Category Archives: United States

8964940949_1976b06d6f_b

The Gulag Aperture: Hollywood Becomes Handmaiden To China’s Communist Party

On New Year’s Day, China Central Television (CCTV) unveiled its newest “soft power” entertainment media venture, whose purpose is to extend China’s global media influence. Chinese President Xi Jinping said that the overriding directive of this new collection of television stations and news agencies will be to “follow the party line and promote ‘positive propaganda as the main theme.’”

The CCTV announcement compounds the growing risk that increased Chinese investment will entice Hollywood into volunteering itself as a propaganda division of the Communist Party of China (CPC). And if these trends continue, the Western world’s outlet for Chinese dissenters will be closed.

China’s film industry has in recent years grown approximately 34% annually and generated $6.8 billion in 2015. While many applaud the very modest political reforms that sometimes complement China’s market liberalization, one should be wary of the country’s iron grip on its entertainment industry.

China’s industry players are inextricably bound to the CPC, as evidenced by the ascent of Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man. Jianlin’s successes are a product of quid pro quo arrangements between himself and the CPC’s top officials. Further, Jianlin is a delegate to the CPC congress and was a high-level advisor in China’s faux legislature from 2008 to 2013. Today, CPC delegate Jianlin can count several American awards shows, including the Golden Globes, the Billboard and American Music Awards, and even AMC Theaters as part of his recently accrued collection.

Continue reading at Forbes.

 

16213616857_9c8e164e9f_b

What DeVos can do to calm her critics

Early in his campaign, Donald Trump pledged, “As president, I will establish the national goal of providing school choice to every American child living in poverty. If we can put a man on the moon, dig out the Panama Canal, and win two world wars, then I have no doubt that we as a nation can provide school choice to every disadvantaged child in America.”

Now that Betsy DeVos is confirmed, America could be closer to achieving this goal, but the path will not be easy due to strong partisan opinions in both the House and the Senate.  Already pegged as the “most polarizing education secretary ever,” it is clear that DeVos has a tough job ahead of her.

In order to lead America’s education policy and quell the legitimate concerns raised by her opponents, DeVos should explain to worried Americans that school choice can still include an effective public school system.  Further, DeVos should repeal federal regulations that disincentivize states from adopting personalized education programs that could benefit their students.

While some criticism of DeVos has been political theatre, a few of DeVos’s colleagues have legitimate worries about her policies.  Two of them, Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, even broke rank to make the confirmation vote close.  DeVos is a strong advocate of school choice policies and the reallocation of public school funds to voucher programs and private schools, which can be a scary prospect for senators from rural areas like Alaska and Maine.

Continue reading at American Thinker.

5726737993_5c0c7d3d9f_b

The World Health Organization Is A Mess: Will Trump Fix It?

World leaders are putting the World Health Organization on notice if they don’t shape up. President Trump is threatening to cut 40 percent of U.S. funding from international organizations, while the United Kingdom released a report this week  in which they say WHO must reform quickly or it “will result in decreased U.K. funding.”

Even with public health focus on threats such as the Zika and Ebola viruses, vaccines, and mental health, critics have accused the WHO of mission creep, putting resources into too many issues and not focusing enough on the important ones.

The journal Nature even took the unprecedented step of issuing an editorial demanding reform at the WHO, which they see as too bloated to tackle essential global health issues.

“Making matters worse, the agency is lumbered with a cumbersome and expensive organizational structure comprising a headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, and six semi-autonomous regional offices,” they wrote this week. “This has resulted in a complex, bureaucratic and ineffective management structure. It is a body that is ripe for root-and-branch reform.”

Fears that nations will cut funding has already affected the race for the next director-general of the World Health Organization, now narrowed down to just three candidates from the U.K., Ethiopia and Pakistan.

“I don’t think that if we (make reforms) we will necessarily be cut off from money,” said David Nabarro, a special advisor to the UN and the British candidate to head the WHO, to Agence France-Presse. He was appointed as special envoy to address the spread of cholera in Haiti by UN peacekeepers back in 2010, which led to the country’s largest epidemic.

Continue reading at The American Spectator.

2696181147_6933efd218_b

Did Facebook Undermine its Anti-Fake-News Narrative by Enlisting Uber-Partisan David Brock?

After Hillary Clinton’s surprising fall from grace, longtime Clinton loyalist David Brock staged a Democratic Party revival pitch-session in Florida over inauguration weekend. Within a week, the Washington Free Beacon published a copy of a “briefing book” from the Florida retreat, revealing Brock’s claim that his progressive non-profit outlet, Media Matters, was “engaging with Facebook leadership” to offer a solution to the purported fake news epidemic.

If Brock’s boast is true, then it presents a serious problem.

A man with a suspect ethical worldview, Brock has an undeniable knack for “saturating the airwaves” with spin and an equally undeniable handicap when it comes to being politically neutral. He is so virulently partisan that he quit the board of his own government watchdog, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, when Bush-administration ethics lawyer Richard Painter joined.

Simply put, if it’s true that Facebook went to Media Matters to find the antidote for fake news, then it shows that Mark Zuckerberg either doesn’t care that David Brock is an unabashedly biased Democratic operative, doesn’t care that he has admitted to disseminating misinformation, or both.

Continue reading at Townhall.

8567813820_32b8aa4810_b

Trump should rein in the Export-Import Bank

Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump promised to revolutionize trade policy for the benefit of American workers and industry. He should begin by stopping the Export-Import Bank from purveying corporate welfare.

Ex-Im is a federal agency established to help American exporters by providing taxpayer-backed financing to governments and businesses in developing foreign markets without access to the necessary means to buy American products. In its youth, Ex-Im did just that and bolstered exports in the interwar period to Cuba, Haiti and Burma. Over the last 50 years, though, it has ventured far from its original purpose and has become a vehicle for ruinous market distortion.

According to the Mercatus Center, some of the largest beneficiaries of Ex-Im financing are companies like Boeing, Bechtel Power, General Electric and Caterpillar — all multinational conglomerates that could conceivably get financing directly from private lenders.

Continue reading at Washington Examiner.