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  • https://udumbara.net/leading-human-rights-lawyer-human-rights-activist-kerry-gore
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    Leading Human Rights Lawyer, Human Rights Activist Kerry Gore
    Leading Human Rights Lawyer, Human Rights Activist Kerry Gore
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  • https://udumbara.net/trump-endorses-7-candidates-with-records-of-addressing-china-problems-in-us
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    Trump Endorses 7 Candidates With Records of Addressing China Problems in US
    Former President Donald Trump on May 14 endorsed five incumbent House lawmakers and two state legislators, each of them for having made a mark in tackling serious problems posed by the communist regime in China during their public service.Trump endorsed Reps. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho), Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), and David Rouzer (R-N.C.) for reelection, saying that each of them has his “complete and total endorsement.” The former president applauded Bishop and Rouzer for being “conservative warrior[s],” while lauding Hudson for advancing the “MAGA agenda” and McHenry for holding President Joe Biden “accountable for his catastrophic failures.” Additionally, Trump also endorsed California Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, a Republican who is running for a House seat representing California’s 3rd Congressional District, as well as Pennsylvania’s state Sen. Doug Mastriano, a Republican who is seeking to become the state’s new governor. “Kevin Kiley is tough on securing our border, ending California’s reckless universal mail-in-ballots, and securing our elections,” Trump wrote in his endorsement. “Kevin is going to be a MAGA Champion in Congress and has my Complete and Total Endorsement!” Trump’s endorsements come just days before primaries in several states, including Idaho, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina on May 17. All 22 Trump-endorsed candidates secured victories in recent Indiana and Ohio primaries. However, Charles Herbster, who was endorsed by Trump, recently lost in the Nebraska GOP gubernatorial primary. Bishop, Fulcher, Hudson, McHenry, and Rouzer were among over 200 House Republicans who wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in May 2021, demanding that their Democratic counterparts “hold the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] accountable for its role in causing the global COVID-19 pandemic.” They wanted House Democrats to back a probe of the origins of the CCP virus. In February 2021, Bishop was among 14 House Republicans seeking an FBI briefing regarding counterintelligence threats posed by the CCP to congressional lawmakers, particularly Rep. Eric Swalwell’s (D-Calif.) past ties to an alleged CCP spy named Christine Fang. According to an Axios investigation, U.S. intelligence officials believe she was working under the direction of China’s Ministry of State Security, the regime’s top spy agency. Fulcher is one of more than 30 co-sponsors of a House bill (H.R.1592) that seeks to stop China’s state-sanctioned practice of forced harvesting of organs for transplant from prisoners of conscience. The legislation was introduced in both the House and the Senate in March 2021. Hudson was among a bipartisan group of four lawmakers who introduced the Open RAN Outreach Act in June 2021 (H.R.4032). According to a statement from his office, the legislation would help “protect small and rural communications providers from Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-backed companies, such as Huawei, and other bad actors.” The legislation was approved by the House in October last year. In March 2021, McHenry introduced the American PPE Supply Chain Integrity Act (H.R.1466), with the aim of ending U.S. overreliance on Chinese-made personal protective equipment. McHenry and Rouzer criticized the controversial COMPETES Act when it was approved by the House in February, saying it failed to address the “generational threat” posed by the communist regime. Rouzer has also criticized Biden’s decision to rejoin the World Health Organization, calling the world health body a “mouthpiece for Communist China.” Kiley has been known for confronting California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, particularly over the governor’s 2020 deal of spending $1 billion to buy masks made by the Chinese company BYD. Citing a media report, Kiley warned on Twitter that BYD has “​​a history of supplying allegedly faulty products to the U.S., ties to the Chinese military and Communist Party, and possible links to forced labor.” In December 2021, Mastriano announced legislation requiring state agencies to withdraw their investments from CCP-controlled companies. “For far too long, Pennsylvania has invested hundreds of millions in government funds in a regime that continues to trample human rights,” he said. “Divestment by Pennsylvania alone will not bring down this regime, but that doesn’t mean we should help it prosper. It is far past time to separate our state funds from companies controlled by the CCP.” journalist Follow Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers US, China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.
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  • https://udumbara.net/biden-signs-bill-supporting-taiwans-observer-status-at-world-health-assembly
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    Biden Signs Bill Supporting Taiwan’s Observer Status at World Health Assembly
    President Joe Biden on May 13 signed into law a measure in support of Taiwan’s proper access to the World Health Organization (WHO), according to the White House.The bipartisan legislation S.812 (pdf) directs the U.S. secretary of state to develop a strategy to regain observer status for Taiwan at the World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO’s decision-making body, seeking to boost the voice of the self-ruled island as the regime in Beijing continues its attempts to isolate and silence Taiwan on the world stage. “Taiwan remains a model contributor to world health,” reads the legislation. “In 2020, after successfully containing the spread of the novel coronavirus within its borders while upholding democratic principles, Taiwan generously donated millions of pieces of personal protective equipment and COVID–19 tests to countries in need. “Taiwan’s needless exclusion from global health cooperation increases the dangers presented by global pandemics.” Introduced by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the bill passed the Senate with “unanimous consent” last August, before the House approved it 425–0 in late April, sending the measure to the White House for Biden’s signature. Menendez and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), co-chairman of the Senate Taiwan Caucus, applauded the president’s signing of the legislation, which comes about a week before delegations from all WHO member states are due to attend this year’s WHA meeting, beginning on May 22 in Geneva. “As Beijing’s aggressive stance toward Taiwan continues to intensify, the United States is once again demonstrating our commitment to ensuring Taiwan’s presence on the international stage,” Menendez said in a statement. Inhofe said that Taiwan’s observer status “must” be restored. “We are one step closer to that goal,” he said. “Given China’s continued malicious behavior, we cannot allow them to refuse Taiwan a seat at the table any longer.” Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry expressed its thanks in response to the “bipartisan, bicameral support” from Washington. Fifty years ago, Taiwan, officially known at the time as the Republic of China (ROC), was expelled from the WHO after the globalist United Nations switched its recognition to the communist People’s Republic of China from the liberal democratic ROC. The Chinese Communist Party considers the island a breakaway province despite it never having been ruled by the Party. President-elect Tsai Ing-wen waves to supporters at her Democratic Progressive Party headquarter in Taipei, Taiwan on Jan. 16, 2016, as Taiwan’s first female leader. (Ashley Pon/Getty Images) Taiwan took part in the annual WHA as an observer from 2009 to 2016, yet has since been stripped of that status because of Beijing’s opposition after President Tsai Ing-wen won the 2016 election. The ruling Democratic Progressive Party under her leadership views Taiwan as a de facto nation. Taiwanese authorities had rejected China’s main condition for its WHO participation as an observer—acceptance that it is part of China—before a previous meeting held during the pandemic. Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said last week that his ministry was “proactively striving” for an invite to attend the WHA meeting. Follow Rita Li is a reporter with The Epoch Times, focusing on U.S. and China-related topics. She began writing for the Chinese-language edition in 2018.
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  • https://udumbara.net/journal-publisher-retracts-over-300-chinese-affiliated-papers-citing-fake-peer-review-process
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    Journal Publisher Retracts Over 300 Chinese-Affiliated Papers, Citing Fake Peer-Review Process
    China has retracted more scientific papers over fake peer reviews than all other nations combined, journal watchdog saysChina has frequently been at the forefront of peer-review scandals, with numerous fake-paper factories a growing concern in the global scientific community. The country has retracted more scientific papers because of faked peer reviews than all other countries and territories combined, according to a scientific journal watchdog. The scientific publisher Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) was recently forced to retract 323 Chinese-affiliated research papers that had reportedly undergone a fabricated peer-review process, according to Retraction Watch, a research journal watchdog. In addition, many among the 323 retracted papers reportedly came from Beijing-certified top universities, called the “Double First-Class Universities.” ACM’s Director of Publications Scott Delman told Retraction Watch that the papers appeared to have come from China’s “paper mills,” referring to the Chinese fake-paper factories. According to the report, the now-retracted papers published by ACM were said to have come from the International Conference on Information Management and Technology (ICIMTech) held in Jakarta, Indonesia, from Aug. 19 to 20, 2021. The retractions took place after a tipster told ACM that IEEE Xplore, another publisher of peer-reviewed journals, had also published what appeared to be the same batch of ICIMTech conference papers. The allegation prompted an investigation that led to the mass retraction of the entire ICIMTech conference proceedings and more than 300 papers, citing integrity concerns over the papers and their peer-review process, Delman said. He added that “a company in China billing itself as a conference organizer had handled all of the peer review[s].” According to Indonesia’s Binus University, an organizer of the 2021 ICIMTech, all accepted papers in ICIMTech 2021 would be published in the conference proceedings and submitted for publication in IEEE Xplore. Delman said a similar case took place in 2018 when ACM received an anonymous allegation that one of its published conference papers had been generated by a computer. After an investigation, they found that a Beijing-based firm had handled the paper’s peer review. After tracking down one of the conference organizers in Beijing named Lily Gao, who worked at the firm, Gao “informed us that the paper was peer-reviewed and after multiple requests, Gao sent a PDF of the alleged review, which appeared itself to have been falsified, based on the metadata in the PDF sent to ACM,” Delman said, according to Retraction Watch. After further investigation, all 26 papers from the Information Hiding and Image Processing (IHIP) conference in 2018 were retracted by ACM after none of the authors who allegedly presented at the conference responded to ACM’s inquiry, which raised significant integrity concerns. ACM is the world’s largest and most influential learned society for computing, headquartered in the United States. The A.M. Turing Award, an annual prize given by ACM, is often referred to as the “Nobel Prize of computing.” ‘Flourishing’ Fake-Paper Factories in China Zheng Jie, a current affairs commentator and doctor of medicine from the University of Tokyo, told The Epoch Times that fraud in Chinese-affiliated research papers is not limited to the field of computing, but has long been prevalent in all fields because it determines job promotions, wages, and other benefits. “The ethics-lacking system built by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) encourages Chinese people to create falsehoods in order to advance in life,” Zheng added. The number of published academic papers is one of the primary indicators for researchers in Chinese universities, hospitals, and research institutions to receive professional titles or be promoted. For example, in August 2020, the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau stipulated that an attending physician must publish at least two professional journals as the first author to be promoted to a deputy chief physician, while three papers are required for a promotion to a chief physician. However, some scholars, especially medical workers, do not have time to engage in research, let alone write papers, while many don’t have the capacity to publish authoritative papers. But for promotion and other needs, many turn to the “black market” for academic work. According to Science Magazine, the authorship fees for fake academic papers in China range from $1,600 to $26,300. And at the high end, the cost of a paper exceeds the yearly salary of some assistant professors in China. “A five-month investigation by Science uncovered a flourishing academic black market involving shady agencies, corrupt scientists, and compromised editors—many of them operating in plain view,” the report said. “[A] company would sell the title of the co-first author on the cancer paper for $14,800. Adding two names—co-first author a
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  • https://udumbara.net/over-1000-lawmakers-worldwide-honor-falun-dafa-spiritual-practice
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    Over 1,000 Lawmakers Worldwide Honor Falun Dafa Spiritual Practice
    On May 13, more than 1,000 lawmakers sent congratulatory messages for World Falun Dafa Day on the 30th anniversary of the spiritual practice’s introduction.On May 13, 1992, Li Hongzhi first introduced the meditation practice, also known as Falun Gong, in Changchun, China. The practice’s core tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance and its emphasis on morality resonated with millions of people across the nation, and the practice soon spread to the rest of the world. May 13 also marks Li’s birthday. Around this time every year, Falun Gong practitioners worldwide celebrate the occasion by holding parades and performances, often joined by people from all walks of life, including lawmakers, who praise the practice’s positive impact on society. A “Falun Dafa Day” flag sways in the air after being raised by the Niagara Falls City Council ahead of World Falun Dafa Day in Niagara Falls, Canada, on May 8, 2021. (The Epoch Times) United States In the United States, municipal and state lawmakers from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, Washington state, Delaware, Minnesota, Virginia, Indiana, Texas, Maryland, Nevada, Massachusetts, Missouri, California, and Michigan passed resolutions and proclamations in recognition of Falun Dafa’s dedication to upholding truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. Almost 40 New Jersey officials from federal, state, county, and city levels sent proclamations to honor Falun Dafa Day 2022. (Jing Song/Epoch Times) In anticipation of World Falun Dafa Day, New York state adopted resolution No. 2278 to commemorate the occasion and commend the practice’s moral teachings and “remarkable” health benefits. “The Falun Dafa philosophy espouses the idea that when the heart is pure, the mind balanced, and the body energized, health and happiness are a natural outcome,” the resolution states, adding that the practice “goes beyond the pursuit of health and fitness to the goal of greater wisdom and enlightenment.” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), chair of the House Republican Conference, sent a certificate of special congressional recognition to Falun Dafa practitioners in upstate New York commemorating their “perseverance in face of persecution by the Chinese Communist Party.” Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), in joining the Falun Dafa Day celebration, issued a certificate of special recognition to Li. Ontario’s City of Orillia Mayor Jim Harrison poses with Falun Gong adherents after awarding them a proclamation award on May 9, 2022. (The Epoch Times) Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) posted on Twitter his congratulations on World Falun Dafa Day on May 13 and said he “stands with those who peacefully practice their faith,” while calling for a stop to the persecution of Falun Gong and other religious groups. Rubio, along with many others, has long opposed the Chinese Communist Party’s clampdown on religious liberty in China and the regime’s decades-long persecution of Falun Gong. “Falun Dafa, a self-improvement Qigong practice rooted in ancient Chinese culture, consists of five exercises and strong moral and ethical principles. As we celebrate this festive occasion, we should reflect on the teachings of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance,” Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf stated in a May 13 letter to the Philadelphia Falun Dafa Association. This year, the Pennsylvania state Legislature raised the American flag on May 13 to commemorate the special day and thank Li for his contribution to society. “The United States was founded on the principle of unalienable human rights, including the freedom of religion,” said Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), who has been voicing his support for those oppressed by the CCP, including Falun Dafa. Hundreds of lawmakers across the nation joined their colleagues in commemorating the 30th anniversary of Falun Dafa’s introduction and thanked Li for introducing the practice to the public. Canada In Canada, more than 100 legislators from the Liberal, Conservative, and Green parties sent well-wishes to adherents of Falun Dafa. In addition, around 20 cities have held flag-raising ceremonies acknowledging the occasion. “The Falun Dafa practices of meditation and inward reflection are helpful to millions of practitioners all over the world,” Candice Bergen, interim leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and leader of the official opposition, said in a May 10 letter. “Many Canadians enjoy the comfort and stability that are offered through this system of self-improvement.” “Many of the values that we cherish today—compassion, generosity, and justice—are anchored in spiritual traditions. Inherent among those who practice is the courage to continuously see positive transformation in one’s own life and society,” Elizabeth Dowdeswell, the lieutenant governor of Ontario, said in a May 13 letter. “Communities rooted in spirituality have played an important role in building the social fabric of our province.” Falun Dafa’s values of truthfulness, compassion, and tol
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  • https://udumbara.net/trevor-loudon-exposes-marxist-groups-foreign-connections-behind-mass-voting-drives
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    Trevor Loudon Exposes Marxist Groups, Foreign Connections Behind Mass Voting Drives
