China’s Smog Has Gotten So Bad, It’s Almost Impossible to See Skyscrapers from the Air
Lydia Ramsey, BUSINESS INSIDER
China’s still getting hit with intense levels of air pollution. As of Wednesday, Beijing was under a “red alert” for smog—the highest of four levels—and a “yellow alert” for fog. Other areas, particularly in northern China were still under red alert as of Wednesday for both fog and smog. The high pollution has been going on for a number of weeks, causing flight delays, and leading to traffic bans, as part of what Business Insider’s Louise Liu called “smog season” or “airpocalypse.” Colder temperatures means more coal is burned to heat homes, which exacerbates China’s air pollution problem.
China Launches Propaganda Movie About The “Iron” Fight Against Corruption
RADIO FREE ASIA
The discipline arm of the ruling Chinese Communist Party has aired a television propaganda film lauding Communist Party leader Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, which he has vowed will target both high-ranking “tigers” and low-ranking “flies.” The film airs amid growing criticism of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection’s use of torture and extrajudicial detention of suspects and witnesses to cases under investigation.
China Tightens Tibetan Border Security to Combat “Separatism”
China has tightened security regulations in Tibet’s border region to battle the risks of terrorism and “separatism,” the state-owned Global Times said. The move follows a call by China early in December for southwestern neighbor India to avoid complicating a simmering dispute over a visit by a senior exiled Tibetan religious leader to a border region. The measure brings land ports and trade zones within the scope of the previous law, and charges low-level government with the responsibility of tipping off police to help regulate the border, according to the article, published late on Monday.
Former Diplomats Urge Trump to Undo “Unlawful” Obama Cuba Policy
Patricia Mazzei and Nora Gámez Torres, MIAMI HERALD
Five former US diplomats with extensive experience in Latin America sent President-elect Donald Trump a letter this week urging him to rescind the executive actions signed by President Barack Obama relaxing sanctions against Cuba and to stop cooperating with Cuban state security. The letter calls on Trump to undo Obama’s “ill-conceived and unlawful executive orders lifting restrictions on doing business with the Castro regime.”
North Korea Able to Test Intercontinental Ballistic Missile This Year, Say Experts
Julian Borger, THE GUARDIAN
North Korea is capable of fulfilling its New Year’s threat to start testing an intercontinental ballistic missile in 2017, bringing a long-brewing standoff with the US to the boil in the first year of a Trump administration, weapons experts have warned. Those experts said the regime in Pyongyang was likely to encounter multiple test failures in developing a two- or three-stage missile capable of reaching the continental United States or Europe, and that it would probably take a few years for such a weapon to become operational.
Taiwan Protests after Vietnam Deports Fraud Suspects to China
SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
Taiwan on Tuesday strongly objected to the deportation of four Taiwanese nationals suspected of telecommunications fraud from Vietnam to mainland China, saying the move was carried out under pressure from Beijing. The latest deportation followed a series of similar cases this year where Taiwanese nationals in Kenya, Malaysia, Armenia and Cambodia have been arrested for alleged involvement in cross-border telecom scam groups and sent to the mainland.
Crimean Tatars: Moscow Adds Those Opposing Annexation to List of “Terrorists & Extremists”
UNREPRESENTED NATIONS AND PEOPLES ORGANIZATION
The Russian government has put Ilmi Umerov, leader of the democratically elected Crimean Tatar Mejlis, on a list of people it deems “Terrorists and Extremists”—simply for holding the opinion that Russia should cease its illegal occupation of Crimea. He and 19 other imprisoned Crimean Muslims now join a list that also features activists and victims of Russian political persecution, such as various Ukrainian opponents of Russia’s occupation of Crimea.
Venezuelan Leader Nicolás Maduro Shakes Up Cabinet
Anatoly Kurmanaev, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
President Nicolás Maduro reshuffled his cabinet Wednesday amid a deepening recession, appointing a state governor to the vice presidency and naming his sixth new economy minister in three years. In a surprise televised address, Mr. Maduro named Tarek El Aissami, governor of the central Aragua state, as his deputy. “Socialism is the way to cure the fatherland,” Mr. El Aissami said on state television following his appointment. “Not the terrorist and criminal right-wing.”