Category : Asia

Meir Soloveichik for Eric Liddell’s Feast Day–Finding God in the Olympic Footrace

While Americans rightly exult in the achievements of U.S. medalists, “Chariots of Fire” also serves as a reminder that athletics and even patriotism only mean so much. When Liddell is informed that a qualifying heat takes place on Sunday, his Sabbath, he chooses not to compete in that race. The camera cuts from athletes at the Olympics to Liddell reading a passage in Isaiah: “Behold the nations are as a drop in the bucket . . . but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings, as eagles. They shall run, and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” David Puttnam, a “Chariots of Fire” producer, wrote me that the verses were “specifically selected by the actor, the late Ian Charleson, who gave himself the task of reading the entire Bible whilst preparing for the film.”

The Isaiah passage is liturgically important for Jews: Parts of it are declaimed in synagogue on the Sabbath when we read God’s command to Abraham to leave the center of civilization and found a family, and a faith, in a new land. Isaiah reminds Jews that Abraham’s children have encountered much worse than what Harold Abrahams experienced. While most nations now rest on the ash heap of history, the biblical Abraham’s odyssey continues. The countries competing in today’s Olympics come and go, while those who “wait upon the Lord” endure.

“Chariots of Fire” also offers a message for people of faith who have grown troubled by the secularization of society and the realization that they are often scorned by elites. Like Liddell, we may be forced to choose religious principle over social success. Hopefully, however, we will be able to use our gifts to sanctify this world. As Liddell’s father told his son in the film: “Run in God’s name, and let the world stand back in wonder.”

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Posted in --Scotland, China, Church History, Missions, Sports

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Eric Liddell

God whose strength bears us up as on mighty wings: We rejoice in remembering thy athlete and missionary, Eric Liddell, to whom thou didst bestow courage and resolution in contest and in captivity; and we pray that we also may run with endurance the race that is set before us and persevere in patient witness, until we wear that crown of victory won for us by Jesus our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in --Scotland, China, Church History, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer, Sports

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Charles Freer Andrews

Gracious God, who didst call Charles Freer Andrews to show forth thy salvation to the poor: By thy Holy Spirit inspire in us a tender concern, a passionate justice, and an active love for all people, that there may be one Body and one Spirit in Jesus Christ, our Savior; who with thee and the same Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, India, Spirituality/Prayer

(WSJ) From Lightbulbs to 5G, China Battles West for Control of Vital Technology Standards

Nearly every product in American homes, from lightbulbs to couches, windows and Wi-Fi routers, conforms to standards and measurements of a global system established to ensure quality and seamless operation.

Industrial standards, created by the U.S. and its allies over decades, form an invisible matrix of rules that underpin the global marketplace. Mundane though it may sound, this uniformity is critical to international trade in how it guarantees that bolts, USB plugs and shipping containers can all be used interchangeably world-wide. The standards reflect the consensus of international panels long dominated by Western technical experts.

China now wants to take the lead in fields of the future. To the consternation of many Western countries, Beijing is employing state funding and political influence to try to define the norms for all manner of cutting-edge technologies that span telecommunications, electricity transmission and artificial intelligence.

“Dominance of technical standards underpinning information and communications technologies and other emerging fields is integral to Beijing’s ambitions,” said Congress’s U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission in its annual report in December.

China’s efforts are driven by the desire to outdo the West, as well as amass profits.

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Posted in China, Science & Technology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the Martyrs of Japan

O God our Father, who art the source of strength to all thy saints, and who didst bring the holy martyrs of Japan through the suffering of the cross to the joys of life eternal: Grant that we, being encouraged by their example, may hold fast the faith that we profess, even unto death; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Japan

(Reuters) U.S. ‘deeply disturbed’ by reports of systematic rape of Muslims in China camps

The United States is “deeply disturbed” by reports of systematic rape and sexual abuse against women in internment camps for ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region and there must be serious consequences for atrocities committed there, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday.

