Chinese Economy Conspiracy Theory

I hereby announce a new conspiracy theory: the Chinese government is paying all six men who own and control our Western media to keep their dying newspapers and TV channels from collapsing and dying of irrelevance. But as long as those dying media keep lulling us with soothing bullshit about China's 'fake' stats and 'stolen' IP, the wider China's lead becomes.

Fake Stats? China's stats are increasingly accurate and among the most conservative. History, our own eyes, and the acceptance of China's stats by agencies like the CIA, WTO, OECD, The World Bank, IMF, et al., tell us so.

And since China's growth has been speeding up, every Chinese will produce – and be paid – twice as much this year as ten years ago. Their share of the pie is a steady 50% of a rapidly rising GDP, while the US is 43% of a stagnant GDP. They're getting a squarer deal and they know it.

Where's China going? You don't need a crystal ball. A rearview mirror will do: China's going back to the future. Does anyone who knows China (or even a single Chinese!) imagine that they're going to take their foot off the throttle before they're earning more than Koreans; have a GINI like Japan's, air like New York's, and…here's the funny bit…literally everything else.

How can they become predominant in everything? Easy. There are 1.4 billion Chinese. The Chinese are about 5 IQ points smarter than us, too (even Kissinger admitted this – on camera!) which means they have about 300,000 geniuses running around looking for problems to solve. (We have about 10,000). That's enough geniuses to allow China to specialize in everything. Simultaneously. Which is what they're doing. They're becoming self-sufficient in everything, while developing sufficient capacity to sell 20% of their output abroad very profitably.

Across a wide swathe of industries – from genomics, supercomputing and hyperspectral imaging to trains, dams and canals, China's IP already leads the world. The broadening of China's 'product lineup' is continuing rapidly, as they enter one market after another and retain more of the value of their exports. In the past ten years their share of the value of exports has risen from 50% to over 70% today – and is still rising fast.

Sometime this year they'll unveil an even faster supercomputer, but this one will be powered entrirely by Chinese chips. Suddenly Intel is sharing IP with them. How long before China becomes self-sufficient in processors? They'll redouble their productivity by 2025. That's when their first cosmonauts will settle into their permanent moon base. 

Our media are lying to us about this tidal wave of smart, hard-working, cooperative people and the smart things they're doing together.

Why? What's to be gained by under-reporting what's going on in China? 

For example, the author of this piece is Peter Eavis, formerly of the WSJ and prior to that a Christian pastor. His assertions are just that: assertions. He provides no sources for them and the authority he quotes, Christopher Balding, an associate professor at the HSBC School of Business at Peking University, must be an ally of Michael Pettis, of Peking University's Guanghua School of Management. Both have demonstrated a remarkable ignorance of how the Chinese economy works (Pettis famously bet The Economist that China's growth in 2015 would be 3-4%). Neither they, not any Western 'economist' has ever been right about China's economy. Not once.

I mention this not to denigrate Mr. Eavis, Dr. Balding or Professor Pettis. They're competent people (Pettis' analyses of EU are superb) but because they're being paid for being negative about China's economy. Professor Pettis' spots dangers in China's economic future – which the CCP then accounts for into its planning process – to ensure that Pettis' predictions never come true. Talk about symbiosis.

I've been visiting China since 1967 and have compared the media's "China" with the actual China. I meet with Chinese friends every weekend to review their news and tell them news about China – mostly technology – they've missed. I hear news of their relatives from home, after they come home from Tomb Sweeping at their ancestral villages, or a historical documentary on CCTV last night. I hear them marvel at how far they've come from childhood poverty to visiting grandkids regularly (on a jet plane!) and how all the relatives have cars now. It's what you would expect if China's doing as well as China's stats suggest. 

I visit second-tier cities in the hinterland to see if the Government's promises are being kept. Is the infrastructure in place? Housing? Stress levels? People's attitude in hotel checkouts, waitresses, cops, taxi drivers, ticket-takers. People with few skills and low incomes. Problems show up there first.

As of last November, in Kunming, they've all got time to hang out, crack jokes, tease each other, practice their English, chase you down to return your change…as you would expect if things are on the up and up. A national good mood. When you talk with them they boast about their new subway – a sign of modernity in this remote provincial city: "Yes, once Kunming's GDP reached $45 billion (as I recall) construction started immediately. The subway's starting to over-fill already. They're talking about a second line". My companion was a self-employed woman who doesn't own a car but sends her son to a private school and has traveled to Australia. So Kunming looked like it should look if the Chinese Government is telling the truth. 

Compared to Kunming, 26 million-strong Shanghai  looks like a wealthy city that's declaring half its income. It's in another league. It's a world city.  Shanghai's school system is the best in the world. By a huge margin. Every educator on earth is studying its methods but, before Western educators get permission to 'go Shanghai' and start re-training teachers, every school system in China will have made the switch and be graduating classes of kids like Shanghai's. Think of the contribution to GDP that will make.

For forty years, 99% of articles about China's economic future have predicted imminent doom for the Chinese economy. Yet neither doom nor destruction has occurred. Indeed, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays Chinese economists from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. They make their numbers year after year.

The Economist alone has predicted a 'crash' or 'hard landing' for China fifty-six times since 1980. Let the implications of that sink in.

China’s Media

China's Media

Is China's media a 'mouthpiece'?  

Stanley Baldwin, as leader of the British Conservative Party in 1931 during a newspaper campaign against him, denounced newspaper proprietors for seeking “power, and power without responsibility, the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages”. Western media sell themselves to the highest bidder. This has led to the disastrous decline of the West in general and the USA in particular. Allowing our public information to be privatized was the seed of our destruction.

You've probably noticed that our media invariably refers to the Chinese media as a "government mouthpiece", which prepares us to distrust whatever appears in it. After all, we have been conditioned to distrust 'government' itself. Of course, we don't see our media referred to the "billionaires' mouthpiece" or "Corporate mouthpiece".

Yet the Chinese–who are, as Henry Kissinger observed, "smarter than us"–trust their media. Eighty percent (yes, 80%) of them trust their Government's media, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, a worldwide survey now in its 12th. year. And their trust is rising. A possible explanation for this is that the Chinese Government 'mouthpieces' speak the truth more frequently than our Capitalist mouthpieces do.

