Tag: China

Hackers Hack … Everything

Remember folks, these are the people who think they can run your life better than you can:

Hackers stole personnel data and identity numbers for every federal employee, a government worker union said Thursday, saying that the cyber theft of U.S. employee information was more damaging than the Obama administration has acknowledged.

Wait, the Obama Administration downplayed another failure? Well, knock me over with a feather.

U.S. intelligence officials say China, like the U.S., spies for national security advantage. Unlike the U.S., they say, China also engages in large-scale theft of corporate secrets for the benefit of state-sponsored enterprises that compete with Western companies. Nearly every major U.S. company has been hacked from China, they say.

Mike Rogers, the former chairman of the House intelligence committee, said last week that Chinese intelligence agencies have for some time been seeking to assemble a database of information about Americans. Those personal details can be used for blackmail, or also to shape bogus emails designed to appear legitimate while injecting spyware on the networks of government agencies or businesses Chinese hackers are trying to penetra [sic].

It’s a cyberwar and we’re losing it.

J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said in a letter to OPM director Katherine Archuleta that based on OPM’s internal briefings, “We believe that the Central Personnel Data File was the targeted database, and that the hackers are now in possession of all personnel data for every federal employee, every federal retiree, and up to one million former federal employees.”

The OPM data file contains the records of non-military, non-intelligence executive branch employees, which covers most federal civilian employees but not, for example, members of Congress and their staffs.

The union believes the hackers stole military records and veterans’ status information, address, birth date, job and pay history, health insurance, life insurance, and pension information; and age, gender and race data, he said. The letter was obtained by The Associated Press.

So, basically, everything. I supposed we shouldn’t be surprised that this would happen under the steady gaze of those who botched the healthcare.gov rollout. But the sheer scale of this is astonishing.

The best part? As Rick Wilson pointed out on Twitter, no one will suffer any consequences. The contractors will get more money to fix their buggy software. OPM employees will get raises. We’ll bitch to China about it but not take any action.

The Climate Treaty That Isn’t

The liberal blogosphere is all aflutter because the US and China have agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions:

China and the United States made common cause on Wednesday against the threat of climate change, staking out an ambitious joint plan to curb carbon emissions as a way to spur nations around the world to make their own cuts in greenhouse gases.

The landmark agreement, jointly announced here by President Obama and President Xi Jinping, includes new targets for carbon emissions reductions by the United States and a first-ever commitment by China to stop its emissions from growing by 2030.

Administration officials said the agreement, which was worked out quietly between the United States and China over nine months and included a letter from Mr. Obama to Mr. Xi proposing a joint approach, could galvanize efforts to negotiate a new global climate agreement by 2015.

A climate deal between China and the United States, the world’s No. 1 and No. 2 carbon polluters, is viewed as essential to concluding a new global accord. Unless Beijing and Washington can resolve their differences, climate experts say, few other countries will agree to mandatory cuts in emissions, and any meaningful worldwide pact will be likely to founder.

Here’s the thing. This agreement means nothing. It’s not a binding treaty (which is why Obama doesn’t have to send it to Congress). Nor does it lock us into any policies. It’s a statement of goals to achieve things that may or may not happen long after both men are out of power. It’s symbolism, plain and simple. And such agreements will always be symbolism because the only way greenhouse gas emissions will ever fall — as they have in the United States — is when the right technology comes along.

Lomborg:

China’s 2030 emissions target is set in terms of a date but says nothing about the level at which emissions will peak.

China’s target for primary energy consumption is expressed in terms of “non-fossil fuels”, which means a big increase in nuclear power as well as wind, solar and hydro.

And of course, US has seen its emissions drop 10% below 2005, but this is mainly because of a recession and fracking. The next reduction will be much harder, and likely not coming, as 2013 showed an *increase*, not further decrease

Normally, I would let this sort of stuff slide. But there was a very illuminating statement from Friends of the Earth that came out after this:

“The cuts pledged by President Obama are nowhere near what the US needs to cut if it was serious about preventing runaway climate change. These US voluntary pledges are not legally binding and are not based on science or equity,” said Sara Shaw, Friends of the Earth International Climate Justice and Energy coordinator.

