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A proposed law would allow American victims of Wuhan coronavirus to sue the Chinese Communist Party for damages.

Americans will be able to take the Chinese Communist Party to court for its lies and omissions about the Chinese Wuhan coronavirus from the Middle Kingdom under a new bill proposed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas). The bill would strike down immunity for foreign countries like China in the specific case of the coronavirus, enabling Americans to sue for damages in U.S. courts.

"By silencing doctors and journalists who tried to warn the world about the coronavirus, the Chinese Communist Party allowed the virus to spread quickly around the globe," Cotton said in a statement on the legislation. "Their decision to cover up the virus led to thousands of needless deaths and untold economic harm. It's only appropriate that we hold the Chinese government accountable for the damage it has caused."

The immediate question then is: if plaintiffs win, how could they collect payment from the CCP? The CCP has plenty of assets in America that could be seized -- particularly real estate, which could be harvested at a premium (low) valuation thanks to the coronavirus -- but here's another idea: China owns about $1.1 trillion in American debt that could be transferred and repatriated to victorious plaintiffs.

If the United States moves forward with any kind of legal liability for the CCP it's likely to provoke retaliatory seizures of America assets in China.


There are a lot of numbers we don't know yet about the China coronavirus that's plaguing the world right now, but there's at least one number we should know that I haven't seen reported: the excess death rate:

I have no doubt the number of deaths there now is higher than usual and that there are excess deaths, perhaps a huge number, particularly in certain regions of the north where the virus has been concentrated. But how much higher? Italy ordinarily has a particularly high rate of death from the flu, for example, which might make the "excess death" figure especially important to know. Are significant numbers of the deaths we're seeing in Italy deaths that would be taking place anyway from the flu or other illnesses we're accustomed to and which sometimes cause the death of elderly people who are already ill? And if so, how many?

One of the huge problems with COVID-19 is that so far it seems to have caused localized outbreaks that burden a health system and in particular hospital ICU resources. That in turn results in some people dying who might otherwise be saved but for the sudden influx. That is particularly frightening, and many of the strategies being brought to bear in the US are a result of trying to prevent such a calamity. But in order to know how much we need to do and what we can expect in the worst-case scenario, wouldn't figures for excess deaths in Italy be helpful?

But so far I haven't found anything written for the public discussing that issue. I realize that, since the disease only began a few months ago, we don't have figures for total excess deaths. But shouldn't we have some preliminary figures to compare to average figures per day or per week or per month during a bad flu season and during a good flu season in the localities involved?

Basically, how many people are dying now than we'd expect to be dying in a "normal" year? We can attribute the difference to the China coronavirus.


Congratulations to our brothers and sisters in the UK.

"We love Europe, we just hate the European Union."


Despite claims that the money the Obama Administration gave to Iran already belonged to Iran, this isn't true. The Iranian money previously seized by the Unites States had already been paid out as compensation to the victims of Iranian terror.

The most infamous payoff was the $1.7 billion in cash the administration shipped off to the IRGC on wooden pallets in exchange for U.S. citizens held hostage by the regime. The White House said that there was no "quid pro quo," that it was Iran's money to begin with--$400 million the pre-revolutionary government had deposited in 1979 to buy U.S. arms, plus interest. But the U.S. had already used the $400 million to compensate terror victims of the Islamic Republic. That was Iran's money. The $400 million the Obama administration used to "pay back" the Iranians belonged to the U.S. taxpayer.

The administration argued that the U.S. had to pay the ransom in cash because Tehran had been cut off from the financial system and there was no other way to transfer the funds. That was not true. The Obama administration had wired payments to Iran before and after the wooden pallets episode. The Iranians wanted cash so it would be harder to track their terror financing.


Hong Kong protests are spreading to Guangdong in mainland China:

Slogans of Hong Kong's democratic movement have been reportedly heard at protests in a Chinese city 60 miles to the west.

According to Hong Kong-based Apple Daily--a vocal supporter of the democracy campaign in Hong Kong--chants of "Liberate Maoming! Revolution of our times!" were heard during several days of protest in Maoming.

The chant is a take on the "Liberate Hong Kong" slogan commonly used during protests across the border, where anti-government demonstrations have raged since June.