Chinese have plenty of opportunity to check out their media's account of things. The often-hostile Hong Kong media (several funded by the US Government) are readily available. Over 75 million Chinese will travel abroad this year aloneand 500 million of them have already been abroad and seen what we and our media have to offer.

Sometime later my father submitted to him a carefully written article for The Times of which he was extremely proud. Lewis read it through twice with enthusiasm before delivering his verdict. Holding the typed pages between finger and thumb, he said: “Old boy, this piece is not only informed but erudite. Its material is accurate and solidly observed; its style polished – and, in my estimation, witty. In fact, it is everything that one imagines to oneself an article in The Times should be. Yet, I am afraid – my instinct tells me – that” and Lewis opened his finger and thumb dropping the article into the waste-paper basket “the cats will have it.” –  • DECEMBER 19, 2015

(Reprinted from The Independent by permission of author or representative)

Pew Charitable Trusts, which have been surveying attitudes towards our media for 22 years, recently confirmed the Edelman findings. Here are the latest results of their survey on how much Americans trust the US media: (emphasis added in bold):

Further Decline in Credibility Ratings for Most News Organizations (Released: August 16, 2012)


For the second time in a decade, the believability ratings for major news organizations have suffered broad-based declines. In the new survey, positive believability ratings have fallen significantly for nine of 13 news organizations tested. This follows a similar downturn in positive believability ratings that occurred between 2002 and 2004.

The falloff in credibility affects news organizations in most sectors: national newspapers, such as the New York Times and USA Today, all three cable news outlets, as well as the broadcast TV networks and NPR.

Across all 13 news organizations included in the survey, the average positive believability rating (3 or 4 on a 4-point scale) is 56%. In 2010, the average positive rating was 62%. A decade ago, the average rating for the news organizations tested was 71%. Since 2002, every news outlet’s believability rating has suffered a double-digit drop, except for local daily newspapers and local TV news. The New York Times was not included in this survey until 2004, but its believability rating has fallen by 13 points since then.

These are among the major findings of a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted July 19-22 among 1,001 adults. The survey asks people to rate individual news organizations on believability using a 4-point scale. A rating of 4 means someone believes “all or most” of what the news organization says; a rating of 1 means someone believes “almost nothing” of what they say.

The believability ratings for individual news organizations – like views of the news media generally – have long been divided along partisan lines. But partisan differences have grown as Republicans’ views of the credibility of news outlets have continued to erode. Today, there are only two news organizations – Fox News and local TV news – that receive positive believability ratings from at least two-thirds of Republicans. A decade ago, there were only two news organizations that did not get positive ratings from at least two-thirds of Republicans. By contrast, Democrats generally rate the believability of news organizations positively; majorities of Democrats give all the news organizations tested ratings of 3 or 4 on the 4-point scale, with the exception of Fox News.

Media Believability Ratings
The Pew Research Center has asked about the believability of individual news organizations for more than two decades. During this period, the Center also has asked separately about the news media’s overall performance; ratings for the news media’s accuracy, fairness and other aspects of performance also have shown long-term declines. (For the most recent report, see “Press Widely Criticized, But Trusted More than Other Information Sources,” Sept. 22, 2011.)

The believability measures are based on those who give each news organization a rating. Roughly one-in-five are unable to rate the believability of NPR (21%), the New York Times (19%), the Wall Street Journal (19%) and USA Today (17%).

As in past believability surveys, local TV news and the CBS News program 60 Minutes receive the most positive ratings. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of those able to rate local TV news give it a rating of 3 or 4. Ratings are comparable for 60 Minutes (64% 3 or 4).

Despite the declines in believability, majorities continue to give most news organizations ratings of 3 or 4. However, ratings are mixed for NPR, MSNBC, the New York Times, Fox News and USA Today. About half give each of these news organizations believability ratings of 3 or 4; approximately the same percentages give them ratings of 1 or 2.

Believability of News Organizations: 2002-2012
Positive believability ratings for the New York Times have fallen by nine points since 2010, from 58% to 49%. The decline has been comparable for USA Today. Two years ago, 56% rated USA Today’s believability at 3 or 4; today 49% do so.

About six-in-ten (58%) rate the Wall Street Journal’s believability positively. That is little changed since 2010 (62%), but in 2002, 77% rated the Journal’s believability at 3 or 4 on the 4-point scale.

Perceptions of the believability of the daily newspaper “you are most familiar with” are about the same as they were two years ago. Currently, 57% give their daily newspaper a positive believability rating, which is little changed from 2010 (59%).

Believability ratings for all three major cable news outlets have declined since 2010. MSNBC’s believability rating has fallen from 60% to 50%, while the percentages giving CNN and Fox News believability ratings of 3 or 4 have declined seven points each, to 58% and 49%, respectively. In 2002, the ratings for all three cable news outlets were considerably higher – 76% for CNN, 73% for MSNBC and 67% for Fox News.

The believability ratings for local TV news are higher than those for the three cable news outlets. Currently, 65% give local news a rating of 3 or 4. Since 2002, credibility ratings for local TV news have remained more stable than have ratings for the three main cable news outlets.

There also have been slight declines since 2010 in believability ratings for the three major TV networks — ABC News, CBS News and NBC News. Over the past decade, positive ratings for all three have fallen from the low 70s to the mid- to high-50s. More than six-in-ten (64%) give the CBS weekly newsmagazine 60 Minutes believability ratings of 3 or 4. That is down 13 points since 2002.

Since 2010, the percentage giving NPR believability ratings of 3 or 4 has dropped eight points to 52%. NPR’s believability ratings had changed little from 2002 to 2010; about six-in-ten in each year rated NPR’s believability positively. Read more..

As always, your comments are welcome and encouraged.  Issues like this need more than just one opinion.
And do feel free to add links to useful sources and stories!

China Spends Billions on Internal Security!

Recently the British magazine, The Economist, breathlessly announced: "China's domestic-security budget has surged to an astonishing $110 billion a year, larger than declared defence spending."

