu, Xi’s confidant and hatchet man, will become Chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s parliament, next March. Party theorist Wang Huning is taking charge of the ideology and propaganda portfolio. Another loyalist, the out-going Director of the Organization Department, Zhao Leji, will head the Party’s top anti-corruption agency, the Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection (CCDI). Vice-Premier Wang Yang, regarded as an economic and financial reformer, will be named Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China’s highest advisory council. And the veteran Party chief of Shanghai, Han Zheng, is slated to be the next Executive Vice-Premier, the principal deputy to Premier Li.

The dominance of the inchoate Xi Jinping Faction (which consists of his underlings, cronies, and protégés when he worked in Fujian and Zhejiang Provinces from 1985 to 2007, as well as his classmates at Tsinghua University and fellow natives of Shaanxi Province) is most pronounced in the larger 25-member Politburo. Fifteen of the Politburo members are Xi loyalists, plus cadres who have publicly sworn total allegiance to Xi.

China’s prosperity was made possible in part by the orderly transfer of power from one likeminded apparatchik to the next. Can Xi keep the prosperity, now that it seems that he’s broken the political model it was built on?

Stay tuned.

WOW: Donna Brazile: I considered replacing Clinton with Biden as 2016 Democratic nominee.

Former Democratic National Committee head Donna Brazile writes in a new book that she seriously contemplated replacing Hillary Clinton as the party’s 2016 presidential nominee with then-Vice President Biden in the aftermath of Clinton’s fainting spell, in part because Clinton’s campaign was “anemic” and had taken on “the odor of failure.”

In an explosive new memoir, Brazile details widespread dysfunction and dissension throughout the Democratic Party, including secret deliberations over using her powers as interim DNC chair to initiate the removal of Clinton and running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.) from the ticket after Clinton’s Sept. 11, 2016, collapse in New York City.

Which is funny, because I remember when Republicans tried to make something of that fainting spell they were called sexist conspiracy theorists. Plus:

As one of her party’s most prominent black strategists, Brazile also recounts fiery disagreements with Clinton’s staffers — including a conference call in which she told three senior campaign officials, Charlie Baker, Marlon Marshall and Dennis Cheng, that she was being treated like a slave.

“I’m not Patsey the slave,” Brazile recalls telling them, a reference to the character played by Lupita Nyong’o in the film, “12 Years a Slave.” “Y’all keep whipping me and whipping me and you never give me any money or any way to do my damn job. I am not going to be your whipping girl!”

Which is also funny, because it was Biden telling black people that Republicans were gonna put them “back in chains.”

SIGNS OF LIFE AT REED COLLEGE: Activists are disrupting lectures to protest “white supremacy,” but many students are taking steps to stop them.

This school year, students are ditching anonymity and standing up to RAR in public—and almost all of them are freshmen of color. The turning point was the derailment of the Hum lecture on August 28, the first day of classes. As the Humanities 110 program chair, Elizabeth Drumm, introduced a panel presentation, three RAR leaders took to the stage and ignored her objections. Drumm canceled the lecture—a first since the boycott. Using a panelist’s mic, a leader told the freshmen that “[our] work is just as important as the work of the faculty, so we were going to introduce ourselves as well.”

The pushback from freshmen first came over Facebook. “To interrupt a lecture in a classroom setting is in serious violation of academic freedom and is just unthoughtful and wrong,” wrote a student from China named Sicheng, who distributed a letter of dissent against RAR. Another student, Isabel, ridiculed the group for its “unsolicited emotional theater.”

“Unsolicited emotional theater.” I like that. Plus:

Two days later, a video circulated showing freshmen in the lecture hall admonishing protesters. When a few professors get into a heated exchange with RAR leaders, an African American freshman in the front row stands up and raises his arms: “This is a classroom! This is not the place! Right now we are trying to learn! We’re the freshman students!” The room erupts with applause.

I caught up with that student, whose name is Pax. “This is a weird year to be a freshman,” he sighed. Pax is very mild-mannered, so I asked what made him snap into action that morning. “It felt like both sides [RAR and faculty] weren’t paying attention to the freshmen class, as it being our class,” he replied. “They started yelling over the freshmen. It was very much like we weren’t people to them—that we were just a body to use.”

Next I met the student who shot the video. A sophomore from India, he serves as a mentor for international students. (He asked not to be identified by name.) “A lot of them told me how disappointed they were—that they traveled such a long distance to come to this school, and worked so hard to get to this school, and their first lecture was canceled,” he said. He also recalled the mood last year for many students of color like himself: “There was very much a standard opinion you had to have [about RAR], otherwise people would look at you funny, and some people would say stuff to you—a lot of people were called ‘race traitors.’”

Political Correctness is just another form of privileged Western bullying.

YOU DON’T SAY: Neolithic Feasts at Stonehenge Were Not Vegan-Friendly.

HEH: Residents of an exclusive San Francisco street didn’t pay their taxes. So someone bought their street.

Tina Lam and Michael Cheng of San Jose said that in 2015 they were looking at parcels being auctioned online by San Francisco’s tax office when they saw a description of “this odd property in a great location.”

“Part of Pacific Heights, the right location, land in a good neighborhood. We took a chance,” Cheng told the San Jose Mercury News. He said they bought the land sight-unseen, beating out 73 other bidders and dropping $90,000 for the street and its common areas.

In an expensive city, the homes on Presidio Terrace are in a league of their own. One had an asking price of $16.9 million last year, which dropped by $2 million. It’s a steep price to be neighbors with the likes of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who have called the street home.

Lam and Cheng are now the owners of the common space of Presidio Terrace, which includes its sidewalks, garden islands, leafy palm trees and other lush greenery beautifying the homes of 35 mega-mansions after the association that manages the common areas failed to pay property taxes going back decades, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Wealthy lefty strongholds sure can be sloppy about paying their fair share.

FASTER, PLEASE: NASA’S First Asteroid Deflection Mission Enters Next Design Phase.

“A binary asteroid is the perfect natural laboratory for this test,” said Tom Statler, program scientist for DART at NASA Headquarters. “The fact that Didymos B is in orbit around Didymos A makes it easier to see the results of the impact, and ensures that the experiment doesn’t change the orbit of the pair around the sun.”

After launch, DART would fly to Didymos, and use an on-board autonomous targeting system to aim itself at Didymos B. Then the refrigerator-sized spacecraft would strike the smaller body at a speed about nine times faster than a bullet, approximately 3.7 miles per second (6 kilometers per second). Earth-based observatories would be able to see the impact and the resulting change in the orbit of Didymos B around Didymos A, allowing scientists to better determine the capabilities of kinetic impact as an asteroid mitigation strategy. The kinetic impact technique works by changing the speed of a threatening asteroid by a small fraction of its total velocity, but by doing it well before the predicted impact so that this small nudge will add up over time to a big shift of the asteroid’s path away from Earth.