Protestors also reportedly told Apple Daily reporters that their movement was "just like you [in] Hong Kong." Both cities share a common Cantonese language.

In confrontations that began last week, Maoming protesters pelted police with bricks and set off fireworks, forcing authorities to announce Sunday that they would not be building a crematorium on plot of unused land in the area. The long-running plan had infuriated residents, who had been promised an ecological park on the same site.

And Iran is in flames:

The Iranian regime faces the most serious popular challenge to its tyranny in 40 years. Sparked by a 50 percent hike in fuel prices last month, the uprising has spread to the whole country. Security forces have killed hundreds of protesters, and at one point they were even forced to shut down the internet -- a sign that the ayatollahs feared for the survival of their regime.

So it's worth asking: Did our ­experts see this coming?

Nope: Most were too busy blasting President Trump. The prestige press and Twitterati spent the last few years railing against the president for trashing the nuclear deal and ratcheting up sanctions -- actions that had supposedly sent the Iranian people rallying around the flag.

President Trump's approaches to China and Iran have been controversial, but they appear to be bearing fruit. Hopefully the United States will continue support the right of these protesters to express themselves freely and peacefully.


The whole Trump-Ukraine "outrage" is absurd. All the foreign aid we give comes with strings attached, and all presidents use those strings to help their political standing in America. Is this bad? It's probably not ideal, but what can we do about it? The only real solution I can think of is to just cancel all foreign aid to everyone.

On the campaign trail right now, both Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are promising to suspend foreign aid to Israel if the Jewish nation doesn't change their policies toward Gaza.

Sanders, in a speech said, "I would use the leverage, $3.8 billion is a lot of money, and we cannot give it carte blanche to the Israeli government or for that matter to any government at all."

You can disagree with Bernie Sanders' approach to the specific policy on trying to force Israel to soften up on Gaza - many, many do. But the idea that an American President can use foreign aid to spur policy changes or specific actions in the receiving nation is not new or illegal.

Do Warren and Sanders have a political calculation here? Obviously. But I imagine that they also think their "strings" would be good for America's interests. I assume Trump feels similarly with regards to Ukraine and the Bidens.

United States taxpayers provided almost $50 billion in economic and military foreign aid in 2018 alone. That's enough to give every retired worker in America about a $1,200 per year increase in their social security.

How can we not expect that our foreign aid will come with expectations, even demands, for some things to get done? ...

So if we are going to criminalize a President attaching strings to foreign aid, just cancel all foreign aid tomorrow and give America's social security recipients a nice monthly increase - they deserve it more than those third-world dictators anyway.

We send a lot of money to foreign countries, and the feigned belief that it's an impeachable offense to expect something in return is completely absurd. Hopefully the President's political intersts align with America's interests, but there's no objective method for ensuring that. If we aren't satisfied with how politics affects foreign aid, then let's just cancel it all -- at least until we get a balanced budget and aren't borrowing money to give away.


Two weeks ago I linked to an opinion that went against the conventional wisdom on Trump's withdrawal of American forces from Syria -- it argued that our partnership with the Kurds wasn't in America's interest anymore, and that we had gotten too emotionally involved with the Kurds at the expense of our long-time allies. Suffice to say, that opinion was not widely shared among Middle East experts.

Now Trump is claiming that the successful elimination of ISIS leader Al-Baghdadi is a vindication of his strategy. Just last year the Washington Post taunted Trump with his till-then failure to get Al-Baghdadi. Now that the vicious terrorist leader is dead, Trump's single-minded domestic enemies are quick rob him of any credit.

Al-Baghdadi Raid Was a Victory Built on Factors Trump Derides

The president cast the death of the ISIS leader as validation of his disengagement strategy. But it required intelligence agencies and allies he has spurned.

I think you have to be pretty blind not to connect the dots between Trump's strategic shake-up and the death of Al-Baghdadi two weeks later.

This blindness seems to be pretty common for Trump's enemies: every time he has a success they think it's in spite of his actions. Yet Trump keeps acting the same way, and he keeps racking up successes as he defines them. His enemies would probably more effective at achieving their goals if they weren't constantly underestimating Trump.


The headline seems bizarre, but it's true -- Mexico is facing a serious insurgency and the central government no longer maintains a monopoly on the use of force.