The Economist has never been very good with numbers – or economics – though that hasn't stopped them offering advice and criticism to China. The Economist has predicted a crash or a 'hard landing' for the Chinese economy 56 times since 1985, while completely missing out own Great Financial Crisis.

hong kong democracy

hong kong democracy

The intent of the "astonishing" news of China's $110 billion internal security budget was to demonstrate how insecure the Chinese government is and terrified of its own people. Here's what it really shows:

  1. The Chinese don't spend enough on its military. Compared to the USA, for example, Chinese military spending is tiny.
  2. China spends $84 per capita annually on internal security (police, prisons, etc.)

What The Economist neglected to mention is that the USA spends $275 billion annually on everything from The Department of Homeland Security to the FBI, the CIA, and even HHS–all of which participate in America's internal security, along with the NSA and other intelligence agencies: $670 for each American man, woman, and child.

If we multiply the Chinese figure of $84 by 3 to account for the dollar's higher purchasing power in China, we find that China spends about $260 equivalent dollars.  And that includes all costs for every fire department in China!

Fire Fighting in China is organized under the PAP (People's Armed Police). The PAP is also in charge of border patrol, forest service, gold mine and hydro security. The PAP came into being when Deng wanted to cut 1 million troops from the PLA. The PLA in 1980 numbered over 4 million. Today it is around 2.3 million. Letting more than 1 million soldiers off is extremely difficult for a poor China in the 1980s, so the Ministry of Defence spun some of the soldiers into the PAP.

By contrast, here's a clue to the US Government's approach to 'internal security' in President Obama's speech. And, as if the "astonishing" figure weren't enough, the US Army is also being trained and equipped to participate in internal security: U.S. Army Purchases Riot Gear As Fears Over Civil Unrest Grow.

While China's internal security spending has been widely publicized, the USA is an outlier in the world of internal security. It spends a fortune on keeping the home fires from burning out of control, yet seems to be in non-stop emergency mode all year. Look at some of these stats and you'll see what I mean: The USA

  • Shoots 990 more innocent people in the street each year.
  • Jails 3,000,000 people more each year.
  • Spies on 350,000,000 more people, 24×7.
  • Assassinates its own citizens at home and abroad
  • Secretly arrests its citizens and detains them in secret
  • Hosts the most mass shootings each year

China's internal security is pretty good. Few people go to prison, even fewer reoffend. The streets are safe at night and violence is rare. If we discount US-sponsored terrorism incidents, it seems that China's need for internal security is pretty modest.

Recently the Western media has been aflame with claims that China was spending vast amounts of money on "internal security". The implication was that the Government of China (whose trust and approval rating is 85–95%) is afraid of its own people. Now read this letter by a disillusioned American about the state of 'internal security' in the Land of the Free:

Dudes, I'm done with this. I'm leaving the United States today, and won't be back for a while.

I recently visited my childhood hometown and noticed a whole bunch of brand new surveillance cameras at nearly every intersection and street corner; this is just a town, mind you, not some city of national or international significance. After doing some research, it turns out the cameras are "high-definition" 24/7 surveillance cameras, manufactured and operated by Sprint Nextel Corp, and paid for through federal Department of Homeland Security grants to the town's local police department. In fact, the number of these cameras in my hometown has reportedly tripled over the past couple years.  There are as many as six of them at each intersection, they aren't red light traffic cameras (topic for another article altogether, though). Here's a photo I took of the cameras. Do you really think these are there to make your 10 minute drive to the Applebee's safe from terrorists? Do you?

On another note, I was recently at a ball game: they now ask you to rise twice to sing the national anthem and pledge your allegiance. As a child, I only remember this occurring once, normally at the start of the game. It was recently revealed that the NSA, according to a former high-ranking official there, is building "dossiers" on MILLIONS of American citizens and may be routinely spying on countless Americans on U.S. soil, in clear violation of our laws and principles as a nation.

Moving on… The New York Times recently claimed: "Cellphone carriers reported that they responded to a startling 1.3 million demands for subscriber information last year from law enforcement agencies seeking text messages, caller locations and other information in the course of investigations." That's just last year. And that number is quite conservative, as it does not include shadow wiretapping programs such as the NSA's project(s). Is it paranoid to think you're being watched…. when you are actually being watched?

America has turned into a full-blown police state. Our economy is sick, and politicians refuse to fix it, choosing instead to fund outrageous, scary, illegal programs which violate our rights and our privacy. Ironically, one of the few sectors where recent grads are finding work is in law enforcement and government-sponsored surveillance.

All of these things would be bad, but I would still have hope if Americans were getting outraged — if they were demanding answers and asking for a rollback of the new surveillance cameras, the warrantless wiretapping programs, the new invasive TSA procedures, etc. But they aren't. Most people I talk to just don't care, and they think I'm some kind of weirdo for interrupting them from their reality TV and 40-ounce high-fructose corn syrup soda. It's the apathy and indifference that scares me more than any headline about the government watching us.

I don't see a bright future for us unless we begin to care, and begin to demand accountability. In the history of the world, the combination of a) totalitarian police state b) rapid rollback of civil rights c) blind nationalistic pride and d) a public that doesn't care has NEVER led to improvements in the quality of life. Instead, it normally leads to mass injustice and misery. I hope people begin to speak up. I hope they email and call their Senators. I hope they share articles like this one with their friends, since the establishment broadcast media refuses to cover the police state's rapid growth — maybe they are in on it, or maybe (more likely) they realize that viewers want Kim Kardashian segments, not NSA whistleblowers like William Binney. Sad, but true. Go to the original article…

As always, your comments are welcome and encouraged. Issues like this need more than just one opinion. And do feel free to add links to useful sources and stories!






China Spends Billions on Internal Security


Paul Joseph Watson, Monday, July 30, 2012:

It’s not just the Department of Homeland Security that is gearing up for the prospect of civil unrest in America. The U.S. Army also recently purchased a stock of riot gear including batons, face masks and body shields.
As we reported last week, the DHS has put out an urgent solicitation for hundreds of items of “riot gear,” in preparation for expected unrest at the upcoming Republican National Convention, Democratic National Convention and next year’s presidential inauguration.
In a previous solicitation, the U.S. Army also put out a contract for riot gear to be delivered to the United States Military Academy at West Point in New York.
The contract, which was eventually awarded to A2Z Supply Corp, included requests to supply riot shields, face shields, batons and body protection.
Fears that the U.S. military would be used to quell domestic unrest in violation of Posse Comitatus have raged over recent years.

