He was one of millions of Chinese seniors growing old alone. So he put himself up for adoption.

Han had lived through a lot. Born in 1932, he was a boy when the Japanese invaded China, a teenager when Mao Zedong founded the People’s Republic, a young man in the hungry years that followed.

china
© Provided by WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington

Han Zicheng survived the Japanese invasion, the Chinese civil war and the Cultural Revolution, but he knew he could not endure the sorrow of living alone.

On a chilly day in December, the 85-year-old Chinese grandfather gathered some scraps of white paper and wrote out a pitch in blue ink: “Looking for someone to adopt me.”
“Lonely old man in his 80s. Strong-bodied. Can shop, cook and take care of himself. No chronic illness. I retired from a scientific research institute in Tianjin, with a monthly pension of 6,000 RMB [$950] a month,” he wrote.

“I won’t go to a nursing home. My hope is that a kind-hearted person or family will adopt me, nourish me through old age and bury my body when I’m dead.”
He taped a copy to a bus shelter in his busy neighbourhood.
Then he went home to wait.  Han was desperate for company. He said his wife had died. His sons were out of touch. His neighbours had kids to raise and elderly parents of their own.

He was fit enough to ride his bike to the market to buy chestnuts, eggs and buns, but he knew that his health would one day fail him. He also knew he was but one of tens of millions of Chinese growing old without enough support. Improved living standards and the one-child policy have turned China’s population pyramid upside down. Already, 15 percent of Chinese are older than 60. By 2040, it will be nearly one in four, according to current projections.

It’s a demographic crisis that threatens China’s economy and the fabric of family life. Businesses must chug along with fewer workers. A generation of single children care for aging parents on their own.

‘The President repaid it’: Rudy Giuliani says Trump DID know about $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels

Stormy and Choppy waters?

trump
© Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: AFP

Donald Trump DID know about a $130,000 payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels and reimbursed his lawyer Michael Cohen, Rudy Giuliani sensationally admitted last night.
The slip-up came during a live TV interview in which Giuliani, a long-time friend of Trump’s who has recently joined his legal team, was trying to explain why the payment was not a problem for the President.
In an interview with Trump ally Sean Hannity on Fox News, Giuliani maintained that the $130,000 was “perfectly legal”. But in unguarded moment, the former New York mayor also said the money had been “funneled… through a law firm, and the president repaid it.” Those words directly contradict months of statements from both the White House and President Trump himself.
The saga began when it emerged Trump’s long-time lawyer and friend Michael Cohen had paid 39-year-old Stormy Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, to keep quiet about an alleged affair shortly before the 2016 election.

storm
© Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: AFP

 

Cambridge Analytica Closing Operations After Facebook Data Scandal

 

cambr
©The Wall Street Journal

Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that worked for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, is shutting down following disclosures about its use of Facebook data and the campaign tactics it pitched to clients.

In March, the company suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, and said it was launching an independent investigation to determine if the company engaged in any wrongdoing in its work on political campaigns. Nigel Oakes, the founder of SCL Group, Cambridge Analytica’s British affiliate, confirmed that both companies were closing down.  The company decided to close its doors because it was losing clients and facing mounting legal fees in the Facebook investigation, a person familiar with the matter said. The firm is shutting down effective Wednesday and employees have been told to turn in their computers.

The moves followed the release of a video that depicted Mr. Nix touting campaign tactics such as entrapping political opponents with bribes and sex. The sales pitch was captured by undercover journalists at British broadcaster Channel 4. Mr. Nix’s suspension also follows reports that the company improperly used data from millions of Facebook Inc. profiles without authorization.

Why it’s right for the House of Lords to apply the brakes on a train-crash Brexit – Lord Karan Bilimoria

“We’re not ‘unelected wreckers’. Our role is to safeguard democracy and ensure parliament and the people get a meaningful say on a final deal,” says Lord Karan Bilimoria of Chelsea.

  • Crossbench Peer
  • Founder of Cobra beer
  • Founding Chairman of UK – India Business Council
2000px-House_of_Lords.svg
‘The government has already been defeated nine times, with Conservative members voting against their party whip in almost every instance.’