Last Thursday in the city of Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state, a battle erupted between government forces and drug cartel gunmen after the Mexican military captured two sons of jailed drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. The elder son, Ivan, was quickly freed by his men, who overpowered government forces and secured his release. Ivan then launched an all-out siege of the entire city in an effort to free his younger brother, Ovidio.

The ensuing scene could have been mistaken for Syria or Yemen. Footage posted on social media Thursday showed burning vehicles spewing black smoke, heavily armed gunmen blocking roads, dead bodies strewn in the streets, and residents fleeing for cover amid high-caliber gunfire.

Armed with military-grade weapons and driving custom-built armored vehicles, cartel henchmen targeted security forces throughout Culiacan, launching more than one dozen separate attacks on Mexican security forces. They captured and held hostage eight soldiers, then kidnapped their families. Amid the fighting, an unknown number of inmates escaped from a nearby prison. At least eight people were killed and more than a dozen were injured.

The eight-hour battle ended when government forces, outgunned and surrounded, without reinforcements or a way to retreat, received an order directly from Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to release their prisoner and surrender. Lopez Obrador later defended this decision, insisting that his security strategy is working and saying, "Many people were at risk and it was decided to protect people's lives. I agreed with that, because we don't do massacres, that's over."

If the government isn't willing to fight and win decisive battles against the drug cartels -- and the people aren't willing to support and contribute to victory -- then the Mexican state has already collapsed for all intents and purposes. This will get worse before it gets better.


Everyone is up-in-arms over President Trump's decision to stop supporting the Kurds on the border between Turkey and Syria. On the face, it seems both morally wrong and a geopolitical mistake. However, John Robinson points out that the Kurds are our partners, not allies, and we've been playing fast and loose in the region for a long time.

We partnered with the enemy-of-my-enemy in Syria to fight the son-of-a-son and we made some friends. We confused that partnership with an alliance and that partnership grew to be as strong as an alliance.

But the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs reminded everyone on Thursday that our actual ally, Turkey, had been a NATO ally for the past 70 years. On Sunday, the new secretary of defense gently corrected his Sunday news show host, when she casually referred to our YPG partners as allies. "The Kurds have been very good partners," the secretary affirmed. There's a difference between a 70-year ally and a regional partner, no matter how distasteful you find your ally's actions to be or how loyal you believe your partner to be.

In 2001, the commander in chief declared, "You are either with us, or with the terrorists." NATO invoked Article 5, which states that an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all of its members, for the first time, in response to the 9/11 attacks. NATO allies, including Turkey, aided the coalition effort in Afghanistan.

What if Turkey should invoke Article 5 now, in response to what it sees as a terrorist threat? US forces are withdrawing from areas of combat in northeastern Syria now, but can we see ourselves obligated to a fight on the sides of the allied Turks, against partner Kurds?

Rather than threatening sanctions, Congress should update an AUMF they've been dithering on for 16 years. Better still, let Congress declare war on Turkey, on behalf of the Kurds, as Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution authorizes them to do.

I'm not expert enough in these matters to offer my own opinion, but I think Robinson's is worth sharing because it goes against the conventional wisdom.


Disney and the NBA sacrifice liberty for profit after employees voice support for Hong Kong protesters.

"Now to trouble brewing for the NBA this morning. The general manager of the Houston Rockets upsetting China with his tweet supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. Now Chinese businesses are pulling support for the team," announced GMA co-anchor Robin Roberts Monday morning. ...

After sharing Morey's ridiculous apology to the repressive Chinese government, she shared NBA's public apology. "And the NBA putting out a statement this morning saying, 'Morey's comments have deeply offended our fans in China which is regrettable,'" she read. ...

It's easy to understand why ABC would side with China. With the arrival of Disney+ in November, they're likely unwilling to anger the government which controls internet access for billions. As The Hollywood Reporter published back in April, "[Disney CEO] Bob Iger has been building relationships in the Middle Kingdom for years (...) but cracking the world's second-largest VOD market could require big concessions."

Meanwhile Democrat and Republican politicians seem united behind free speech in this instance.

Meanwhile, CBS and NBC noted the groundswell of bipartisan, American condemnation of the NBA for cowering to the Chinese dictatorship. On the CBS Evening News, correspondent Jim Axelrod quipped that the situation made "strange bed fellows" out of Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) and former Congressman Beto O'Rourke (D). "Normally you can't even get those two to agree on what color the sky is," he joked.