A recently leaked US Army Military Police training manual for “Civil Disturbance Operations” outlines how military assets are to be used domestically to quell riots, confiscate firearms and even kill Americans on U.S. soil during mass civil unrest.  Read more…. And this amazing artcle by Matthew Harwood:

Welcome to Cop Land 

Sometime in late November, after the Paris terror attacks but before the one in San Bernardino, I was walking to New York’s Grand Central Station to catch the subway home. In front of one of its main entrances, the police had set up shop, blocking off part of an avenue. The crew I stumbled upon may, in fact, have been part of the new counterterrorism unit that the New York Police Department had just rolled out. Whatever the case, the cops were up-armored in a purely military fashion (even if their togs were fashionably black and blue) and carrying weaponry the likes of which I had never seen before on the streets of my hometown. Amid flashing lights, they stood there with dogs on leashes looking not like “the police” but figures from some dystopian, futuristic sci-fi flick. Nothing in particular seemed to be happening so, after a few minutes, I entered the vast terminal, passing scattered pistol-packing soldiers in camo, evidently guarding the just-before-rush-hour crowds. It was certainly a spectacle, but also just part of the new American normal.

So consider what I’m about to mention less than newsworthy amid all the reports on the militarization of the country’s police and their brutal behavior. And yet it’s the sort of tiny news story that once upon a time would have been striking. Now, few will even notice. Policing headlines these days, after all, gravitate to graphic videos of cold-blooded police killings in places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago. (There were 70 fatal shootings by the Chicago Police Department alone between 2010 and 2014. As Margaret Talbot pointed out in the New Yorker, only Phoenix, Philadelphia, and Dallas “had a higher number per capita.”)

When it comes to the arming of the police in a country in which rural sheriffs proudly sport battlefield-grade mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles, or MRAPs, and new militarized urban police units like that one in New York City are being outfitted with Colt M4 semiautomatic assault rifles and machine guns, a report that 20 campus cops at Boston’s Northeastern University are going to be armed with semiautomatic rifles qualifies as distinctly ho-hum news. Or thought of another way, it catches the everyday reality of a country whose police have been up-arming with a kind of passion since 9/11. I can, of course, remember the unarmed campus cops of my own college days and, believe me, we’ve traveled a long road from policing “panty raids” to facing on-campus mass shootings in a country now so over-weaponized that it seems as if both the police and the citizenry are in an undeclared arms race.

In these years, the militarization of the police has taken place amid a striking upsurge of protest over police brutality, abuses, and in particular the endless killing of young black men, as well as a parallel growth in both the powers of and the protections afforded to police officers. As TomDispatch regular Matthew Harwood, who has been covering the militarization of the police for this site, reports today, all of this could easily add up to the building blocks for a developing police-state frame of mind. If you’ve been watching the national news dominated by panic and hysteria over domestic terrorism, including the shutting down of a major urban school system over an outlandish hoax threat of a terror attack, or the recent Republican debate over “national security,” which turned out to mean only “ISIS” and immigration, can there be any question that the way is being paved for institutionalizing a new kind of policing in this country in the name of American security and fear? Tom

The Logic of the Police State 
People Are Waking Up to the Darkness in American Policing, and the Police Don’t Like It One Bit
By Matthew Harwood

If you’ve been listening to various police agencies and their supporters, then you know what the future holds: anarchy is coming — and it’s all the fault of activists.

In May, a Wall Street Journal op-ed warned of a “new nationwide crime wave” thanks to “intense agitation against American police departments” over the previous year. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie went further. Talking recently with the host of CBS’s Face the Nation, the Republican presidential hopeful asserted that the Black Lives Matter movement wasn’t about reform but something far more sinister. “They’ve been chanting in the streets for the murder of police officers,” he insisted. Even the nation’s top cop, FBI Director James Comey, weighed in at the University of Chicago Law School, speaking of “a chill wind that has blown through American law enforcement over the last year.”

According to these figures and others like them, lawlessness has been sweeping the nation as the so-called Ferguson effect spreads. Criminals have been emboldened as police officers are forced to think twice about doing their jobs for fear of the infamy of starring in the next viral video. The police have supposedly become the targets of assassins intoxicated by “anti-cop rhetoric,” just as departments are being stripped of the kind of high-powered equipment they need to protect officers and communities.  Even their funding streams have, it’s claimed, come under attack as anti-cop bias has infected Washington, D.C.  Senator Ted Cruz caught the spirit of that critique by convening a Senate subcommittee hearing to which he gave the title, “The War on Police: How the Federal Government Undermines State and Local Law Enforcement.” According to him, the federal government, including the president and attorney general, has been vilifying the police, who are now being treated as if they, not the criminals, were the enemy.

Beyond the storm of commentary and criticism, however, quite a different reality presents itself. In the simplest terms, there is no war on the police. Violent attacks against police officers remain at historic lows, even though approximately 1,000 people have been killed by the police this year nationwide. In just the past few weeks, videos have been released of problematic fatal police shootings in San Francisco and Chicago.

While it’s too soon to tell whether there has been an uptick in violent crime in the post-Ferguson period, no evidence connects any possible increase to the phenomenon of police violence being exposed to the nation. What is taking place and what the police and their supporters are largely reacting to is a modest push for sensible law enforcement reforms from groups as diverse as Campaign Zero, Koch Industries, the Cato Institute, The Leadership Conference, and the ACLU (my employer). Unfortunately, as the rhetoric ratchets up, many police agencies and organizations are increasingly resistant to any reforms, forgetting whom they serve and ignoring constitutional limits on what they can do.