    The recently released documentary “2000 Mules” by Dinesh D’Souza shows that there were about 2,000 individuals who received ballots from various nonprofit organizations and delivered them in the middle of the night to many mail-in dropboxes ahead of the 2020 election.While those organizations’ names were not mentioned in the documentary, Trevor Loudon, who has researched radical left, Marxist, and terrorist movements for more than 30 years, said that there is a network of voter registration organizations set up by the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA) in San Francisco, a “front” organization for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This network is called “Seed the Vote” and it has ties with a number of organizations set up in key swing states such as Black Leaders Organizing for Communities in Wisconsin, Detroit Action in Michigan, Living United For Change in Arizona, New Georgia Project in Georgia, and Pennsylvania Stands Up in Pennsylvania, Loudon said. Seed the Vote claimed it won six of the seven states they targeted for Biden–Harris, Loudon told EpochTV’s “Crossroads” program. The network operates in the black, Latino, and Asian communities out of the big cities in the seven key swing states, Loudon said. “What I believe they did [in 2020 election] was they lifted the black, Latino, Asian, Asian American, [and] university student vote in those inner cities to help mask the pre-planned vote fraud.” And all of these organizations are connected to Liberation Road–an organization connected to the pro-CCP Chinese Progressive Association (CPA)–that helped organize Black Lives Matter (BLM), Loudon said. Liberation Road is a socialist organization that draws from Marxist, Leninist, and Maoist ideologies, “with a clear focus on building the resistance to Trump,” its website reads. “We learn from the Chinese leader Mao Zedong, with his insistence that all correct ideas come ‘from the masses to the masses.’” Loudon is “betting that these networks considerably overlap with the organizations that Dinesh D’Souza has identified as helping the actual fraudulent ballot harvesting, stuffing of boxes, etc.” A long-time former executive director of the CPA in San Francisco, Alex Tom, helped to found a group called Asians for Black Lives, an allied organization of BLM, Loudon noted, adding that Tom also “helped to set up Seed the Vote.” Tom openly boasts about his deep ties to the CCP, and about running his messaging past the Chinese Consulate, said Loudon, host of EpochTV’s “CounterPunch” program. In 2019, Tom was the United States’ Soros equality fellow at the Open Society Foundations, which was founded and is chaired by George Soros. “Voter registration organizations use legal means to organize people,” Loudon said. “It is not illegal to sign someone up to vote or to get them to the polls, but it is illegal if [the organization doing this is] a Chinese-backed operation,” he added. The Epoch Times reached out to Seed the Vote for comment. Flipping Virginia Virginia voters head to the polls at Nottingham Elementary School Nov. 5, 2019 in Arlington, Va. (Win McNamee/Getty Images) “Virginia was a Republican state for a long time. In 2008, it started to go blue because in 2005 Liberation Road, then still called Freedom Road Socialist Organization, set up a voter registration group in Virginia called New Virginia Majority (NVM),” Loudon said. NVM registered 300,000 minority voters in Northern Virginia for the Democrats and worked with Terry McAuliffe, then-Governor of Virginia, to restore the voting rights of 200,000 felons, Loudon said. They used this 500,000 base to flip Virginia to Democrat in 2019, he continued. After the 2019 election, NVM said in a statement: “With a remarkable turnout for an off-off election year, Virginians elected a majority of Democrats to the General Assembly. For the first time since 1993, Democrats govern all three legislative bodies.” “In 2019, we knocked on over 500,000 doors, and we talked to voters about protecting their healthcare, and ensuring their children are safe in their neighborhoods and schools, regardless of where they live or where they come from,” Maya Castillo, New Virginia Majority’s political director, said in the statement. NVM co-executive director Tram Nguyen published an op-ed in The New York Times, titled “Democrats could learn a lot from what happened in Virginia.” “We try to reach voters of all colors, women, low-income workers, and young people where they are,” she wrote. “We organized formerly incarcerated women and men to help them demand that their full civil rights be restored,” including voting rights, Nguyen said. “They were a key voting bloc [in 2016] in Virginia, the only Southern state that Hillary Clinton won.” NVM’s outreach work was aided by (Geographic Information System) GIS computerized maps which greatly contributed to the initiative’s success, Loudon said. GIS is a very sophisticated technology to present voter demographic dat
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  • https://udumbara.net/taiwans-covid-19-containment-strategy-utilizes-innovative-technology-universal-health-coverage-health-minister
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Taiwan’s COVID-19 Containment Strategy Utilizes Innovative Technology, Universal Health Coverage: Health Minister
    CommentaryTwo years into the pandemic, more than 510 million confirmed cases and more than 6.25 million deaths from COVID-19 have been reported around the world. As nations continue to battle the pandemic, Taiwan’s achievements have been widely recognized. As of May 10, about 390,000 confirmed cases and 931 deaths had been reported in Taiwan, which has a population of 23.5 million. And thanks to a joint effort by the government and the people, Taiwan’s economic growth rate for 2021 reached 6.45 percent. Universal Health Coverage Taiwan’s National Health Insurance (NHI) system, which was launched in 1995, has played an important role in the fight against the pandemic. The NHI system provides comprehensive and high-quality health services, achieving universal (99.9 percent) coverage. Taiwan’s robust healthcare and NHI systems have safeguarded the people and ensured social stability during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the NHI’s comprehensive database and other up-to-date information systems have been critical in ensuring the successful application of digital technology for disease prevention. Taiwan’s healthcare system was ranked second in the world in 2021 by CEOWorld. In Numbeo’s annual survey, Taiwan was ranked first among 95 countries surveyed in the Health Care Index category for 2021. Use of Technology for Epidemic Prevention During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020, to reduce the risk of community transmission, the government implemented the Quarantine System for Entry by integrating NHI, immigration, and customs databases to allow for big data analysis. Data was introduced to the Digital Fencing Tracking System, which used the positioning system on mobile phones to monitor the whereabouts of people under home quarantine or isolation. Moreover, to ensure privacy, personal data captured was stored for a maximum of 28 days and then deleted. To ensure that all residents would enjoy equitable access to medical masks as demand increased, people were required to use their NHI card to purchase masks under the name-based Mask Distribution System, helping to prevent an imbalance in supply and demand. While protecting personal data, a new function for querying the travel and contact history of patients was added to the NHI MediCloud System to effectively integrate health data. This helped frontline medical personnel judge infection risks and take relevant infection control measures. Vaccinations and Digital Certificates To digitalize health care services, the NHI Express App was launched. It offers such features as vaccination appointments, personal health data, medical records, COVID-19 vaccination records, and test results. Taiwan joined the EU Digital COVID Certificate program at the end of 2021 and allowed citizens to apply for digital vaccination certificates and test certificates. This program was one of the first global standards developed. It was adopted by many states and was the first one to be applied in for international travel. Taiwan’s people can enter 64 countries, including EU member states, with such certificates. Electronic Medical Records and Telemedicine Taiwan has been building health information infrastructure since 2010, such as the electronic medical records (EMR) exchange system. Since May 2021, Taiwan has expanded its telemedicine services in healthcare institutions and included such services into NHI coverage as a means of reducing the risk of cluster infections at such institutions. Using the NHI MediCloud and EMR systems, zero-contact telemedicine allows medical personnel to obtain patients’ medical records and offer people in remote areas appropriate and comprehensive services, in turn helping to realize the World Health Organization (WHO) goal of “health for all.” New Taiwan Model Shoppers walk beneath lanterns strung up as people prepare for Chinese New Year at Dihua Street in Taipei, Taiwan, on Feb. 10, 2021. (An Rong Xu/Getty Images) Taiwan was able to contain the pandemic while having people lead normal lives and achieving positive economic growth through the precise use of technology, information transparency, strict border controls, and accurate screening and case investigation. However, with the worldwide spread of the Omicron variant since the end of 2021, community transmission also began to increase in Taiwan. The variant appears to be much more contagious but to cause mild or no symptoms. Trying to block the transmission of every single case would be an effort in vanity that would greatly affect people’s livelihoods. The government since April 2022 has therefore chosen to aim at eliminating severe cases, managing mild cases, minimizing the overall impacts, and caring for moderate and severe cases. This new Taiwan Model seeks to allow people to lead normal lives while active epidemic prevention measures remain in place and the country is steadily opening up. Strengthening People’s Resilience With the introduction o
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  • https://udumbara.net/ufos-ufology-with-chinese-characteristics
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    UFOs: Ufology With Chinese Characteristics
    CommentaryWhile UFO sightings are mainly reported in the United States, it is in fact a worldwide phenomenon. The best photograph of a UFO ever taken is not from the United States, but Costa Rica. It was taken in 1971. Investigative reporter Leslie Kean said the photo “may be the most extraordinary one ever released by government officials.” Using a map-making camera, Sergio Loaiza, an aerial photographer, flew over Costa Rica at an altitude of about 10,000 feet. The original purpose of the trip was, of course, not about UFOs, but rather surveying for a hydroelectric project in the area. One frame of the film taken shows a metallic disk 100 to 200 feet across flying under the photographer’s plane. The negative of the photo was retrieved after five decades. The famous business magnate Elon Musk, who has an opinion on everything under the sun, asked: “What if UFOs are just naturally blurry?” implying that UFO pictures are of low quality and may be fake. UAP Costa Rica, the organization that released the picture, posted on Twitter on April 2, 2021, “I wonder if @elonmusk has seen the Lake Cote UFO picture?” It is an official picture by the Geographic Department of Costa Rica, the original negative resides in the National Archive. Experts who have examined the picture concluded that it is not a fake. In other words, UFOs are real and it is a global phenomenon. An interesting question arises: why do countries such as Russia and China have fewer UFO reports? Although we cannot determine whether the metallic disk was really a product of “alien technology,” there are several important strategic problems that politicians should address: 1) Only one frame in the whole series of photos shows the disk, which was not seen by the pilot and the cameraman. This implies the technology was far superior to any flying machine of the 1970s, or even the present decade, that the public is aware of. 2) Suppose this technology is used against any country of this planet, what would be the consequences? 3) If it is indeed alien technology, then any government that is able to establish contact with the alien power might have a far greater military edge. In short, any government that can master this alien technology may control this world. Skeptics will argue that this is science fiction. However, it is worth reading “The Day After Roswell” by retired United States Army Colonel Philip J. Corso. In this memoir, Corso claimed that material recovered from the crashed spacecraft at Roswell was given to U.S. companies for reverse engineering. Modern technology such as fiber optics, integrated circuits, and hyperelastic material were allegedly developed using information taken from the craft. If we examine the technological progress of the United States after the Second World War, there was indeed a “great leap forward” in these areas, and not the kind of gradual accumulation of knowledge that is usually seen in the history of science. This seems to corroborate Corso’s claim. Of course, we shall not presume the aliens are biased toward the United States. Any country shall have the right to contact aliens, hopefully, for the improvement of human civilization. One may also argue that alien contact with the United States was triggered by the development of atomic bombs. Although the United States was the first to master atomic energy, many countries followed suit. Russia and China are members of this “atomic club.” It is true that the number of reported UFO sightings in Russia and China are fewer than that of the United States, but that does not mean they have less importance. Books such as “Russia’s Roswell Incident: And Other Amazing UFO Cases From The Former Soviet Union” by Philip Mantle and Paul Stonehill carry solid evidence showing that Russian scientists were interested in studying strange object encounters of their military forces in the air, under the sea, and even in space. Unfortunately, China is even less transparent than Russia in the area of UFO research. Official information concerning the UFO phenomenon is hard to gather and NGOs are not encouraged. We can only rely on newspaper reports and anecdotes. One of the few prominent cases of UFO sightings occurred on July 7, 2010: more than 20 flights were postponed at Xiaoshan International Airport in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. A flight crew preparing for descent first detected “the object” around 8:40 p.m. and notified air traffic control. Aviation authorities responded within minutes, grounding outbound flights and diverting inbound ones to airports in Ningbo and Wuxi, cities in the same province. Hangzhou residents saw a hovering object bathed in golden light with a comet-like tail on the same day and took some photos of it. They also witnessed a flying object emitting red and white rays of light. Was it sent by some foreign country for the purpose of testing the Chinese airforce’s speed of response or had the PLA Airforce tried to intercept the object? No answer h
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  • https://udumbara.net/multiple-victims-in-california-church-shooting
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Multiple victims in California church shooting
    At least six people have been shot at a church in Laguna Woods, California, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department. Read Full Article at RT.com
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  • https://udumbara.net/eu-candidate-accuses-west-of-hypocrisy
    UDUMBARA.NET
    EU candidate accuses West of hypocrisy
    The Serbian president has accused the West of double standards when it comes to the Ukraine and Kosovo conflicts Read Full Article at RT.com
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  • https://udumbara.net/north-korea-mobilizes-military-to-battle-epidemic
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    North Korea mobilizes military to battle epidemic
    North Korea's Kim Jong-un has criticized public health sector officials for “irresponsible work attitude” amid a widening Covid-19 outbreak Read Full Article at RT.com
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  • https://udumbara.net/eu-drafts-sanctions-busting-russian-gas-plan-bloomberg
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    EU drafts sanctions busting Russian gas plan – Bloomberg
    The European Commission has come up with a draft document to allow companies to continue buying Russian gas Read Full Article at RT.com
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  • https://udumbara.net/us-ready-to-provide-military-support-to-new-nato-hopefuls
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    US ready to provide military support to new NATO hopefuls
    Pentagon pledged to provide military assistance to Finland and Sweden should they need it while waiting for a NATO response Read Full Article at RT.com
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  • https://udumbara.net/chinese-economy-enters-the-danger-zone
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Chinese Economy Enters the Danger Zone
    CommentaryChina’s economic situation looks increasingly precarious. Last year, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime began a regulatory reset that has throttled the country’s economic outlook. Today amid escalating COVID-related lockdowns, depressed consumer and business sentiment, and geopolitical instability, the risk for an economic contraction is clear. Global businesses need to evaluate their China strategy and brace for economic pain ahead, especially companies that are dependent on the world’s No. 2 market such as industrial and materials firms and luxury retailers. China’s economy has slowed considerably in 2022, as local authorities enacted lockdown measures affecting dozens of cities including a top economic hubs of Shanghai and Shenzhen, hampering factory activity and economic production. While some economists were hoping authorities would relax these measures, the CCP regime did just the opposite. Top Beijing officials committed to China’s “zero-COVID” policy in the strongest terms at a Politburo meeting in early May. The Standing Committee, chaired by regime boss Xi Jinping, said the country would “exhaust all means and efforts” to stop COVID-19. And perhaps most alarmingly to economists, the CCP left out any vow to support or minimize damage to the nation’s economy. China’s 5.5 percent official projected GDP growth in 2022? All bets are now off. Leading indicators are beginning to show the extent of the upcoming damage. In April China’s services sector contracted at the quickest pace since Feb. 2020, the early days of the pandemic. The independent Caixin China General Services Business Activity Index declined to a reading of 36 in April from 42 in March, its fourth consecutive monthly drop. A figure above 50 means the services sector is expanding, so a reading of 36 means the country’s services sector is deep in contraction. Another economic reading of the manufacturing sector, Caixin China manufacturing PMI, also declined to 46 in April from 48 in March. This reading declined at the quickest pace since Feb. 2020 and shows that factory orders are slowing down, with ongoing COVID-related lockdowns a key culprit. The bleak economic outlook has prompted the CCP to publicly state that policy help will be on the way. One is tax cuts, including value-added tax (VAT) credits, which the State Council recently promised to companies. Another potential policy easing is to help the technology sector. After months of rhetoric around regulating China’s “platform economy,” recent messaging from state-controlled media has moderated somewhat, including announcing official efforts to boost infrastructure development and expand logistics support to encourage “healthy development” of this sector. Perhaps Beijing came to the realization that “gig platforms” can help ease the quality of life for consumers during the country’s draconian lockdowns. A recent front-page editorial in the Economic Daily, a CCP-controlled newspaper, confirmed the policy shift away from hardline regulatory measures against technology firms. The editorial declared that excessive regulatory measures which began in early 2020 will end, followed by “rules and market-based” supervision of the sector. There’s more. Premier Li Keqiang recently also announced support for the all-important export sector, including having the central government help with securing foreign orders of goods, keeping a stable yuan currency, and expanding government-assisted warehouse and inventory financing. But the real estate sector is unlikely to see any respite in the near future. Despite lifting home purchase restrictions across many Chinese cities, April 2022 home sales were less than half of those in the same month last year. Business website Yicai Global reported that sales at China’s top 100 developers fell 59 percent in April from the same month in 2021, and 16 percent from the previous month. No doubt the slowing economy and ongoing COVID restrictions have hurt consumer appetite to borrow and spend. Global companies with extensive China operations are likely already feeling the crunch. But one sector—luxury goods—could see continued contraction in China despite recent measures to stimulate the economy. That’s because the ongoing crackdown on billionaire and CCP party member malfeasance is unlikely to wane. Experts believe this could bring further depressed demand for luxury goods similar to the one experienced during the last wave of the anti-corruption campaign in 2012. Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Follow Fan Yu is an expert in finance and economics and has contributed analyses on China's economy since 2015.
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  • https://udumbara.net/as-recession-fears-build-what-should-you-do
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    As Recession Fears Build, What Should You Do?