“This agreement deliberately ignores the issue of equity. Industrialised nations, and first of all the world’s largest historical polluter, the US, must urgently make the deepest emission cuts and provide the bulk of the money if countries are to share fairly the responsibility of preventing catastrophic climate change,” she added.

“The good news is that China is taking the fight against climate change ever more seriously and intends to peak its emissions in next 15 years. We urge China and all nations to urgently switch from emissions-causing dirty energy to community-based renewable energy.”

You catch that? Friends of the Earth bashes Obama for pledging a 25% cut in CO2 emissions while praising China — which currently emits 50% more CO2 than the United States — for promising, maybe, to start curbing their emissions in 15 years.

I’m convinced that global warming is real. I’m also convinced that the so-called green organizations see this danger as a vehicle for anti-corporatism, anti-Americanism and anti-capitalism. How else do you explain a green organization praising the world’s biggest polluter?

Ignore the greens. And ignore this agreement. Concentrate on the technology. That’s the real battle.

Been there, almost had the T-shirt…

But instead of doing this I opted to divorce her.

CCTV shows Tao Hsiao, 38, escorting his girlfriend around a shopping mall in Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, east China. After five hours Tao finally had enough and demanded to go home. Eyewitnesses say he could be heard saying they already had more bags than they could carry, but she insisted on going into one more shop where the was a special offer on shoes.

An eyewitness said: “He told her she already had enough shoes, more shoes that she could wear in a lifetime, and it was pointless buying any more. She started shouting at him, accusing him of being a skinflint, and of spoiling Christmas. It was a really heated argument.”

The shouting match ended when the man chucked the bags on the floor and jumped over the balcony. He smashed into Christmas decorations on his way down before hitting the floor seven stories below.

He should have thrown her ass off the balcony….

As Eddie Murphy reminded us so long ago, no “you know what” is worth that kind of hassle.

How Big is Our GDP? How Big Do You Want It To Be?

I am Hal’s complete lack of surprise:

Baseline Chinese economic data is unreliable. Taking published National Bureau of Statistics China data on the components of consumer price inflation, I attempt to reconcile the official data to third party data … To correct for these manipulative practices, I use third party and related NBSC data to better estimate the change in consumer prices in China between 2000 and 2011. I find that using conservative assumptions about price increases the annual CPI in China should be adjusted upwards by approximately 1%. This reduces real Chinese GDP by 8-12% or more than $1 trillion in PPP terms.

This is just one paper, of course. But it’s also not the first time I’ve heard this.

Argentina does the same thing, incidentally. Economists who aren’t named Paul Krugman have decided to just ignore any economic data coming out of Argentina, since it is all officially washed and dry-cleaned by the Kirchner regime. The old Soviet Union also did this, massively overstating their GDP (in part because presenting realistic numbers to authorities was a good way for a factory manager or local ruler to end up in Siberia).

(Our own measures of inflation are controversial, but they have one thing that China lacks: transparency. It’s quite easy for people to use the data to build alternative estimates of inflation and many have.)

China’s economy is in for a rough time in the decades ahead. They’ve basically picked all the low-hanging economic fruit. They will now have to deal with massive rural poverty, problematic infrastructure, absurd levels of pollution and, thanks to their one-child policy, a population that’s going to get older faster than any country in history. So expect more deception out of their government on. And expect people like Thomas Friedman to eat it right up.

How to read the Chinese about their Nork protest?

When China joins the US & Japan to protest a Nork nuke test, one has to pay attention.

(Reuters) – North Korea conducted its third nuclear test on Tuesday in defiance of existing U.N. resolutions, drawing condemnation from around the world, including from its only major ally, China, which summoned the North Korean ambassador to protest.

The reclusive North said the test was an act of self-defense against “U.S. hostility” and threatened further, stronger steps if necessary.

