May 30th, 2017 | Victims of Communism

Victims of Communism — Memorial Foundation

May 30th, 2017


China’s Social Credit System: a big-data enabled approach to market regulation with broad implications for doing business in China
Under the catchphrase “Social Credit System” China is in the process of implementing a new and highly ambitious scheme to monitor, rate, and regulate the behavior of both, Chinese citizens and companies. Although international discussion has focused mainly on the impact of the system on individuals, the core motivation behind the Social Credit System is to more effectively steer the behavior of market participants. In the latest China Monitor “China’s Social Credit System,” MERICS expert Mirjam Meissner argues that big data technology is key to the system. Given the extraordinary speed of digitization in China, she says, the potential for data collection via real-time monitoring is almost unlimited.

Joshua Wong: Hong Kong’s democracy fighter gets Netflix treatment
James Griffiths, CNN
In 2014, still not old enough to drive, Wong was one of the leaders of the pro-democracy “Umbrella Revolution”—the largest protest movement Hong Kong has ever seen, which shut down parts of the city for months, and saw him feature on the front page of TIME magazine. Born in 1996, eight months before control of Hong Kong was handed over from the UK to China, Wong has spent most of his adolescence and all of his early adulthood fighting for the city’s rights against what he and others say is increasing encroachment by Beijing. The fight is now at the subject of an award-winning Netflix documentary, Teenager vs. Superpower.


Trump to reverse Obama’s Cuba policy
Niv Elis, THE HILL
President Donald Trump plans on reversing a set of policies softening relations with Cuba, according to a report from The Daily Caller. The US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, a non-partisan group, said the Trump administration is preparing to announce the changes to Obama-era policies in a June speech in Miami. The report cites two unnamed sources who said a bipartisan trio of senators—Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.)—pushed for the reversal. Obama, who became the first US president to visit Cuba in almost a century last year, put in motion a series of policies to thaw relations with the Communist island nation, which had been a strategic burden throughout the Cold War. 


Catholics in Laos welcome appointment of first cardinal

Catholics in Laos have welcomed the appointment of the country’s first ever cardinal, in the wake of the government’s warming relations with the Catholic Church. “We are extremely happy to hear that our Bishop Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun has been named as the first ever cardinal in Laos,” Martha Le Thi Thuy Hanh from Sacred Heart Parish, in the southern province of Champasak, told UCAN. The 62-year-old woman hopes the cardinal-designate, who has good relations with communist government authorities, will be able to improve religious freedoms for Catholic communities in the country.  She said the government restricts religious activities in many areas of the country. “Soldiers with guns pretend to guard places of worship. They walk around and even enter Christian churches while people gather for services,” she said. 


Pentagon to test new anti-missile system in wake of North Korea threat
Barbara Starr and Ryan Browne, CNN
The Pentagon on Tuesday will for the first time test its ability to shoot down an intercontinental ballistic missile using its own upgraded long-range interceptor missile in what is being widely seen as a test of US ability to counter a North Korean missile launch. The test, which will take place in the skies over the Pacific Ocean, comes just two days after Pyongyang fired a short-range ballistic missile that traveled an estimated 248 miles, splashing down within Japan’s exclusive economic zone. In a Monday tweet, President Donald Trump joined the leaders of South Korea and Japan in condemning the test, saying that North Korea had “shown great disrespect” for China by “shooting off yet another ballistic missile.”

Macron does not “exclude escalation” of economic sanctions against Russia
Brian Bonner, KYIV POST
French President Emmanuel Macron held out the possibility for tougher economic sanctions against Russia if it does not end its war against Ukraine. “I confirm to you at this stage that I have suggestions that don’t exclude escalation. But that’s not my hope. What I’d like is, through the Minsk agreement, to find a solution, and for the Ukrainian and Russian sides, a de-escalation.” He said he hopes for a solution in accordance with the 2015 Minsk peace agreement. The agreement requires Russia to withdraw militarily from eastern Ukraine, return eastern border control to Ukraine and allow international monitors unfettered access.

Moscow vows to retaliate after Moldova expels five Russian diplomats
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin has promised a “tough” response after Moldova ordered five of Moscow’s diplomats in Chisinau to leave the country. “The response will certainly follow, it will be quite tough,” he said on May 29 after Chisinau declared the Russian envoys to be personae non gratae and gave them 72 hours to leave. The diplomatic spat comes amid tensions between pro-Russian President Igor Dodon, who was elected late last year, and the West-leaning government, and follows allegations that a former Moldovan lawmaker passed state secrets to an attache of the Russian Embassy.

Carter adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski dies at 89
Zbigniew Brzezinski, who helped topple economic barriers between the Soviet Union, China and the West as President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, died Friday. He was 89. Brzezinski’s climb to the top of the foreign policy community began at Canada’s McGill University, where he earned degrees in economics and political science. Later at Harvard, he received a doctorate in government, a fellowship and a publishing contract—for his thesis on Soviet purges as a permanent feature of totalitarianism. Frequent trips to Eastern Europe and several books and articles in the 1950s established Brzezinski as an expert on communism. In a joint statement, former President George H.W. Bush and former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft paid tribute to Brzezinski as a “great American who served our nation with honor” and a “good man and a good friend.”

Russians discussed potentially “derogatory” information about Trump and associates during campaign
Pamela Brown, Jim Sciutto, and Dana Bash, CNN
Russian government officials discussed having potentially “derogatory” information about then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and some of his top aides in conversations intercepted by US intelligence during the 2016 election, according to two former intelligence officials and a congressional source. One source described the information as financial in nature and said the discussion centered on whether the Russians had leverage over Trump’s inner circle. The source said the intercepted communications suggested to US intelligence that Russians believed “they had the ability to influence the administration through the derogatory information.”


Venezuela opposition accuses Goldman Sachs of financing dictatorship
The president of Venezuela’s opposition-run Congress on Monday accused Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs of “aiding and abetting the country’s dictatorial regime” following a report that it had bought $2.8 billion in bonds from the cash-strapped country. The Wall Street Journal on Sunday said Goldman paid 31 cents on the dollar for bonds issued by state oil company PDVSA that mature in 2022, or around $865 million, citing five people familiar with the transaction. That comes as two months of opposition protests against President Nicolas Maduro have killed almost 60 people and the collapse of the country’s socialist economy has left millions of people struggling to eat.

Venezuela opposition leaders wounded in anti-government march
Two Venezuelan opposition leaders were wounded on Monday by security forces dispersing protests in the capital Caracas against President Nicolas Maduro, according to one of the leaders and an opposition legislator. Maduro’s adversaries have for two months been blocking highways and setting up barricades in protests demanding he call early elections and address an increasingly severe economic crisis that has left millions struggling to get enough to eat. “We were ambushed,” said two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, who accompanied protesters in an effort to march to the headquarter of the government ombudsman’s office but was blocked by security forces. “This government is capable of killing or burning anything.”


Vietnam looks to salvage Obama trade gains in Trump visit
Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen and John Boudreau, BLOOMBERG POLITICS
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has a tough task when he visits the White House this week: Convince President Donald Trump to advance trade ties that blossomed under the Obama administration. Vietnam respects Trump’s exit from a Pacific trade pact agreed to under Barack Obama, and the two sides are working on “new mechanisms” to boost bilateral trade. In recent years the U.S. and Vietnam have found common ground over worries about China, which has used its increased military muscle to assert control over disputed reefs in the South China Sea. Vietnam fought a border war with China in 1979 and remains suspicious of its neighbor, despite its similar communist political system and growing trade ties.