    CommentaryThe entire investment world seems to be crashing except for good ol’ sticks and bricks on terra firma—real estate. Part of the paper and digital assets sell-off is related to the fear of an economic recession. Though it’s an increasingly germane topic, recession prospects carry wide disagreement among experts. It’s still less controversial than mask mandates, cancel culture, or student debt forgiveness. So let’s tackle it. Inflation keeps running hot, at an increase of 8.3 percent from a year ago. One could think that persistently high inflation readings mean that asset prices of inflation hedges like gold and cryptocurrency should soar. But these markets are often forward-looking, just like stocks are. They don’t respond positively to inflation that is definitely occurring. Instead, their prices are all shrinking faster than Lake Mead. It’s because they are responding to the Fed’s reaction to inflation. Namely, that’s more interest rate hikes and currency destruction. Too much of this could lead to a recession. The S&P 500 had its worst first one-third of a year since 1939. The bitcoin price fell over Niagara Falls, at times down 60 percent from its high just six months ago. Some major companies are concerned too. They sure aren’t sitting around, asking, “Where can we spend more money than we have to?” Facebook’s parent company, Meta, introduced a hiring freeze across most of its engineering units. Amazon executives are worried that their warehouses are overstaffed. Uber said it’s being more careful about new hires. Carvana laid off 12 percent of its workforce last Tuesday. Too much of this can make a recession a self-fulfilling prophecy. Some market experts believe that we’re already in a recession. Others see mixed signals and even positive signs. Many employers are hiking wages to attract workers. Nationally, there are still twice as many open job positions as workers. That acts like a buffer against higher unemployment. When stimulus savings run dry and the federal student loan repayment moratorium ends, many think workers will be compelled to snatch up those jobs. What is a recession, anyway? It has nothing to do with glaciers and it’s not worries about my hairline. It’s two or more consecutive quarters of GDP contraction. We’ve already got the first of two. Though some feel it was an aberration, there was a 1.4 percent contraction in Q1 of 2022. You might know the joke about the difference between a recession and a depression. A recession is when your neighbor loses their job—a depression is when you lose yours. From my view, the prospects of a recession this year are real, though not high. If one occurred, it would be mild. The unemployment rate began the year at 4.0 percent. It’s now near a half-century low of 3.6 percent. With all of these job openings, higher borrowing costs must first curtail the glut of open positions. A sign is posted in front of new homes for sale at Hamilton Cottages in Novato, Calif., on Sept. 24, 2020. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) Where does this leave my favorite asset, real estate? It keeps plowing forward, seemingly unfazed from other market corrections. But it could stumble too. I like to cite history. Real estate is slower to respond to broader economic change than stocks are. If it’s not my hairline, where should you really look for recession indications? Economists say that it’s a surge in unemployment. As a rule of thumb, an increase in the unemployment rate of 0.3 percent, on average over the previous three months, means that a recession will follow. A broad economic recession won’t necessarily result in a real estate bear market either. Thus far, higher mortgage interest rates have been no match for an astounding dearth of housing supply. Higher rates essentially mean that, for example, there are only 20 qualified bidders for every home rather than 40 bidders for every home. That’s why house and rental apartment prices have stayed resilient. But what if a sour labor market did pour over into real estate? How would that look? Well, there’s a reason that many regard carefully-selected real estate as the best risk-adjusted asset class. Say that high unemployment took hold and it led to a recession. Worse, let’s say that, somehow, extreme market forces trumped the historic lack of housing supply. It even led to property price erosion this year. I believe that I’m playing out a really unlikely scenario now. Then it seems reasonable that a $5 million trophy property could fall substantially in value. But when it comes to modestly-priced properties in stable or growing markets, how much can, say, a $300,000 property really shed in value? There is some permanency with today’s new, higher, inflation-fueled replacement construction costs. Could it even fall to $275,000? It’s doubtful. That would be an 8.3 percent loss. In investing, a “guarantee” is rare. But one thing is for sure. A dollar is a depreciating asset. This past year, infl
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  • https://udumbara.net/the-ukrainian-conflict-are-the-us-and-nato-at-war-with-russia-is-there-an-end-in-sight
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    The Ukrainian Conflict: Are the US and NATO at War With Russia? Is There an End in Sight?
    CommentaryThe war in Ukraine is about to enter its third month. To date, the outcome has surprised both the military pundits and the public at large. Is there an end in sight, and, if so, what form might a conclusion to the Ukrainian war take? The Ukrainian War So Far The initial Russian invasion plan relied on the projection of what the Kremlin believed was overwhelming military power to crush Ukrainian military forces, force Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government to abandon Kyiv and flee to safety, and pave the way for a “national unity government” to quickly negotiate a ceasefire and subsequent peace treaty with Russia. That plan failed on all fronts. The Zelenskyy government did not flee but instead rallied its citizens and world public opinion to resist the Russian invasion. The Ukrainian military successfully blunted the Russian advance, eventually prompting the Kremlin to abandon its plans to seize control of Kyiv, the country’s capital. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses the U.N. Security Council via video link during a meeting amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in New York, on April 5, 2022. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) After initially appearing reluctant to support Kyiv in a meaningful way or impose harsh sanctions on Russia, Western governments, prompted by widespread public anger at the invasion, reversed course. They are supplying billions of dollars in financial and military aid to the Zelenskyy government and imposed harsh, wide-ranging sanctions on Russia and its leadership class. Those sanctions targeted the so-called “oligarchs” that control much of the Russian economy, government institutions, as well as key financial and industrial companies. Most importantly, the European Union (EU), Russia’s largest market for its hydrocarbon exports, resolved to wean itself off its dependency on Russian energy. Russia has since revised its military strategy—focusing on two key objectives. First, to seize as much of eastern Ukraine, the region east of the Dnieper River, and especially as much of the Donbass area as possible. Second, to create a Russian-controlled corridor from Russia to the Crimean Peninsula, as well as seize control of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast and its principal port cities. The results have been mixed. The offensive in the east has stalled. Russia has secured a land corridor to Crimea. It has isolated and largely destroyed the port city of Mariupol, although a determined Ukrainian resistance at the city’s giant Azovstal steel plant is continuing. Most of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast from Kherson to Mariupol is under Russian control, but the southwest corner and Odessa, Ukraine’s key Black Sea port, remain in Ukrainian hands. Washington has significantly increased the scope and sophistication of the armaments it supplies Ukraine. The latest military aid—90 M777, 155mm towed artillery along with over 180,000 rounds of ammunition, as well as 14 counter artillery radar—has been largely delivered, according to the Pentagon. Ukrainian soldiers are being trained in Germany on operating the artillery by units of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Florida National Guard. Given Russian dependence on Ukraine’s road network to move their forces, the howitzers will prove very effective in attacking troop concentrations. More importantly, the counter artillery radar allows Ukrainian forces to immediately respond to Russian artillery and rocket attacks by targeting their launchers. The M777 will also be critical in the event of a Ukrainian offensive and represent the most significant “offensive” weaponry supplied to date by the United States. U.S. soldiers fire an M777 howitzer at Kara Soar Base, Iraq, on May 23, 2016. (Sgt. Paul Sale/U.S. Army via AP) The White House has also re-launched the World War II-era Lend Lease program and will “lend” to Ukraine up to $33 billion of U.S. military equipment. The United States has also been sharing real-time military intelligence. Russian military communications have been regularly intercepted by American intelligence agencies and have allowed Ukraine’s military to target Russia’s top field commanders. To date, 12 Russian generals on the front line have been killed. Ukraine: What Happens Next? The scope of U.S. and NATO support for Ukraine’s military begs the question: are the United States and NATO effectively at war with Russia using Ukrainian proxies as front-line troops? Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s declaration that the United States “wants to see Russia weakened” and that the West will “keep moving heaven and earth” to arm Ukraine, along with widespread calls by prominent U.S. politicians, particularly from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to continue assisting Ukraine “until victory is won,” have increasingly portrayed the war as a U.S.-Russia conflict. The White House has been vague about its definition of victory. Zelenskyy, however, has been very clear in defining “victory” as the complete expulsion of Russian militar
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  • https://udumbara.net/the-not-so-hidden-meaning-of-baby-formula-shortage
    UDUMBARA.NET
    The Not-so-Hidden Meaning of Baby Formula Shortage
    CommentaryBy now, I would imagine most Americans are more than a little concerned by the baby formula shortage in our country. As Tucker Carlson pointed out on his show on May 13, wars are fought and civilizations are destroyed over food shortages. He also produced evidence that this baby formula deficit, due to contamination at Abbott Laboratories, was public, and therefore, surely governmental, knowledge as early as February. Nothing, as far as I knew, was being done about it for several months, and listening to White House press secretary Jen Psaki was scarcely reassuring (it rarely is). I had already read in the UK’s Daily Mail of May 12 that my home state of Tennessee was tragically in the worst position in this crisis. “Parents in Tennessee are the hardest-hit by the baby formula shortage, new data obtained by DailyMail.com shows – with those in Joe Biden’s home state of Delaware coming a close second.” If the federal government was punting, at least something could be done here. Couldn’t Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee step in, as Florida’s Ron DeSantis did repeatedly during COVID? Baby formula could apparently be ordered from abroad. As it happens, I have been an acquaintance for some time of Gov. Lee’s chief of staff, Joseph Williams, so I emailed Williams, as follows: “Joseph, Hope all well. No doubt you saw the Daily Mail report below that Tennessee sadly is leading thenation in the horrifying baby formula shortage. Would very much appreciate acomment from Governor Lee for publication in The Epoch Times on what hethinks is causing this situation here and what his plans are to deal with it.Thanks very much and would love to break bread again soon. All best,Roger” That was sent at 9:28 p.m. on May 12. As of 9:28 p.m. on May 13, nearly 24 hours later, I’d received no reply. I don’t take this personally. A Google search of “Governor Lee baby formula shortage” didn’t come up with anything either, though “Governor Glenn Youngkin statement on baby formula shortage” did appear on the first page. (I apologize for using Google. DuckDuckGo had similar results, except the reference to Virginia’s Youngkin appeared at the very top, followed by the Oregon governor and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who is “mad at Joe Biden” because of this. No Lee in sight.) This is, as they say, concerning. But what’s really going on, not just in Lee’s office—he doesn’t have the greatest reputation among conservatives anyway— but everywhere? Maybe “the evil party [Democrats] and the stupid party [Republicans]” isn’t such a tired Washington cliché after all, though I can think of instances where their roles reverse. But more likely Carlson is closer to the truth. The current Democratic administration, call it JoeBama, really is busy transforming our country as they have said they would, while acquiescent Republicans of the Lee ilk stand by and do nothing or even cooperate. We live in an era where they are “shorting” everything they can from the stock market to the American family. Where are we headed? The most open Maoism has been back for a while at the top of our government, in the person of Anita Dunn. As the Washington Free Beacon reported in January 2021, “President-elect Joe Biden will tap Anita Dunn, an Obama-administration alumna who praised Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong’s political philosophy, for senior White House adviser. “Dunn’s last stint in the White House ended after just seven months when she resigned after former Fox News anchor Glenn Beck aired a clip of the then-communications director saying Mao was one of her ‘favorite political philosophers.’” Mine, too, when I was about 16 or 17 before I realized he was history’s greatest mass murderer. Dunn apparently was undeterred. At first, thanks to Beck, she was gone, but recently she has come back. And now we learn, via Conservative Treehouse, what she has been up to for the JoeBama administration: “The Washington Post is reporting the shift from the White House to disparage their political opposition with the terms “MAGA”, “Ultra-MAGA” and President Trump as the “Great MAGA King,” came from a six-month poll study led by Anita Dunn, the latest senior advisor in the White House. “On May 5th [2022] the White House announced Anita Dunn would return to the JoeBama administration as a senior advisor. Dunn’s specific expertise is using pressure, blackmail, and political leverage to control information distribution by media organizations. Apparently ‘ultra-MAGA’ was Dunn’s first branding effort for the White House.” What is and has always been one of the core aims of Marxists and followers of Chairman Mao? To get rid of the family and replace it with the state. To get rid of the family, first, you do all you can to weaken it. Enfamil, anyone? Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Follow Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Osca
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  • https://udumbara.net/the-new-rift-between-who-and-china
    UDUMBARA.NET
    The New Rift Between WHO and China
    CommentaryFrom the beginning of the pandemic, the World Health Organization and China’s CCP have worked and spoken hand-in-glove, culminating in the Potemkin Village junket of mid-February 2020. The WHO-sponsored travel report—how wonderfully China had performed!—was written and signed by American public health officials who recommended Wuhan-style lockdowns, a disastrous policy that further inspired most governments in the world to do the same. Twenty-six months later, it turns out that China in fact had not “eliminated the virus fully within its borders,” contrary to the over-the-top claims of TV pundit Devi Sridhar in her new book “Preventable.” They only pushed cases into the future, as the CCP discovered when positive tests appeared all over Shanghai, leading to 7 weeks of brutal lockdowns. This move on China’s part has been a disaster for the country and the world economy, and presently endangers the financial and technological future of the entire country. For Xi Jinping, lockdowns and zero-covid were his greatest achievement, one which was celebrated the world over, causing his political pride to swell beyond all bounds. Now, he cannot back off lest he face possible losses in upcoming party elections. Just this past weekend, he made it clear to the entire government that there would be no backing off the zero-covid policy: the CCP will “unswervingly adhere to the general policy of ‘dynamic zero-Covid,’ and resolutely fight against any words and deeds that distort, doubt or deny our country’s epidemic prevention policies.” The problem is acute: vast numbers in China likely need to acquire natural immunity via exposure. The lockdown policy likely puts a damper on the achievement of endemicity. That means long-term damage to China’s future. Sensing this problem, the head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, offered a mild criticism: “Considering the behavior of the virus, I think a shift will be very important,” adding that he had discussed this point with Chinese scientists. What happened next is truly fascinating: Tedros’s comments were censored all over China and searches for the name Tedros were immediately blocked within the country. Implausibly, merely by stating the incredibly obvious point, Tedros has made himself an enemy of the state. Meanwhile, another WHO/China partisan, Bill Gates, has been sheepishly saying something very similar in interviews, namely that the virus cannot be eradicated. It’s not just Tedros and Gates who are trying to flee their advocacy of lockdowns. Anthony Fauci himself denied that the United States ever had “complete lockdowns”—which is technically correct but not because he didn’t demand them. On March 16, 2020, Fauci faced the national press and read from a CDC directive: “In states with evidence of community transmission, bars, restaurants, food courts, gyms and other indoor and outdoor venues where groups of people congregate should be closed.” In fact, one gets the strong sense that governments around the world are pretending as if the whole pathetic and terrible affair never happened, even as they are attempting to reserve the power to do it all over again should the need arise. On May 12, 2022, many governments around the world gathered for a video call and agreed to pour many billions more into covid work, and reaffirm their dedication to an “all-of-society” and “whole-of-government” approach to infectious disease. The U.S. government under the administration readily agreed to this idea. Leaders reinforced the value of whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches to bring the acute phase of COVID-19 to an end, and the importance of being prepared for future pandemic threats. The Summit was focused on preventing complacency, recognizing the pandemic is not over; protecting the most vulnerable, including the elderly, immunocompromised people, and frontline and health workers; and preventing future health crises, recognizing now is the time to secure political and financial commitment for pandemic preparedness. The Summit catalyzed bold commitments. Financially, leaders committed to provide nearly $2 billion in new funding—additional to pledges made earlier in 2022. These funds will accelerate access to vaccinations, testing, and treatments, and they will contribute to a new pandemic preparedness and global health security fund housed at the World Bank. Is it progress to see these people throwing around language from the much-criticized but now wholly vindicated Great Barrington Declaration? Doubtful. You can’t make a bad policy better by tossing around words. There is every indication from this statement that there will be no apologies, no regrets, and no changes in the default position that governments must always and everywhere have maximum power to control any pathogen of their choosing. Despite Tedros’s censored words, it’s no wonder that Xi Jinping continues to feel vindicated and affirmed, and sees no real political danger in ch
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  • https://udumbara.net/have-you-experienced-pandemic-driven-hair-loss
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Have You Experienced Pandemic-Driven Hair Loss?