Indeed, a closer look at law enforcement arguments against commonsense reforms like independently investigating police violence, demilitarizing police forces, or ending “for-profit policing” reveals a striking disregard for concerns of just about any sort when it comes to brutality and abuse. What this “debate” has revealed, in fact, is a mainstream policing mindset ready to manufacture fear without evidence and promote the belief that American civil rights and liberties are actually an impediment to public safety. In the end, such law enforcement arguments subvert the very idea that the police are there to serve the community and should be under civilian control.

And that, when you come right down to it, is the logic of the police state.  

Due Process Plus

It’s no mystery why so few police officers are investigated and prosecuted for using excessive force and violating someone’s rights. “Local prosecutors rely on local police departments to gather the evidence and testimony they need to successfully prosecute criminals,” according to Campaign Zero . “This makes it hard for them to investigate and prosecute the same police officers in cases of police violence.”

Since 2005, according to an analysis by the Washington Post and Bowling Green State University, only 54 officers have been prosecuted nationwide, despite the thousands of fatal shootings by police. As Philip M. Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green, puts it, “To charge an officer in a fatal shooting, it takes something so egregious, so over the top that it cannot be explained in any rational way. It also has to be a case that prosecutors are willing to hang their reputation on.”

For many in law enforcement, however, none of this should concern any of us. When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order appointing a special prosecutor to investigate police killings, for instance, Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, insisted: “Given the many levels of oversight that already exist, both internally in the NYPD [New York Police Department] and externally in many forms, the appointment of a special prosecutor is unnecessary.” Even before Cuomo’s decision, the chairman of New York’s District Attorneys Association called plans to appoint a special prosecutor for police killings “deeply insulting.”

Such pushback against the very idea of independently investigating police actions has, post-Ferguson, become everyday fare, and some law enforcement leaders have staked out a position significantly beyond that.  The police, they clearly believe, should get special treatment.

“By virtue of our dangerous vocation, we should expect to receive the benefit of the doubt in controversial incidents,” wrote Ed Mullins, the president of New York City’s Sergeants Benevolent Association, in the organization’s magazine, Frontline. As if to drive home the point, its cover depicts Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby under the ominous headline “The Wolf That Lurks.” In May, Mosby had announced indictments of six officers in the case of Freddie Gray, who died in Baltimore police custody the previous month. The message being sent to a prosecutor willing to indict cops was hardly subtle: you’re a traitor.

Mullins put forward a legal standard for officers accused of wrongdoing that he would never support for the average citizen — and in a situation in which cops already get what former federal prosecutor Laurie Levenson calls “a super presumption of innocence."  In addition, police unions in many states have aggressively pushed for their own bills of rights, which make it nearly impossible for police officers to be fired, much less charged with crimes when they violate an individual’s civil rights and liberties.

In 14 states, versions of a Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBR) have already been passed, while in 11 others they are under consideration.  These provide an “extra layer of due process” in cases of alleged police misconduct, according to Samuel Walker, an expert on police accountability. In many of the states without a LEOBR, the Marshall Project has discovered, police unions have directly negotiated the same rights and privileges with state governments.

LEOBRs are, in fact, amazingly un-American documents in the protections they afford officers accused of misconduct during internal investigations, rights that those officers are never required to extend to their suspects. Though the specific language of these laws varies from state to state, notes Mike Riggs in Reason, they are remarkably similar in their special considerations for the police.

“Unlike a member of the public, the officer gets a ‘cooling off’ period before he has to respond to any questions. Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation is privy to the names of his complainants and their testimony against him before he is ever interrogated. Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation is to be interrogated ‘at a reasonable hour,’ with a union member present. Unlike a member of the public, the officer can only be questioned by one person during his interrogation. Unlike a member of the public, the officer can be interrogated only ‘for reasonable periods,’ which ‘shall be timed to allow for such personal necessities and rest periods as are reasonably necessary.’ Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation cannot be ‘threatened with disciplinary action’ at any point during his interrogation. If he is threatened with punishment, whatever he says following the threat cannot be used against him.”

The Marshall Project refers to these laws as the “Blue Shield” and “the original Bill of Rights with an upgrade.’’ Police associations, naturally, don’t agree. "All this does is provide a very basic level of constitutional protections for our officers, so that they can make statements that will stand up later in court," says Vince Canales, the president of Maryland's Fraternal Order of Police.

Put another way, there are two kinds of due process in America — one for cops and another for the rest of us. This is the reason why the Black Lives Matter movement and other civil rights and civil liberties organizations regularly call on states to create a special prosecutor’s office to launch independent investigations when police seriously injure or kill someone.

The Demilitarized Blues

Since Americans first took in those images from Ferguson of police units outfitted like soldiers, riding in military vehicles, and pointing assault rifles at protesters, the militarization of the police and the way the Pentagon has been supplying them with equipment directly off this country’s distant battlefields have been top concerns for police reformers. In May, the Obama administration suggested modest changes to the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which, since 1990, has been redistributing weaponry and equipment to police departments nationwide — urban, suburban, and rural — in the name of fighting the war on drugs and protecting Americans from terrorism.  

Even the idea that the police shouldn’t sport the look of an occupying army in local communities has, however, been met with fierce resistance. Read, for example, the online petition started by the National Sheriffs' Association and you could be excused for thinking that the Obama administration was aggressively moving to stop the flow of military-grade equipment to local and state police agencies. (It isn’t.)  The message that tops the petition is as simple as it is misleading: “Don’t strip law enforcement of the gear they need to keep us safe.”

The Obama administration has done no such thing. In May, the president announced that he was prohibiting certain military-grade equipment from being transferred to state and local law enforcement. “Some equipment made for the battlefield is not appropriate for local police departments,” he said. The list included tracked armored vehicles (essentially tanks), bayonets, grenade launchers, camouflage uniforms, and guns and ammo of .50 caliber or higher. In reality, what use could a local police department have for bayonets, grenade launchers, or the kinds of bullets that resemble small missiles, pierce armor, and can blow people’s limbs off?

Yet the sheriffs' association has no problem complaining that “the White House announced the government would no longer provide equipment like helicopters and MRAPs [mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles] to local law enforcement.” And it’s not even true. Police departments can still obtain both helicopters and MRAPs if they establish community policing practices, institute training protocols, and get community approval before the equipment transfer occurs. 