“DART is a critical step in demonstrating we can protect our planet from a future asteroid impact,” said Andy Cheng of The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, the DART investigation co-lead. “Since we don’t know that much about their internal structure or composition, we need to perform this experiment on a real asteroid. With DART, we can show how to protect Earth from an asteroid strike with a kinetic impactor by knocking the hazardous object into a different flight path that would not threaten the planet.”

The clock is ticking.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS:

CNN’s John King Apologizes For Guest Using Word “Crosshairs.”

Townhall, January 19, 2011.

If we are to embrace the notion of civility and humility in our discourse, that means not falling into our old habits. I was impressed that Roger Ailes, head of Fox News Channel, relayed to Russell Simmons’ GlobalGrind.com what he told his staff after the Tucson shootings: “I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually. You don’t have to do it with bombast. I hope the other side does that.”

Who knows if this edict will be photocopied and posted in the office of every Fox talk show host, and throughout its newsroom, to serve as a reminder to everyone when the nation moves further and further away from the shooting?

And he’s correct; those who vehemently oppose the views of Fox News and conservative radio hosts must also adhere to the president’s call for civility.

Maybe what we should all do is make “Remember Gabby and the Tucson 6” buttons, T-shirts, and bumper stickers, as a way to stop someone in his tracks who chooses to get out of control.

“After Tucson, will media tone it down?”, Democrat operative with a byline (and ascot) Roland Martin, then-with CNN, January 15, 2011.

CNN’s CEO on Funding Trump-Killing Play: ‘Not Going to Drop Our Support.’

NewsBusters, today.

To hell with you people, to coin a phrase.

AND THEN THERE WERE TWO: China Launches First Home-Built Aircraft Carrier, Boosting Naval Power.

The new carrier, festooned in red flags and ribbons and with a bottle of champagne smashed over its bow, slid from a dry dock into the water in a shipyard ceremony in the northeastern port city of Dalian on Wednesday, state media reported. About two years of sea trials are expected before the still-unnamed ship becomes fully operational, Chinese and Western military experts say.

“We aim to safeguard our sovereignty and state interests and world peace by developing our military forces including maritime forces,” said a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman at a regular news briefing on Tuesday.

China has been rapidly modernizing and expanding its naval operations over the last two decades, partly to ensure military superiority over Asian neighbors, some of which contest Chinese territorial claims, and to prevent the U.S. from intervening in regional conflicts.

There’s more to it than just a flight deck, however:

He said that other evidence of China’s long-term plans included constructing a new class of supply vessels modeled on leading U.S. counterparts, a new class of cruisers designed in part to protect carriers, and its first overseas naval facility, in the east African nation of Djibouti.

China “appears to be priming other ports to support its growing seaward presence,” Mr. Erickson said.

China is getting serious about power projection for the first time since Zheng He’s fleet was called home 600 years ago.

GOOD NEWS ON TITLE IX (REALLY): Could the law banning sexual discrimination actually mean what it says — and apply even if the victim is male? ? K.C. Johnson, co-author of The Campus Rape Frenzy, says a court ruling against Amherst is the best legal news in years for  male college students. It involves the outrageous case on the opening page of the book about a student named Michael Cheng (a pseudonym to protect his identity). While he was “blacked out” drunk, a non-drunk female student performed oral sex on him. Two years later, after becoming involved with anti-rape activists, she rewrote history and accused him of sexual assault. Amherst expelled Cheng, refusing to consider strong evidence (including the woman’s texts after the event) exonerating him.  If anyone was a victim of sexual assault, it was Cheng, but the frenzy on Amherst’s campus required a male scapegoat.

Cheng sued Amherst, arguing that Amherst had violated Title IX by discriminating against men. Amherst tried to get the case dismissed by arguing that Title IX didn’t apply, but a federal judge in Massachusetts ruled against the college. The judge, Mark Mastroianni, noted that Amherst realized the woman had initiated sex while Cheng was incapable of consenting, yet the college “did not take even minimal steps to determine whether Doe should have been viewed as a victim.” The judge allowed the suit to go forward because there is a “a sufficient basis for Doe to proceed with a Title IX deliberate indifference claim.”

Johnson and his co-author, Stuart Taylor Jr, have tracking the rape frenzy since the Duke lacrosse case. Their superb book debunks the myth of a rape epidemic and tells the horror stories of men convicted in the kangaroo courts mandated by the infamous “Dear Colleague” letter from a bureaucrat at the federal Department of Education. Dozens of them have sued, with mixed results so far, but Johnson says the Massachusetts ruling is an encouraging development:

To me, this is the most significant district court decision since the ‘Dear Colleague letter,’ because of the facts of the case: Cheng is not only innocent, but it’s at least plausible that his accuser victimized him, with the college ignoring it. So if Amherst had won the motion to dismiss, it would be hard to imagine any set of facts that would ensure a defeat for a college. The judge is an Obama appointee who, it seems to me, was disinclined to rule for the accused student but had no choice. He wasn’t looking for legal precedents to help Cheng. But even under the more limited precedents he cited, he couldn’t come up with a way to decide for Amherst. The Title IX section of the ruling was very broad, and puts Amherst in a tough position.

Good.

BORDERLINE INSANITY: Schengen Still In Shambles:

The revelation here, in case you missed it, is not that the EU is working to refine its common entry-exit tracking system, but that no such system currently exists. The clueless European bureaucrats who set up the Schengen Area, in other words, did so without creating a common mechanism to monitor and share information about who is crossing its external borders. This is hardly the kind of information that inspires confidence in the wise stewardship of European elites.

Meanwhile, EU officials who once welcomed migrants with open arms are now taking a different tack: lock them up. . . .

However this particular move will be spun by Brussels, the essential reality is grim: the EU has moved from welcoming refugees to effectively setting up detention camps. Sadly, this is yet another demonstration of the familiar lesson that Obama policies kill Obama values: if you dither and appease while Russia turns Syria into a charnel house, your commitment to humane treatment of refugees will collapse under the human catastrophe resulting from your fecklessness.

Both of these reports tell a version of the same story, about the failure of blinkered European elites to foresee the migrant crisis or establish adequate systems to cope with it. Western leaders who enabled the slaughter in Syria and then opened their borders to mass refugee flows are only now facing the music, hastily constructing systems that should have been in place long ago and harshly clamping down on migration—all to solve a crisis that need never have happened.