    By Dr. HarwinFor most people, hair loss is a physical and psychological affair. Balding is noticeable, and so are its effects on the sufferer. Men describe hair loss as an unwanted and upsetting experience that can plummet body image. Women report even greater negative consequences including diminished body image, lower self-esteem, and poorer quality of life. Across the board, anxiety and depression are common. Hair loss extracts a significant toll. The good news is that you don’t have to put up with a receding hairline. There are evidence-based ways to halt the process and restore what has been lost. But before we share exactly how to do this, it’s important to understand why the hair on top of your head is dying. By correcting these problems, you set the stage for regrowth and enhance the chance of successful medical intervention should you decide to follow that path. Stress: a Little-Known Cause of Hair Loss If you’ve noticed hair loss during the pandemic, you are not alone. On the face of it, tumbling tresses appear not to share a link with the COVID pandemic. Yet, there are two links: stress and the disease itself. “We have seen a number of patients with shedding from the acute viral infection, but many more that have had hair loss from stressing about the coronavirus pandemic in general,” says Dr. Christine Shaver, of the world-leading Bernstein Medical hair restoration center. “A sudden increase in hair loss may result from stressors such as job loss, death of a loved one, or major changes in lifestyle. Unfortunately, all of these have been related to the recent COVID epidemic.” Psychological health is intimately linked with physical health. The strain of the past two years is playing out in our bodies. The lingering high level of stress hormones keeps the hair follicles in their resting phase, meaning growth is stunted. Calming stress is key for a full head of hair. Vitamin Deficiencies: a Hair Loss Trigger Energy-rich junk diets are playing a role in hair loss by triggering the nutrient deficiencies that are common in the U.S. A significant number of Americans are low in vitamins A, B6, and B12, C, D, E, and K, and minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Certain nutrient deficiencies, particularly calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin D, and zinc, can contribute to hair loss. Dr. Shaver notes that iron deficiency, and anemia in particular, can slow hair growth. But it’s not just a subpar diet that depletes these hair-healthy nutrients. A study published in the journal Advances in Nutrition notes that “evidence demonstrates stress-induced depletion of magnesium and zinc” and that several studies “demonstrate the effects of stress on calcium and iron concentrations.” Certain nutrient deficiencies are both stress- and diet-induced. Individually or together, they may lead to increased hair fall—emphasizing the need to eat well. The Right Scalp Care for Healthy Hair Your scalp is the “ground” from which your hair grows. It is sensible, then, to imagine that keeping this area healthy may aid the growth of luscious locks. Traditional remedies suggest this is the case. Birkin hair tonic is a well-loved German product thought to restore scalp health and strengthen the hair. Its primary ingredient is birch sap; in Scottish folk medicine, birch sap is prescribed to prevent baldness. In Bulgaria, massaging the roots of the hair with birch sap is said to boost hair growth. In Romania, it is used as a hair conditioner. The topical formulation Dr. UGro Gashee® also appears to elicit positive results. A report published in the journal Case Reports in Dermatological Medicine found that this product’s combination of ingredients—including gotu kola, green tea extract, N-acetyl cysteine, turmeric, and vitamin D—promotes meaningful improvement in hair growth. As opposed to herbal topicals, Dr. Shaver advises that the right scalp care can be found in sensible habits. Avoid applying heat or chemicals to the hair or scalp. As she says, “If it burns or tingles your scalp when applying, then that should be a sign not to use it!” In addition, take good care of your health. Eat well. Wear a hat to limit damaging chronic sun exposure. Quit smoking. Shun the long-term application of tight hairstyles as they can trigger a condition called traction alopecia—balding from the yanking out of hair follicles. Hair Transplants Can Restore Lost Hair Hair loss produced by stress and vitamin deficiencies can, once remedied, lead to slow regrowth and, eventually, prior fullness. However, the most common cause of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, a genetic thinning. This requires a different approach as time will cause further balding, not reverse it. Hair transplant technology has come a long way since its beginnings. Now an advanced procedure, in expert hands it can restore hair growth and the confidence that comes with it. Transplant candidates can regain their tresses, self-esteem, and poise. When a cand
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  • https://udumbara.net/delicious-ways-to-sneak-fiber-into-your-childs-diet
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Delicious Ways to Sneak Fiber Into Your Child’s Diet
    The biggest shortfall in most Americans’ diets isn’t vitamins or minerals. It’s fiber. Experts say adult women should get 25 grams a day while men should get 38 grams. Yet we average a paltry 15 grams.Our kids aren’t doing any better. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that children ages 1 to 3 get at least 19 grams of fiber a day, and children ages 4 to 8 get 25 grams. The AHA says girls ages 9 to 18 require a minimum of 26 grams, and boys in the same age group should get 31 to 38 grams. Most children’s diets don’t provide nearly what they need. Why worry? Because fiber has so many health benefits. High-fiber foods fill tummies up on fewer calories, so eating plenty of them is a key to maintaining a healthy weight. Fiber has been shown to lower bloodstream cholesterol levels and reduce heart attack danger. (These aren’t big threats to a 6-year-old, sure, but excellent eating habits now can set your child up for a lifetime of good health.) It also appears to protect against type 2 diabetes, which is a growing problem among American children, as well as certain cancers. And in the category of less scary but quite uncomfortable conditions, fiber relieves constipation. The bottom line: One of the best things you can do to help your child thrive is to increase the amount of fiber he consumes. (There’s even a bonus: His health will benefit from the many other important nutrients that most fiber-rich foods have.) Begin slowly, nutritionists say, since it takes time for the digestive system to adapt to extra roughage. Too much too quickly can cause gas and bloating. Also encourage your child to drink more fluids, especially water. Here’s how the experts suggest increasing the amount of fiber in your child’s diet: Serve More Fruits and Vegetables. Foods that come from plants, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, are the only sources of dietary fiber. Experts recommend aiming for at least 2 to 5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day. All produce isn’t equally rich in fiber, though. Some of the standouts are artichokes, avocados, dried fruits, okra (not exactly a favorite of most kids), baked potatoes with the skin, pears, and carrots. Concentrate on the ones your child likes. Avoid Peeling Produce. The skin and membranes of apples, pears, potatoes, and many other fruits and veggies are where most of the fiber is, so resist your child’s entreaties to peel things — unless he really won’t eat them otherwise. Just be sure to rinse produce thoroughly before serving. If you’re concerned about pesticide residue and can afford organic produce, that’s a fine option (but you should still rinse it well, as many people may have touched it since it left the tree or bush, and it may not be totally pesticide-free). Serve Vegetables Raw or Lightly Cooked. Many kids prefer veggies when they’re crunchy. Serve your child’s favorites, carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli alongside salsa or low-fat salad dressing for dipping. When cooking veggies, it’s best to microwave them in a small amount of water or steam them briefly so they retain most of their nutrients. Nevertheless, if your child will eat his broccoli only if it’s mushy, then you know what to do: make it mushy. He may gradually accept lesser degrees of mush. If you want to boost his enthusiasm about vegetables in general, make it a family project to cultivate a veggie garden. He’ll be excited to see the snow peas he grew arrayed on his dinner plate. Choose Whole Grain Cereals and Breads. Whole grains contain significantly more fiber than do processed grains. They’re also good sources of vitamin E, B vitamins including folic acid, and other important nutrients. One of the most quick and healthful breakfasts you can fix for your child is whole grain cereal with reduced-fat milk; read labels to find a brand that delivers at least 5 grams of fiber per serving and isn’t loaded with sugar. For even more fiber, vitamins, and minerals, top it off with raisins or sliced strawberries. When shopping for bread, don’t rely on appearance: You may think that the more brown the bread looks, the more whole grain it contains. But some brown loaves simply have added food coloring. Furthermore, a stamp reading “wheat bread” doesn’t mean whole wheat and even a loaf labeled “whole wheat” may mix in more refined flour than you want. It’s wise, therefore, to read the fine print, seeing whether ingredients high in the list include whole wheat flour, dark rye flour, rolled oats, oat bran, or wheat germ. Just one slice of a wholesome grainy bread from the health food store may contain as much as 4 grams of fiber. Pull a Pasta Switcheroo. Whole grain pastas, available at most natural and many regular food stores, have a lot more fiber than the standard supermarket versions, so it’s worth seeing if your child will eat them. When the spaghetti is swimming in his favorite tomato sauce, he may not even notice that you’ve substituted whole wheat for white. Whole w
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  • https://udumbara.net/the-universal-narrative-when-you-feel-unworthy
    UDUMBARA.NET
    The Universal Narrative: When You Feel Unworthy
    A little boy was told by his father, from a young age, that he wasn’t good enough. Not in so many words, but through his actions — by criticizing him, yelling at him, hitting him, leaving him. The boy grew up into a man, knowing that he was unworthy of praise, of success, of love. The boy, as an adult, got a job, but didn’t really think he was good enough to do the job well. He faked it, deathly afraid every single day that he would be found out and mocked, then fired. He tried to hide, not to put himself in the spotlight, because then maybe no one would see his unworthiness. But he was always deathly afraid of people seeing him fail. So he held himself back, careful not to do anything where he might fail. He put off taking on tough tasks, and formed a long habit of procrastination. This came to rule his life, affecting his health habits, financial habits, relationships. The boy, now that he was an adult, got into a couple of long-term relationships, hoping to find someone to make him happy. He didn’t believe he could make them happy or get them to love the true him, because he already knew he was unworthy of love. But maybe if he was really nice to them, and only showed them the good parts of him, they’d think he was lovable. So he never tried to be truly honest, never found true intimacy, because he could only show them certain parts that might win him love. And he was always ready for them to find out how bad he was, to leave him. In fact, he left them before that could happen. Or if he didn’t leave them, he was only halfway in the relationship, one foot out the door. Ready to leave. Only partway committed. And in truth, they always felt that, and craved his full commitment. This was true of every friendship, every professional relationship. He was never fully committed. Never fully honest, because he couldn’t show his true self. Always anxious that others might know how unworthy he was. Always trying to prove how worthy he was, even if he knew he wasn’t. This is the story of Unworthiness. And it is fairly universal. My Inner Narrative of Unworthiness It’s one of my longest-running inner narratives. That I’m not good enough — that I’m somehow unworthy to teach, to write books, to train people in uncertainty. As I’ve worked with thousands of people in changing their lives, I’ve found this is one of the most common inner narratives there is. We’re unworthy. Unworthy of praise, of putting our work out there in the world, of leading a team or community, of creating something meaningful in the world. We’re unworthy of success. Of happiness. Of peace. Of financial comfort. Of loving relationships. We’re unworthy of love. We’re not good enough. Not good enough to tackle our toughest struggles. To change our addictions and old habits. To change our diet, to start exercising, to start meditating — or to stick to any of these for very long. We’re not good enough to put our writing or art out in public. We’re not good enough for others to recognize our accomplishments. Not good enough to write a book, start a podcast, put videos online, start an online business, start a nonprofit, create a thriving entrepreneurial empire, launch a startup, teach ourselves a really hard skill, pursue a lifelong dream. We’re not good enough, and we’re unworthy. The Great Secret Here’s the thing: it’s all just a story, isn’t it? It’s a narrative in our heads that we replay, over and over, until it beats us down into submission. The thoughts aren’t true. There’s no objective panel of judges in the sky who have judged us unworthy. We just made up this story, and we pick out evidence to match the narrative. When someone says something remotely critical, we take it to heart, and offer it up as yet more proof that we’re not good enough. The narrative isn’t true. And worse, it hurts us in every single part of our lives. It means we’re only half in relationships, hiding ourselves, never honest, never fully committed. It makes us anxious, afraid of failure, never putting ourselves out there (at least, not fully, not honestly), and if we do put ourselves in public, it’s a performance, trying to prove our worthiness. It holds us back. It makes us procrastinate. Hurts our health. Makes us unhappy. This is the Universal Narrative of Unworthiness, and it’s not true, and it hurts is deeply. Unlearning the Story So how do we stop believing this untrue, hurtful story that goes so deep we don’t usually even realize it’s there? I’ll share two practices that have helped me start to unravel the story, even if it still persists when I’m not being vigilant. The first practice: writing out a mantra and repeating it. This is something I use when my unworthiness narrative comes up around writing a book or public speaking. When I’m writing a book, the narrative inevitably asserts itself as something like, “No one is going to find this book valuable, this is going to be terrible.” It makes it much harder to write the book and I get very g
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  • https://udumbara.net/theres-no-rules-theres-no-restraint-kerry-gershaneck-on-chinas-plan-to-win-wo-fighting
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    'There's No Rules, There's No Restraint': Kerry Gershaneck on China's Plan to Win W/O Fighting
    'There's No Rules, There's No Restraint': Kerry Gershaneck on China's Plan to Win W/O Fighting
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  • https://udumbara.net/chinese-leaderships-biggest-challenge-is-us-relationship-says-tsinghua-economist
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    Chinese Leadership’s Biggest Challenge Is US Relationship, Says Tsinghua Economist
    The biggest challenge the Chinese communist regime faces is its relationship with the United States, said economist Xue Lan, dean of Tsinghua University’s Schwarzman College in Beijing.The foundation for improving relations is to strengthen communication and narrow the knowledge gap between the two countries, Xue said as part of a speech given at a forum held on April 23, 24. Xue said the second-biggest challenge facing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is an aging population and sub-replacement fertility or declining birth rate. The third involved correcting deficits in food supplies and energy plus financial debt security. The fourth referred to problems in the income distribution gap. Lastly, he said, the pressure to reach a reasonable balance between ensuring economic success while protecting the environment, i.e., responsibly reducing carbon emissions. On top of the five challenges, Xue stressed that the CCP must prepare for the world’s “decoupling” from China where the global community reduces its dependence on Chinese products and supply chains. Xue said that the world’s economic and supply chain difficulties caused by the pandemic and the trade war with the United States will further cause the “decoupling” of other countries from their over-dependence on China. Noting that Xue is a Chinese economist, Australian historian, and current affairs analyst Li Yuanhua told The Epoch Times the speech was another signal that the CCP was showing its weakness to the U.S. Xue’s assessment is consistent with a recent iteration of “China-U.S. Friendship” by China’s U.S. Ambassador Qin Gang and Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, Li said. Li said he believed the shared opinions of Xue, Qin, and Zhao are reflective of the AXIS Act introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The formal name of the act is “Assessing Xi’s Interference and Subversion Act.” It passed in the U.S. House on April 27 and was introduced to the Senate on May 4. The AXIS Act requires the U.S. executive branch to track and report evidence on the CCP’s support for Russia during the war with Ukraine. The sponsor of the bill, U.S. Rep Andy Barr (R-Ky) said the alliance between these two countries is a new axis of evil that threatens the United States and the rules-based international order. [embedded content] Biggest Obstacle to Communist Hegemony In speaking with The Epoch Times, Lee Jung-soo, a military expert and research associate with the Taiwan National Policy Research Foundation, suggested the United States is China’s biggest obstacle to its goal of becoming a world power by 2049, the centennial of the CCP coming to power. “Former U.S. President Donald Trump set the obstacle to contain the CCP’s ambition for domination,” Lee said. “From 1971, when President Nixon visited China, to when Trump took office, relations between the U.S. and China remained relatively stable for more than 40 years. During this period, the U.S. hoped the CCP would change its totalitarian system by engaging with the West, learning about the international order, and developing its economy,” he said. “Trump tried to contain, control, and even encircle the CCP through economic, trade, technology, and financial wars. This made it difficult for the CCP to surpass the U.S. and achieve its goal of world domination. It’s why the CCP feared and hated Trump.” President Donald Trump shakes hands with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He after announcing a “phase one” trade agreement with China in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington D.C on Oct. 11, 2019. (Win McNamee/Getty Images) Growing Distrust of the CCP  During Xue’s presentation, he said that the foundation for improving China-U.S. relations is to strengthen communication and narrow the knowledge gap between the two sides. While this could increase U.S. familiarity with China, Xue said Schwarzman College was going a step further. It aims to cultivate “future global leaders who understand China in depth.” Lee Jung-soo said Communist Party leader Xi Jinping’s plan to improve U.S. relations was to “tell China’s story well.” Lee went on to say that Schwarzman College was using enormous financial, human, and material resources to export communist ideology to the outside world. But the desired results had become elusive since the world has a growing distrust of the CCP’s leadership and communist political system, he said adding this lack of trust had become the “CCP’s greatest Achilles heel.” “Frankly speaking, not only does the world distrust the communist regime but so too do the Chinese people,” Lee said. “The lockdown of Shanghai is the best proof of this. It is the biggest crisis the regime has faced so far. The ‘April Voices’ internet video has gone viral, proving that the Chinese people are like ants in the eyes of the CCP leaders.” “April Voices” is a six-minute video released on April 22 that includes a collection of recorded conversations during the Shanghai lockdown, descr
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  • https://udumbara.net/hong-kongs-chief-executive-election-was-political-show-universal-suffrage-is-null-and-void
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    Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Election Was Political Show; Universal Suffrage Is Null and Void