"It's un-American to gag people when they're speaking out on behalf of freedom," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a soundbite on NBC Nightly News.

Blizzard has eliminated a competitor named Blitzchung for supporting Hong Kong and fired two sportscasters who let him speak.


This video has been floating around the blogosphere for months, but apparently the mainstream media wasn't aware that Vice President Joe Biden bragged about using American leverage to force Ukraine to fire the prosecutor who was investigating his son.

From Hot Air:

Note well that Biden leaves out the context of what the prosecutor was investigating at the time of Biden's insistence on getting him fired. He was quarterbacking a corruption probe targeting Burisma, which was paying Hunter Biden a fortune ($50,000 a month at the time). In fact, it seems a little weird without that context as to why foreign aid to Ukraine depended on the person filling a state prosecutor's office at all. What foreign-policy interest would the identity of a state prosecutor -- an internal affair -- have involved that would derail a billion-dollar aid package to an ally in desperate need of the cash?

And yet, here was Biden bragging last year that "son of a bitch, he got fired" -- after Biden explicitly used the authority of his office and the president's to get rid of the man looking into his son's employer. Even if one assumes Donald Trump attempted to pressure Volodymyr Zelenskiy into reopening the Burisma probe, it can't be any worse that the explicit quid pro quo demanded by Biden ... in his own words.

I don't know what Trump said on the phone to Ukraine's leadership, but I'm pretty confident that Joe Biden used his authority as Vice President to protect his son Hunter Biden.


"The military attaché at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, Col. José Luis Silva, broke with the Nicolás Maduro regime Saturday and urged other armed forces members to recognize Juan Guaidó as the legitimate interim president of the South American nation."

"As the Venezuelan defense attaché in the United States, I do not recognize Mr. Nicolás Maduro as president of Venezuela," Silva told el Nuevo Herald in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C.

"My message to all armed forces members, to everyone who carries a gun, is to please let's not attack the people. We are also part of the people, and we've had enough of supporting a government that has betrayed the most basic principles and sold itself to other countries," he added.

1 Timothy 2:1-4

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people -- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.


French writer Michel Houellebecq offers a hilarious and non-political view of Trump and America. Implied but unsaid is the truth that politics isn't the only, best, or most useful lens through which to view the world.

President Trump was elected to safeguard the interests of American workers; he's safeguarding the interests of American workers. During the past fifty years in France, one would have wished to come upon this sort of attitude more often.

President Trump doesn't like the European Union; he thinks we don't have a lot in common, especially not "values"; and I call this fortunate, because, what values? "Human rights"? Seriously? He'd rather negotiate directly with individual countries, and I believe this would actually be preferable; I don't think that strength necessarily proceeds from union. It's my belief that we in Europe have neither a common language, nor common values, nor common interests, that, in a word, Europe doesn't exist, and that it will never constitute a people or support a possible democracy (see the etymology of the term), simply because it doesn't want to constitute a people. In short, Europe is just a dumb idea that has gradually turned into a bad dream, from which we shall eventually wake up. And in his hopes for a "United States of Europe," an obvious reference to the United States, Victor Hugo only gave further proof of his grandiloquence and his stupidity; it always does me a bit of good to criticize Victor Hugo.

Logically enough, President Trump was pleased about Brexit. Logically enough, so was I; my sole regret was that the British had once again shown themselves to be more courageous than us in the face of empire. The British get on my nerves, but their courage cannot be denied.

An so forth. Go read the whole thing.


The Australian government has made a monumentally stupid decision to essentially ban encryption.

The new law, which has been pushed for since at least 2017, requires that companies provide a way to get at encrypted communications and data via a warrant process. It also imposes fines of up to A$10 million for companies that do not comply and A$50,000 for individuals who do not comply. In short, the law thwarts (or at least tries to thwart) strong encryption.

"Strong encryption" is just encryption -- weak encryption is no better than nothing.

Apple has the right take:

Silicon Valley has largely decried Canberra's new law. In particular, Apple, which famously resisted American efforts to break its own encryption during a 2015 terrorism investigation, previously told Australian lawmakers that what they are legislating is impossible.