Our best and brightest are neither. And Europe’s are even worse.

KERRY ON ISRAEL: An Alternate Universe.

Amir Cohen:

Kerry’s speech was already going to be drowned out by the global din around United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which passed in recent days after the U.S. abstained, and which among other things lumped Judaism’s holiest sites in East Jerusalem together with the West Bank and declared all of them occupied Palestinian territory. It has been criticized first, as a diplomatic gambit that detonated the peace process and second, as an abandonment of Israel contrary to decades of U.S. diplomacy aimed at blocking international assaults on the Jewish state.

The resolution presented another rhetorical problem for Kerry: to even get to the parameters he was going to have to get past those two criticisms. He needed to paint a world in which the UNSCR built on the peace process rather than detonated it, and boosted Israel rather than abandoning it.

He did exactly that, but at the cost of whatever relevance the speech might have had left, because the world he painted has very little in common with the one we live in. He couldn’t even craft a single version where everything fell into place, but had to leap from one alternate reality to another. Those who work on the Middle East as it actually exists don’t have anything in the speech for them.

This is perhaps not unexpected from the man who invented huge swaths of his Vietnam service record, then gained domestic fame by comparing his fellow U.S. troops there to Ghenghis Khan.

TERROR: Tunisian Man Detained In Connection To Berlin Market Attack.

The 40-year-old, who wasn’t identified, was detained during a search of his home and business, federal prosecutors said.

The man’s telephone number was saved in the cellphone of Anis Amri, a fellow Tunisian believed to have driven a truck into the market on Dec. 19. Amri, 24, was killed in a shootout with police in a suburb of Milan early Friday.

Of the new suspect, prosecutors said in a statement that “further investigations indicate that he may have been involved in the attack.”

Twelve people died in the truck attack. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility.

Prosecutors have until Thursday evening to determine whether the case against the 40-year-old is strong enough for them to seek a formal arrest warrant. That would allow them to keep him in custody pending possible charges.

Investigators are trying to determine whether Amri had a support network in planning and carrying out the attack, and in fleeing Berlin. They’re also trying to piece together the route he took from Berlin to Milan.

The Schengen Area made it possible to travel throughout most of Europe with less hassle, but it also has made it easier for terror suspects to flee between police jurisdiction and intelligence agencies which are still, unlike travelers and terrorists, largely confined to their home countries.

NOT FOR THE ARACHNOPHOBES AMONG US: Watch Baby Spiders Emerge From Mysterious “Silkhenge” Structures.

STIMULUS: Forget Ghost Cities, China Builds 10-Billion-Yuan Replica Titanic.

According to Google Translate, it’s part of a Chengdu tourism project which “will also present the first giant man-made sky waterway commercial street, the world’s first interactive high-tech three-dimensional theater cinema, the largest salt brine hot springs in Asia and other products.”

This Titanic appears to be land-based and at very little risk of sinking — unlike many of China’s state-directed investments.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS.  Dan Rather Melts Down at Fear Trump Is Endangering Founding Principles; Urges Press to Rise Up:

Disgraced former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather was at it again on Tuesday pontificating on Facebook post as he urged Americans and particularly journalists to rise up and not “remain seated or silent” against concerning aspects of President-elect Donald Trump’s agenda and neo-Nazis saluting Trump’s win (in another attempt to normalize their line of hate through free media).

Speaking as if we were on the edge of a massive purge or tragedy, Rather pontificated that “HIstory [sic] will demand to know which side were you on” because “[t]his is not a question of politics or party or even policy” but “a question about the very fundamentals of our beautiful experiment in a pluralistic democracy ruled by law.”

In 2009, Rather headlined a $200-a-person fundraiser for the Nation magazine; as even Wikipedia notes regarding the magazine’s far left ideology:

In 1900, Henry Villard’s son, Oswald Garrison Villard, inherited the magazine and the Evening Post, selling off the latter in 1918. Thereafter, he remade The Nation into a current affairs publication and gave it an anti-classical liberal orientation: Oswald Villard welcomed the New Deal and supported the nationalization of industries – thus reversing the meaning of “liberalism” as the founders of The Nation would have understood the term, from a belief in a smaller and more restricted government to a belief in a larger and less restricted government.

And very little has changed at the Nation since. Five years previously, Rather blew up his career in de facto support of the socialist presidential candidate who made his bones insisting that American soldiers “had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.”

IT’S PROBABLY NOTHING: ‘More will come’ ISIS warns HUNDREDS of jihadis have SNUCK into Schengen to attack Europe.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CLUE, ANGIE? Angela Merkel admits Germany, EU bungled refugee crisis.

Who could have foreseen that the completely disorderly admission of hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants into Germany from countries with terrorism problems would turn out to be an issue? Apparently not German Chancellor Angela Merkel, until now.

On Tuesday, Merkel told the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung that part of the reason the problem got so out of control was because Europe had ignored it for so long.

“There are political issues that one can see coming but don’t really register with people at that certain moment — and in Germany we ignored both the problem for too long and blocked out the need to find a pan-European solution,” Merkel said, according to a translation from Reuters.

She said the European Union had “rejected a proportional distribution of the refugees” when the problem first became apparent. Germany has taken in more than 1 million refugees, but the EU had let each country come up with their own plan at first.

But then Merkel acknowledged that the continent failed to properly handle the migration. “We didn’t embrace the problem in an appropriate way,” she said. “That goes as well for protecting the external border of the Schengen area.”

The “Schengen area” refers to the 26 European countries that stopped requiring passports for travel between them.

Maybe if Merkel and her ilk had recognized the dangers of letting so many people in without having space for them – or knowing who they were – they wouldn’t be in the mess they’re in now.

Virtue-signalling is no basis for policy, but it’s the only moral compass the EU’s leaders have. Besides, the costs always fall on the little people, not the leaders.

JAPANESE CLAIM CHINA DREW A RED LINE: From The Japan Times:

China strongly warned a high-level Japanese official around late June that Tokyo should not send Self-Defense Forces to join U.S. operations that test the freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea, diplomatic sources said Saturday. Japan will “cross a red line” if SDF vessels take part in so-called freedom of navigation operations, Ambassador Cheng Yonghua told the official, the sources said. Cheng even hinted at military action.

The SDF is the official name of the Japanese military. “SDF vessels” are the Japanese navy. Obama’s Syrian “red line” vanished, but that’s Obama. Read the article. China and Japan have exchanged several serious warnings.

SPACE: THE INVISIBLE ARMS RACE. We’ve finally admitted that the space race is on. Time for bold steps to compete.

