SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Organizers barred journalists on Sunday from a publicly advertised event in Shanghai to attract Chinese investment in a US real estate project linked to the family of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law in exchange for immigrant visas.
The two-tower luxury apartment complex in New Jersey, One Journal Square, is being developed by KABR Group and the Kushner Companies, which until recently was headed by senior White House advisor Jared Kushner, the husband of Trump’s daughter Ivanka.
Maximo Caminero, a well-known painter based in Miami, is facing felony criminal mischief charges after deliberately dropping a vase painted by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei in a local museum on Sunday. Looking at the colorful object, Caminero said, he figured it was “a common clay pot like you would find at Home Depot.”
Now, by way of some amateur footage, you too can experience the shock of standing in the Pérez Art Museum Miami when someone criticizes the gallery’s international focus by smashing a work of foreign provenance.
“It was a spontaneous protest,” Caminero told the Miami New Times. “I was at PAMM and saw Ai Weiwei’s photos behind the vases where he drops an ancient Chinese vase and breaks it. And I saw it as a provocation by Weiwei to join him in an act of performance protest.”
“I did it for all the local artists in Miami that have never been shown in museums here,” Caminero said of his attack on Ai’s According to What? installation—and some colleagues have happily praised him for it. “They have spent so many millions now on international artists. It’s the same political situation over and over again. I’ve been here for 30 years and it’s always the same.”
In comments to the BBC, Ai was clear on the difference between his acts of destruction and Caminero’s: “I never tried to destroy a museum piece—those vases belong to me. He can drop whatever he likes to drop, but not other people’s property.” I could almost swear I’ve heard that line of reasoning before?
Ai also laid claim the moral high ground of creative martyrdom: “I still don’t have a chance to show my work in China or Beijing. I never even think of going to a museum in Beijing to protest—if I [did], I would be punished.” Caminero will suffer his own unpleasant consequences, of course, but you can’t say he wasn’t warned not to touch.
The Wall Street Journal thinks Edward Snowden may have provided China with a new, powerful cyberweapon.
China is known for its so-called Great Firewall, a nationwide system of web blocks and filters that the government uses to maintain strict online censorship in mainland China.
Now it reportedly has a complementary offensive tool — dubbed the Great Cannon — to go after sites it doesn’t like. And Snowden, the NSA-contractor-turned-whistleblower, may be to blame.
“The Great Cannon is not simply an extension of the Great Firewall,” experts at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab said, “but a distinct attack tool that hijacks traffic to (or presumably from) individual IP addresses and can arbitrarily replace unencrypted content as a man-in-the-middle.”
China can now reroute innocent traffic coming to Chinese websites and use it for a malicious distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack to overload the servers of another website. It may also be able to inject malicious code into target computers.
Citizen’s Lab notes that the only other “known instances of governments tampering with unencrypted internet traffic to control information or launch attacks” involve the use of a program called Quantum that was developed by the US’ National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).
Snowden revealed the existence of Quantum through slides given to American journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in Hong Kong after he arrived on May 20, 2013. The Journal is now wondering whether the former NSA contractor provided the source code to Beijing before flying to Moscow on June 23.
“Did Snowden give the Chinese the code for the Great Cannon?” the editorial asks. “He denies sharing anything with foreign governments. But then he’s an admitted liar, and we don’t know what the Chinese and Russian spy services have been able to copy from what he stole.”
The Journal’s evidence regarding Snowden and the Great Cannon is scant and circumstantial and is based mainly on suspicion of Snowden, the similarities between the Great Cannon and Quantum, and timing.
“A South China Morning Post report that the Great Cannon has been under development for about a year is suggestive,” The Journal asserts. “This means China’s hacking bureaucracy geared up to produce this new product soon after the Snowden leaks.”
In any case, China now has a powerful new cyberweapon to enforce its status as the world’s vastest internet censorship regime.
“The operational deployment of the Great Cannon represents a significant escalation in state-level information control: the normalization of widespread use of an attack tool to enforce censorship by weaponizing users,” CitizenLab notes.
The State Department said it is reviewing the sale of the hotel to Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group, and that it may stop leasing space for the U.S. ambassador to the UN or the General Assembly.
Anbang is reportedly linked to China’s Communist Party, which has overseen a massive effort to use cyberspying to steal U.S. trade and military secrets.
The sale of the Waldorf Astoria to a Chinese insurance giant is really bugging the State Department.
Grand plans by Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group “to restore the property to its historic grandeur” has some Washington diplomatic and security insiders wondering if the Chinese will be adding more than a view to kill for.
Officials said Monday they are reviewing the sale — and implied the glittering renovation scheme for the iconic Park Ave. hotel may mask a nefarious purpose: espionage.
“We are currently in the process of reviewing the details of the sale and the company’s long-term plans for the facility,” said Kurtis Cooper, a spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
The State Department said it may end a 50-year practice of leasing a residence at the hotel for the U.S. ambassador to the UN.
Also at stake is the department’s rental of two floors of the Waldorf during the annual UN General Assembly.
The White House declined to say if President Obama will continue staying at the hotel’s presidential suite during trips to New York. Every commander-in-chief since Herbert Hoover has stayed there.
Cooper said security, along with cost, would determine if the State Department maintains its relationship with the hotel in the wake of the $1.95 billion sale, announced last week.
“The State Department takes seriously the security of its personnel, their work spaces and official residences,” Cooper said. “We are constantly evaluating our security protocols and standard operating procedures to ensure the safety and security of our information and personnel.”
Anbang, which bought the Waldorf from Hilton Worldwide, is reportedly linked to China’s Communist Party, which has overseen a massive effort to use cyberspying to steal U.S. trade and military secrets.
After all, the U.S. knows the game — we’ve done our own cloak-and-dagger work involving diplomatic representatives of allies and foes alike.
The National Security Agency’s eavesdropping efforts include bugging the Manhattan headquarters of the UN itself, according to documents provided to the German magazine Der Spiegel last year by ex-National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
The State Department regularly reminds U.S. diplomats who go to China that they are likely to face surveillance and tells American citizens who travel to China that someone might be listening in their hotel rooms.
“Hotel rooms (including meeting rooms), offices, cars, taxis, telephones, Internet usage and fax machines may be monitored onsite or remotely, and personal possessions in hotel rooms, including computers, may be searched without your consent or knowledge,” according to the department’s latest travel advice for China.
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