    The outcome of the May 8 Hong Kong chief executive election came as no surprise. Lee Ka-chiu, the only candidate chosen by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), was declared the winner after a staged performance under the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ constitution.Of the 1,461 eligible voters, 1,428 cast their ballots in the May 7 election. In the end, Lee received 1,416 “YES” votes and eight “NO” votes, the highest percentage of votes ever recorded by a Hong Kong chief executive, surpassing Donald Tsang’s 82.26 percent in 2007. However, Lee is also the chief executive with the lowest public approval rating in Hong Kong’s history. Since the CCP takeover of Hong Kong, the election committee in charge of selecting the chief executive has increased from 800 to 1,500, but it’s still composed of only elites, people inspired or appointed by the government. Universal Suffrage: History of Broken Promises Since the CCP took over Hong Kong in 1997, there have been voices of support for universal suffrage among the pro-democracy groups and even the pro-CCP parties, but Hong Kong has moved further and further away from the promised goal of all adults having the right to vote in its Basic Law. In 2007, the National People’s Congress (NPC), the CCP’s rubber legislature, approved universal suffrage for Hong Kong’s chief executive by 2017. However, during the “political reform consultation” that began in 2013, the government ruled out “citizen nomination,” calling it a violation of the Basic Law. On June 10, 2014, during the consultation period, the information office of the CCP’s State Council published a white paper entitled “The Implementation of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region,” stating that the Chief Executive candidate “must be a patriot and a lover of Hong Kong.” On Aug. 31, 2014, the Standing Committee of the NPC decided universal suffrage would be used to select the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and how the Legislative Council would be formed in 2016 (Decision 831). It decided not to apply civil and political party nominations. It also stipulated the size and composition of the nominating committee, that a Chief Executive candidate must receive the support of more than half of the nominating committee members to become a candidate, and that the number of candidates is limited to two to three. The “831 Decision” directly triggered the large-scale “Umbrella Movement” and “Occupy Central” protests in Hong Kong. For 79 days, beginning on Sept. 26, 2014, secondary and university student organizations and Hong Kong citizens launched a series of civil disobedience campaigns demanding true universal suffrage. The protesters spontaneously occupied several main roads and staged sit-ins and marches. Their main demands were to withdraw the “831 Decision,” to obtain the right of nomination for the chief executive election, and to abolish the functional constituencies of the Legislative Council. After several false political reforms, the promise of universal suffrage in the Basic Law was never achieved. Furthermore, the Hong Kong government disqualified a number of democratic members of the Legislative Council in 2016, and attempted to amend the “Fugitive Offenders Ordinance” (known as the extradition bill) in Parliament in 2019. These factors eventually led to the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill (ELAB) Movement in 2019. During the movement, Lee was appointed as Secretary of Security. Hong Kong police suppressed demonstrators with water cannons, rubber bullets, and even live ammunition. After the movement, the CCP bypassed Hong Kong’s legislative process and enacted the Hong Kong National Security Law, accusing foreign forces of intervening in the movement. After the enactment of the National Security Law, in 2021, the CCP moved ahead to “improve” the electoral system based on the principle of “patriots ruling Hong Kong.” It blatantly bypassed the provisions of the Basic Law and directly allowed the NPC to decide on the future methods of selecting Hong Kong’s Chief Executive and the Legislative Council. By establishing a Candidate Eligibility Committee and changing the composition of the Election Committee, the CCP further narrowed the room for elections that already lacked democratic elements to complement its “full governing power” over Hong Kong. Lee’s Low Approval Rating Chung Kim-wah, an outspoken scholar and deputy chief executive of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Research Institute (PORI), said Lee commented after the election that getting 1,416 votes encouraged him and gave him a strong sense of confidence. “But if such an election can increase confidence, you’re either a fool, or fooling yourself, [because] the votes were not earned by him but given by Beijing,” Chung told the Epoch Times. In March, a month before he resigned as Chief Secretary, Lee had a net approval rating of minus 14 percentage points, according to a poll by PORI. Looking at Lee’s
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  • https://udumbara.net/former-chinese-ambassador-to-ukraine-says-russia-has-already-lost-the-war
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Former Chinese Ambassador to Ukraine Says Russia Has Already Lost the War
    Gao Yusheng, former Chinese ambassador to Ukraine, said recently at a forum that Russia “has already lost the Russia-Ukraine War.” His analysis of the cause and trend of the war is completely different from the Chinese communist regime’s pro-Russia rhetoric.In the speech, he also predicted that Russia would be expelled from important international organizations, and that there would be a new wave of “de-Russification” in the former Soviet Union countries. The China International Finance 30 Forum and the International Studies Department of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences recently held an internal online seminar focusing on the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on China and the global situation. Gao, who was the regime’s ambassador to Ukraine from 2005 to 2007, was invited to give a speech. In his more than 30-year diplomatic career, he had stationed in the former Soviet Union and the countries that used to be Soviet member states. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, the war has not ended within a week as many in the world expected. Gao said that Russia has not been able to defeat Ukraine quickly, and Russia’s economic power is extremely disproportionate to its so-called “military superpower” status, and the delay in the war has caused a heavy burden on Russia’s economy. Gao stated that modern warfare is “mixed warfare,” incorporating areas such as military, economic, political, diplomatic, public opinion, propaganda, intelligence, and others, and Russia “has already lost” in all fields, and it is only a matter of time before it is finally defeated. Gao pointed out that Russia’s foreign policy is “a mixture of the former Soviet Union and the Tsarist Empire.” The core and primary direction of the Putin regime’s foreign policy is to “see the former Soviet Union states as its exclusive sphere of influence, and to restore the empire through ‘unification’ dominated by Russia.” He further pointed out that the so-called revival of Russia under President Vladimir Putin is a “false proposition that does not exist.” Russia has never really recognized the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of other former Soviet states, and therefore “frequently violated their territory and sovereignty,” which poses the greatest threat to peace, security, and stability in Eurasia, he said. Russian military vehicles move on a highway in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces near Mariupol, Ukraine, in an undated photo. (Alexei Alexandrov/AP/PA) Regarding Gao’s speech, U.S.-based Chinese affairs commentator Qin Peng said on his YouTube channel “Qin Peng Time” that Gao’s analysis debunked Russia’s excuses for invading Ukraine, such as “denazification” and “demilitarization” in Ukraine. The video of Gao’s speech was posted on the Chinese internet and caused a stir, but was deleted soon after. On May 11, the Chinese regime’s media “Phoenix News Media,” which is registered in Hong Kong, published a modified version of the speech, allegedly edited by Gao himself. The article caused heated discussion on social media. However, soon the article was deleted as well. Qin said, “Why the Chinese communist regime is so afraid and has to censor Gao’s speech from the entire Internet, I think in addition to his saying that Russia will fail, it is also because that he implicitly stated that the international order will be restructured, and both the communist China and Russia will be excluded from some important international organizations, their influence in the world will decline.” “Gao’s speech reveals that the Chinese regime basically sees it this way: Russia will be defeated, its status as a great power will be severely weakened, Ukraine will be leaning towards the West, and the status of the Chinese regime will also be seriously affected,” he added. “That’s why we’ve seen recently that the Chinese regime has been eager to adjust its foreign policy, including inviting the Ukrainian foreign minister to give an interview to its official media Xinhua News Agency, talking about the Russian invasion; Chinese official media publish articles that positively reported Zelenskyy, and the regime’s spokesperson Zhao Lijian has shown relatively friendly attitude towards the U.S.” Follow Alex Wu is a U.S.-based writer for The Epoch Times focusing on Chinese society, Chinese culture, human rights, and international relations.
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  • https://udumbara.net/federal-operation-seizes-over-42800-illegal-firearm-silencers-smuggled-from-china
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Federal Operation Seizes Over 42,800 Illegal Firearm Silencers Smuggled From China
    A federal operation, dubbed the “silent night” operation, has seized 42,888 illegal firearm silencers smuggled into the United States from China, according to a report released by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).The report (pdf) states that a total of 4,868 firearms had been seized and 204 criminals were arrested as of March 2022. The silent night operation was launched in 2019 to keep dangerous weapon components off the streets. “The operation is led by the HSI’s [Homeland Security Investigations] National Targeting Center-Investigations, and targets the manufacturer, supply chain, and end-users of these illegal weapon components,” it said. Federal authorities have also shut down websites that sell illegal gun silencers and worked with Chinese officials to halt their manufacturing, NBC News reported, citing federal law enforcement officials. Stacey Whitehead, an inspector with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, said that while shipments of illegal gun silencers from China continue, the threat had evolved due to the supply of foreign silencers being delayed amid the crackdown. Whitehead further noted that authorities are on the lookout for unlicensed U.S. manufacturers who are replacing Chinese sellers threatened by the federal operation, as well as 3D-printed silencers. Silencers are tubes that attach to the barrel of a firearm and contain baffles that reduce the weapon’s recoil and can quiet a gunshot. According to a 10-year study published in 2007 by the Western Criminology Review, silencers are rarely used in crimes. Researchers estimated silencers were involved in 30 to 40 of the 75,000 federal criminal cases filed each year. The study found only two federal cases involving a silencer used in murders. Reuters contributed to this report. Follow Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.
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  • https://udumbara.net/zelensky-signs-law-enabling-bans-on-anti-ukrainian-parties
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Zelensky signs law enabling bans on ‘anti-Ukrainian’ parties
    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has inked a law simplifying process of banning political parties for their “anti-Ukrainian” stance Read Full Article at RT.com
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  • https://udumbara.net/ukraine-wins-eurovision
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Ukraine wins Eurovision
    Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra has won the song contest after garnering landslide support from European public in phone and online vote Read Full Article at RT.com
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  • https://udumbara.net/finland-not-afraid-of-russia-minister
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Finland ‘not afraid’ of Russia – minister
    Helsinki would strengthen NATO and bring a lot of “added value” to the US-led military alliance, says Finnish Minister for European Affairs Read Full Article at RT.com
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  • https://udumbara.net/supermarket-massacre-probed-as-hate-crime
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Supermarket massacre probed as hate crime
    An 18yo gunman has been detained without bail following what authorities called a “racially motivated” act of “violent extremism” Read Full Article at RT.com
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  • https://udumbara.net/okinawa-as-important-as-ever
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Okinawa: As Important as Ever
    CommentaryThese days Okinawa isn’t in the news much—being overshadowed by the looming Chinese military threat, North Korean missile launches, a war in Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic, and attendant global economic turmoil. This is the 50th year since the United States relinquished its occupation and returned Okinawa to Japan. American forces have remained on Okinawa to this day, not without controversy. This writer recently offered comments about Okinawa and its role in regional defense—and the island’s importance when military and political analysts and strategists look at the map of Northeast Asia. From the U.S. perspective, has Okinawa‘s strategic importance changed in the past 50 years? Okinawa is as important as it has ever been—and maybe more so. It has what real estate agents refer to as “location, location, location.” Indeed, the map tells you most of what you need to know about Okinawa’s strategic importance. It’s a very good location for basing and facilitating the movement of U.S. forces throughout the Western Pacific, over to the Korean Peninsula, down into Southeast Asia, and beyond. Don’t forget the political significance of American forces “forward deployed.” This allows for rapid response to contingencies (for example, an attack or threatened attack) and serves as a “tripwire” in the event of Chinese or North Korean (or Russian) aggression. Having U.S. forces already in Okinawa avoids a paralyzing debate in Washington over whether or not to deploy forces overseas—should an incident happen. The forces are already deployed. An enemy is less likely to try for a “fait accompli.” Okinawa and the U.S. forces (and Japanese forces) based there are also a sign of mutual commitment by both Japan and the United States to cooperate (in other words, fight together) in Japan’s defense and maintain stability in the broader Pacific region. And that includes Taiwan—only a few hundred miles from Okinawa—and that the Chinese regime fully intends to conquer. A vehicle leaves the U.S. Marine Corps’ Camp Hansen in Kin, Okinawa prefecture, southern Japan, on Jan. 5, 2022. (Kyodo News via AP) All in all, U.S. forces in Okinawa are a deterrent to China, North Korea, and Russia. And by definition, they are an “assurance” to everyone else. And this influence ripples Indo-Pacific-wide, not just in the area right around Japan. Often overlooked, Okinawa-based U.S. forces regularly respond to natural disasters in Japan, the broader Western Pacific, and over to the Indian subcontinent. Okinawa is a perfect “launching” pad, given its location. And there is a considerable political benefit that comes from effective U.S. disaster response efforts. Have increased tensions in Asia and a potential fight over Taiwan affected Okinawa’s role in regional defense? As noted, Okinawa is immensely important. For many years, there was a sense in Japan that Okinawa was only of use to the United States—and that Japan faced no dangers or enemies. Those days are long gone—and Japan mainly recognizes this. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has undergone the biggest, fastest military buildup in the post-war era—if not in history. The Chinese are committed to subjugating Taiwan—by force, if necessary. And if Beijing makes its move, it will be necessary to either deter or defeat U.S. and Japanese forces in the process. That includes forces on Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands. The U.S. presence in Okinawa is essential from an operational perspective—in other words, conducting operations both before and after the shooting starts. This presence is also important from a political and psychological perspective. U.S. forces on Okinawa are a sign of resolve and a warning to China that if the PLA attacks Japan (and/or Taiwan), it will also have to deal with the United States. Indeed, if the Americans were not on Okinawa, China would be sorely tempted to hammer Taiwan and Japan. A “win-win,” as the Chinese communists like to say. With the U.S. forces nearby, however, it is different. Also, Okinawa is Japanese territory, and it is the “front line” as Japan defends itself from Chinese aggression. The Chinese regime has been very clear that it intends to “teach Japan a lesson” and to “take back” the Ryukyu Islands (Nansei Shoto) that Beijing claims as its own. As the Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) fortifies the Ryukyu Islands, Okinawa is a key hub, sitting in the middle of the island chain defense that keeps the Chinese military from moving on Japanese territory and breaking out into the Pacific Ocean. Okinawa’s Governor Denny Tamaki calls for reducing U.S. forces (and presumably Japanese forces) on Okinawa. Is this realistic? It is not realistic. Tamaki needs to realize the region is dangerous. If he gets what he wants (or says he wants), he will have the Chinese running Okinawa instead of his fellow Japanese. If he wants to see how fun that will be, he should just look at Shanghai or Hong Kong—or Xinjiang. An armed Chinese coas
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  • https://udumbara.net/may-revise-2022-missed-opportunity-on-california-finances
    UDUMBARA.NET
    May Revise 2022: Missed Opportunity on California Finances
    CommentaryA sensible family or business uses good times to prepare for the future. Maybe the roof to the house or building needs to be replaced, preventing future leaks while increasing equity. Maybe a savings account is padded to prepare for future contingencies. Unfortunately, such a mindset still does not prevail in the California budget process. May 20 is the date Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office announced he will be presenting his May Revision to his January 10 budget proposal for fiscal year 2022-23, which begins on July 1. It’s the “May Revise,” in Capitol parlance. Whereas the January numbers to some extent are aspirational, the May Revise numbers begin the grind in the legislature to the June 15 constitutional deadline to pass a budget. So the figures are more realistic. But this year there may be an air of the fantastical also about the May Revise. In January, Newsom predicted a $45.7 billion surplus. Some Democratic sources are saying the new number could soar to more than $60 billion. But that comes as a recession is wafting toward California, America, and the world. The prudent thing to do would be to use the surplus, whatever its amount, to do two things: First, use perhaps half to start paying down the immense $1.6 trillion (with a “t”) in unfunded liabilities run up by state and local budgets, according to a February analysis by the California Policy Center. It found, “Californians carry this $1.6 trillion state and local debt ($40,000 per capita) in addition to their share of the national debt (about $90,000 per capita).” That means a California family of four owes $160,000 in state and local debt, and $360,000 in federal debt. Total: $520,000 in governmental debt. That’s about half the debt it takes to buy a $1.2 million home in Coastal California. No wonder so many people are leaving for other states. The CPC analysis is detailed, and the best I’ve seen so far. I’ll only quote this further part: “While Governor Jerry Brown’s Public Employee Pension Reform Act of 2013 has begun to take some financial pressure off the pension systems, they are in no position to handle another crash. Even today, following a remarkable 10-year technology-driven bull market, the pension systems acknowledge they’re only 71 percent funded. If history repeats itself, the funds—and the California taxpayers responsible for them—are in for a shock.” PEPRA, according to the explanation on the website of the California Public Employees Retirement System, took effect in January 2013 and “changes the way CalPERS retirement and health benefits are applied, and places compensation limits on members. The greatest impact is felt by new CalPERS members.” If such a reform were applied to all CalPERS retirees, using part of the surplus to fund necessary adjustments, it would go a long way toward reducing the long-term liabilities. Similar adjustments could be made for the California State Teachers Retirement System, the University of California Retirement Plan and the local municipal and school plans. Reforming Taxes The surplus also could be used to smooth over a transition from today’s confiscatory income tax system to a flat tax. Currently, the top income tax rate is 13.3 percent. But the really punitive part is the 9.3 percent rate that hits the middle class. It digs in at just $61,215 of income. That’s about one-third of what it takes now to get a mortgage on a small suburban home in Southern California, especially with interest rates rising. What happened was the inflation of the 1970s boosted the middle class into the 9.3 percent bracket, which back then was the top bracket. Only in 1978 was the state income tax indexed for inflation. At a minimum, the income tax in all brackets, but especially the 9.3 percent bracket, ought to be indexed backward to 1965, before the inflation began. The middle class needs a break. Better yet, a flat tax—one rate for everyone—should be instituted. Economist Arthur Laffer in 2012 designed just such a tax. He proposed California “scrapping all its state and local taxes and fees (except for sin taxes, which exist to modify behavior rather than to raise revenue) and replacing them with a flat tax of about 6 percent on two distinct bases. … “The low 6 percent rate would reduce the incentive to avoid earning taxable income in California, and the very broad base would reduce the number of places where people could hide their income to avoid taxation.” There would be two parts: “One tax base would be personal unadjusted gross income from all sources, with only a few deductions: charitable contributions; interest payments, including on home mortgages; and rent on one’s primary residence, to remove the current system’s preference for homeowners. A single tax rate would apply across the board, from the first dollar earned to the last. “The other tax base would be businesses’ net sales, or ‘value added’ – that is, the difference between sales and production costs, which equals the state’s gross domestic