An arms race is under way in space—insidious, invisible, and at this point probably inevitable. The Bush Administration’s dream that the United States could control access to earth orbit as the British had once controlled sea lines of communication has been, as the bureaucrats say, overtaken by events. So has the Obama Administration’s emphasis on international “cooperation” (the word appears 13 times in the first few pages of the Administration’s 2010 National Space Policy document), an approach that served chiefly to demonstrate that no international consensus on the future of space exists, and that none is likely. Even the sensible, if vague and entirely voluntary, “Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities” floated by the European Union and pushed hard by the State Department for most of a decade found only tepid support. It was easy for the Chinese and Russians to portray it all as just the latest example of Western imperialism. Earlier this year, the Code was quietly put to rest. Leading from behind on space, the United States has been outmaneuvered and left for dead.

Not so the Chinese and Russians, who occupy the diplomatic high ground with their Treaty on Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space (PPWT), all the time working feverishly to put their own weapons in space, and anywhere else they might do some damage, including, we can safely assume, in the cyber domain. Dean Cheng of the Heritage Foundation describes a recent reorganization of the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) structure to emphasize “information dominance,” defined as the ability to exploit battlefield information while denying the enemy that same capability. The information satellites provide is key to power projection; there can be no “pivot” to Asia without satellites; so disabling or dismantling our space infrastructure is a high priority for Beijing. Kinetic hit-to-kill weapons like the one China tested in 2007 and again in recent years are one way of doing this, but hardly the most efficient. Far better in an “informationalized” war to ensure that the data satellites gather and transmit never makes it to the end user—or that it arrives there in a form that looks reliable but isn’t. It’s the perfect way for a country like China to leap over the present imbalance and arrive as a fully fledged and dangerous adversary at the next stage of conflict in space. The key words on this new battlefield are hack, dazzle, jam, and spoof.

For their part, the Russians recently tested a small, maneuverable “Luch” satellite dangerously near a commercial communication satellite operated by Intel Corporation in geosynchronous orbit. Satellites that can maneuver freely in space have several legitimate functions; they can serve as space tugs, moving satellites from orbit to orbit, or refuel, inspect, or repair them. They might also be used to shadow national security satellites, modify their orbits, hit them with a burst of electromagnetic energy, collide with them or perhaps plant listening devices or limpet mines on them. Ten years from now, space will be filled with small, highly mobile satellites like this, many of them put into orbit by commercial operators for legitimate purposes, but many others by states for other, less benign reasons.

I had some thoughts on this a while back.

WHAT HATH MERKEL WROUGHT? Two-thirds of Germans want end to open borders. And it’s not just Germans: “The survey by French pollsters Ifop found that while 60 percent of Italians were against Schengen – an agreement which allows people to travel within the EU without showing a passport – across the Rhine the number of French people wanting borders closed was as high as 72 percent.”

IN EUROPE, THE OPTIMISM IS JUST OVERWHELMING: Norway wants to deny all refugees if ‘it all breaks down.’

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg is proposing emergency legislation that would allow Norway to deny entry to all asylum seekers who do come directly from countries in conflict.

Solberg said that the legislation would only be implemented in an emergency situation and would protect Norway from the deteriorating situation within the Schengen region and the mounting strain the Swedish asylum system is facing from the current refugee crisis in Europe.

Under her plan, asylum seekers entering from Russia or other Nordic countries would be immediately rejected if they are not coming directly from areas of conflict.

The legislation would go against the UN Refugee Convention and has therefore faced strong criticism, but Solberg said it would only be implemented in the face of a complete breakdown of Sweden’s asylum system, which took in 163,000 asylum seekers in 2015 and expects an additional 100,000 this year.

A lot of Americans have been saying the Swedish system is in danger of collapse. This is a little more authoritative.

UPDATE: From Agence France Press: #BREAKING: EU warns migration system could ‘completely break down’ in 10 days.

YEAH, LIKE WE’RE GOING TO SEE THAT FROM OBAMA: Why the US Should Stand Up for Hong Kong: The UK’s Foreign Secretary has accused Beijing of a “serious breach” of its agreement over Hong Kong.

On February 12, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond blamed China for the disappearance of Lee Bo, a British citizen from Hong Kong, declaring it a “serious breach” of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the treaty governing Hong Kong’s return to communist mainland rule in 1997.
Lee is one of five men connected to the Hong Kong-based Mighty Current Media publishing house and its bookstore in the Causeway Bay neighborhood who, since last fall, have disappeared and subsequently reappeared on the mainland in official custody.

On February 4, mainland authorities acknowledged holding Lam Wing Kee, Cheng Chi Ping, and Lui Por, on unspecified “illegal activities.” On January 17, Gui Minhai, who had disappeared from his Thailand beach home in October, appeared on Chinese state television and gave an emotional “confession,” in which he said he voluntarily returned to the mainland to face responsibility for a 2003 drunk driving incident.

As for Lee, Hammond said, “The full facts of the case remain unclear, but our current information indicates that Lee was involuntarily removed to the mainland without any due process under Hong Kong SAR law.”

London has taken an important step. However, if it is serious about defending Hong Kong, it will have to ask other democracies for support that has not so far been forthcoming. Even before the formal transfer of sovereignty, but while China’s meddling was already underway, the Clinton Administration insisted its hands were tied. Assistant Secretary of State Winston Lord told Congress in 1996, “The United States does not offer legal interpretations of agreements to which it is not a party,” adding, “by the way, the British have not stated their legal position.”

Now that Great Britain has said the treaty is breached, the United States must go beyond its February 1 expression of “deep concern” over Lee and the fate of the other men. It should now be more difficult for the Obama Administration to avoid implementing the key provision of the U.S.-Hong Kong Policy Act. That law directs the President to withdraw Hong Kong’s separate treatment in some economic and trade matters if he finds it to be insufficiently autonomous.

Don’t hold your breath. You can generally count on Obama to side with the tyrants in confrontations of this sort.

MARK JUDGE: China Wants Male Teachers, and We Should Too.

Worried that a shortage of male teachers has produced a generation of timid, self-centered and effeminate boys, Chinese educators are working to reinforce traditional gender roles and values in the classroom.

In Zhengzhou, a city on the Yellow River, schools have asked boys to sign pledges to act like “real men.” In Shanghai, principals are trying boys-only classes with courses like martial arts, computer repair and physics. In Hangzhou, in eastern China, educators have started a summer camp called West Point Boys, complete with taekwondo classes and the motto, “We bring out the men in boys.”