A BBC report earlier on Wednesday said women in the camps were subject to rape, sexual abuse and torture. The British broadcaster said “several former detainees and a guard have told the BBC they experienced or saw evidence of an organized system of mass rape, sexual abuse and torture.”

Asked to comment, a State Department spokeswoman said: “We are deeply disturbed by reports, including first-hand testimony, of systematic rape and sexual abuse against women in internment camps for ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang.”

The spokeswoman reiterated U.S. charges that China has committed “crimes against humanity and genocide” in Xinjiang and added: “These atrocities shock the conscience and must be met with serious consequences.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(DW) Coronavirus: Sri Lanka’s forced cremations spark anger among Muslims

Zeenat-ul-Razaniya has no news about the body of her deceased husband Mohammed Hilmi Kiyasdeen, who suffered from kidney failure and died on November 30 last year.

The family had taken him to the hospital, where he was due to undergo a dialysis procedure. The family was shocked to learn that Kiyasdeen would be cremated as per the regulations for those who die of coronavirus-related complications.

“We were not shown any reports to prove the status of his infection. He showed no [COVID-19] symptoms. He was in close contact with us in his last days,” Zeenat told DW, adding that she and her three children all tested negative for the virus.

“How is it possible that he had the virus? They just forcibly took away the body,” she said.

Zeenat sought a court intervention, but judges ruled in favor of Sri Lanka’s coronavirus cremation policy.

It has been a distressing experience for the family.

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Islam, Sri Lanka

(BBC) ‘Their goal is to destroy everyone’: Uighur camp detainees allege systematic rape

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Article content may not be suitable for some blog readers–KSH.

Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(Bloomberg Businessweek) An Economist’s Guide to the World in 2050

Who really won the Cold War? Maybe China.

In 1972, Cold War logic pushed President Richard Nixon into an unlikely alliance with Mao Zedong—bringing China back into the mainstream of the world economy. In 1991, the collapse of the Soviet Union encouraged “end of history” hubris that blinded the West to the consequences of China’s rise.

Fast forward to 2020 and China has emerged as a major global power, its single-party rule and state-dominated economy the cause of alarm in foreign capitals—and pride in Beijing. By 2035, Bloomberg Economics forecasts, China will have overtaken the U.S. to become the world’s biggest economy and perhaps also its most powerful political actor.

China’s rise is just one part of a larger shift that’s already under way and looks set to accelerate in the decades ahead.

Bloomberg Economics has used a growth accounting framework—adding up the contributions of labor, capital and productivity—to forecast potential GDP through 2050 for 39 countries, from the U.S. to Ghana. We’ve used that data to map some of the key geographic and political shifts in store for the world economy.

The results suggest that a remarkable period of stability, stretching from the end of World War II through to the early 21st century, is coming to an end. The center of economic gravity is shifting from West to East, from advanced economies to emerging markets, from free markets to state controls and from established democracies to authoritarian and populist rulers. The transition is already upending global politics, economics and markets. This is just the beginning.

Much could happen to throw our projections off track. The Covid crisis is demonstrating how pandemics can reconfigure the global economic map. Wars, natural disasters and financial meltdowns can do the same. So could policy choices on globalization and climate change. Still, absent a crystal ball, forecasts of potential growth provide the most reliable basis for thinking about the long term.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., China, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(WSJ) Yahya Cholil Staquf–How to Make the Islamic World Less Radical

The world isn’t going to banish Islam, but it can and must banish the scourge of Islamic extremism. This will require Muslims and non-Muslims to work together, drawing on peaceful aspects of Islamic teaching to encourage respect for religious pluralism and the fundamental dignity of every human being.

The most enduring way to address an extremist religious ideology is to recontextualize its teachings and reform it from within. Four centuries ago, Catholics and Protestants routinely killed each other; now they coexist. I believe the same type of change can occur within Islam in one or two generations. What’s needed is a credible alternative that is consistent with Islamic orthodoxy and developed and promulgated by those with religious and political authority in the Muslim world.

Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest independent Muslim organization, for which I serve as general secretary, is promoting such an alternative. Positioned firmly within the spiritual, intellectual and legal traditions of orthodox Sunni Islam, we recognize that much of the fiqh constitutes not the unchanging, spiritual essence of religion, known as thawabit, but rather its historically contingent expressions, or mutaghayyirat. These latter expressions of Islam may be changed.

Countless Indonesian Muslims have taken up this task of reform in recent decades. Starting in the 1980s, prominent heirs to this tradition led Nahdlatul Ulama officially to sanction collective ijtihad: the application of independent reason to renew temporal elements of fiqh and ensure that Islamic teaching and practice embody universal love and compassion, the primary message of Islam.

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Posted in Indonesia, Islam, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Samuel Azariah

Emmanuel, God with us, who didst make thy home in every culture and community on earth: We offer thanks for the raising up of thy servant Samuel Azariah as the first indigenous bishop in India. Grant that we may be strengthened by his witness to thy love without concern for class or caste, and by his labors for the unity of the Church in India, that people of many languages and cultures might with one voice give thee glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in India, Spirituality/Prayer

(The World) Undeterred by ICC decision, Uighurs hail EU, UK steps toward holding China accountable

After more than 70 years of Chinese rule over the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, there’s mounting evidence that in recent years, their occupation has intensified into an environment of strict surveillance, with more than a million Uighurs held in internment camps.

Reports show many are forced to pick cotton and work in factories that supply international brands and that some Uighurs are even subjected to forced sterilizations and organ harvesting.

For several years, Beijing repeatedly denied those allegations, while companies like Nike said they’ve made sure they’re not using Uighur slave labor. But some recent developments suggest 2021 may see a breakthrough in the Uighurs’ long struggle for justice, with help from a new group of international lawmakers.

“I’m accusing the Chinese authorities of the worst crime of the 21st century. I am also accusing the international community for being a part of this crime, for abetting it through its silence,” European Parliament Member Raphaël Glucksmann of France said during a Dec. 17 debate, through an interpreter. “I’m also accusing Nike and other multinational corporations that are taking advantage of slavery.”

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Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Islam, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(Noema Magazine) James Crabtree–China’s Radical New Vision Of Globalization

But then came the interesting part. “Since the beginning of this year, I have said on many occasions that we must promote the formation of a new development pattern, in which domestic and international cycles are the mainstay, and the domestic and international dual cycles promote each other,” Xi said. To an outsider, this might seem unremarkable, cloaked as it is in the elliptical phraseology that often marks Chinese economic ideas. But the “dual circulation” strategy Xi outlined actually represents a radical new understanding of globalization and of China’s place within it.

More than just a buzzword, dual circulation describes the deeply pessimistic worldview that has settled over Beijing. Once China’s leaders saw opportunity in globalization. Now, they expect the U.S. and its allies to deny China the technology it needs to build “a modern socialist country” by mid-century, meaning a wealthy superpower fit to rival the U.S. Although likely to be less pugilistic, Beijing rightly believes an incoming Biden administration will also press forward with policies designed to stop advanced technologies finding their way into Beijing’s hands. Chinese thinking has long valorized self-reliance, dating back to ideas developed by former Chinese leader Mao Zedong during the country’s civil war, which ended with the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Now, Trump’s tariffs, as well as his campaigns against companies like Huawei and TikTok, have given new impetus to the modern form of self-reliance Xi dubs “internal” development.

Many experts have noted a changing Western consensus on China, as leaders in Washington abandoned the idea that economic modernization would inevitably lead to political liberalization in Beijing. But there has been a comparable shift in China’s internal conversation on the West too. Beginning with semiconductors but potentially expanding to all manner of other areas, China now expects it will have to develop technologically on its own. Xi’s new theory now sits at the heart of the country’s 14th five-year plan, which covers development from 2021 to 2025, and was unveiled in draft form in October. The result will accelerate China’s decoupling from the West, while also increasing the importance of trading links forged with other parts of the world — for instance, via Xi’s signature Belt and Road Initiative. Put more bluntly, while the world was distracted by the drama of the U.S. presidential election, Xi quietly unveiled an economic strategy fit for a new Cold War. Both for China and for globalization itself, the results are likely to be profound.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, China, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General

An alternative to Antiobiotics? SMART researchers use lysins to selectively target bacteria

Researchers from the Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Interdisciplinary Research Group (IRG) at Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), MIT’s research enterprise in Singapore, have developed a method to produce customizable engineered lysins that can be used to selectively kill bacteria of interest while leaving others unharmed. The discovery presents a promising alternative to antibiotics for treating existing drug-resistant bacteria and bacterial infections without the risk of causing resistance.