© edp.earecom.press

Theresa May today chairs her Brexit “war cabinet” to resolve growing tensions in government over the course of Brexit negotiations. This follows further defeats for No 10 in the House of Lords as the EU withdrawal bill is debated.
Some might call us a “house of unelected wreckers” – I was one of three peers pictured alongside this headline on the front page of Tuesday’s Daily Mail. But rather than being at war with the nation, we are its very custodians. When I joined the House of Lords, as one of its youngest peers, I made it a point to speak in debates about Lords reform. Over nearly 12 years, those debates have shaped my view, giving me an understanding of the unique role of this institution of appointed, unelected members (including 92 hereditary peers and 26 bishops). It is one of the most effective parliamentary chambers in the world, mainly because of the depth and breadth of expertise. Furthermore, a minimum of a fifth of members have to be, like me, independent crossbench peers – not aligned to any political party. This combination of expertise and independence enables the Lords to challenge the government, debate issues and scrutinise legislation with authority on a day-to-day basis. As the EU withdrawal bill makes its way through parliament, the Lords is a voice of reason, guiding the nation through one of the most challenging times in its history.
We are constantly called on to honour the will of the people. And yet the government has no defence against hundreds of arguments – whether discussing borders, education or the movement of people – other than, “we are implementing the will of the people”, the 17.4 million who voted in favour of Brexit.
However, the referendum was a yes-no vote, not a blank cheque to leave the EU whatever the terms.
This week we debated whether parliament should have a meaningful vote at the end of the Brexit negotiations. The government’s interpretation of “meaningful vote”, spelt out by the Brexit minister Lord Callanan, is that parliament will be given the option to accept the deal or, if not, we would leave the EU on a “no deal” basis, crashing out of the EU on World Trade Organisation rules. This would be an utter disaster – almost 70% of our overseas trade is with countries in the EU, single market and customs union or in a free trade agreement with the EU.The government has already been defeated nine times, with Conservative members voting against their party whip in almost every instance. Over this latest amendment, promising parliament a “meaningful vote” on the final deal, 19 Conservative Lords – including former ministers – rebelled against the Government.
The Lords’ latest amendment allows parliament to have a proper say over our future deal with the EU, including an option of leaving on different terms, or even remaining in the EU if that is by far the best option.
MPs are caught in a trap. At the time of the referendum, over two-thirds of them thought the best thing for the country would be to remain in the EU. And yet many of their constituencies voted to leave. The confusion is whether they see themselves as delegates or leaders of their constituencies. Are they making these decisions in the interests of their constituents and country, or of their party? The difference between managers and leaders is that managers do things right whereas leaders do the right thing. Are our MPs managers or leaders? Do they have the guts to stand up when the time comes to do the right thing?
And the latest amendment, far from being anti-democratic, could even lead to parliament handing the public a vote on the final deal (or no deal). People were given four months in 2016 to understand the complex issue of our EU membership, spanning four decades. Now, two years after the referendum, so much has changed, the will of the people cannot be interpreted as “take it or leave it”; it is not leave “on whatever terms”.
Surely, with a permanent decision such as this, the public should be asked: “You voted to leave in June 2016 – are you still prepared to leave on these terms, or to accept that there will be no deal?” That, to me, would be real democracy.
In any normal democracy, you have elections every five years and people can change their minds. Deprive us of that option and you have a dictatorship.
The government has already shown that it is willing to bypass parliament. Theresa May wanted to implement article 50 without the assent of parliament, and is now trying to take Britain out of the EU without giving parliament a meaningful vote – let alone giving the people a meaningful say. Far from respecting democracy, it is bypassing democracy.
Whichever way you look at it, if remaining in the European Union is the best option by far, it is our duty in the House of Lords to make sure that option is available to the public.
We learn, day after day, more about the significance of Brexit. It is like watching a train crash in slow motion. Our amendments in the House of Lords are made in the hope that we give MPs the ability to stop this crash.

“Iran is moving ‘very quickly’ towards production of a nuclear bomb and could have a weapon within two years,” the United Press International reported. But is it really true?

iran
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is shown at a ceremony to mark National Nuclear Technology Day in Tehran [Iranian presidency/AFP]

Iran is moving ‘very quickly’ towards production of a nuclear bomb and could have a weapon within two years,” the United Press International reported.
The quote was published in a 1984 article headlined “‘Ayatollah’ bomb in production for Iran” but it might as well have been published today.
For more than three decades Western politicians and the press have been claiming that Iran is a nuclear threat.
Israeli leaders Benjamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres echoed this claim numerous times in the 1990s, warning that Iran would build an atomic bomb by the next decade.
In the fall of 2012, Netanyahu declared at the United Nations General Assembly meeting – with his infamous bomb cartoon – that Iran would be able to build a nuclear weapon by June 2013.

netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu points to a cartoon bomb representing Iran’s nuclear programme at the UN General Assembly in September 2012 [Lucas Jackson/Reuters]
The following October, former US President Barack Obama followed with a new deadline – that Iran is a year away from making a nuclear bomb.
Most recently, the press reported earlier this month that Yossi Cohen, head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, stated he is “100 percent certain” that Iran is seeking to build a nuclear weapon. And yet, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has released eight statements over the years confirming that Tehran has been meeting its nuclear commitments fully.
In July 2015, a landmark nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was reached between Iran and the P5+1 countries: China, France, Russia, the UK, the US plus Germany, in which Iran agreed to reduce its enrichment of uranium, curbing its nuclear programme and ending decades of sanctions on the country.
While Iran has proved to be following its commitments, US President Donald Trump has found a new threat – Iran’s ballistic missile programme – and has threatened to scrap the nuclear agreement, which he has called the “worst deal ever”.

Kanye West on slavery: ‘For 400 years? That sounds like a choice’

TV host Marc Lamont Hill wrote: “There has never been a moment in history when Black people didn’t resist slavery… Our resistance led to our freedom.”

west
Kanye West recently recorded a song defending his support for Donald Trump  

The rapper, who has been tweeting out support for Donald Trump in recent weeks, was talking about the president, free thinking and labels before he moved onto slavery.

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years,” he said. “For 400 years? That sounds like a choice. You was there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all. It’s like we’re mentally in prison. I like the word prison because slavery goes too direct to the idea of blacks. Slavery is to blacks as the Holocaust is to Jews. Prison is something that unites as one race, blacks and whites, that we’re the human race.”

He then proceeded to talk directly to the entire office before TMZ reporter Van Lathan shot back at him for his comments. “I actually don’t think you’re thinking anything,” he said.

He continued: “While you are making music and being an artist and living the life that you’ve earned by being a genius, the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives.” Lathan said he was “unbelievably hurt” about Kanye morphing into something that’s “not real”.

West’s comments were met by anger and incredulity. Fellow rapper Will.i.am told Good Morning Britain that West’s comments were “ignorant” and “broke my heart … when you’re a slaved, you’re owned… that’s not choice, that’s by force.” Prominent civil rights activist Deray McKesson said West “continues to fuel the racist right-wing folks who believe that black people are responsible for their oppression,” while fellow activist and TV host Marc Lamont Hill wrote: “There has never been a moment in history when Black people didn’t resist slavery… Our resistance led to our freedom.”

 

 

From the Home Office to No 10, Theresa May has entrenched racial inequality

 May’s hostile environment is the new face of Tory institutional racism, ever present from Stephen Lawrence to Windrush

illegal.jpg
‘From the Home Office into Downing Street, racial inequality has been entrenched on Theresa May’s watch.’ Photograph:  Huffingtonpost.co.uk

The departure of Amber Rudd over the Windrush scandal should also mean the end of the government’s “hostile environment”, a baton the former home secretary picked up from her predecessor – and the architect of the policy – Theresa May. But this is something that is not just confined to the Home Office.
The murder of Stephen Lawrence 25 years ago, and the watershed Macpherson report that followed, brought to public attention the fact that racism does not just manifest itself as physical violence or personal abuse, but can also be institutional. William Macpherson defined it as the “collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin”.
Such failures on Windrush are stark. Commonwealth citizens – who have lived and worked in this country for decades – losing their jobs, prevented from coming home after travelling overseas, denied NHS treatment, threatened with deportation, held in detention centres or even deported. To borrow a phrase from the prime minister’s inaugural speech, these are burning injustices – black people being “treated more harshly by the criminal justice system”. And these injustices flow directly from the government’s hostile environment policy and its decision in 2014 to remove protection for Commonwealth citizens. They are institutional. The Windrush scandal has exposed the very worst of this government.
This government may have reported on its race disparity audit but, in truth, this just brings together data we already knew – that people from diverse communities face multiple layers of disadvantage. We are still waiting for the government to act on its findings.
Wherever you look, black, Asian and minority-ethnic people are disproportionately affected by government policies, and have to jump additional hurdles to succeed. It’s the same hostile environment.
Recent reports have exposed the profoundly shocking fact that in 2016, May’s first year as prime minister, not a single one of the 339 black Caribbean applicants to the government’s civil service fast stream scheme – which identifies and trains up the next generation of senior civil servants – was successful