I love that they name it after West Point, which itself meanwhile is feminizing as fast as it can.

WHAT COULD GO WRONG? EU Projects Three Million Refugees and Migrants in 2016.

If this is true, Europe will explode. This is triple the 2015 yearly rate of about a million (which itself was an over three-fold increase from the 282,000 that came in 2014). That current rate has already led to the rise of the far right, serious stresses on national and local governments, and the partial breakdown of the Schengen system. So far, many of these stresses have been manageable and perhaps reversible—but if things get three times as bad as they are right now, that will all change. Strong polls for the far right will likely become an election (or elections) in which a party like the Sweden Democrats or Front National takes office; Schengen hiccups could become an outright collapse of the system; and both inter- and intra-national tensions will skyrocket.

The majority of immigrants are streaming to Germany and Sweden, with the Germans expecting to accept this year 800,000 newcomers or more into a nation of 80 million. As we have noted before, that’s about the same rate as the U.S. took in during the “Great Wave” of immigration, our historic peak, in 1880-1924. That wave eventually resulted in a popular backlash in the U.S. that shut down immigration almost completely for two generations. If Europe, which is far less culturally, legally, economically, and popularly prepared to take in immigrants than the United States was then, is hit by a rate triple that, expect politics as the Continent knows them to change dramatically.

Indeed.

EUROPE’S IMMIGRATION PROBLEM is structural.

This time the crisis is over one of Europe’s most cherished icons: the Schengen visa-free/passport-free zone, which has given the European project arguably its strongest evidence yet that a larger and ultimately “pan-European” community would emerge from the nation-states bound by the treaty and the ideals behind it.

The current wave is fast invalidating all earlier numerical projections: Germany is looking at about 800,000 asylum applications this year; in July alone more than 100,000 people entered Europe, mainly through Greece and Italy. Reportedly, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will now call for the member countries to resettle the 160,000 people who have reached Greece, Italy, and Hungary—a fourfold increase relative to two months ago. This is the “Schengen wave” of immigration; now reaching the point of entry places one within striking distance of Europe’s interior.

The size and distribution of the resettlement quota within the EU has become an intra-family squabble, with Britain resisting and Germany and Italy asking for higher quota commitments from other countries, especially from the reluctant “new members.” Here Hungary has led the way in its opposition to the plan, building a barbed wire fence along the Serbian border and pushing enabling legislation through the parliament that would reassert national control. Prime Minister Viktor Orban has called the immigration wave a “German problem.”

So it now will come to this: Germany’s Angela Merkel will insist that increasing resettlement quotas for all is inevitable, making it a litmus test of intra-EU solidarity. If she gets her way—and she likely will next week—Greece, Italy, and Hungary will be allowed to dispatch the migrants from their territory to other countries, establishing an ad hoc quota policy of sorts. Problem solved? Not so fast, as another deal on the resettlement quota will not alter the overall migration dynamic or momentum, with push and pull factors (war in MENA and Europe’s generous social support and prospect of a better life) now mutually reinforcing and locked in. And in a world framed by instant communications and social media, the message of Europe’s promise will continue to go out to the desperate and the entrepreneurial thousands, reinforcing their determination to come.

You can’t have open borders and generous welfare benefits. At least, not for long. And something that can’t go on forever, won’t.

THIS WAS INEVITABLE: EU may bring back border controls, Angela Merkel suggests. “The German Chancellor says for the first time that the Schengen zone, which allows passport-free travel across mainland Europe, cannot continue in its current form unless other EU countries accept their share of migrants.” Europe will turn ugly in response to this flood. The longer it’s allowed to go on, the uglier the turn will be.

EUROPE’S BORDER CRISIS: Hundreds of thousands of “refugees” from the Middle East and Africa are crossing the Mediterranean, seeking a better life in Europe. 

They have to satisfy the authorities that they are fleeing persecution and would face harm or even death if sent back to their country of origin.

Under EU rules, an asylum seeker has the right to food, first aid and shelter in a reception centre. They should get an individual assessment of their needs. They may be granted asylum by the authorities at “first instance”. If unsuccessful they can appeal against the decision in court, and may win.

Asylum seekers are supposed to be granted the right to work within nine months of arrival.

Basically, this is the same experience of the United States, with mass, virtually unchecked migration across the southern border from individuals–including large numbers of unaccompanied minors–fleeing horrific political and economic conditions in Central and South America. The scale of such migration taxes the resources of the host country (schools; government benefits; jobs) and increases risks to national security. Indeed, such problems are now causing Europe to re-think its open borders policy:

“We face a diffuse terrorist threat trying to attack our values,” French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told an emergency meeting of foreign ministers from France, Germany, Spain, Italy and other European nations, who met in Paris to deal with terrorism and improve security in the wake of the attack by gunman Ayoub El-Khazzani on the Amsterdam-Paris Thalys train last week.

At the heart of the discussion was whether or not the European Union border policy of free travel, known as “Schengen,” can survive the waves of growing attacks against civilians in Europe.

The “perfect storm,” as a European diplomat called it, has hit Europe: terrorism, a migration crisis, and crime. Although they are not directly connected, the perception among many seasoned Europe observers is that the free movement of people across borders is making it easier for waves of people who intend to commit acts of violence to prey on victims – and to escape prosecution.

Yep. Any country (or federation of countries, as with the EU) that wishes to protect its sovereignty and citizens (which is the very purpose of government) must control its borders. It’s really that simple. While one cannot help but have empathy for those individuals fleeing economically or politically volatile countries, the solution is to help stabilize those countries, not tolerate ongoing massive, disruptive shifts in population, which only leads to destabilization of stable democracies (republics), which in turn, holds the potential to destabilize the world.

IMMIGRATION: Schengen In Danger, Germany Warns. “France’s President François Hollande and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel will discuss quotas for accepting migrants at their meeting today (24 August), French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Sunday (23 August). Germany’s interior minister Thomas de Maizière said the EU borderless Schengen agreement may be in danger over the migrant crisis on Friday. . . . He explained that the freedom of movement in the EU was threatened by countries failing to adhere to the principle that responsibility for processing claims lies with the country that played the biggest part in the applicant’s entry to the EU. . . . n the meantime, Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel also spoke of a need to review the Schengen agreement, in the light of a foiled attempt by a terror suspect to carry an attack of the passengers of the Thalys high-speed train between Amsterdam and Paris.”

The EU is “ruling out” any changes, but that’s basically bluster at this point.

IMMIGRATION: Terror Attack On Train Puts Spotlight On Schengen.

The ease with which the terror suspect in the failed train attack moved around Europe has put the spotlight on the passport-free Schengen Area.