“Helicopters rescue runaways and natural disaster victims,” the sheriff’s association adds gravely, “and MRAPs are used to respond to shooters who barricade themselves in neighborhoods and are one of the few vehicles able to navigate hurricane, snowstorm, and tornado-strewn areas to save survivors.”

As with our wars abroad, think mission creep at home. A program started to wage the war on drugs, and strengthened after 9/11, is now being justified on the grounds that certain equipment is useful during disasters or emergencies. In reality, the police have clearly become hooked on a militarized look. Many departments are ever more attached to their weapons of war and evidently don’t mind the appearance of being an occupying force in their communities, which leaves groups like the sheriffs' association fighting fiercely for a militarized future.

Legal Plunder

In July, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Arizona sued law enforcement in Pinal County, Arizona, on behalf of Rhonda Cox. Two years before, her son had stolen some truck accessories and, without her knowledge, fitted them on her truck. When the county sheriff’s department arrested him, it also seized the truck.

Arriving on the scene of her son’s arrest, Cox asked a deputy about getting her truck back. No way, he told her. After she protested, explaining that she had nothing to do with her son’s alleged crimes, he responded “too bad.” Under Arizona law, the truck could indeed be taken into custody and kept or sold off by the sheriff’s department even though she was never charged with a crime. It was guilty even if she wasn’t.

Welcome to America’s civil asset forfeiture laws, another product of law enforcement’s failed war on drugs, updated for the twenty-first century. Originally designed to deprive suspected real-life Scarfaces of the spoils of their illicit trade — houses, cars, boats — it now regularly deprives people unconnected to the war on drugs of their property without due process of law and in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Not surprisingly, corruption follows.

Federal and state law enforcement can now often keep property seized or sell it and retain a portion of the revenue generated. Some of this, in turn, can be repurposed and distributed as bonuses in police and other law enforcement departments.  The only way the dispossessed stand a chance of getting such “forfeited” property back is if they are willing to take on the government in a process where the deck is stacked against them.

In such cases, for instance, property owners have no right to an attorney to defend them, which means that they must either pony up additional cash for a lawyer or contest the seizure themselves in court.  “It is an upside-down world where,” says the libertarian Institute for Justice, “the government holds all the cards and has the financial incentive to play them to the hilt.”

In this century, civil asset forfeiture has mutated into what’s now called “for-profit policing” in which police departments and state and federal law enforcement agencies indiscriminately seize the property of citizens who aren’t drug kingpins. Sometimes, for instance, distinctly ordinary citizens suspected of driving drunk or soliciting prostitutes get their cars confiscated. Sometimes they simply get cash taken from them on suspicion of low-level drug dealing.

Like most criminal justice issues, race matters in civil asset forfeiture. This summer, the ACLU of Pennsylvania issued a report, Guilty Property, documenting how the Philadelphia Police Department and district attorney’s office abused state civil asset forfeiture by taking at least $1 million from innocent people within the city limits. Approximately 70% of the time, those people were black, even though the city’s population is almost evenly divided between whites and African-Americans.  

Currently, only one state, New Mexico, has done away with civil asset forfeiture entirely, while also severely restricting state and local law enforcement from profiting off similar national laws when they work with the feds. (The police in Albuquerque are, however, actively defying the new law, demonstrating yet again the way in which police departments believe the rules don’t apply to them.) That no other state has done so is hardly surprising. Police departments have become so reliant on civil asset forfeiture to pad their budgets and acquire “little goodies” that reforming, much less repealing, such laws are a tough sell.

As with militarization, when police defend such policies, you sense their urgent desire to maintain what many of them now clearly think of as police rights. In August, for instance, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu sent a fundraising email to his supporters using the imagined peril of the ACLU lawsuit as clickbait. In justifying civil forfeiture, he failed to mention that a huge portion of the money goes to enrich his own department, but praised the program in this fashion:

"[O]ver the past seven years, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office has donated $1.2 million of seized criminal money to support youth programs like the Boys & Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts, YMCA, high school graduation night lock-in events, youth sports as well as veterans groups, local food banks, victims assistance programs, and Home of Home in Casa Grande."

Under this logic, police officers can steal from people who haven’t even been charged with a crime as long as they share the wealth with community organizations — though, in fact, neither in Pinal County or elsewhere is that where most of the confiscated loot appears to go. Think of this as the development of a culture of thievery masquerading as Robin Hood in blue.

Contempt for Civilian Control 

Post-Ferguson developments in policing are essentially a struggle over whether the police deserve special treatment and exceptions from the rules the rest of us must follow. For too long, they have avoided accountability for brutal misconduct, while in this century arming themselves for war on America’s streets and misusing laws to profit off the public trust, largely in secret. The events of the past two years have offered graphic evidence that police culture is dysfunctional and in need of a democratic reformation.

There are, of course, still examples of law enforcement leaders who see the police as part of American society, not exempt from it. But even then, the reformers face stiff resistance from the law enforcement communities they lead. In Minneapolis, for instance, Police Chief Janeé Harteau attempted to have state investigators look into incidents when her officers seriously hurt or killed someone in the line of duty. Police union opposition killed her plan. In Philadelphia, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey ordered his department to publicly release the names of officers involved in shootings within 72 hours of any incident. The city’s police union promptly challenged his policy, while the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill in November to stop the release of the names of officers who fire their weapon or use force when on the job unless criminal charges are filed. Not surprisingly, three powerful police unions in the state supported the legislation. 

In the present atmosphere, many in the law enforcement community see the Harteaus and Ramseys of their profession as figures who don’t speak for them, and groups or individuals wanting even the most modest of police reforms as so many police haters. As former New York Police Department Commissioner Howard Safir told Fox News in May, “Similar to athletes on the playing field, sometimes it's difficult to tune out the boos from the no-talents sipping their drinks, sitting comfortably in their seats. It's demoralizing to read about the misguided anti-cop gibberish spewing from those who take their freedoms for granted.”

