Monday, April 17, 2023

Last Call For Chinese Firing Drill, Con't

As tensions between China and the US continue to worsen, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced today two Chinese nationals operating out of a Chinese police outpost in Chinatown, NYC were arrested for conducting foreign police operations on US soil.
Two men were arrested early Monday on federal charges accusing them of conspiring to act as agents of the People’s Republic of China in connection with a police outpost operated in Manhattan’s Chinatown, officials announced in a news conference.

The outpost, which court papers say was operated by Chinese security officials, is one of more than 100 Chinese police operations around the world that have unnerved diplomats and intelligence officials. The case represents the first time criminal charges have been brought in connection with such a police outpost, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The charges against the men, Lu Jianwang, 61, and Chen Jinping, 59, grew out of an investigation by the F.B.I. and the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn into the Chinatown outpost, which conducted police operations without jurisdiction or diplomatic approval.

“Today’s charges are a crystal clear response to the P.R.C. that we are on to you, we know what you’re doing and we will stop it from happening in the United States of America,” Breon S. Peace, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, said in announcing the charges with other officials. “We don’t need or want a secret police station in our great city,” he added.

Last fall, F.B.I. counterintelligence agents searched the outpost’s offices, located on the third floor of a nondescript building at 107 East Broadway, indicating an escalation in the global dispute over China’s efforts to police its diaspora far beyond its borders.

Officials in Ireland, Canada and the Netherlands have called on China to shut down similar operations in their countries. The F.B.I. raid in New York was the first known example of authorities seizing materials from one of the outposts.

It could not be immediately determined whether the men had lawyers. Mr. Lu, who is also known as Harry Lu, lives in the Bronx and maintains a residence in China. Mr. Chen lives in Manhattan. Both men are U.S. citizens.

In 2018 IRS filings, Mr. Lu was listed as the president of a nonprofit organization called the America Changle Association NY, whose offices housed the police outpost. A criminal complaint unsealed Monday said the group was formed in 2013 and lists its charitable mission as a “social gathering place” for people from the Chinese city of Fuzhou. The complaint says Mr. Lu serves as the association’s general adviser and Mr. Chen as its secretary general.

The two men were charged with obstruction of justice and accused of destroying text messages between themselves and their handler at China’s Ministry of Public Security in October 2022, around the time of the F.B.I. search, as well as conspiring to act as agents of the People’s Republic of China without registering with the Justice Department, as the law requires.

The charges were announced later Monday at a news conference in Brooklyn by Mr. Peace; the F.B.I. assistant director who leads the New York office, Michael Driscoll; and the Justice Department’s top national security official in Washington, David Newman.

The complaint accuses the men of assisting the Chinese government. Since 2015, according to the charges, Mr. Lu participated in counter-protests in Washington, D.C., against members of the Falun Gong, a religion prohibited under Chinese law.

More recently, the complaint says, they have helped operate the police outpost for the Fuzhou Municipal Security Bureau, a branch of the nation’s Ministry of Public Security, the nation’s intelligence, security and secret police.

When news of the search in Lower Manhattan was first reported in January, the Chinese Embassy in Washington downplayed the role of the outposts, saying they were staffed by volunteers who helped Chinese nationals perform routine tasks like renewing their driver’s licenses back home.

But The New York Times reviewed Chinese state news media reports in which the police and local Chinese officials described the operations very differently.

The officials, cited by name, trumpeted the effectiveness of the offices, frequently referred to as overseas police service centers. In some of the reports, the outposts were described as “collecting intelligence” and solving crimes abroad without the involvement of local officials.

Those public statements left it murky who exactly was running the offices. In some instances, they were described as being led by volunteers; in others, by staff members.
Yeah, these "Help Centers" are straight up Chinese police outposts used to keep tabs on Chinese dissidents living abroad.  The fact that these centers are operating out in the open and conducting intelligence operations in broad daylight might be something of an issue, and it's not just here in the US that these outposts exist, either.

I'm glad that the DoJ is moving to interfere with these outfits. NYC can't be the only one in the US, either.

It's time to shut them all down, frankly.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

Black lives, Black History, Black experiences still matter, even when white Republicans try to erase us.
Louisiana Republican Party officials want state lawmakers to forbid the study of racism at colleges and universities, arguing in a resolution approved Saturday that classes examining "inglorious aspects" of United States history are too divisive.

The resolution, passed by voice vote with no discernible dissent at the state party's quarterly meeting in Baton Rouge, asks the Legislature to pass laws removing diversity, equity and inclusion departments and agencies "within any institution of higher learning within the state." Without citing evidence, the resolution asserts that these programs have bloated budgets and inflamed political tensions on campuses.