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  • https://udumbara.net/the-search-for-compromise-in-a-post-roe-v-wade-america
    UDUMBARA.NET
    The Search for Compromise in a Post-Roe v. Wade America
    CommentaryIf Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court, “we the people” are going to have to address the abortion issue democratically. Each of the 50 state legislatures will enact its own abortion laws. Some will restrict abortion more than is currently the case; others, less. In some states, compromises will be hammered out; in others, a dominant party will impose laws with little to no accommodations to their opponents. Many Americans will be bitterly disappointed with their state’s laws pertaining to abortion. I’m reminded of an old anecdote: In a first-year law school class, a passionate student insisted vehemently that the decision rendered in a case that the class had read was clearly unjust. With great dignity, the law professor replied, “If it’s justice you want, go across the street and enroll in the divinity school. This is the law school.” Also timely is the cliché/truism: Politics is the art of the possible. Compromise, rather than absolute principles, will prevail in many states; consequently, many Americans on both sides of the abortion issue will be dissatisfied, if not disgusted, with post-Roe adjustments of abortion laws. This brings to mind another time-worn adage: German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck’s observation that seeing how laws and sausages are made is not for the squeamish. We are all well aware of the irreconcilable positions staked out by the two sides on the abortion issue. The pro-life/anti-abortion side accepts as an incontrovertible fact that each individual human life is sacred; that unborn humans share with those already born the inalienable right to life—a life that no other human can willfully destroy. The pro-abortion side rejects the premise that the unborn are invested in the right to life. In many (maybe all, I don’t know) American jurisdictions, it has long been a settled point in law that a fetus is a life, for that is why a person is charged with two counts of homicide when killing a pregnant woman. Abortion has been an anomaly—a legal carve-out allowing a mother, but no one else, to choose to terminate her pregnancy. The abortion battle has always been about legally codifying what conditions (if any) must be met in order for an abortion to be legal. If Roe is overturned, abortion will still be a widespread practice. But in the perhaps vain or naïve hope for a mitigation of the enmity between the two sides, I will plead for concessions by both sides. My plea to the pro-abortion side: Please end all government funding of abortion in exchange for having abortion remaining legal (to whatever extent) in your state. As strongly as you feel a woman has a right to have an unwanted mass of tissues, or however you characterize what pro-lifers call “a baby,” pro-lifers view the abortion procedure as the brutal destruction of an innocent, helpless human life. Please don’t compel them to pay for a procedure that they find so inhumane and immoral. Don’t do violence to their religious beliefs and conscience. Tens of millions of Americans believe in abortions. If all of the non-poor of those would give a couple of dollars a month to private funds for abortions (including, when needed, funds to travel to a state where abortion is more legal) that would be sufficient to pay for abortions for those needing financial aid. Now, turning to the pro-abortion side’s concerns, its basic belief is a woman’s right to choose whether to have a child or not. As a general principle, the vast majority of Americans agree that no girl or woman should be forced to keep a child she doesn’t want. Pro-lifers would prefer that females exercise that right either pre-emptively—i.e., by abstinence or contraception—or post-pregnancy via adoption. What’s most objectionable is abortion for the sake of convenience. Many pro-lifers are willing to make exceptions for rape, incest, threats to the mother’s life, etc. I joined this camp decades ago. Back then, a very dear senior friend, one of the most Christian women I have ever known, told me that her own mother would administer abortions to herself after having been impregnated by her husband (my friend’s stepfather) during drunken stupors. Yes, she used the old, dangerous shirt-hanger method. She simply did not want to have a child who was conceived in such a vile, unloving way. Who am I to sit in judgment on such a grim choice? Would God punish her in the hereafter for doing what she did? Maybe (I doubt it) but most importantly, that’s not my call. I decided that, as a Christian, it’s my responsibility to first get the beam out of my own eye, and to respect human sexuality and reproduction enough to treat them respectfully and keep them within marriage. As an olive branch to pro-abortion Americans, I hope that states that restrict abortion would shun punitive tactics against those who traveled to a state with less restrictive abortion laws to have the procedure done there. Further, let us avoid slipping into a surveillance state. Few things woul
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  • https://udumbara.net/california-democrats-likely-to-overplay-their-hand-on-abortion
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    California Democrats Likely to Overplay Their Hand on Abortion
    CommentaryThe U.S. Supreme Court’s likely impending reversal of its Roe v. Wade decision will make this year’s campaign in California even more fascinating to watch. Abortion has not been an election issue in the state in decades. Californians generally favor abortion rights to some degree, leading California Democrats to believe they have found a winning issue in a year in which they have little else going for them. To maximally capitalize on the issue, they are rushing to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. In so doing, however, they are likely to overplay their hand and ultimately turn off voters when they see how extreme the Democrat position is. Many California candidates will have to address the abortion issue for the first time. To the extent the question arose in the past, their answers were easy. For Democrats, they simply asserted their support for a woman’s right to choose as confirmed by Roe. For Republicans, they asserted their pro-life position, but noted that due to Roe, there was nothing they could do. But this year will be different. Democrats will have to explain what they intend to do in the absence of Roe, i.e., what is the extent of a woman’s right to choose? Republicans will have to explain the extent of their pro-life position, i.e., is an abortion acceptable under any circumstances? The winning party will be the one that strikes the right balance. Republicans are likely to continue to duck the question, noting they are pro-life but that the California constitution has been held to protect the right to choose—so there is nothing they can do. If pushed, they must be prepared to provide specifics on what restrictions are appropriate. Most Californians want reasonable restrictions. A complete ban on abortions is not mainstream and not practical as what is illegal always goes underground. Democrats must also avoid the extreme, but early indications are not good for them. Governor Gavin Newsom announced plans soon after the draft opinion leaked for a constitutional amendment protecting abortion. Newsom clearly sees a political opportunity. A poll last year by the Public Policy Institute of California indicates that 80 percent of California likely voters do not want Roe overturned, with even 59 percent of Republicans agreeing. He already has campaign ads responding to the leaked opinion. The proposed ballot initiative is wholly political since California’s constitution already contains an express right to privacy which the California Supreme Court has ruled protects a woman’s right to choose. In fact, the court held that the right is so profound that the state must pay for the abortions of those on Medi-Cal. With abortion rights already constitutionally protected in California, it is doubtful abortion will be top of mind for voters. California faces unprecedented problems, from gas prices and inflation to crime and homelessness. But since Democrats presided over this mess, these are not winning issues for them. With nothing else to run on, they have no choice but to run on the abortion issue. What will be in the Democrats’ constitutional amendment? Current state law protects a woman’s right to abort a fetus within the first six months of pregnancy, i.e., pre-viability outside the womb, for any reason. This already goes beyond the Roe decision, which allows for reasonable government restrictions after just three months. In addition. no parental consent is required for minors and there are no waiting periods. Do Californians really demand even fewer restrictions? We have some preview as to where they are heading. Newsom and California legislators announced they want to make California a “sanctuary state” for abortion and to enhance “reproductive justice.” State legislators have presented thirteen bills to further embolden the right to choose. Many are designed to respond to women (and, as they often highlight, transgender men) seeking abortions from out of state, even going as far as to use California taxpayers’ money to help cover their expenses. Do Californians support that? The bills refer to “reproductive justice.” One bill funds an internet website to promote abortion services in the state and an outreach campaign to inform the public on how to access an abortion. It would provide funding for low-income women to get abortions. It also funds “research to support equitable access to abortion.” Since we know equity is all about equal outcomes, this research will no doubt focus on making sure “black and brown” communities abort at a similar rate as the “privileged” white communities. Do Californians support paying for so many abortions, with a special focus on minority abortions? Another bill effectively legalizes abortion right up to the date of delivery. It protects women from any criminal or civil liability for an abortion at any time. It expressly protects women who engage in a “self-managed abortion, which means ending one’s own pregnancy outside of the me
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  • https://udumbara.net/want-tighter-restrictions-on-protests-progressive-politicians-should-beware-what-they-wish-for
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    Want Tighter Restrictions on Protests? Progressive Politicians Should Beware What They Wish For
    CommentaryPeople were aghast at the behaviour of a small group of protesters who recently surrounded NDP leader Jagmeet Singh at a Peterborough, Ontario, provincial election campaign event. The protesters were intimidating and pressing as they shouted a string of obscenities at Singh and followed him to a waiting van. Few rational people condone that kind of behaviour, and it was roundly condemned by people on all sides of the political spectrum. What is concerning though is we now have federal politicians using this incident as a reason to pursue tighter legal restrictions upon protests. This is a very dangerous road to wander down, and we could be risking the loss of essential democratic rights of assembly and expression. The invocation of the Emergencies Act by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau led to the suspension of some civil rights for citizens during the truckers’ Freedom Convoy protests. That was an overreaction by the government to protests but at least it was temporary. What members of Parliament are now talking about is the creation of permanent legislative measures to stunt protests. Public protests have occasionally led to violence and heated rhetoric since the beginning of protests. It is baked into the nature of protests. Most people would rather not take time from their days to travel and gather with others at events to express themselves unless they are taking a cause or issue very seriously. To attend a protest usually means one feels they have run out of options to have their concerns addressed. Protest attendees can often feel frustrated and emotional, and this can create a recipe for disorder. Civil disobedience is a part of many protests. It usually refers to a number of people purposely disobeying government orders and laws in order to bring attention to their cause. This is usually done in the form of blocking traffic or access to buildings or ignoring things such as mandated back-to-work orders. Civil disobedience actions are usually peaceful and temporary. Civil disobedience is considered a valid tactic for protests, and authorities are usually loathe to interfere with it if they can avoid it. That gives protesters a lot more leeway in pushing legal limits when they demonstrate. If an individual sits in the middle of a road and blocks traffic, they will likely be removed and possibly charged within minutes. If a couple of dozen people do so, it becomes a form of expression and arrests may violate charter rights. It’s a complicated part of the law. As frustrating as the actions of some protesters can be to us at times, it is a price we pay to ensure the right to protest remains unfettered. We already have laws on the books to cover criminal actions during protests. Assaulting people, threatening people, and damaging property are not considered valid forms of civil disobedience. People can and should be charged for doing those things during protests. We don’t need new laws to do so. The problem is, that enforcing those laws can be tough, and it tempts authoritarian legislators to try and ban protests altogether rather than just the illegal actions within them. What the progressive politicians pushing for restrictions or bans on protests should bear in mind is that the Liberal-NDP coalition won’t be in power forever. One day, we will have a conservative government in power again, and most of the protests will be coming from left-wing activists. Do the NDP and Liberal MPs pushing for protest restrictions think a conservative government would think twice about applying those laws against left-wing protesters? We can’t pretend that belligerent protests are just the domain of right-wing protesters. Counter protestors to the anti-restriction protesters often were screaming “F*** you Nazis” among other things. At the recent March for Life demonstration at Parliament Hill, bikini-clad counter-protesters held signs saying “Abortion is a gift from God” and “Get your hands off my f***ing body.” Provocative and offensive, but should it be illegal? It could be if the Liberal-NDP brings in reactionary legislation restricting protest activities. I don’t think some of these progressive lawmakers understand that when they aren’t in power, they won’t be able to apply a double standard to protests. Their own legislative weapons could be turned against the demonstrations they support. One is only truly committed to rights if they support protecting those rights for ideological opponents. That means we will have to endure speech that is offensive and protests that are annoying. Democracy can be a messy thing, but it’s the best system we have. Before progressive politicians and their supporters bring in any legislation limiting protests, I will offer this old but still sage advice: Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Follow
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  • https://udumbara.net/inflation-plateaus-but-does-not-recede
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    Inflation Plateaus, But Does Not Recede
    Two heavy doses of balance sheet expansion since 2008 leave us with no good choicesNEW YORK (May 12)—April Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation printed at an 8.3 percent, year-on-year, yesterday morning, down from 8.5 percent in March, but 2/100ths (or “20 bps”) higher than the market consensus estimate of 8.1 percent.  Core inflation, which includes all items, less food and energy, came in at 6.2 percent,  down from 6.5 percent in March, but also 20 bps above the consensus estimate. Market futures, which had been up before the release, did a “U-Turn” and moved lower, but then moved higher at the open.  The 10 year spiked at 3.076 at the release,  before moving sharply lower at around 9:00 a.m. as investors assessed the release more fully.  (When rates go up, bond prices fall because bond prices have a negative correlation with rising rates.) Wednesday’s auction of the 10 year yielded 2.943 percent, the highest since 2018. The granular data showed large annual increases in basic living expenses like food (10.8 percent for food at home) and fuel oil (80.5 percent).  See the detail below. Consumer Price Index Summary for April 2022. (Bureau of Labor Statistics) This morning, the April Producer Price Index (PPI) printed at an annual rate of 11 percent, continuing the double-digit rate of annual increase it has maintained since December, led by increases in transportation services. The increase in the PPI ultimately tends to work its way down to the CPI, so this is a harbinger of continuing high CPI inflation. Commentary A second print in a row of monthly CPI inflation above 8 percent should disabuse anyone of the notion that the current inflation is “transitory,” a notion the Federal Reserve and Biden administration had floated for most of last year.  It is more than clear that, at best, inflation will plateau if not go higher. Federal Reserve (“Fed”) monetary policy and Biden administration fiscal policy has—so far—been entirely inadequate to reduce inflationary trends. While the Fed raised the Federal Funds rate, the rate of interest the Fed charges member banks, to between 75 to 100 bps, the Fed balance sheet, which affects longer-term rates on things like mortgages, capital investment, and business planning, won’t see a significant reduction until at least June, when the Fed will start allowing the securities it acquired in the aftermath of the pandemic to “burn off” at maturity. What’s needed—and as I’ve written here before nearly six months ago—is, instead, for the Fed to signal several months ahead that it will reduce the balance sheet aggressively, so that firms can reduce leverage and longer-term rates can be boosted by having the fed off-load the Treasurys and Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) that it acquired at the start of the pandemic. The simple fact is that low-interest rates have pumped up asset valuations far beyond what they are worth.  That includes real estate, equities, commodities, and crypto currency.   Now that the Fed is “withdrawing the punch bowl,” asset values—some of which have been pledged as collateral for borrowings—have declined.  Consequently, the Fed has issued a warning—entirely appropriately—about the risks to market liquidity. At this point, there are no good choices.  The Fed can continue to accept aberrant ongoing inflation, gamble that supply chains and the Labor Participation Rate improve so that inflation subsides, or accept a recession. Personally, I favor a deep, hard, short recession—akin to 2008, but without Fed bailouts.  Let the chips fall where they may.  Stepping in, again, as we did in 2008 and 2020, will only re-start the mayhem again.  It needs to stop here, as hard as it may be. DISCLOSURE: The views expressed, including the outcome of future events, are the opinions of The Stuyvesant Square Consultancy and its management only as of May 12, 2022, and will not be revised. Statements herein do not represent, and should not be considered to be, investment advice. You should not use this article for that purpose. This article includes forward-looking statements as to future events that may or may not develop as the writer opines. Before making any investment decision you should consult your own investment, business, legal, tax, and financial advisers. The writer is Managing Director of the Stuyvesant Square Consultancy which associates with principals of TechnoMetrica on survey work in some elements of our business. Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Follow J.G. Collins is managing director of the Stuyvesant Square Consultancy, a strategic advisory, market survey, and consulting firm in New York City. His writings on economics, trade, politics and public policy have appeared in Forbes, the New York Post, Crain’s New York Business, The Hill, The American Conservative, and other publications.
