North Korea’s nuclear test site at risk of imploding, Chinese scientist says
|| South China Morning Post
If mountain under which last five bombs were ‘almost certainly’ detonated crumbles, radiation would leak across region, expert warns
“The single mountain under which North Korea most likely conducted its five most recent nuclear bomb tests, including the latest and most powerful on Sunday, could be at risk of collapsing, a Chinese scientist said.
By measuring and analysing the shock waves caused by the blasts, and picked up by quake stations in China and neighbouring countries, researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, Anhui province, said they were confident that they were all carried out from under the same mountain at the Punggye-ri test site.
The team from the seismic and deep earth physics laboratory made the claim in a statement posted on their website on Monday. Its leader, geophysicist Wen Lianxing, said that based on data collected by more than 100 earthquake monitoring centres in China, the margin of error was no more than 100 metres.
Wang Naiyan, the former chairman of the China Nuclear Society and senior researcher on China’s nuclear weapons programme, said that if Wen’s findings were reliable, there was a risk of a major environmental disaster.
Another test might cause the whole mountain to cave in on itself, leaving only a hole from which radiation could escape and drift across the region, including China, he said.
“We call it ‘taking the roof off’. If the mountain collapses and the hole is exposed, it will let out many bad things.”
Sunday’s blast was followed by an earthquake eight minutes later, which China’s seismic authorities interpreted as a cave-in triggered by the explosion.”
Despite 15 years of Western Occupation, Afghanistan’s Opium Production has only Gone up
|| Business Insider
“After 15 years of war in Afghanistan, the government there and its allies from the US and elsewhere have had little success staunching the flow of opium and heroin out of the South Asian country.
According to recent data from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, opium-poppy cultivation in Afghanistan rose 10% in 2016, reaching an estimated 201,000 hectares, or about 496,000 acres.
A number of factors have played into the uptick in cultivation, like widespread insecurity and ineffective government oversight.
And while production has remained high but steady in southern Afghanistan — a stronghold for the Afghan Taliban — the northern and eastern parts of the country have seen recent increases in cultivation as well.”
5 Elite American Families Who Made Their Fortunes in the Opium Trade
“There’s a lot of money in the dope business, and there always has been. Prohibit something people want–sometimes very desperately–and someone will find a way to get it to them anyway–at a price. That’s a lesson in futility, as some American politicians seem to be finally figuring out with our current drug prohibition, and as China’s emperors found out when they attempted to ban the importation of opium into the Middle Kingdom in the early 19th Century.
Backed by their own governments, Western traders ignored Chinese concerns and demands, flooding the country with opium. When necessary, they enlisted their governments to back them up with military force, humiliating and humbling the empire, and getting rich in the process. Most of these traders were British, but a significant number were American, and the profits they made were the cornerstone of some of 19th Century America’s greatest fortunes.
Right now, other merchants are making fortunes in the same business. If they get caught, they lose everything. But if they don’t, there’s nothing like time and money to wash the dirt off their fortunes.
Here are five prominent American families that got rich in the Chinese opium trade:
1 .The Astor Family. America’s first multimillionaire, John Jacobs Astor, joined the opium smuggling trade in 1816 when his American Fur Company bought 10 tons of Turkish opium and smuggled it into Canton. Seeking other sources of profit while faced with woes in the fur trade, he became the first American known to have entered the contraband Chinese opium trade and made a nice profit before abruptly exiting the business three years later.
2. The Forbes Family. John Murray Forbes and Robert Bennet Forbes worked for Perkins & Co. in its China trade. While the former’s main job was to secure quality tea for export, that latter was more intimately involved in the importing size of the business and had more of a direct role in the opium trade. Their father, Ralph Forbes, had married into the Perkins family. It was the brothers’ activities in the 1830s and 1840s that led to the Forbes family’s accumulated wealth. The most notable family member on the contemporary scene is US Secretary of State John Forbes Kerry. The Forbes legacy in the China opium trade lived on in the Museum of the American China Trade in Milton, Massachusetts, which was housed in Robert Bennet Forbes’ 1883 Greek Revival-style home. That museum merged with the Peabody Essex Museum in 1984, leaving what is now known as the Captain Forbes House Museum.