The move comes amid efforts by Republican lawmakers nationwide to exert more control over educational materials and curricula, including books containing LGBTQ+ themes and classes about racism. They hope the effort will endear them to the GOP’s grassroots base as the party recovers from its 2022 midterm losses and prepares for the 2024 presidential election.

The Louisiana GOP chapter has remained mostly aligned with the national party's far-right factions, rallying in support of former President Donald Trump ahead of his arrest this month and endorsing Trump acolyte Jeff Landry, the state attorney general, for governor. That stance has repeatedly stirred controversy for local party leaders.

In approving Saturday's resolution, state party officials urged the Legislature to take steps similar to those of other conservative states that have considered curtailing programs deemed to increase tribalism and hostility on campuses.

The resolution targets both classroom content promulgating critical race theory and efforts to improve diversity in higher education staffing and campus programming. It criticizes LSU and University of Louisiana System programs run by Claire Norris, a UL system administrator, for dedicating money and staff to diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, offices.

The measure argues that "DEI bureaucracies" act as "divisive ideological commissariats" and that critical race theory makes students feel less rather than more welcome.

The resolution drew a rebuke from University of Louisiana System President Jim Henderson, who in a written statement called the depiction of life on campuses "so foreign to the reality at our institutions it defies comment."

"We make no statement on the inner workings and platform development of political parties. That is their business," Henderson said. "That said, the naming of an invaluable member of my staff is unnecessary and inappropriate. She is an exemplary professional and an asset to Louisiana and higher education."

Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed said in a statement that the Board of Regents stands by its programming.

"Programs that support student success and strengthen a sense of belonging on campus and in the wider community are important and impactful, yielding positive results in student completion," Reed said.
As I've said before when you outlaw a culture's history, when you outlaw learning about the dark aspects of that history, when you make teaching about that history illegal, you erase that culture, and you erase that people.

And then the injustices that happened then, happen again.

Black Lives Still Matter.

The Long (COVID) War, Con't

Colorado's health department has released devastating estimates of the occurrence of long COVID in the state, and it's affecting as much as 10-11% of the population.
State officials have released their first estimate of how many people in Colorado have been hit by long COVID-19. The figure is staggering: Data suggest that between 230,000 and 650,000 Coloradans may have been affected.

With a state population of nearly 6 million, the data suggest as many as one in 10 Coloradans have experienced long COVID, according to the report from The Office of Saving People Money on Healthcare in the Lt. Governor's Office. And many of them have struggled to find treatments and answers about what can be a life-altering illness.

People with post-COVID conditions can have a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, brain fog and headaches, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those may be prolonged, lasting weeks, months, or even years after infection.

Some patients described their challenges in a January segment on CPR’s Colorado Matters.

“I think that's what's so unclear about long COVID and potentially concerning about those numbers is that we certainly know some people recover,” but most haven’t, said Dr. Sarah Jolley, a researcher with CU Anshutz. Jolley is also the medical director of the UCHealth Post-COVID Clinic, one site of a national study looking at recovery after COVID.

Jolley said only 30 to 40 percent of long COVID patients have returned to their individual health baseline so far, based on what she’s observed and seen in research.

“There are a number of folks where symptoms persist much longer and so it's hard to estimate what proportion of that 600,000 will have longer-term symptoms versus shorter-term long COVID symptoms,” she said. “I would say the minority of individuals that we've seen have had complete recovery.”

The implications of that are enormous, Jolley said, both in terms of so-called long-haulers’ quality of life as well as Colorado’s workforce, education, health care and other systems.

Jolley said the best protection and prevention against long COVID is getting fully vaccinated, including the latest booster. “We know that vaccination lessens the risk of long COVID, lessens the severity of initial disease,” she said, noting the lagging number of people getting the omicron booster in Colorado. Currently, only about a quarter of eligible people in the state have received the omicron booster, according to the state’s vaccine dashboard, far below the uptake for the initial series of vaccines.
When the best case scenario is "two percent of the population is suffering from debilitating, long-term physical and mental symptoms preventing them from being able to function" then again, we're nowhere near ready to deal with the implications. We're talking millions, maybe tens of millions of Americans disabled by COVID in the months and years ahead.
We're not going to have the resources to deal with that, let alone the second and third-order effects on the economy, society, and health systems.  

This is going to be the public health challenge of our generation and we've barely even started to acknowledge it.
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