It said the test had “greater explosive force” than the 2006 and 2009 tests. Its KCNA news agency said it had used a “miniaturized” and lighter nuclear device, indicating that it had again used plutonium which is more suitable for use as a missile warhead.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the third of his line to rule the country, has presided over two long-range rocket launches and a nuclear test during his first year in power, pursuing policies that have propelled his impoverished and malnourished country closer to becoming a nuclear weapons power.

China, which has shown signs of increasing exasperation with the recent bellicose tone of its neighbor, summoned the North Korean ambassador in Beijing and protested sternly, the Foreign Ministry said.

The question for me is to find out if China really is pissed at the Norks for this and is actually letting little Kim know that, or if this is more of the same shit we have had for decades where they talk out of both sides of their mouth. I know China fears a Nork collapse because the refugee stream would be crippling for them. Still do not know if the Chinese fear a unified Korea so much that if they could make the South have to pay for a reunified Korea it would still not be worth it, especially in light of how quickly a unified Germany bounced back, or not. My guess is this is more of the same old stuff where they say one thing but in the end back the crtazy Norks, because it harms the US and all the other Asian nations China sees in their way to their devinely given supremacy.

Time will tell. And I wonder how Obama will deal with this revelation during the SOTU. Heh, it will just be ignored and instead it will all be promises of more free shit someone else will pay for, and this time he will really mean it about the jobs market stuff.

Is this the China the marxists in our government love so much?

I way too often hear stories how evil our school system is because only the rich, those that can afford to pay for private education, make out, while those stuck with public schools are facing a crap shoot. My kid landed in one of the better school systems in Connecticut. Don’t get me wrong, I pay for it in taxes. My property taxes have all gone up by ridiculous numbers. The taxes on my home went up 5 fold in the 17 years since I bought it. The taxes on my vehicles all but doubled in the same time span, even though the relative value of the vehicles stayed about the same. My kid lucks out. Move about 17 miles north of me to Hartford, and you have some of the worst public schools in the nation. In Hartford they spend far more money per pupil than where my kid goes to school, and yet, they have some of the most frightening drop out and failure rates. They do have some strong ass unions and are hard core leftists, though, so I guess you can call it all Karma.

Anyway, we have all the marxism lovers here in the US, and especially those that were or are members of this administration, telling us they wished they ran the show here like they do in China. I wonder if they mean that they would like to run the public school system – the only one allowed in China – like they do there:

BEIJING — For Chinese children and their devoted parents, education has long been seen as the key to getting ahead in a highly competitive society. But just as money and power grease business deals and civil servant promotions, the academic race here is increasingly rigged in favor of the wealthy and well connected, who pay large sums and use connections to give their children an edge at government-run schools.

Nearly everything has a price, parents and educators say, from school admissions and placement in top classes to leadership positions in Communist youth groups. Even front-row seats near the blackboard or a post as class monitor are up for sale.

Zhao Hua, a migrant from Hebei Province who owns a small electronics business here, said she was forced to deposit $4,800 into a bank account to enroll her daughter in a Beijing elementary school. At the bank, she said, she was stunned to encounter officials from the district education committee armed with a list of students and how much each family had to pay. Later, school officials made her sign a document saying the fee was a voluntary “donation.”

“Of course I knew it was illegal,” she said. “But if you don’t pay, your child will go nowhere.”

I guess the first observation I can make is that if we did the same here, all that loot that these bribes would yield could be used to solve all the teacher’s union’s fiscal problems in one fell swoop. Of course, it is ironic that the very system that our marxists worship clearly has the worst aspect of an egalitarian system going for them: the hefty bribe that thus favors the well off.

And things are changing in China. The leadership just went from being one run by engineers to one no longer run by them. The new leader, Xi, has a double degree – chemical engineering and law – but he is the exception rather than the rule. Maybe with lawyers taking over China it will end up as fucked up as we are here. One thing is for certain: these leftist paradises are all always rotten to the core.

Japan v. China

It seems to be Protest Week around the world:

BEIJING — Anti-Japanese demonstrators took to the streets again on Sunday in cities across China, with the government offering mixed signals on whether it would continue to tolerate the sometimes violent outbursts.