The disdain in such imagery, increasingly common in the world of policing, is striking. It smacks of a police-state, bunker mentality that sees democratic values and just about any limits on the power of law enforcement as threats. In other words, the Safirs want the public — particularly in communities of color and poor neighborhoods — to shut up and do as it’s told when a police officer says so. If the cops give the orders, compliance — so this line of thinking goes — isn’t optional, no matter how egregious the misconduct or how sensible the reforms. Obey or else.

The post-Ferguson public clamor demanding better policing continues to get louder, and yet too many police departments have this to say in response: Welcome to Cop Land. We make the rules around here.

Matthew Harwood is senior writer/editor of the ACLU. His work has appeared at Al Jazeera America, the American Conservative, the Guardian, Guernica, Salon, War is Boring, and the Washington Monthly. He is a TomDispatch regular.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. Copyright by Matthew Harwood

Some links to follow: External Security:

China Governance Gap

China's Governance Gap is Widening

The image at right shows that most Chinese don't think global warming is a big deal.

China Governance Gap

China Governance Gap

Every other country on earth is more concerned than them.  But here's the funny thing: those famously tigh-fisted Chinese are more willing to spend billions of dollars to remediate climate damage even though their average income is lower than Kazakhstan ($753) and Colombia ($692). We, on the other hand, more fully understand that the risk is great but are less willing to support government action to limit it. 

The chart, from an article entitled "People worldwide support a global emissions agreement" exemplifies what Pew Charitable Trusts has been telling us for decades about the relationship of the Chinese people to their government. It dovetails Pew’s repeated Global Attitudes findings that 80%–95% of Chinese trust their government. We trust our government if it  keeps us safe, tells us the truth and delivers what it promises to us and our children. If people trust their government they’re easy to govern, as Confucius reminded to his disciples. A neutral government shaping national consensus is the easiest kind of government for us ordinary people to trust. 

Decades of Pew’s snapshots of China’s rise now make a short movie of growing trust and cooperation between the Chinese people and their governement – and a steady acceleration of their economy. 

Strung together, Pew’s snapshots of Americans’ declining trust in our institutions and future make a stunning counterpoint. Subtract the empty calories of the West's FIRE (finance, insurance and real estate) sector and our economy starts looking hollowed out. Looted, even.

We used to trust our government once. If we don’t get a trustworthy government within ten years we’ll be irrelevant on the world stage. The attitudes in Pew's survey tell the story. It’s high-level democracy. Governments that come up with win-win visions and programs like OBOR will win out over governments that support looting. It's that simple.

The Chinese always select their best and brightest people to run the country. Selection can be by mortal combat, poetry composition or grasp of Marx's topography of capitalism's inherent contradictions.

The Chinese people cooperate with these hotshots' policies to the best of their ability, need, interest or altruism. As the world's most successful civilization they're practiced at cooperating on a broad scale. 2,200 years ago they were able to tame mighty rivers by cooperating – even though the river-managers were thousands of miles apart and water moved faster than men or horses could run. It's not hard to rule people who've been cooperating for millennia. 

Is governance China’s super weapon? Are the Chinese just better at governance? Is there a governance gap?

China’s Foreign Aid

China's Foreign Aid in Africa.  

Most articles in our media, if they talk about China's development assistance to Africa at all, have only horror stories to tell.

If we can't say something nice about China, let's not say anything at all. It's a developing nation whose people's average income last year was still below

Romania $954
Bahrain $917
Panama $831
Mauritius $783
Brazil $778
Macau $758
Kazakhstan $753
Bulgaria $750
Colombia $692.

Despite its relative poverty it pulled 700,000,000 of its own people out of misery and single-handedly accounted for 90% of the UN's Millennium Poverty Reduction goals. 

And even though Chinese are relatively poor they've lent a trillion dollars to people poorer than themselves. Instead of allowing that money to seep into the pockets of the recipient governments, they built railroads and ports and highways and hospitals.

That benefit has become so obvious that the world's leading authority on African FDI, Dambisa Moyo (herself the recipient, scholar and, now, donor of  foreign aid to African countries), says that Chinese foreign aid has done more good for Africa in the past ten years than Western foreign aid in a hundred. That's a 10x improvement.  

Eventually, deeds do speak louder than words. It might take another ten years of good deeds and bad words, but then stories like this will be so obviously out of character for China they'll sound like childish, bitter-fruit, attempts to defame a developing country that's doing more than its share for its poorer brethren. 

When Western nations refuse real aid to a poor country (aid that makes an immediate, visible improvement in the lives of all the people in the developing nation and produces no side-benefits for its ruling elite) then political violence increases. If Western nations meddle in the internal affairs of an already-poor nation and support an unpopular tyrant or overthrow a tolerable one, that country’s vulnerabilities and suffering are multiplied. Haiti is a grotesque example of such cruelty. When Western nations refuse to aid a poor country they are often working actively to help out "rebels" there, in furtherance of imperialistic designs. 

But there's one super power that doesn't play that game. And that’s when those suffering nations hear a distant bugle. That’s when Chinese aid rides to the rescue. 

We don’t hear much about what happens next but we should: the new train line gets built and the port starts functioning in 28 months. Back-country farmers, often in the most productive land, get their crops to the capital overnight. To Paris in 48 hours. Farmers start buying stuff and we know the rest of the story.

China has been replicating, or attempting to replicate, this story in every developing country on earth. OBOR is a ‘coming out’, a brand, for their entire development program linking on land and sea in both directions with arteries that allow goods to flow, at low cost, between and across Africa and Eurasia.

Xi and Li have been on the road 3 days a week for the past two years promoting this. Handshakes are all that’s needed. Everyone knows the Chinese are good for the money. The Hungarian and the Serbian presidents know their projects come in on time and within budget and produce the projected downstream revenues to cover the bonds. That’s why the queen of England toured London with Xi in a gilded carriage. England wants to get some of that finger-lickin' Chinese development money. And engineering expertise, incidentally. 

Xi Jinping aid

Xi Jinping aid

Our sour-grapes media aims to undermine or denigrate such real and potential successes, but eventually stories like the Post's will no longer be credible.

It might take ten years but, by the time our media wakes up in China will have developed more half the world – like its own 700,000,000 poor – it will be too late for us. By the end of 2015 our wages will have been stagnant for 40 years. What’s another ten?