3. The Russell Family. Samuel Wadsworth Russell started as an orphaned apprentice to a maritime trade merchant, made his initial investment capital on trading commissions while working for other traders, and eventually founded Russell and Co., the most powerful American merchant house in China for most of the second half of the 19th Century. He landed in Canton in 1819 and quickly amassed a fortune in the opium trade. His mansion, now known as the Samuel Wadsworth Russell House, still stands in Middletown, Connecticut. Russell’s cousin and fellow opium trader, William Huntington Russell, was a co-founder and funder of Yale University’s Skull and Bones Society.
4. The Delano Family.Warren Delano, Jr., the grandfather of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was chief of operations for Russell & Co., another Boston trading firm which did big business in the China opium trade in Canton. He first went to China at age 24 and spent a decade dealing dope on the Pearl River before returning to New York as a newly wealthy and very eligible bachelor. He admitted in letters home that opium had an “unhappy effect” on its users, but argued that its sale was “fair, honorable, and legitimate,” akin to importing wine and spirits to America. Delano lost his fortune in the Great Panic of 1857, but returned to China and rebuilt it in part by supplying the US military with opium to treat Union soldiers in the Civil War. The Delanos don’t like to talk about the opium connection much. As FDR biographer Geoffrey C. Ward noted, “In a family fond of retelling and embellishing even the mildest sort of ancestral adventuresno stories seem to have been handed down concerning Warren Delano’s genuinely adventurous career in the opium business.”
5. The Perkins Family. Thomas Handasyd Perkins, a wealthy merchant and Boston Brahmin par excellance, made his bones as a young man trading slaves in Haiti, then peddled furs to China from the American Northwest before amassing a huge fortune smuggling Turkish opium into China. Although he got rich off the trade, he avoided mentioning it, and his official biography, written by his son-in-law, never mentions the word “opium.” Perkins assuaged himself through philanthropy, supporting the Boston Atheneum and the New England Institute for the Blind, which was renamed for him. The town of Belmont, Massachusetts, is named after the estate of nephew, John Perkins Cushing, who was active in the trade himself.”
Starving North Koreans question missile tests: ‘Where did the money come from?’
|| The Telegraph UK
“North Korean state media continues to celebrate the launch of two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July and the nation’s status as a “global rocket power”, although there are growing suggestions that ordinary people are less enthusiastic about the regime’s achievements.
Quoting its network of covert contributors within North Korea, who communicate via mobile phone, the Seoul-based DailyNK news site has reported that ordinary citizens are asking – albeit quietly – how Kim Jong-un can afford missiles but continue to ration their food.
“Following the news that the regime launched missiles twice in July, locals are criticising the regime, asking, ‘Where did it get the money?’ “, a source in North Pyongan Province told DailyNK.
“They are feeling increasingly disillusioned by the Kim Jong-un regime, which spends more money on developing missiles than improving their livelihoods.
“Everyone is aware that whenever the regime launches a missile, economic sanctions will follow”, the source added. “There’s nothing to celebrate for the ordinary citizens.”
“In the beginning, the residents were proud of the regime openly opposing the US with nuclear development and missiles, but these days, anti-US sentiment has weakened while respect for the regime has plummeted.”
“People are still starving and there are homeless orphans on the streets, so naturally the residents are resentful about having to celebrate a missile launch”, another source told DailyNK, adding that there is also deepening resentment at the “inminban”, or local politically motivated neighbourhood watch units, increasing mandatory payments from residents.
Officials claim the payments are for local construction projects, but it is widely understood that they are spent on the nuclear and missile programmes.”
Chinese Global Times sounds a warning for Pyongyang over its plans to fire missiles near Guam
“China should remain neutral if North Korea launches an attack that threatens the United States, a Chinese state-run newspaper said on Friday, sounding a warning for Pyongyang over its plans to fire missiles near the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.
The comments from the influential Global Times came after U.S. President Donald Trump stepped up his rhetoric against North Korea again on Thursday, saying his earlier threat to unleash “fire and fury” on Pyongyang if it launched an attack may not have been tough enough.
Asian equity markets sank again on Friday and European stocks looked set for their worst week this year because of the tensions.
“This situation is beginning to develop into this generation’s Cuban Missile crisis moment,” ING’s chief Asia economist Robert Carnell said in a research note. “While the U.S. president insists on ramping up the war of words, there is a decreasing chance of any diplomatic solution.”
China, North Korea’s most important ally and trading partner, has reiterated calls for calm during the current crisis. Beijing has expressed frustration with both Pyongyang’s repeated nuclear and missile tests and with behavior from South Korea and the United States, such as military drills, that it sees as escalating tensions.