Protesters burned a replica of the Japanese flag at a protest in Wuhan, in central China, on Sunday.
The protests were orderly in Beijing, with several hundred people circling in front of the Japanese Embassy demanding Chinese control over a small island group known as Senkaku in Japan and as Diaoyu in China. Protests were also reported in other cities, including Shanghai, Guangzhou and Qingdao.

On Saturday, protests occurred in more than 50 cities, with some violence reported. A factory for the Panasonic Corporation was set on fire in Qingdao, and a Toyota dealership was looted, according to photographs posted on social media sites and local residents reached by telephone.

Poor China. They picked the wrong week for this.

I have to believe that there is a certain amount of staging going on here. Common sense tells us that the Chinese people do not all of the sudden get angry because of some obscure uninhabited island Japan has occupied since 1895 (and one China only became interested in once oil was speculated to be there). The official excuse is because the islands were nationalized by the Japanese government. That nationalization may indicate Japan plans to exploit them soon. So, again, I suspect this is really a dispute over who controls a precious resource; oil, most likely.

(I was just a reading a primer on this and, apparently, China thinks they should be part of Taiwan, a nation neither China nor Japan acknowledges. Foreign relations get very strange sometimes.)

Keep on eye on this one. It sounds like China is rattling the saber a little bit. They do this periodically, usually to distract the populace from some internal trouble (China’s economy is looking bad in the near term). I seriously doubt they want to do anything since we are obligated to protect Japan and a couple of aircraft carrier groups would take out their entire navy and air force.

This American Lie

NPR.Public Radio. Bastion of integrity. The radio network so nobel and so devoted to public service that we, the little people, have to fork over some of our tax dollars to support it.

Oops!

Apple got a lot of attention recently over conditions in the Chinese factories that make its iPhones and iPads. The public radio show “This American Life” aired an electrifying account of one man’s visit to several factories. The man was Mike Daisey, a storyteller who is widely credited with making people think differently about how their Apple products are made.

It’s Daisey’s story about visiting a Foxconn factory in China where Apple manufactures iPhones and other products. With the help of a Chinese translator, Daisey finds underage workers, poisoned workers, maimed workers, and dismal factory conditions for those who make iPhones and iPads.

The problem? It wasn’t true. Oh, some of the underlying facts are true. There are reports of hexane poisoning and some of Apple’s contractors have been caught using underage labor. But what Daisey now admits is that he took the scattered reports and wove them together into a fictional account of his visit, an account that portrays Apple as an evil predator company rather than a company doing business in a country where concern for workers and/or the environment is, at best, desultory. He portrayed Apple workers as abused slaves rather than people who are grateful to have a job that, by the standards of China, is pretty damned decent.

Watch the Left very carefully on this one. The litmus test for how much you value media accuracy is what you do when your favorite outlet has been caught in a lie. If you twist yourself into a pretzel to justify it or ignore it, you really don’t care about the truth; you care about getting the message out for your “team”. If any of This American Life’s fans say anything other than, “this is a disgrace”, you know what they’re listening to the show for validation of their biases, not information.

Note: I initially threw this at NPR and deserve to be kicked. They don’t produce TAL. It’s produced independently and distributed by PRI.

My basic point remains. This came through publicly-funded radio that we pay for and is broadcast to an audience that is largely liberal.

More Like China

China’s high speed rail system is supposed to be the model for our country. Thomas Friedman has said that he wishes our country were more like China and we could “get things done.”

Well, to quote reasonable liberal Matthew Yglesias, it’s easy to build a high speed rail system if you don’t insist that it actually works or anything:

A section of new high-speed rail line in central China has apparently collapsed two months before it was scheduled to go into use, in the latest blow to the nation’s already troubled high-speed rail ambitions.

The extent of the collapse wasn’t clear. The state-run Xinhua news agency and other local media said Monday that a 300-meter (almost 1,000-foot) section of a high-speed rail line intended to connect the Yangtze River cities of Wuhan and Yichang collapsed Friday, apparently following heavy rain. The collapse, near the city of Qianjiang in China’s Hubei province, happened on a rail line that had already undergone test runs.