"Some suggest that exceptions can be made, and access to encrypted data could be created just for only those sworn to uphold the public good," Apple continued. "That is a false premise. Encryption is simply math. Any process that weakens the mathematical models that protect user data for anyone will, by extension, weaken the protections for everyone. It would be wrong to weaken security for millions of law-abiding customers in order to investigate the very few who pose a threat."

Great way to undermine every Australian industry that depends on encryption... which is all of them.


From Clifford Krauss at the NYT: Trump's Iran sanctions are working. Here's the key part:

"The president is doing the opposite of what the experts said, and it seems to be working out," said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research, a research and consulting firm.

Initial signs of a foreign-policy success could benefit Mr. Trump politically as Republicans try to hold on to control of Congress. The president and lawmakers allied with him could point to the administration's aggressive stand toward Iran as evidence that his unconventional approach to diplomacy has been much more fruitful and far less costly than Democrats have been willing to acknowledge.

Expertise is valuable -- I say, as an expert myself -- but it's not everything. Making good decisions requires more than expertise.


President Trump trolls the world by issuing a sort of challenge on the new border wall.

President Trump said during a visit to San Diego on Tuesday that he needs his proposed border wall with Mexico to be a tough physical obstacle, as those seeking to enter the U.S. illegally are "incredible climbers."

"Getting over the top is easy. These are like professional mountain climbers, they're incredible climbers. They can't climb some of these walls," Trump told reporters during a tour of border wall prototypes.

This is the best wall ever, the greatest, you're going to love this wall, no one can climb it!

Eladio Sanchez is unimpressed by the eight border wall prototypes looming over his house in Tijuana, Mexico, almost within spitting distance of where US President Donald Trump will visit Tuesday.

At age 30, he has already snuck over the border several times, and doesn't expect Trump's wall will have much effect on undocumented migrants like him.

Pointing to the only prototype with an angular barrier at the top -- a concrete structure built by Texas Sterling Construction Company -- Sanchez says that one might slow him down a little more than the others.

But, he told AFP, "you can get over it anyway."


It's hard to imagine how President Obama and his team could have done more damage to the world if they'd tried -- short of starting a nuclear war. In their effort to avoid conflict, Obama's foreign policy team left a trail of ruined countries, refugees, and corpses.

So The Final Year is about the Obama Doctrine, also known as hashtag diplomacy, also known as leading from behind, also known as voting "present" -- also known as hands-off. That a lot of people can get killed while you're wringing them is the movie's unintended lesson. Summing up, I give you none other than Samantha "Soft" Power herself, who near the end of the doc says in a moment of sudden clarity: "My world is a world where you have 65 million displaced. Yemen and Syria and Iraq, Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad, Central African Republic, Burundi, South Sudan, Darfur, you know, the list, Afghanistan, of course, Venezuela imploding . . . There are concerns about terrorism and there is a fear of the other and . . . all the trendlines -- on democracy, right now, at least -- are going in the wrong direction."

If only she or her friends had held positions of authority, maybe they could have done something about some of that.

Foreign policy is hard, and Obama's team never had any respect for the legacy that had been bequeathed to them.


One of President Trump's least-heralded accomplishments has been the significant number of American prisoners held abroad that he has brought home.

"Immediately after President Trump took office, he told Secretary [of State Rex] Tillerson to prioritize bringing home Americans who've been wrongfully detained or held hostage in foreign countries," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told Fox News in an email. "We are proud that we've been able to secure the release of several Americans as a result of U.S. diplomatic efforts."

While the administration has been successful in securing the release of numerous Americans held abroad, officials noted there are at least 10 other U.S. citizens - like Joshua Holt in Venezuela - who are being wrongly detained.

Good work for the President and the State Department.


Hurricane Irma is devastating the Caribbean on its way to Florida. I've been thinking about installing a metal roof on my house, and this picture is fascinating to me.

metal roofs.jpg

These roofs survived the hurricane in perfect condition... other than being torn off their buildings.


Leftist Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounces people who enter Canada illegally.

"Canada is an opening and welcoming society, but let me be clear. We are also a country of laws," Trudeau said in remarks after a meeting in Montreal with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

"Entering Canada irregularly is not an advantage," the prime minister doubled down. "There are rigorous immigration and customs rules that will be followed. Make no mistake."

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