Calls for tighter border security within Europe are expected to increase after it emerged that the gunman overpowered by passengers in France on Friday was known to anti-terror authorities in France, Belgium and Spain.

Charles Michel, Belgium’s prime minister, called for urgent talks with France, Germany and the Netherlands on increasing security on cross-border trains.

However, the European Commission said the Schengen treaty on freedom of movement was “non-negotiable” and there were no plans to change it. But it said increased security controls could be compatible with Schengen “if they do not have an effect equivalent to border checks”.

The train originated in the Netherlands, passing Belgium before entering France — three of the 26 Schengen countries where people travel without the need for passports and security checks. Passport and luggage checks are, however, carried out on Eurostar services that run to Britain, which is outside the Schengen Area.

I predict that more countries will choose to be outside the Schengen Area if this keeps up. Even the Germans are talking about it:

The Belgian prime minister, Charles Michel, on Saturday called the train episode “a terrorist attack” and proposed “an urgent meeting of transport and interior ministers from Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands to reinforce antiterrorist measures, notably identity and baggage controls,” his office said.

Attacks like this one, combined with Europe’s difficulties this summer with a surge of migrants and asylum seekers from Iraq, Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Libya and other countries, have made some officials question the open borders under the Schengen Agreement, which allows free movement without border controls across much of the European Union. Even the German interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, has suggested a new examination of that agreement because of the large flow of migrants to Germany and other northern countries from entry points in Greece, Italy and Hungary.

Borders exist for a reason.

CRUISE SHIP ASSOCIATION not exactly bursting with excitement over Cayman cruise ship dock proposal.

Related: Cayman Islands Tourism Association Adds Voice to Cruise Port Opposition.

I’ve written about this before.

GLOCK FOLLOWUP: Chris Cheng on cops & Glocks. Plus, Mike McDaniel: GLOCKs, The Proper Focus: A Response to Bob Owens.

#DOOM: East Coast mantle hotspot could explain massive Missouri quakes.

Examining all the data from the Virginia earthquake, Risheng Chu and several of his colleagues at the California Institute of Technology think they’ve identified an interesting feature beneath the seismically active region on the border between Missouri and Tennessee—a trail of hot rock left by a mantle hot spot.

Mantle hotspots are behind many island chains, like Hawaii, as well as continental volcanism, such as the Snake River Plain leading to Yellowstone. It’s not the hotspots that move. Rather, it’s the tectonic plate that moves over the hotspot, with the resulting linear scar recording past plate motion.

The New Madrid Seismic Zone is unusual in that it’s far from any plate boundary. While most earthquakes there are small, there have been some massive ones in the past, including several devastating quakes witnessed in 1811-1812. The earthquakes occur along faults created by a failed rift, where volcanic activity nearly split North America apart more than 500 million years ago.

There are other failed rifts without the same unruly earthquake behavior today, so what’s different here? One idea is that a mantle hotspot could have weakened this rift zone more recently (geologically speaking), creating the conditions for seismic activity.

Hmm.

THE PRICE OF MARRIAGE IN CHINA:

“This is a good place to hunt,” she told me. “I always have good luck here.”

For Ms. Yang, Joy City is not so much a consumer mecca as an urban Serengeti that she prowls for potential wives for some of China’s richest bachelors. Ms. Yang, 28, is one of China’s premier love hunters, a new breed of matchmaker that has proliferated in the country’s economic boom. The company she works for, Diamond Love and Marriage, caters to China’s nouveaux riches: men, and occasionally women, willing to pay tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars to outsource the search for their ideal spouse.

In Joy City, Ms. Yang gave instructions to her eight-scout team, one of six squads the company was deploying in three cities for one Shanghai millionaire. This client had provided a list of requirements for his future wife, including her age (22 to 26), skin color (“white as porcelain”) and sexual history (yes, a virgin).

“These millionaires are very picky, you know?” Ms. Yang said. “Nobody can ever be perfect enough.” Still, the potential reward for Ms. Yang is huge: The love hunter who finds the client’s eventual choice will receive a bonus of more than $30,000, around five times the average annual salary in this line of work.

Ah, the progressive People’s Republic, where millionaires hire people to find them white-skinned virgins. But note this, too:

The marriage candidates on offer in the parks, she discovered, were often a mismatch of shengnu (“leftover women”) and shengnan (“leftover men”), two groups from opposite ends of the social scale. Shengnan, like her son, are mostly poor rural men left behind as female counterparts marry up in age and social status. The phenomenon is exacerbated by China’s warped demographics, as the bubble of excess men starts to reach marrying age.

Finding a Chinese spouse can be even more challenging for so-called leftover women, even if they often have precisely what the shengnan lack: money, education and social and professional standing.

That problem is everywhere, now.

DAN RIEHL: Priceless: WaPo blames constitutional law instructor Obama for possible ObamaCare Failure. “We can’t know for certain how the Court may rule on health care this week. But watching Washington as usual play out driven by a sense of doom is still something of a hoot. If it does go down and Obama fails to win re-election, he won’t have any positive legacy at all in the end.”

Perhaps if Obama had ever written any scholarly articles on the Commerce Clause, he’d have had a better understanding. But then, he never wrote any scholarly articles on anything. As former Obama colleague Richard Epstein said: “I like Obama but I reject the suggestion that he is an intellectual. He is an activist merely mimicking the mannerisms of an intellectual.”

UPDATE: Reader Dean Cheng writes:

As you regularly warn, “Don’t get cocky kid.”

So, everyone THINKS that the Supremes will overturn Obamacare, at least in part, and perhaps in whole.

But what if that doesn’t happen? What if, by a 5-4 decision, the Supremes decide that Obamacare is Constitutional? Shoot, what if they decide that Obama is right, and it would be politically too hard to overturn the thing? Not that they would necessarily phrase it that way in their decision, of course.

I’m not suggesting that SCOTUS will uphold Obamacare, only to hold off on the schadenfreude and celebrating and end-zone spiking until after the Supreme Court has actually RULED on the thing, AND overturned it?

Good point. Don’t get cocky, kid. Though the lefties’ pre-decisional flailing is too amusing to ignore entirely.

THIS SHOULD BE A SPINAL TAP SONG: Manhattanhenge. “There’s a due-east sunrise and due-west sunset twice a year (the age-old wisdom isn’t all that wise) and Manhattan is set about 30 degrees east of north. If it were perfectly aligned, it would fall on the more-famous solar event, the equinox.”

BLIND DISSIDENT CHEN GUANGCHENG will apparently leave China with his family and study in the United States.