Last year, they had an actual accident that killed 40 people and injured another 172.

There are three reasons I don’t take China seriously as an economic threat. One, their economic growth figures looks better than they are. It’s easy to grow an economy 10% when you’re ridiculously poor to begin. Second, thanks to China’s one-child policy, they are about to get older faster than any nation in history.

And this is the third. Their economic miracle is like all centrally-planed authoritarian enterprises: shoddy, corrupt and in danger of failing over the second someone pisses on the side of it. Heaven help us all if the the Three Gorges Dam is built to this standard. China makes a lot of our beloved products, including the iPad I read the above report on. But there’s a difference: they are selling those to a capitalist society in which people have choices. If iPad’s fell apart before you used them, no one would buy them. But in a centrally-planned controlled economy, you simply have no choice but to ride on the Crumble Express to nowhere.

Glimpse of the future?

One of the contractors working for me send me a link to a Reuters story about how India is scrambling to update its military capability out of fear of Chinese expansionism. Here is an excerpt:

(Reuters) – India’s 1.3 million-strong armed forces, hobbled by outdated equipment and slow decision-making, are undergoing an overhaul as defence priorities shift to China from traditional rival Pakistan.

And like a refit of the imposing but dilapidated defence ministry on Delhi’s grand South Block, it’s a plodding process.

Defence chiefs are hurrying to modernise ageing weaponry as China reinforces a 3,500-km (2,200-mile) shared but disputed border through the Himalayas.

It took 11 years to select France’s Rafale as the favoured candidate for a $15 billion splurge on 126 new combat jets to replace a Soviet-era fleet of MiGs dubbed “flying coffins” for their high crash rate.

At the same time, feeling encircled as China projects its fast-growing naval power from Hormuz to Malacca, India is rushing to firm up friendships the length and breadth of the Indian Ocean.

India is the world’s largest arms importer with plans to spend $100 billion on weapons over the next decade.

“The Indian military is strengthening its forces in preparation to fight a limited conflict along the disputed border, and is working to balance Chinese power projection in the Indian Ocean,” U.S. Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper told the U.S. Senate this week.

That “balance” includes a strategic alliance with Washington that in turn has stoked Chinese fears of containment. It is due to test-fire its nuclear capable Agni V rocket in the next few weeks, with a strike range reaching deep into China.

Now I could focus on the angle that India is trying the incredulously difficult task of rebuilding all three of her military branches – Navy, Air Force, and Army – to deal with this threat, basically abandoning 3 decades of concern about what that backwards shithole Pakistan meant security wise to them. Pakistan militarily is a joke. Save for the nukes and their terrorists their military is in an abysmal shape. Hopefully the US will cut off the $1 billion we give Pakistan’s military off and let them implode, but that’s a different discussion, and India certainly has surmised that a war with Pakistan won’t be their big problem anymore, likely because they would pound Pakistan into the ground.

Basically India is joining all the South East Asian countries that are waking up to the reality of what a more modern Chinese military capability means for them all. And that’s what I want to talk about. How often do you hear India, or for that matter anyone but those nations where tyrants with crazy ambitions of genocide, complain about the size or modernity of the US military, let alone spend some $100 billion to upgrade their armed forces to be better prepared? For all the talk about how America isn’t either exceptional or the peace that American military superiority provides as great a thing as many of us see it to be, it sure looks to me that India, or any of those neighboring the area, doesn’t expect a rising China to mean anything good for them.

Maybe that Pax Americana your average leftard college professors so cavalierly love to dismiss as either soft colonialism or just empire building isn’t as bad as what’s to follow it, huh? The Indians get it. The world in which America no longer is a super power and the guarantor of security isn’t going to be a friendly, nice, or better one. They are pretty convinced of that too if a country like India, with a growing but still relatively small economy, is willing to spend $100 billion in the coming decade to modernize their armed forces, while at the same time seeking alliances with the US, and others that share the vision that a Chinese surge isn’t going to be anything but bad for them, in that corner of the world. Wish our liberals would get this too.