Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Chinese officials sanctioned for human rights abuses in rare coordinated move by Western powers



This week kicked off with news of a rare coordinated effort by Western powers to pressure China over human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

The European Union sanctioned four top Chinese officials and a paramilitary organization for their roles in large-scale surveillance, detention and indoctrination programs inflicted on Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in the region.

The targeted officials include Zhu Hailun, who was identified as a key architect of the mass-detention program in ICIJ’s China Cables investigation. Zhu’s signature was on five of six classified leaked official documents that formed the basis of the project, which chillingly describe China’s mass surveillance system, indoctrination and internment camp operations — in the Chinese government’s own words.

It’s the EU’s first such move against the superpower since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, and the U.S., U.K. and Canada immediately followed suit by issuing similar sanctions.

The reaction was swift from Beijing, which responded by blacklisting several EU politicians and academics. The tit-for-tat sanctions follow a string of recent declarations by governments and leading experts who say that China’s crackdown on Muslim minorities amounts to genocoide, Scilla Alecci reports.

Former top Maltese official Keith Schembri, who was a prominent figure in the police probe into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, was charged with a slew of financial crimes following an investigation that grew partly out of revelations from the Panama Papers.

As the world marks one year of shutdowns triggered by the pandemic, we talk to veteran journalist Syed Nazakat about operating India’s first data-driven website dedicated to healthcare reporting in our latest installment of Meet The Investigators.

There’s still time to register for a panel discussion between ICIJ reporter Will Fitzgibbon, tax officials from the U.S. and U.K. and other experts about cracking down on professional intermediaries who enable tax evasion and white collar crimes. The free session is on Wed. March 24 at 4:45 pm CET (11:45 am EST).

There Will Not Be a New Cold War Foreign Affairs


Wolf warriors shoot Chinese foot worldwideMacrobusiness


China Won’t Have Any Issues Beating Its 2021 GDP Target Bloomberg


Xinjiang Cotton: Li Ning, Anta Shares Surge While Nike, Adidas, Burberry Hit With BacklashWomen’s Wear Daily


Britain says Hong Kong ‘has no right to dictate’ passport recognition Agence France Presse


The new codes governing everyday life in ChinaAgence France Presse


Taiwan Wants More Missiles. That’s Not a Bad Thing. Defense One


5 Commons Cybercrime Attack Vectors and How to Avoid Them


A New Portal for the Decentralized Web and its Guiding Principles

Internet Archives Blog – “For a long time, we’ve felt that the growing, diverse, global community interested in building the decentralized Web needed an entry point. A portal into the events, concepts, voices, and resources critical to moving the Decentralized Web forward. This is why we created,, to serve as a portal, a welcoming entry point for people to learn and share strategies, analysis, and tools around how to build a decentralized Web…”

What you can do is do what David Ogilvy did: acquire the habit of hiring “different:- i.e. mavericks and non-conformists- and let them go wild (within reason). It’s what powered the tech industry these last 60 years, and judging by the stock prices of some of them, it worked.

How To Be Different

5 Commons  Cybercrime Attack Vectors and How to Avoid Them

MakeUseOf – “The threat landscape has significantly expanded with the proliferation of the internet and digital connectivity. As of March 2020, there were more than 677 million new malware detections. This figure by Statista indicates a growing threat of cyberattacks against individuals and businesses. Cybercriminals take advantage of cyberattack vectors to bypass your basic security defenses. These vectors fall into several categories, each of which uses a different approach to compromise your system’s security. In this post, we’ll take you through some of the most common vectors of attacks and the countermeasures you can take to effectively combat these threats…”

HMRC plans to provide a personalised service to offshore tax cheats to avoid having to name them as the criminals that they are

The FT has an article today in which they note that: Tax advisers said HM Revenue & Customs had made a “refreshing shift” away from
Read the full article…

A Dog Who Kept Sneaking into a Dollar General for a Unicorn Toy Gets His Plush and a New Start People

Credit Suisse and Nomura warn of losses after Archegos-linked sell-off FT

Tiger Cub Hwang’s Family Office Behind Friday Trade Frenzy Bloomberg

The Gray Market: How Deep-Pocketed Crypto-Collectors Are Rushing Into an Old Art-Market Trap (and Other Insights) Artnet

Football Index: how ‘stock market’ ended up costing customers millions Guardian

Legal Deeds Were Once Written On Sheepskin To Prevent Fraud

 As Isaiah Berlin put it, “Total liberty for wolves is death to the lambs.” Indeed, the history of the idea of freedom is one of paradox and contradiction   Isaiah  

Dorothy Brown On Morning Joe: How The Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans

TechRepublic – This simple Zoom trick can protect your privacy or hide a messy room from coworkers during your next video conferencing call.  Let’s say you have a Zoommeeting, but your normal work-from-home space is occupied, or worse, a mess. You have no time to clean it up, or find a neutral, privacy-maintaining space to set up, and panic sets in. Don’t worry–you have options built right into Zoom to hide the space behind you: background blurring. This easily toggleable option can keep your space private, or render messy rooms indeterminably fuzzy, and it’s available in Zoom right now…”

Saturday’s good reading and listening for the weekend

What people in other forums are saying about public policy... 

Newscientist: British Legal Deeds Were Once Written On Sheepskin To Prevent Fraud

It’s not just a social media problem – how search engines spread misinformation – Chirag Shah, Associate Professor in the Information School, University of Washington and Founding Director of InfoSeeking Lab, which focuses on issues related to information seeking, human-computer interaction (HCI), and social media. Shah’s research describes how search engines are not just one of society’s primary gateways to information and people, but they are also conduits for misinformation. Similar to problematic social media algorithms, search engines learn to serve you what you and others have clicked on before. Because people are drawn to the sensational, this dance between algorithms and human nature can foster the spread of misinformation.

Negligence, Not Politics, Drives Most Misinformation Sharing

Wired – “Researchers found that social media users are generally adept at identifying fake news. But that doesn’t always affect their decision to repost it. you don’t need a study to know that misinformation is rampant on social media; a quick search on “ vaccines” or “climate change” will confirm that. A more compelling question is why. It’s clear that, at a minimum, there are contributions from organized disinformation campaigns, rampant political partisans, and questionable algorithms. 

But beyond that, there are still a lot of people who choose to share stuff that even a cursory examination would show is garbage. What’s driving them? That was the question that motivated a small international team of researchers who decided to take a look at how a group of US residents decided on which news to share. Their results suggest that some of the standard factors that people point to when explaining the tsunami of misinformation—inability to evaluate information and partisan biases—aren’t having as much influence as most of us think. Instead, a lot of the blame gets directed at people just not paying careful attention…”

How we discovered a hidden world of fungi inside the world’s biggest seed bank The Conversation

This rabbit walks on its ‘hands.’ Scientists think they’ve found the genetic reason why (video) Science. It does!

More Evidence Links ‘Cat Scratch’ Bacteria and Schizophrenia Gizmodo

Scientists Finally Identify a Deadly Toxin That’s Been Killing Birds Wired 

The Big, Stuck Boat Is Glorious The Atlantic