“China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten U.S. soil first and the U.S. retaliates, China will stay neutral,” the Global Times, which is widely read but does not represent government policy, said in an editorial.
“If the U.S. and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so,” it said.”
Susan Rice Urges Donald Trump to ‘Tolerate Nuclear Weapons in North Korea’
“Despite playing a key role in an administration responsible for one of the weakest foreign policies since the Carter White House, ex-Obama official Susan Rice believes her opinions still hold weight – particularly on the issue of North Korea. Rice is urging President Trump to ‘tolerate’ North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
“History shows that we can, if we must, tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea — the same way we tolerated the far greater threat of thousands of Soviet nuclear weapons during the Cold War,” she wrote in a New York Times op-ed, criticizing the president’s “fire and fury” rhetoric in response to the escalating tensions between the two countries.
Rice urged Gen. John Kelly, White House chief of staff, to stop Trump, and she pointedly attacked Dr. Sebastian Gorka, the deputy assistant to the president.
“John Kelly, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, must assert control over the White House, including his boss, and curb the Trump surrogates whipping up Cuban missile crisis fears,” she wrote.
Rice complained that Trump’s rhetoric was “unprecedented and especially dangerous” and that America would have to be cautious about its response to Pyongyang.
She defended Obama’s actions in response to North Korea, insisting that his administration put them “on edge” by conducting joint military exercises with South Korea and introducing more economic sanctions.
President Trump is faced with one of the most challenging foreign policy questions in a generation: Should the U.S. go to war with North Korea? Such a decision may not have been necessary had the previous administration taken the Hermit Kingdom more seriously. A FOX News report reveals the Obama White House downplayed North Korea’s nuclear missile program back in 2013. Was this done to avoid taking on North Korean issue?”
Federal Judge Orders State Dept To Search Hillary Aides’ Accounts For Benghazi Records
|| Daily Caller
“The search for State Department emails regarding the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks received a boost this week when a federal judge ordered the agency to search the government email accounts of several Hillary Clinton aides.
Washington D.C. District Court Judge Amit Mehta, an Obama appointee, ordered State to search the accounts of Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills and Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s top aides at the State Department, in response to a lawsuit filed by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch.
Mehta said that the State Department did not do enough to search for all emails it has on its computer systems regarding the Benghazi attacks, which left four Americans dead.
The State Department reviewed the 30,000-plus emails that Clinton returned to the agency in Dec. 2014. It has also searched emails that Abedin, Mills and Sullivan sent and received on personal accounts.
“Secretary Clinton used a private email server, located in her home, to transmit and receive work-related communications during her tenure as Secretary of State,” Mehta said.
“[State] has not, however, searched the one records system over which it has always had control and that is almost certain to contain some responsive records: the state.gov email server.”
Mehta said that the State Department “has offered no assurance” that the records it has received so far from Clinton and the trio of aides “constitute the entirely of Secretary Clinton’s emails during the time period relevant to Plaintiff’s FOIA request.”
Judicial Watch, which has pursued several lawsuits related to Clinton emails despite her election loss, celebrated Mehta’s order.
“This major court ruling may finally result in more answers about the Benghazi scandal — and Hillary Clinton’s involvement in it — as we approach the attack’s fifth anniversary,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said in a statement.
“It is remarkable that we had to battle both the Obama and Trump administrations to break through the State Department’s Benghazi stonewall. Why are Secretary Tillerson and Attorney General Sessions wasting taxpayer dollars protecting Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration?”
Federal Court Denies State of Hawaii Challenge to Trump Administration Travel Ban Definition of ‘Bona Fide Relationship’
“U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson “denied an emergency motion filed by the State of Hawaii that would broaden the familial exceptions to President Trump’s travel ban” late Thursday,according to Hawaii News.
“In a motion filed by the state after the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated portions of the ban on June 26, Attorney General Doug Chin argued that the Trump administration wrongly excluded grandparents and other relatives from the list of family members who can obtain visas to travel to the United States,” Hawaii News reported:
Under the ban, people from the six Muslim-majority nations that are impacted by the ban who sought new visas need to have either a ‘close relationship’ with a family member – parent, spouse, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling – or an entity such as a business within the United States.
Last week, attorneys for the federal government said that the ‘close’ family relationships allowed under the President Trump’s travel ban were based on definitions outlined by immigration law.
The state’s emergency motion – denied on Thursday by Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu – sought to make sure that the ban couldn’t be enforced against other family members, such as grandparents, aunts and uncles.