The amazing thing is that China's making money on the deal. They're selling equipment, expertise, and finance made affordable because it's so tightly integrated into the deal that its secure. China has trillions of such dollars and is happy to put them to work at a near-guaranteed 3%. 

Here's Professor Deborah Brautigam's excellent blog and books on China's aid in Africa.

China’s Internet 2015 Snapshot

We think of China as a developed country, but it's not. It really is a developing country, as you can see in this year's China's Internet 2015 Snapshot. If this year's snapshot looks blurry it's because China's moving so fast with such momentum. We'll learn why China's connectivity is so slow after we discover why China's internet is so darn huge. Here's what has to say about its growth and size:

China’s internet is massive. How massive? According to a new report from CNNIC, more than 668 million people are now using the web in China. That means that were China’s internet a country, it would be the third-largest country on earth, behind only India and China itself. In fact, China’s internet has more people than the two next-largest countries, Indonesia and the United States, combined.

Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of these people are accessing the web (at least some of the time) via their phones. CNNIC says that China has 594 million mobile web users, and that 88.9 percent of mobile phone users are now using their phones to go online. Amazingly, despite that, internet penetration in China is still below 50 percent. There are another 700 million people in China who haven’t even come online yet.

CNNIC’s report speaks to the amazing size and growth of China’s internet, but it should also be a wake-up call to those China observers who believe the entire country is as developed as Beijing and Shanghai. Even with the recent urbanization, China’s rural population still exceeds 600 million according to 2014 World Bank data, and CNNIC says that just 27.9 percent of those people are online.

Moreover, rural web development is happening fairly slowly; China’s rural web users have grown by just 8 million over the past six months, according to CNNIC. At that rate, it will be 2022 before even half of China’s rural residents are online (although admittedly the rural internet penetration growth rate is likely to speed up, not remain static). (And yes, we're serious about ethics and transparency. More information here.)


China's Internet Speed Akamai Rankings.

China is getting better bang for its buck than most developing countries. Their average wage ranks them at 57th. in the world but their average broadband speed lifts them to 41st. So the Communications Ministry seems to be keeping to plan. As you saw in that Techinasia report, they're scrambling to stay up with the rapid urbanization of 200,000,000 people. Ultimately, the minister is responisble for installing or upgrading millions of users a month forever. 

Here are the world broadband rankings and speed in megabytes:

32  Thailand 6.6 Mb
33  Italy 5.5
34  Turkey 5.5
35  Uruguay 5.5
36  United Arab Emirates 4.7
37  Argentina 4.2
38  Mexico 4.1
39  Malaysia 4.1
40  Chile 4.1
41  China 3.8
42  Indonesia 3.7
43  Ecuador 3.6

Why?‚Äč Because of Average Annual Wages: 

49  Panama $831
50  Mauritius $783
51  Brazil $778
52  Macau $758
53  Kazakhstan $753
54  Bulgaria $750
55  Colombia $692
56  Ukraine $686
57  China $656
58  Mexico $609

The Chinese are getting bang for their tax bucks by getting better connectivity than richer countries. 

A Financial Crisis in China?

How Likely is A Financial Crisis in China? [The Diplomat]

The news that Patrick Hess is a senior financial market and China expert working at the European Central Bank is worrisome. The European Central Bank is one of the three most powerful central banks we have. And Patrick is one of their 'experts'? Let us count the misapprehensions around the three risks he enumerates:

1. Shadow banking is, as the author himself points out, "not as highly leveraged as the sectors in the U.S. and Europe, it is also insufficiently regulated and carries considerable credit and liquidity risks". So China's shadow banks have lower inherent risk than our own. 
'Insufficiently regulated'? Compared to what? The UK? Let's not confuse regulation (unenforced in the USA and risible in the UK) with control. Remember, Chinese regulators don't have to go through an 18-month Congressional hearing; they pick up the phone and explain that's there's been a policy change and that henceforth…. That way of doing things works because Chinese businesspeople generally respond and cooperate to such dictums well. There's great 'long-range' trust between Chinese business people and their government, however much flouting and cheating goes on in the short term. They've enjoyed decades of steady growth thanks to well-crafted policies well implemented. Why not cooperate if your leadership is trustworthy?

'The real estate bubble (or more generally asset bubbles)'? Bubble-pickers who completely failed to pick the GFC are a dime a dozen. Chinese bubble-spotting is a sub-genre of Western journalism on China.  The fact that none of their bubbles has popped in decades does not discourage bubble-spotters, it invigorates them. 

China's private real estate market is only 15 years old, growing with the exuberance you'd expect. It's very exciting to people to get a new condo with indoor plumbing and nice fixtures and a coffee shop outside the elevator as you walk to the new subway. We've forgotten what a big deal that is and take it for granted. But it's all new for them. 200,000,000 MORE of them are moving into nice condos as we speak. Anyway, you pay more per square meter for real estate in Bombay and Delhi than you do in Shanghai and Beijing. Don't get me started on San Francisco, New York or London – where, though their national economies are flat – rising prices do not signal a bubble, apparently.

Private and public debt, especially local government debt'?  The author has only to call his colleagues at the World Bank who'll reassure him that China's private, public and corporate debt-to-GDP burdens are MUCH lower than Japan's. Or France's. Or the USA's for that matter. None of them is growing like China. China's growing twice as fast today as it did ten years ago and articles like this simply distract us from this harbinger. If we don't start dealing with the reality and momentum of Chia's rise we'll be irrelevant in 10 years. Seriously.

Finally, as to 'To implement all the reforms necessary to avert a Chinese crisis is almost a “mission impossible,” or at least very difficult in the complex Chinese policymaking context, which involves a high degree of institutional overlap, conflicting goals and interests, and political bargaining. Even such a strong leader like Xi Jinping cannot change this context, and it is not even clear how high financial risks are on his agenda'. I simply append a Reuters report ripped from the front pages of Reuters: 

"China is considering bringing together its banking, insurance and securities regulators into a single super-commission, sources told Reuters, following the summer's stock market crash that was blamed in part on poor inter-agency coordination." Read more at Reuters