“SMART DIPLOMACY:” Fears grow over future of blind dissident Chen Guangcheng after Hillary Clinton flies out. After this debacle, I doubt we’ll hear much talk of Hillary replacing Biden on the ticket.

“SMART DIPLOMACY:” Damage control in the Chen Guangcheng affair.

MORE ON THE CHEN DEBACLE: Chen deal rushed, chaos ensues.

Over the last couple days human rights activists, conservative lawmakers and Mitt Romney have leveled two criticisms of the Obama administration’s handling of the Chen Guangcheng episode: The resolution was rushed so as not to interfere with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Beijing, and little care was taken as to specific steps to be taken after his release, including protection for him in the hospital. A former foreign policy official put it, “What they really cared about was getting him out of the embassy so his presence didn’t overshadow Hillary Clinton’s visit.

Now the administration officials are coming forward to admit these two rather egregious missteps.

Remember when they were promising us “smart diplomacy?”

YA THINK? The Hill: Chinese Dissident Becomes Political Headache For Obama.

But wait, it gets worse:

The Chen Guangcheng saga gets stranger and stranger, but also is becoming a major diplomatic embarrassment for the Obama administration. What was already a confusing tale of “he said, she said” moved into the realm of near-parody this afternoon, when Chen himself called his U.S. supporter and activist Bob Fu during a congressional hearing, was put on speaker phone, and directly asked to be let out of China. What has particularly spun the case out of control is the growing assertion by many that U.S. officials relayed threats by Beijing toward Chen’s wife to the blind activist, thereby forcing him to accept a deal to leave the U.S. Embassy and remain in China. Within 48 hours of a supposed deal to ensure Chen’s safety in the country, the lawyer’s friends began spreading the word that he had feared for his wife’s life and agreed to leave the embassy, but now wanted to flee the country.

What seemed like a coup by U.S. diplomats has instead become the biggest circus sideshow in Sino-American relations since 1989, when the Chinese massacred hundreds (possibly thousands) of college students demonstrating for freedom in Tiananmen Square, and famed dissident Fang Lizhi took refuge in the U.S. Embassy. Back then, Ambassador James R. Lilley succored Fang for a year before Chinese authorities agreed to let him live in exile in the United States. Given the doubts about who said what to whom, it is imperative that the Obama administration dispel rumors that it may have, even unknowingly, passed official threats to Chen, thereby causing him to take the path of least resistance for both governments.

A debacle.

IT’S ON C-SPAN: House holds emergency hearing on Chen Guangcheng; Obama ducking. I started to make a Peking Duck joke here, but . . . .

NEWS FROM THE “SMART DIPLOMACY” FRONT: Activist Chen Guangcheng: Let Me Leave China on Hillary Clinton’s Plane.

THIS MUST BE MORE OF THAT “SMART DIPLOMACY” WE’VE BEEN HEARING ABOUT: Gutsy call: Obama ducks question on Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, feigns concern about human rights.

GAS PRICES ARE GOING UP, and Steve Hayward notes that it’s not because the economy is recovering, since demand for gasoline is actually dropping. Shipping demand isn’t good either.

Speaking of demand, I had dinner last night with a college friend who trades electricity, and he says he’s not seeing any sign of a recovery in his line of work — you’d expect a boost in electricity demand that he’s just not encountering. I wonder, if you were, say, an investor or a foreign intelligence service, what U.S. metrics would you look at to determine if the economy was really recovering, if you didn’t trust the official numbers?

UPDATE: Reader Dean Cheng writes:

The problem that you’re identifying about American statistics (how can electricity consumption not rise if the economy is growing) is exactly the sort of thing that also raises questions about the Chinese economy.

For example, at one point, China was claiming a major increase in the number of cars sold, yet gasoline demand was dropping.

That we now must subject the American economy to the same kind of close scrutiny formerly reserved for places like the People’s Republic of China, must [be] a further reflection of the Hopey-Changey policies of President Obama.

Civil society has taken a beating, hasn’t it?

JOEL KOTKIN LOOKS AT THE MAPS: Inside The Sinosphere. “A glossy software office in Chengdu seems a long way from the images of centrally directed, belching factories seeking to dominate the global economy. But a close examination of the emerging Sinosphere–or Chinese sphere of influence–shows an economy that is globally dispersed, multinational and increasingly focused on the high-tech and service sectors. . . . Chinese capitalism has relied on diaspora entrepreneurs like Tang. In this sense, the rise of China represents the triumph of a race and a culture. Indeed for most of its history China’s most important export was not silk or porcelain but people. To measure the rise of the Sinosphere, one has to consider not just China itself but what historian Lynn Pan has described as the ‘sons of the Yellow Emperor’.”

CHINA BLOCKS WEB SEARCHES about migrant protests. “China is blocking searches on Google and microblogs for the name of a Chinese city where protests have erupted against local authorities. The move is part of an effort to suppress information on the rioting. Google searches in Chinese for Zengcheng, a city in the country’s Guangdong province, result in the browser’s connection to the server being reset, with no search results offered.”

LIFE ON THE STREETS: The Other Side Of The Chinese Miracle.

EU TO REIMPOSE INTERNAL BORDER PASSPORT CONTROLS:  Wow. This is big. “European nations moved to reverse decades of unfettered travel across the continent when a majority of EU governments agreed the need to reinstate national passport controls amid fears of a flood of immigrants fleeing the upheaval in north Africa.” I suppose that it could face push-back in the European parliament. However, the Guardian notes that “15 of the 22 EU states which had signed up to Schengen supported the move, with only four resisting, according to officials and diplomats present.”  The rest of the Guardian article frames this as in keeping with the rise of wicked xenophobic right-wing parties in Europe.  But the simpler explanation might be that much of this is not from far right xenophobes, but from perfectly normal centrist European voters who inchoately understand (and Guardian writers are not wont to do), as Friedman said, you can have open borders or you can have a welfare state, but you can’t have both.

SHOCKER: Rampant Fraud Threat to China’s Brisk Ascent. “The exposure of Mr. Zheng’s faked credentials provoked a fresh round of hand-wringing over what many scholars and Chinese complain are the dishonest practices that permeate society, including students who cheat on college entrance exams, scholars who promote fake or unoriginal research, and dairy companies that sell poisoned milk to infants. The most recent string of revelations has been bracing. After a plane crash in August killed 42 people in northeast China, officials discovered that 100 pilots who worked for the airline’s parent company had falsified their flying histories. Then there was the padded résumé of Tang Jun, the millionaire former head of Microsoft China and something of a national hero, who falsely claimed to have received a doctorate from the California Institute of Technology.”