“In his ruling, Watson reasoned that since the portion of the ban Hawaii was seeking to clarify was authored by the Supreme Court, the state’s lawyers should seek clarification directly from them,” Hawaii News reported:
“This Court will not upset the Supreme Court’s careful balancing and “equitable judgment” … nor would this district court presume to substitute its own understanding of the stay for that of the originating Court’s “exercise of discretion and judgment,” said Watson.
Watson is the same judge who issued a temporary injunction on March 15 halting President Trump’s Executive Order 13780 that banned the issuance of visas to citizens of six Middle Eastern countries for 90 days and temporarily stopped the admission of refugees for 120 days.
The Trump administration’s appeal of that case went to the Supreme Court, which issued a decision on June 26 that largely upheld the travel and refugee ban, with the condition that visa and refugee applicants who have “bona fide relationships” with American residents will be allowed entry, regardless of the ban.
The Trump administration quickly defined “bona fide relationship” in narrow terms–parent, sibling, child, spouse, or fiance. The State of Hawaii asked for a broader definition that included grandparents and other extended family members.”
Jerry Brown Plays President; Signs Climate Deal with China
“California Governor Jerry Brown signed a new climate change agreement between the State of California and the People’s Republic of China on Tuesday.
The gesture continued Brown’s efforts to expand ties with China, as well as his diplomatic campaign to push for more action on climate change. It came in the immediate aftermath of President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords.
A statement by Gov. Brown’s office described the new agreement as follows:
Specifically, the agreement expands cooperation on the advancement of low-carbon, renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies such as zero-emission vehicles, energy storage, grid modernization and low-carbon urban development. Under the agreement, California and China will also deepen their partnership and coordination on greenhouse gas emission and air pollution reduction programs, including emissions trading systems and carbon capture.
The Associated Press reports, however, that the agreement does not bind either China or California to specific greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.”
BOMBSHELL: Obama NEVER Warned State Election Officials About Russian Election ‘Hacking’
“A new and exclusive report by The Daily Caller – Neither Obama nor any member of his cabinet warned state election officials of any Russian effort to hack or interfere with the country’s electoral systems, according to the president of the National Association of Secretaries of State.”
The Obamas’ nonstop jet-setter vacay continues. Sorry, Sasha.
“Continuing on in their new life as rich wastrels mooching off left-wing billionaires, the Obamas have continued their quest for nonstop vacation by posing for pictures on a $300-million luxury yacht owned by Hollywood bigshot David Geffen in Tahiti. The A-listers were there with them: Bruce Springsteen, Tom Hanks, and Oprah Winfrey on their longest of spring breaks on Marlon Brando’s hideaway resort. Not exactly a hideaway, given that the Daily Mail has the story and photos.
I suppose they have a right to do it, and if Geffen wants to waste his money this way, no doubt in expectation of a future payoff when the next Democrat is elected, one supposes that this is their prerogative.
What’s unseemly is how different it is from the picture they painted of themselves leaving office. President Obama said he intended to stay in Washington for the time being, renting out a luxury house in tony Kalorama – not to continue to politically meddle, he assured, but to ensure that his young daughter Sasha, now a high schooler at the exclusive Sidwell Friends Academy, got as much of a normal childhood as she deserved and could complete her high school without too much family trauma. Get a load of this treacly account here.
Turns out that those needs went by the wayside now that David Geffen’s yacht beckoned. The house, it turns out, seems to have been an abode for onetime Obama consigliere Valerie Jarrett, who actually lives and cooks up political meddling plots there.”
Nevada Sec. State: DMV Instructed Employees To Register Non-Citizens To Vote
| Daily Caller
“Nevada’s Secretary of State blamed the Department of Motor Vehicles registration for adding people to the state voter rolls who were not U.S. Citizens.
Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske told state DMV director, Terri Albertson in a letter Friday evening about her concerns regarding the registrations.
“It has come to our attention that when offering voter registration opportunities to customers, DMV’s employees offer voter registration materials to DMV customers whom they know to be non-citizens based upon their presentation of a Green Card for identification purposes,” Cegavske wrote.
“More specifically, it is our understanding that some DMV employees have been instructed to accept registration materials from all customers, including those who present a Green Card for identification purposes…This practice must cease immediately. Please take appropriate actions, as we have reason to believe that non-citizens have unlawfully registered to vote in Nevada as a direct result of DMV’s practices. Moreover, we now have confirmed that some non-citizens illegally cast votes in the 2016 election.”