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  • https://udumbara.net/aging-and-stress
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Aging and Stress
    At any age, stress is a part of life. Young and old alike have to face difficult situations and overcome obstacles. While young adults struggle to establish a career, achieve financial security, or juggle work and family demands, older people may face failing health or dwindling finances — or simply the challenges of retaining their independence. Unfortunately, the body’s natural defenses against stress gradually break down with age. But you don’t have to give in to stress just because you’re no longer young.Many seniors still manage to sail through their later years. “Successful agers” tend have a few things in common: They stay connected to friends and family, they exercise and keep active, and, above all, they find ways to both reduce and manage the stress in their lives. Stress comes in two basic flavors, physical and emotional — and both can be especially taxing for older people. The impacts of physical stress are clear. As people reach old age, wounds heal more slowly and colds become harder to shake. A 75-year-old heart can be slow to respond to the demands of exercise. And when an 80-year-old walks into a chilly room, it will take an extra-long time for her body temperature to adjust. Emotional stress is more subtle, but if it’s chronic, the eventual consequences can be as harmful. At any age, stressed-out brains sound an alarm that releases potentially harmful hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Ideally, the brain turns down the alarm when stress hormones get too high. Stress hormones provide energy and focus in the short term, but too much stress over too many years can throw a person’s system off-balance. Overloads of stress hormones have been linked to many health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and weakened immune function. For older people already at heightened risk for these illnesses, managing stress is particularly important. Over time, the brain can slowly lose its skills at regulating hormone levels. As a result, older people who feel worried or anxious tend to produce larger amounts of stress hormones, and the alarm doesn’t shut down as quickly. According to a study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, women are especially susceptible to an overload of stress hormones as they age. The study found that the impact of age on cortisol levels is nearly three times stronger for women than for men. The flow of stress hormones can be especially hard on older brains in general. According to a report from the University of California at San Francisco, extra cortisol over the years can damage the hippocampus, a part of the brain that’s crucial for storing and retrieving memories. Several studies have found that high cortisol goes hand in hand with poor memory, so we might be able to chalk up certain “senior moments” to stress. Years of emotional distress may even increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A five-year study of nearly 800 priests and nuns published in the journal Neurology highlighted this potential hazard. The subjects who reported the most stress were twice as likely as the least-stressed subjects to develop the disease. Speeding up the Clock Stress doesn’t just make a person feel older. In a very real sense, it can speed up aging. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that stress can add years to the age of individual immune system cells. The study focused on telomeres, caps on the end of chromosomes. Whenever a cell divides, the telomeres in that cell get a little shorter and a little more time runs off the clock. When the telomere becomes too short, time runs out: The cell can no longer divide or replenish itself. This is a key process of aging, and it’s one of the reasons humans can’t live forever. Researchers checked both the telomeres and the stress levels of 58 healthy premenopausal women. The stunning result: On average, the immune system cells of highly stressed women had aged by an extra 10 years. The study didn’t explain how stress adds years to cells making up the immune system. As the study authors write, “the exact mechanisms that connect the mind to the cell are unknown.” Researchers do have a not-very-surprising theory, though: Stress hormones could be somehow shortening telomeres and cutting the life span of cells. Stress Management: The Real Fountain of Youth? The good news is that we can put what we know about stress and aging to work for us. Learn to manage and reduce your stress load and you have a better chance to live a long, healthy life. Maintaining a positive outlook is one key — a study by Yale University found that people who feel good about themselves as they get older live about seven and a half years longer than “glass half empty” types. Researchers say the people with more positive attitudes may also deal with stress better and have a stronger will to live. Staying close to friends and family is an excellent way to cut down on stress. As reported by the
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  • https://udumbara.net/we-need-to-rebuild-our-connection-to-nature-filmmaker-tells-rfk-jr
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    We Need to Rebuild Our Connection to Nature, Filmmaker Tells RFK, Jr.
    Our bodies are starving to be back in nature, according to environmental filmmaker, journalist and musical activist Rob Herring.Herring, who directed and produced the 2018 film “The Need to Grow,” on a recent episode of “RFK Jr. The Defender Podcast,” spoke with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. about the relationship between human and planetary health — and the need to rebuild the human connection to nature. “Our human health is such a reflection of the ecosystems that we see on a planetary level,” said Herring. Herring and Kennedy discussed ideas that in the past might have been dismissed as — in Herring’s words — “woo-woo hippy ideas,” but are in fact truths about how our bodies relate to nature. For instance, spending time outdoors can be healing to the human body, Herring said. “Time in nature is not just some woo-woo idea,” he said. He noted the popularity of “forest bathing” in Japan, a fad that’s backed up by science.  “There are studies showing that in just a few hours in the forest … the body’s natural killer cells, key immune system cells in our blood, go up by as much as 50%,” he said. Even stepping into a garden promotes health, Herring added. “We can really measure the changes that happen in our stress level,” he said. Physical contact with the earth and with plant compounds may enhance the immune system by helping with serotonin production, he explained. “I’m always returning to air, water, earth and fire,” he told Kennedy. “How do I get them back into my life as much as nature optimized them over thousands and thousands of years for us to feel good?” Herring’s newest film, “Farmacy of Light,” will be released later this year. It looks at the biophotonic potential of light within our bodies. “We are being exposed to artificial light, just like we’re exposed to artificial stale air, and we’re deficient in natural light,” he said. Exposing our bodies to sunlight, especially at sunrise and sunset, helps at a hormonal and genetic level, he said, and has profound healing effects. Herring and Kennedy also discussed the human need for clean water, air and even a healthy gut biome. “Those little microbes that evolved coterminous with humanity,” said Kennedy, “they’ve been our friends —  adjusting our foods for us, protecting us from dangerous organisms, from poisons, from toxins and the environment … dictating our moods, protecting us from depression, from despair. It’s really incredible.” Originally published on Children’s Health Defense © 05/10/22 Children’s Health Defense, Inc. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of Children’s Health Defense, Inc. Want to learn more from Children’s Health Defense? Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense. Your donation will help to support us in our efforts.
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  • https://udumbara.net/how-neurotransmitters-can-affect-your-health
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    How Neurotransmitters Can Affect Your Health
    Problems with your brain's chemical messengers can leave you confused, stressed, sad, and moreBrain function and thought patterns are intimately related to neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that carry signals between neurons, or nerve cells, and other cells within the body. Neurotransmitters are essential for various physical and psychological functions including mood, anxiety, fear, joy, and happiness. They are also involved in regulating heart rate, sleep, and appetite. There are two classifications of neurotransmitters that are named based on their effect on the brain: excitatory and inhibitory. Excitatory neurotransmitters have an excitatory effect on the neurons. They cause the neuron to fire an electrical signal called an “action potential” up the cell.  Some common excitatory neurotransmitters are epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine, acetylcholine, and serotonin. Inhibitory neurotransmitters have an inhibitory effect on neurons, meaning they prevent the action potential from being fired. The most abundant inhibitory neurotransmitter is GABA. How Are Neurotransmitters Produced in the Body? Most neurotransmitter production begins with an amino acid from the diet or another chemical that’s already present in the body. Different amino acids are precursors for different neurotransmitters and the receptors to which they bind. Enzymes and various nutrients are required to convert these amino acids into neurotransmitters. B vitamins, vitamin D, minerals, and other compounds play a critical role in brain health to manufacture all neurotransmitters. It’s worth mentioning that genetic variants can stop the production of these enzymes needed to make neurotransmitters. We will discuss seven main neurotransmitters in this article, but keep in mind that there are more than 100 compounds that can act as neurotransmitters. Acetylcholine One of the primary roles of acetylcholine in the central nervous system is to promote cognition, memory, and arousal. It’s also involved in peripheral nervous system function and is used to activate muscles. A deficiency in acetylcholine would look like a decrease in visual and verbal memory as well as frequent memory lapses. Individuals needing acetylcholine support might notice a decline in creativity or comprehension. Difficulty calculating numbers or recognizing objects and faces are also indicative of an acetylcholine issue. Adequate dietary intake of healthy fats is important for acetylcholine production. Foods high in choline such as pasture-raised egg yolks, fatty grass-fed and pasture-raised meats and dairy, and nuts are helpful for acetylcholine production. Catecholamines  Epinephrine and norepinephrine are in a class of neurotransmitters called catecholamines. Technically, dopamine also falls into the catecholamine class, although dopamine will be discussed separately because of its different physiological effects. Additionally, take note that epinephrine and norepinephrine are also called adrenaline and noradrenaline. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are involved with the body’s “fight-or-flight” response. When released into the bloodstream, they increase heart rate, pupil dilation, and shunt blood to muscles. In the brain, they stimulate receptors for mental speed, focus, and concentration. Likewise, a catecholamine deficiency might look like a reduction in mental alertness, speed, concentration, and cognition. Dietary support for catecholamines could include foods high in tyrosine such as cheese, eggs, fish, nuts, seaweed, and turkey. Foods high in caffeine such as coffee, tea, and cacao also stimulate epinephrine and norepinephrine. That’s why caffeine can increase overall brain function. Dopamine Dopamine has various functions in the brain including motor coordination, mood, attention, learning, along with motivation and reward. It’s largely associated with the pleasure system of the brain. Individuals with dopamine imbalances may experience feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, or self-destructive thoughts. They often have an inability to handle stress and may feel angry while under stress. They sometimes desire isolation or have a lack of concern for loved ones. Protein intake and assimilation along with proper blood sugar are important for dopamine production. Other key nutrients for dopamine production are oxygen, iron, and folate. Serotonin Also known as the “happiness neurotransmitter,” serotonin is found in both the central and peripheral nervous systems and is involved with mood, sleep, temperature regulation, and appetite. In fact, roughly 80 to 90 percent of the body’s serotonin production occurs in the gut. Those with serotonin deficiencies often feel a loss of pleasure in their hobbies, interests, relationships, and favorite foods. They might have trouble falling asleep at night. Individuals with serotonin deficiencies sometimes have a strong dependency on others. Often, they can experience feelings of paranoia, rage, unpr
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  • https://udumbara.net/are-there-risks-and-benefits-of-energy-drinks
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Are There Risks and Benefits of Energy Drinks?
    The first energy drink dates back more than a half century: Dr. Enuf, launched in 1949. Now, there are more than 100 brands—an industry now selling $50 billion of the stuff a year. They’re popular on military bases, but some military leaders have questioned their safety, based on data like this: the skyrocketing number of energy drink-related emergency room visits over recent years. But, if you look at some of the reports, you see cases like this: 24-year-old guy who didn’t feel well after drinking a can of energy drink and three bottles of vodka.Because energy drinks are often co-consumed with other substances, it’s hard to tease out the culprit. Same problem with population studies. Sure, “[a]dolescents drinking energy drinks are at risk of a wide range of negative outcomes,” but energy-drink consumers are also more likely to drink soda and have other unhealthy habits, are more likely to binge drink, take diet pills, and engage in other risky behaviors. So, the only way to tease out the energy drink component is…to put it to the test. One of the concerns that has been raised by public health advocates in terms of potential negative effects is increased blood pressure. But have people chug a can of Red Bull and 30 minutes later, no significant change in blood pressure. Okay, but that was the little eight-ounce can. What about the 16-ounce big cans of Red Bull? Forty minutes later, no significant change there, either. So, concerns about energy drinks raising blood pressure were dismissed as overblown…until the bomb dropped in 2014. Red Bull did indeed significantly raise blood pressure after all. The reason the earlier studies missed it is because the spike doesn’t start peaking until like an hour after consumption. So, if you just look at like 30 minutes after consumption, all seems fine. But the worst is yet to come. And, the big shocker was that cerebral blood flow velocity—blood flow in the brain—took a dive. Energy drinks are promoted as having “beneficial effects,” but this instead would suggest they’re “potentially harmful because of the extra cardiac work load and the decreased [brain] blood flow velocity…” [embedded content] Researchers subsequently looked at other brands. Here’s Rockstar brand energy drink—significantly elevating blood pressure within just 30 minutes. Yeah, but wait a second. Is it just the caffeine? Is it any different than just drinking a cup of coffee? To figure that out, you’d have to compare the effects of an energy drink with just a plain drink with the exact same amount of caffeine. But there’s never been such a study…until now. A “randomized, double-blind, controlled, crossover study” in which “young, healthy volunteers” were randomized to drink two large cans of an energy drink or a control drink that had the sugar and the same amount of caffeine, but none of the other “proprietary blend ingredients” like taurine, carnitine, ginseng, guarana, and all the other stuff they add. And, it turns out it wasn’t just the caffeine: significantly higher blood pressure on the energy drink than the exact same amount of caffeine in the control group. What’s this higher “QT interval” thing, though? On an EKG, it’s the distance from the beginning of the downward Q wave to the end of the bump of the T wave. Okay, so who cares? “QT…prolongation,” which is what the energy drink did—but not the caffeine—”is a recognized marker of increased risk for [oh] fatal arrhythmias,” fatal heart rhythms. That doesn’t sound good. Okay, but by how much? “Prolongation of the QT…interval by more than 60 [milliseconds] is a marker for life-threatening arrhythmias.” And, the energy drink only prolonged it by about 10. But there have been drugs pulled from the market—profitable drugs, bringing in billions of dollars—because of a 5- to 10-millisecond prolongation. So, we really need to start investigating some of these other ingredients in energy drinks. For example, in 2008, authorities found cocaine in Red Bull drinks. The Red Bull manufacturer “insisted,” however, that they were just adding the coca leaf for flavor, and that all the active cocaine was removed. Given the “global popularity” of the multibillion dollar energy drink industry, it’s critical we figure out if there are any potential adverse effects. “There are currently more than 500 energy drink products [for sale] on the market today.” “The most popular, and most studied…is Red Bull”—a single can of which was found to bump blood pressure by three or four points within 90 minutes of consumption. What about all the other energy drinks? Studies show they similarly increased blood pressure three or four points on average. Oh, but come on: three or four points? What’s the big deal? 20% higher risk of dying from a stroke is the big deal, and 12% higher risk of dying from a heart attack. Yeah, but that’s if you have elevated blood pressure day in, day out. To see if Red Bull can increase your day-long average blood pressure you’d have
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  • https://udumbara.net/the-epidemic-no-one-wants-to-talk-about
    UDUMBARA.NET
    The Epidemic No One Wants to Talk About
    Katie Meyer had her whole life ahead of her. A senior at one of the most prestigious universities in the world—Stanford—the 22-year-old was also a soccer star. A goalkeeper and captain of her team, Meyer’s excellence on and off the field helped Stanford defeat North Carolina 5–4 to win the women’s College Cup national championship in 2019.But on March 1, Meyer was found dead in a residence hall on Stanford’s campus. A few days later, her parents, in a tear-filled interview on “The Today Show,” told the world that their daughter had died by suicide. A Global Problem In 2020, nearly 46,000 people died by suicide in America, and there were an estimated 1.2 million attempts, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says. Worldwide, more than 700,000 people take their own lives each year, according to the World Health Organization. According to a March brief from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), deaths by suicide increased from 2000 to 2018, but declined slightly in 2019. For both men and women, suicide rates were lower in 2020 than in 2018 and 2019. While it seems that suicide rates in females over 25 went down during that time, the rates of suicide among girls and women ages 10 to 24—like Meyer—have increased. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among children and adults ages 10 to 34, and the fifth-leading cause of death in adults ages 35 to 54, the CDC brief explained. It “is a major contributor to premature mortality.” These numbers, however, are likely to be underestimates. Social stigma, deaths that are attributed to drug addiction but may actually be suicides, and deaths from car crashes, firearm accidents, and other tragic incidents (such as drowning and poisoning) that may have actually been intentional but are counted as accidents may all lead to underreporting, experts say. Indeed, in one 2015 study, researchers at Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom found that in 18 of the 20 countries they analyzed, a large number of suicides were wrongly classified as undetermined deaths. “[W]e are masking the loss from suicide and failing to prevent these family tragedies…” Dr. Colin Pritchard, a research professor in psychiatric social work who directed the research, lamented in a statement. While we don’t yet know how the global response to COVID has affected suicide rates, the mental health professionals I’ve spoken to over the past month—including a middle school guidance counselor, several medical doctors, and two child psychologists—tell me that they have seen that more young people are more troubled than ever before. Even conventional media outlets, including an NBC News investigation and a report from NPR, are reporting that the pandemic has led to a rise in suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, and self-harm in young people. “Children are not rubber bands,” wrote Paul Thomas, M.D. (with whom I have co-authored two books), a pediatrician based in Portland, Oregon, on his Facebook page in reference to yet another young person who has died. Sarah Schultz, a track and field star at the University of Wisconsin, took her own life on April 13. “They’re not resilient. They are suffering in untold ways.” Impulsive Suicides Some suicides are a result of sudden inclination that may not be connected to anything beyond a present situation, like the breakup of a relationship, for example, or a public or even a private humiliation. That may be what happened to Jordan John DeMay, a 17-year-old who took his own life on March 25. The Michigan teen was being exhorted by a cyberstalker after he sent a sexually explicit picture of himself to a cyber extortionist, as reported by the Daily Press. “Imagine: You’re 17 years old, you’re embarrassed,” Marquette County Sheriff Greg Zyburt told a journalist. “You’re scared to death, and what do you do? And ultimately, he took his own life.” According to Maria A. Oquendo, M.D., impulsive attempts may account for the majority of attempted suicides. One survey of over 48,000 adults found that 64 percent of the attempts were impulsive. Difficult Childhoods and Suicide Risk At the same time, people who have experienced ongoing childhood trauma are also at increased risk of dying by suicide. We now know that an adverse childhood experience, which researchers call an “A.C.E.,” can compromise your health as an adult in many ways, including putting you at higher risk of dying by your own hand. In that first study, scientists found a strong correlation between the number of ACEs a child experiences from birth to age 18 and future health issues. These findings have since been replicated. Then, in 2017, researchers in Texas and California discovered that grown-ups who had experienced ACEs were more likely to have attempted suicide than those who had not. Yet another study, published in January 2019 in Child: Care, Health, and Development, sampled the health outcomes of nearly 9,500 people over a 13-year span, finding also that t
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  • https://udumbara.net/young-pfizer-covid-19-vaccine-recipients-more-likely-to-get-infected-after-5-months
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    Young Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Recipients More Likely to Get Infected After 5 Months
    The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine turned negatively effective after five months, according to a new study.Researchers with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed test results from sites across the United States and determined that the vaccine was 60 percent effective two to four weeks after 12- to 15-year-olds got the second of the two-dose primary regimen. But the effectiveness, measured against symptomatic illness, quickly plummeted, hitting 20 percent around month two and zero around month five. After that, recipients in the age group were more likely to be infected by the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, also known as SARS-CoV-2, the virus causes COVID-19. Vaccine effectiveness “was no longer significantly different from 0 during month 3 after the second dose,” the researchers wrote in the study, which was published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Pfizer, its partner BioNTech, and the CDC didn’t respond to requests for comment. The analyzed tests were performed between Dec. 26, 2021, and Feb. 21, 2022. Some 47,700 tests among 12- to 15-year-olds were included, with about half being unvaccinated. The testing data was on the Increasing Community Access to Testing, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that contracts with pharmacy chains to perform drive-through testing. The testing data was supplemented by information in questionnaires filled out by adults with the adolescents. Limitations of the study included vaccination being self-reported. The study was funded by the U.S. government. The study also found that vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic infection plunged quickly for those 5 to 11 years old, starting at 60 percent but hitting 23 percent just one month later. One way to combat the negative effectiveness, researchers said, was to get a booster dose. Of the 906 12- to 15-year-olds who got a third, or booster, dose, the effectiveness was measured at 71 percent two to six weeks after receipt. Other studies, though, show that the protection from a booster, like that from the primary regimen, quickly wanes. “Given the well-established pattern of waning mRNA VE after 2 doses and early evidence of waning of booster dose protection in adults, monitoring the duration of protection from booster doses in adolescents will be important,” researchers said. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are built on messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. VE refers to vaccine effectiveness. In another study published by the same journal on May 13, New York researchers reported the gap of infection and hospitalization risk between unvaccinated and vaccinated youth narrowing over time, with vaccinated 5- to 11-year-olds being infected at a rate of 62 per 100,000 and unvaccinated being infected at a rate of 70 per 100,000. That was an incidence rate ratio of 1.1; the rate ratio for 12- to 17-year-olds was 2. The protection also waned considerably against hospitalization over time, researchers found. They said that the findings support “efforts to increase vaccination coverage in children and adolescents.”