Lysins are enzymes produced by bacteriophages to break open the bacteria cells while treating infections, and have demonstrated potential as a novel class of antimicrobials. A major advantage of lysins is that they allow fast and targeted killing against a specific bacterium of choice without inducing resistance.

The emergence of multidrug-resistant bacteria has left even minor bacterial infections incurable by many existing antibiotics, with at least 700,000 deaths each year due to drug-resistant diseases, according to the World Health Organization.

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Posted in Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology, Singapore

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Channing Moore Williams

O God, who in thy providence didst call Channing Moore Williams to the ministry of this church and gave him the gifts and the perseverance to preach the Gospel in new lands: Inspire us, by his example and prayers, to commit our talents to thy service, confident that thou dost uphold those whom thou dost call; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Asia, Church History, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer

WSJ front page–Xi’s China ramps up drive to squelch dissent

On a summer day in 2016, a posse of men surrounded Lu Yuyu on a street in China’s southwestern city of Dali. He said they wrestled him into a black sedan and slid a shroud over his head. His girlfriend was pushed into a second car, screaming his name.

Mr. Lu had for years posted a running online tally of protests and demonstrations in China that was closely read by activists and academics around the world, as well as by government censors. That made him a target.

While China’s Communist Party has long punished people seen as threats to its rule, government authorities under Chinese leader Xi Jinping have engaged in the most relentless pursuit of dissenters since the crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, according to academics and activists.

“Over the past eight years under Xi, authorities have become hypersensitive to the publicizing of protests, social movements and mass resistance,” said Wu Qiang, a former politics lecturer at Beijing’s Tsinghua University.

“Lu’s data provided a window into social trends in China,” Mr. Wu said, and that made him a threat to the party. China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based group that promotes worker rights, used Mr. Lu’s posts as the primary source for its “Strike Map,” an interactive online graphic tallying worker unrest.

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Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology

Marco Polo’s “China Forecast 2025” report says that by 2025, China’s technology ecosystem will have matured and be on par with Silicon Valley

The starring role that China plays in this drama makes understanding its general trajectory—from the economy to domestic politics and technology development to energy policy—of immense interest and import to the world, and particularly for its peer competitor the United States.

So what kind of China should be expected by 2025? That singular question animated this effort to forecast the country’s path forward over the medium term.

Our simple answer: A China that will be near-majority middle class for the first time, with increasing technological parity with Silicon Valley and a less carbon-intensive energy landscape, all under the aegis of a stronger Xi Jinping and his vision of governance. Achieving these outcomes will require trade-offs, in this case a China that will likely redouble on domestic priorities and moderate its appetite for global adventurism.

This view of a more capable yet more outwardly cautious China is based on a composite of four scenarios across specific functional areas, bounded by the timeframe through 2025. It is also predicated on several macro assumptions and key factors that are likely to determine China’s behavior over that time period. In other words, this forecast exists within a defined scope, the elements of which are explained below.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, China, Economy, Globalization, Politics in General, Science & Technology

Sunday [London] Times–German spy chief Gerhard Schindler: China is poised to dominate the world

China is close to “world domination” and Europe must wake up to the danger, a former head of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency has told The Times.

Gerhard Schindler, who led the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) from 2011 to 2016, said Germany needed to curb its “strategic dependence” on Beijing and ban Huawei from its 5G mobile phone network.