WHAT’S NEXT? A CHINESE TEA PARTY MOVEMENT?

In front of a roomful of government officials, businessman Zhou Jusheng took the mic and made a simple demand: finish paving and landscaping the industrial park that houses his drill-bit factory.

His request at a public hearing was modest by Western standards. But in China, where the communist government muscularly guards its political monopoly and where people mostly defer to authority, Zhou’s assertiveness points to a telling change.

“You could say that I was just wasting my breath,” he said later at his factory. “But as a citizen, I should speak out.”

The people of Wenling, a prosperous city of 1.7 million, have an opportunity few Chinese citizens do: to take part in hearings on local government budget plans and suggest ways to spend the money.

As society grows richer and individuals pay more taxes, authoritarian China is slowly being forced to make space for people to participate in government affairs.

“Ordinary people have the right to ask, how are you spending my money? Are you spending it on me? What are you doing with it?” said Li Fan, who runs a private think tank in Beijing that promotes political reform and is advising Wenling officials.

Obviously, they must be racists or something.

ORNL’S radioactive Stonehenge.

GREG GUTFELD: Anger Is A Right!

So as the anger surrounding the health care bill escalates, many in the media are reporting how the anger surrounding the health care bill is escalating!

Now I’ve been down this road so many times I could navigate it blindfolded and covered in peanut butter.

It goes like this: for the media, anger is only okay if its targets meet their stereotypical, romanticized criteria. Meaning: the corporation, the conservative, the daddy who never loved them.

Here’s a list of people doing angry things the media is okay with:

-People calling Bush a Nazi
-Students and non students rioting on college campuses
-Animal rights freaks dousing rich folks with paint
-Actors wishing average folks would get rectal cancer
-Bureaucrats labeling military vets as potential violent right wing extremists
-Radical environmentalists advocating violence against loggers
-Pranksters throwing pies at conservative commentators (you know, somehow they never pie Michael Moore, which makes him sad; he likes pie)

But this health care bill anger is different from all that – not just because it’s right, but because it involves Obama. And being angry at Obama is like being mad at Santa Claus. How can you be mad at Santa, when he brings us so many gifts?

And so, this anger is scary! It’s a mark of incivility! It’s deadly!

Read the whole thing. Including this advice: “When jackasses try to take away your right to be angry – by calling it racist or extremist – tell them they’re the racists. Because it’s those tools who assume that anger can only be about race. And if they disagree with you, then clearly they’re not just racists – but probably homophobic cannibals, too.”

UPDATE: Reader Cheng-Jih Chen writes:

Perhaps apropos of your post, I’m listening to an NPR piece from a couple of weeks ago on Nina Simone, where the interviewer and the author of a biography on her are praising Simone’s rage and righteous anger during the civil rights era. Civil rights analogies used by ObamaCare proponents cut both ways, I suppose.

Heh.

THE MYSTERIOUS SURGE OF APPLICATIONS TO CORNELL LAW SCHOOL. “Some things just can’t be explained. Stonehenge. Davos. What really happened to Oceanic Flight 815. The hype over indie-rock darlings Animal Collective. And there’s this: that applications to Cornell Law have jumped 52% over the number of applications filed last year. . . . But why 52%? At Cornell? We have no idea. Nor does the school’s dean, Richard Geiger, who told the University’s paper he was as mystified as anyone.”

I credit an exploding presence in the blogosphere, personally.

UH OH (CONT’D): China alarmed by US money printing. “The US Federal Reserve’s policy of printing money to buy Treasury debt threatens to set off a serious decline of the dollar and compel China to redesign its foreign reserve policy, according to a top member of the Communist hierarchy.”

Plus this: “‘He who goes borrowing, goes sorrowing,’ said Mr Cheng. It was a quote from US founding father Benjamin Franklin.” Well, this country is no longer run according to the founders’ principles. . . .

UPDATE: Gold May Advance Toward $1,000 as Weakening Dollar Spurs Demand.

COOL SEARCH ENGINES that are not Google.

REWARDING HIS SUPPORTERS: Obama Taps 5th RIAA Lawyer to Justice Dept. “Monday’s naming of Ian Gershengorn, to become the department’s deputy assistant attorney of the Civil Division, comes more than a week after nearly two-dozen public interest groups, trade pacts and library coalitions urged the new president to quit filling his administration with lawyers plucked from the Recording Industry Association of America.”

STONEHENGE.

MORE THAN JUST AN EXPRESSION? Salsa so hot it’ll give you a heart attack.

WAS STONEHENGE A health spa? I’ve heard of hot-stone massages, but this is ridiculous. . . .

AN ARMY OF HAOS:

A busload of volunteers in matching red hats was bumping along the village’s rutted dirt road. Employees from a private company in Chengdu were cleaning up a town around the bend. Other volunteers from around China had already delivered food, water and sympathy.

“I haven’t done this before,” said Mr. Hao, 36, as he straddled his mountain bike on Saturday evening. “Ordinary people now understand how to take action on their own.”

Private initiative in disaster relief. Self-organization by ordinary people. Somebody should write a book on this stuff.

BLOGGING AN EARTHQUAKE, live from Chengdu.

ON FAST FORWARD RADIO, an interview with cancer-proof mouse inventor Zheng Cui. Plus, a print interview here.

NEW GOOGLE CONTENT-REMOVAL TOOLS.

AVIAN FLU UPDATE:

THE number of Turkish people thought to be infected with avian flu rose to more than 50 this weekend, prompting concern that the disease may be about to spread into Europe.

Yesterday a British laboratory confirmed that a Turkish brother and sister who died last week had the feared H5N1 strain of avian flu.

A third child from the same family in Dogubayazit, in eastern Turkey, has now died of avian flu and dozens more suspected cases have emerged.

“The laboratory in the UK said that they have detected H5N1 in samples of the two fatal cases,” said Maria Cheng, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organisation. They are the first fatalities outside East Asia.

Read the whole thing. There’s this, too: “Professor John Oxford, an expert on flu at Queen Mary’s medical school, London, said the most worrying aspect of the deaths in Turkey was the large number of human cases resulting from exposure to a small number of birds.”

THE VAGINA MONOLITHS:

Some researchers have claimed the stone circles were used as a giant computer; others that Stonehenge was an observatory for studying stars and predicting the seasons; and a few have even argued that its rings acted as a docking pad for alien spaceships.

Now a University of British Columbia researcher who has investigated the great prehistoric monument for several years has announced he has uncovered its true meaning: it is a giant fertility symbol, constructed in the shape of the female sexual organ.

I wonder what he’d make of this?