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  • https://udumbara.net/former-dea-agent-china-destabilizes-us-with-fentanyl-disney-ceo-dr-strange-2-doesnt-need-china
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Former DEA agent: China destabilizes US with fentanyl; Disney CEO: Dr. Strange 2 doesn’t need China
    Former DEA agent: China destabilizes US with fentanyl; Disney CEO: Dr. Strange 2 doesn’t need China
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  • https://udumbara.net/tesla-shanghais-exports-dropped-to-zero-under-chinas-zero-covid-policy
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    Tesla Shanghai’s Exports Dropped to Zero Under China’s ‘Zero-Covid’ Policy
    The Chinese communist regime’s mass lockdowns and extreme COVID-19 control measures have severely affected China’s automobile industry and global supply chain. The Tesla Shanghai factory’s exports in April dropped to zero. An expert believes the situation won’t improve until June.The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers published its April automobile production and sales data on May 11. Affected by the new outbreaks of COVID-19 and pandemic control measures, China’s auto production and sales in April were 1.205 million units and 1.181 million units respectively, down 46.2 percent and 47.1 percent from March, and 46.1 percent and 47.6 percent from the same period last year (year-on-year). The Chinese regime’s extreme “zero-COVID” policy wasn’t able to stop the outbreak, but did stop Tesla Shanghai’s exports in April. According to the manufacturer’s data, Tesla did not export any China-made Model 3s and Model Ys from its Shanghai factory in April. Due to the lockdown of Shanghai that started in late March, Tesla had to suspend production twice. Its sales in April plummeted 97.7 percent from March. The lockdown of Shanghai and other major cities in the Yangtze delta severely disrupted logistics and the supply chain, which also contributed to the plunge in Tesla’s production and exports. Tesla Shanghai exported 60 vehicles in March. Last year, Tesla Shanghai exported 484,130 vehicles, nearly half of the company’s 936,000 global deliveries. A truck transports new Tesla cars at its factory in Shanghai, China May 13, 2021. (Reuters/Aly Song) Although Tesla’s Shanghai plant resumed production on April 19 after a 22-day halt, it is still struggling to get the production line back to full operation. According to Reuters, Tesla cut its daily production to less than 200 vehicles on May 10 because of the interruption in the supply of some key parts. Tesla admitted that local logistics were hindered. It’s reported that an outbreak of COVID-19 occurred in Aptiv, one of Tesla’s parts suppliers, and so the company stopped shipping to Tesla. Tianfeng International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in his Twitter post that after the resumption of work at Tesla’s Shanghai plant, production was unstable. The main problem was the impact of component supply and logistics. However, Tesla’s production halt is temporary, and that’s why Tesla has not made any major moves to shift production from its Shanghai factory to its factories in other regions, he said. Kuo believes that although Tesla is trying to restore production capacity to pre-pandemic levels in mid-May, based on the current situation of logistics and supply chain, there won’t be any significant improvement in Shanghai’s manufacturing until June. Follow Alex Wu is a U.S.-based writer for The Epoch Times focusing on Chinese society, Chinese culture, human rights, and international relations.
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  • https://udumbara.net/bill-combating-forced-organ-harvesting-presented-for-second-reading-in-canadas-house-of-commons
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Bill Combating Forced Organ Harvesting Presented for Second Reading in Canada’s House of Commons
    A bill to combat organ trafficking was presented for second reading in the House of Commons on May 13, with MPs saying they’re in agreement with the bill, and Liberals asking that it be voted on next week to advance it to the next stage.“My grandfather had this expression ‘not to gild the lily,’ that is, when something is already beautiful there’s no need to further dress it up. I think we already have a consensus, and I’m looking forward to seeing this bill finally move into law,” said bill sponsor Conservative MP Garnett Genuis. Senate Bill S-223, which has already passed through the Senate, completing first reading in the House on Dec. 16. Similar proposed legislation has been introduced in past parliamentary sessions as private member’s bills, but never passed into law before the sessions ended due to upcoming elections. The bill, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Salma Ataullahjan, seeks to amend the criminal code to make it illegal for Canadians anywhere in the world to receive an organ transplant that was sourced without the consent of the donor, and would prevent individuals involved in such transplant and trafficking activities to enter Canada. MPs were to debate a motion presented by Genuis and seconded by Liberal MP Sameer Zuberi that the bill be read a second time and be referred to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs. Making for a rare occasion, there was nothing to debate. “I should be here more often on Fridays because I can’t believe I agree with absolutely everything that [Genuis] has put forward,” said Liberal MP Mark Gerretsen, who is parliamentary secretary to the leader of the government in the House. After brief supportive interventions by Bloc Québécois and NDP MPs, Genuis paid homage to former MP and cabinet minister David Kilgour who recently passed away, and who was a trailblazer with lawyer David Matas on the issue of forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong adherents in China. Kilgour and Matas released in 2006 their report on the matter, titled “Bloody Harvest,” after investigating allegations that the Chinese regime was killing practitioners of the spiritual discipline  in order to extract their organs and to sell to patients in need of transplants. The report confirmed that Beijing is engaged in the practice. Genuis said their work led to other countries passing legislation on forced organ harvesting and trafficking, and it was maybe a bit of an “embarrassment” for Kilgour that his own country was lagging behind on the issue. “David passed away earlier this year, so I’m sorry he will not have the opportunity, at least from the vantage point of being on Earth, to see what is happening, but I believe, and I know some other members do as well, that he is still aware of what’s happening and heartily pleased by it,” Genuis said. He also said it’s important to “acknowledge the communities that have been advocating on this.” “I know the Falun Gong community … has been so active in advocating on this, Falun Gong practitioners in Canada standing with members of their community who face organ harvesting and trafficking in China.” Despite the consensus on the bill, the motion was not immediately adopted, with Gerretsen requesting a recorded division on the vote, which was set for May 18. After the bill makes it to committee, it will be returned to the House for third reading. If there are amendments from MPs, the bill would need to return to the Senate for deliberation by senators before it can become law. Follow Noé Chartier is an Epoch Times reporter based in Montreal.
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  • https://udumbara.net/exports-of-chinas-covid-19-vaccines-plunge-hindering-the-regimes-vaccine-diplomacy
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Exports of China’s COVID-19 Vaccines Plunge, Hindering the Regime’s ‘Vaccine Diplomacy’
    The export of Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines has dropped significantly this year due to its low effectiveness, especially against new mutations of the virus, hampering the Chinese communist regime’s campaign of “vaccine diplomacy.”At the end of 2020, when the world urgently needed COVID-19 vaccines, China launched its vaccine diplomacy by providing a large number of Chinese vaccines to low- and middle-income countries in Asia, Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe. However, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the export of COVID-19 vaccine developed and produced by three Chinese companies, Sinopharm, Sinovac, and CanSino dropped to 6.78 million doses in April 2022,  a 97 percent decrease from its peak in September 2021. As of December, the total export volume of China’s vaccines was still as high as 199 million doses. This was boosted by increased transactions on the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines (COVAX) platform. This year, China’s vaccine exports have plunged, shrinking sharply in the first three months. China is no longer a major supplier on COVAX. According to Airfinity, a British data analysis company, many people who were inoculated with Chinese vaccines for the first two doses in some countries have chosen Pfizer, AstraZeneca, or Moderna for booster shots. Among people who received the Chinese vaccine for their first dose in Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Brazil, the percentage of them taking the Chinese vaccine as the third dose decreased by 98 percent, 93 percent, 92 percent, and 74 percent respectively. According to an April research report by a team of experts from the Singapore Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), for people who received the two doses of Chinese vaccines, their rate of having severe symptoms after contracting COVID-19 is five times that of those who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Meanwhile, the breakthrough infection rate for those who received Chinese vaccines is six times that of those vaccinated with Moderna. Walid Kassem, a Lebanese researcher, told Radio Free Asia: “As a diplomatic tool between China and African and Middle Eastern countries, the Chinese vaccine has been welcomed by the people of these countries from the very beginning, but the situation has changed. “Firstly, Chinese vaccines’ effectiveness is far lower than the 92 percent – 97 percent effectiveness of the Western vaccines, which has led many countries to denial [sic] the approval of the Chinese vaccines. Secondly, the Western vaccines have already been available on the market and on the COVAX platform, so developing countries now have enough vaccines.” “In Lebanon and other Arab countries, many people refuse to take Chinese vaccines because they trust the West more. The recent outbreak in Shanghai has further exacerbated people’s distrust towards Chinese vaccines,” Kassem added. Follow Alex Wu is a U.S.-based writer for The Epoch Times focusing on Chinese society, Chinese culture, human rights, and international relations.
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  • https://udumbara.net/4000-join-new-york-city-parade-marking-30-years-since-introduction-of-falun-gong
    UDUMBARA.NET
    4,000 Join New York City Parade Marking 30 Years Since Introduction of Falun Gong
    NEW YORK—Around this time every year, thousands from New York and around the world would flood some of Manhattan’s busiest streets to celebrate a day they hold dear to their hearts. And this year is no exception.Although the pandemic has cut down travel, around 4,000 Falun Gong adherents from New York and elsewhere gathered on Friday in the Big Apple to mark World Falun Dafa Day. Their bright yellow or blue shirts made them stand out as they marched from east 47th Street down to west 42nd Street. The date, May 13, also coincides with the birthday of the discipline’s founder Li Hongzhi. This year is the 30th year since Li introduced the practice in China in 1992. The meditation practice is rooted in traditional Chinese belief systems, teaching the values of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance to help with holistic mind and body improvement. Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade marking the 30th anniversary since its introduction to the public, in Manhattan, New York City, on May 13, 2022. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times) The discipline spread quickly via word of mouth across the whole country. In seven years, about 70-100 million people were practicing, making it one of the largest spiritual communities in China. But by 1999, the atheist Chinese Communist Party (CCP), deeming the practice’s popularity a threat to its grip on power, launched a brutal persecution targeting Falun Gong. The expansive campaign, which continues today, has resulted in millions being sent to detention centers, labor camps, and prisons, where adherents are subjected to torture, slave labor, indoctrination, and forced organ harvesting. Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade marking the 30th anniversary since it’s introduction to the public, in Manhattan, New York City, on May 13, 2022. (Larry Dye/The Epoch Times) This year, hundreds of officials from around the world have issued awards and proclamations recognizing the occasion, including nearly 300 from New York and New Jersey. “For decades, Falun Gong practitioners have suffered at the hands of the CCP simply because of their religious beliefs,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a tweet on Friday observing the occasion along with the long-running persecution campaign. He added that he “stands with those who peacefully practice their faith & calls for an end to the persecution of Falun Gong & other religious groups.” Zhao Jing in Manhattan, New York City, on May 13, 2022. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times) Looking Out for Others Among the parade’s participants was 45-year-old Zhao Jing, who was arrested in October 1999 from her classroom at the prestigious Nankai University’s College of Foreign Languages in northern China’s Tianjin city. The student was expelled the same year when she refused to give up her faith. Zhao later journeyed to the country’s capital Beijing to publicly appeal for religious liberty at the famed Tiananmen Square. For this, she was detained and imprisoned, and suffered violent interrogations and torture while in custody. But standing amid a crowd of brightly dressed women and sporting a lime green jacket at the parade, her face was beaming—seemingly unmarred by years of persecution. The values espoused in Falun Gong teachings have given her the inner strength and wisdom to face whatever arises in her life, she said. She first picked up a Falun Gong book while browsing in a bookstore in 1997. The teachings led Zhao to carry an aspiration to always look out for others when encountering anything. Not long after she started practicing, a car hit her while she was riding a motorcycle. While she fell to the ground, her first thought wasn’t about her own wellbeing, but rather that she wasn’t careful enough and may have brought damage to the car. As a result, when the driver came out to ask whether she was alright, the first words that came out of her mouth were: “I’m very sorry. Is your car okay?” She wasn’t hurt, but had some scratches on her wrists, knee caps, and legs. Pedestrians watch as Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade marking the 30th anniversary since its introduction to the public, in Manhattan, New York City, on May 13, 2022. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times) Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance Sreedhar Meka, a 48-year-old IT programmer in New Jersey, first learned about Falun Gong in 2008 after receiving a flyer about the regime’s forced organ harvesting of detained adherents. He took the flyer home and stuck it on his wall. Then, out of curiosity, he checked out the practice’s website and started reading its book. It took him a year to finish the book from cover to cover. “I just forced myself to read it. I cannot explain. But I just liked it,” Meka told The Epoch Times. Meka had read many books on spirituality but none of those came close to what he gained after reading the main text of Falun Gong, a book called “Zhuan Falun.” “It explained [everything] so easily in scientific terms with common ter
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