He also warned that Angela Merkel’s liberal approach to the 2015 migrant crisis had left Germany with a “large reservoir” of young Muslim men susceptible to violence and jihadist ideology, and that the true scale of the danger was only now becoming clear.

In his new book Wer hat Angst vorm BND? (Who’s Afraid of the BND?), Mr Schindler, 68, argues that Germany has hobbled its spy agencies with unnecessary red tape and neglected some of the most serious threats to its security.

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Posted in China, Europe, Germany, Globalization

(WSJ) In Xi Jinping’s China, Nationalism Takes a Dark Turn

The wave of nationalism sweeping through China, amplified by party propaganda, the political ambitions of Xi Jinping and the country’s success in containing Covid-19, is taking a darker turn, with echoes of the country’s Maoist past.

Angry mobs online have swarmed any criticism of China’s leaders or a perceived lack of loyalty to the country. Targets are being harassed and silenced. Some have lost their jobs.

Among those who have been attacked this year are public figures who have raised questions about officials’ early handling of the coronavirus. They include a writer from Wuhan named Fang Fang, who wrote online about the struggles of local residents and accused government officials of being slow to respond to the outbreak.

Thousands of Chinese internet users called her a traitor. An anonymously written poster hung at a Wuhan bus station told her to “shave your head or kill yourself to atone for your sins against the people”—and a photo of it spread widely online. A famous tai chi master called on allies to assault her, using their “clenched fists of justice.”

Fang Fang later issued a plea to her fellow citizens on the Twitter -like platform Weibo: “China cannot return to the Cultural Revolution.”

Chinese politics researchers say surging nationalism is in part a natural response to the country’s rising stature around the world. Some Chinese people say their feelings are rooted in genuine pride for their country.

The government has also taken a heavy hand in stoking the sentiment.

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Posted in China

(Nikkei Asia) Minxin Pei–The four albatrosses weighing down Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping may be in denial, but it has become increasingly clear that his risky bets have plunged the country into a deepening geopolitical hole.

Since he became the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in late 2012, Xi has launched several major initiatives abroad and escalated political repression at home.

As a result, Xi now finds himself weighed down by four cumbersome albatrosses; the South China Sea dispute; the Belt and Road Initiative; Xinjiang; and Hong Kong. Unless he reverses course, Xi will face an increasingly unified Western coalition threatening the survival of his regime.

To be sure, there are different reasons behind each of these liabilities. Both BRI and the South China Sea are classic examples of strategic overreach that can be traced back to when Xi assumed the top CCP leadership post in late 2012, when the prevailing view in Beijing was that China should seize the opportunity to assert its growing power and influence while the West was still reeling from the 2008 global financial crisis.

Even though China was growing more assertive before Xi’s rise, under his leadership Beijing has not only adopted more confrontational tactics — such as its militarization of a chain of artificial islands in the South China Sea — it has sought to construct a Sino-centric order as a credible competitor to the existing U.S.-led order. To quote Xi, the world should have a “China option.”

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Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

(FT) Suicides rise after Coronavirus puts squeeze on India’s middle class

Even before Covid-19 hit, white-collar workers were under immense pressure as India’s growth stalled. Suicides among professionals have climbed for two consecutive years, averaging 23 a day in 2019, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.

“It’s the uncertainty that causes the maximum distress,” said Lakshmi Vijayakumar, a psychiatrist and suicide expert in Chennai, who added that the pandemic had led to significantly more suicides among professionals. “They are burnt out and Zoomed out,” she said. “There is the fear of infection and financial insecurity.”

The pandemic has compounded India’s economic challenges, with millions losing their jobs. The country’s economic output shrank by 24 per cent in the three months to June compared with the same period last year, the steepest fall among the world’s largest economies.

While casual labourers are beginning to pick up more work, middle-class professionals are still struggling.

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Posted in Economy, Health & Medicine, India, Personal Finance, Psychology

(LA Times) Largest study of COVID-19 transmission highlights essential role of super-spreaders

A team of Indian and U.S. researchers examined data from 575,071 individuals who were tested after coming into contact with 84,965 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19. That’s an average of seven contacts per case, and a cohort more than 10 times larger than in a previous study from South Korea that mapped how the virus was transmitted.

“It’s the largest epidemiological study anywhere on COVID by far,” said the lead author, Ramanan Laxminarayan of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy, in New Delhi.

Laxminarayan and his colleagues found that just 8% of people with COVID-19 accounted for 60% of the new infections observed among the contacts. Meanwhile, 7 out of 10 COVID-19 patients were not linked to any new cases.

The finding underscores the essential role of super-spreaders in the COVID-19 pandemic: One individual or event, such as in a poorly ventilated indoor space, can trigger a high number of new infections, while others might not transmit the virus at all.

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Science & Technology, Singapore

(SA) Jesus made “a sinner and a killer” in Chinese textbook

Disturbing reports from China say Communist Party officials have rewritten the story of the woman caught in adultery from John 8, claiming Jesus stoned the woman to death.

The incident in John 8:3–11 is a powerful testament to Jesus’ forgiveness and his divinity. The account says a mob had surrounded a woman accused of adultery. After facing down the crowd seeking to stone her, Jesus tells the Pharisees, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (v7).

After the crowd leaves, Jesus stands up and says: “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (v10-11).

Reports from Roman Catholic sources and carried by the religious liberty group Bitter Winter say this event in the gospel has been drastically changed in a textbook published by the University of Electronic Science and Technology Press. The book is reportedly used in ethics and law courses in Chinese secondary vocational schools.

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Posted in Books, China, Christology, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) How South Korea Successfully Managed Coronavirus

South Korea appears to have cracked the code for managing the coronavirus. Its solution is straightforward, flexible and relatively easy to replicate.

The country has averaged about 77 new daily cases since early April and recently suppressed a spike in infections. Adjusting for population, that would be the equivalent of about 480 cases a day in the U.S., where new daily cases have averaged about 38,000 over the same period. Total deaths in the U.S. due to Covid-19 just surpassed 200,000.

South Korea halted virus transmission better than any other wealthy country during the pandemic’s early months. It was about twice as effective as the U.S. and U.K. at preventing infected individuals from spreading the disease to others, according to a recent report from a United Nations-affiliated research network. South Korea’s economy is expected to decline by just 0.8% this year, the best among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s forecasts for member nations.

The key to South Korea’s success came from blending technology and testing like no other country, centralized control and communication—and a constant fear of failure.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, South Korea, Theology

(CNN) The unlikely rise of Yoshihide Suga, the son of a farmer who is expected to become Japan’s next Prime Minister

Suga is the son of a farmer, and he’s known as a pragmatic, behind-the-scenes deal maker. He grew up in the rural Akita prefecture, and moved to Tokyo after high school. He then worked a series of odd jobs — including one at a cardboard factory and another at the famed Tsukiji fish market — to save money for university, which he went on to attend part time while working.

Suga entered the fast-paced, punishing world of Japan’s salary men after graduation, but it didn’t last. Politics was what shaped and impacted the world, and that’s what he wanted to do.

So he decided to run for city council in Yokohama. Though he lacked connections and political experience, he made up for it with gumption and hard work. He campaigned door-to-door, visiting about 300 houses a day and 30,000 in total, according to the LDP. By the time the election rolled around, he had worn out six pairs of shoes.

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Posted in Japan, Politics in General

(WSJ) Masks Could Help Stop Coronavirus. So Why Are They Still Controversial?

As countries begin to reopen their economies, face masks, an essential tool for slowing the spread of coronavirus, are struggling to gain acceptance in the West. One culprit: Governments and their scientific advisers.

Researchers and politicians who advocate simple cloth or paper masks as cheap and effective protection against the spread of Covid-19, say the early cacophony in official advice over their use—as well as deeper cultural factors—has hampered masks’ general adoption.

There is widespread scientific and medical consensus that face masks are a key part of the public policy response for tackling the pandemic. While only medical-grade N95 masks can filter tiny viral particles and prevent catching the virus, medical experts say even handmade or cheap surgical masks can block the droplets emitted by speaking, coughing and sneezing, making it harder for an infected wearer to spread the virus.

Although many European countries and U.S. states have made masks mandatory in shops or on public transport, studies show that people are reluctant to wear them unless they have to.

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Hong Kong

(NYT) China Is Collecting DNA From Tens of Millions of Men and Boys, Using U.S. Equipment

The police in China are collecting blood samples from men and boys from across the country to build a genetic map of its roughly 700 million males, giving the authorities a powerful new tool for their emerging high-tech surveillance state.

They have swept across the country since late 2017 to collect enough samples to build a vast DNA database, according to a new study published on Wednesday by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a research organization, based on documents also reviewed by The New York Times. With this database, the authorities would be able to track down a man’s male relatives using only that man’s blood, saliva or other genetic material.

An American company, Thermo Fisher, is helping: The Massachusetts company has sold testing kits to the Chinese police tailored to their specifications. American lawmakers have criticized Thermo Fisher for selling equipment to the Chinese authorities, but the company has defended its business.

The project is a major escalation of China’s efforts to use genetics to control its people, which had been focused on tracking ethnic minorities and other, more targeted groups. It would add to a growing, sophisticated surveillance net that the police are deploying across the country, one that increasingly includes advanced cameras, facial recognition systems and artificial intelligence.

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Posted in Anthropology, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Theology

(Wa Po) State Department rebukes China as one of the worst abusers of religious freedom

A State Department official singled out China on Wednesday as one of the world’s worst offenders of religious freedom, saying it backslid the most last year as thousands more people of faith were subjected to imprisonment and forced labor.

The accusation by Sam Brownback, the ambassador of international religious freedom, represented the latest salvo in an exchange of recriminations between Washington and Beijing. In recent months, tensions have grown as the two countries have sparred over the coronavirus, Hong Kong, press freedoms and trade. China has accused the United States of hypocrisy amid nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd and other African Americans who have died in police custody, and the Trump administration’s response to massive demonstrations.

The State Department used Wednesday’s annual Report on International Religious Freedom to increase the crescendo of criticism of China, which has been designated a “country of particular concern” on religious freedom since 1999.

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Posted in China, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

([London] Times) China plans free childcare and tax cuts as birthrate falls to 70-year low

China may cover much of the cost of childcare, from birth to college graduation, to help reverse a decline in the birthrate.

In advance of the National People’s Congress, the rubberstamp legislature that convenes on Friday in Beijing, an influential policy advisory body has suggested that wide-ranging financial support be offered to families to address the falling birthrate in the world’s most populous country, including providing income tax cuts for new parents.

“In recent years the birthrates have plummeted, and the subsequent social and economic problems have become more severe by the day,” the China Democratic League said. It is proposing a series of subsidies to help with childcare costs and even payments to grandparents so they are rewarded for helping young parents to look after their offspring.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General

(BGR) A South Korean Study finds that people who test positive for coronavirus after recovering are not infectious

However, countries like China placed them in quarantine to observe them. Similar reports came from other countries as well, including Korea, where the local CDC reported in mid-April that hundreds of patients had tested positive again. The medical authority observed the evolution of the new patients in the weeks since then, and delivered the best possible preliminary news about coronavirus reinfections: It’s not a relapse.

The KCDC officials published the findings of the study online, revealing that it investigated 285 “re-positive” cases, as well as their 790 contacts. Of those, 27 contacts were positive, 24 of which were cases that were previously confirmed. The other three were cases that were exposed to a religious group or a case in their families, so there is a high likelihood that they were infected by someone other than the “reinfected” individual.

The study says that it took 45 days on average from initial symptom onset to test positive a second time, or 14.3 days from discharge. As many as 44.7% of the patients had symptoms including cough and sore throat, the report says. 60% of them were tested for screening, regardless of symptoms.

The doctors also discovered neutralizing antibodies in all re-positive cases as well as the newly confirmed cases, which is a marker of COVID-19 immunity.

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Science & Technology, South Korea