Saturday, June 16, 2018

Friday, June 15, 2018

NK Sanctions: Heats still on until agreement is struck

Heats still on until agreement is struck

Asian elephants at risk from Chinese demand for skin

Asian elephants at risk from Chinese demand for skin

Elephant skin
In this 2017 photoprovided by conservation group Elephant Family, skin stripped off an elephant carcass lies in southern Ayerawady division, Myanmar. (Klaus Reisinger/compass films via AP)
Kaweewit Kaewjinda, The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, April 24, 2018 
BANGKOK -- A report by a British-based conservation group says rising Chinese demand for products made from elephant skin is driving poaching and posing an even greater threat to Asia's wild herds than the ivory trade.
The group Elephant Family says the threat is currently greatest in Myanmar, but warns that the Asian elephant could become extinct in half of the areas where it now ranges in the region if the problem escalates. It says the threat exceeds that from the ivory trade because poachers are targeting any elephant, not just those with tusks, and threatens elephants that are scattered in poorly protected areas.
The report's authors say their research shows that the elephant's skin is ground into powder and sold in China as a cure for stomach ailments, as well as being fashioned into beads for necklaces, bracelets and pendants.
The products are sold in physical markets and increasingly over the internet, where the report says sellers post videos showing workers in backyards in Myanmar and Laos cutting up and carving elephant carcasses, to vouch for the authenticity of their wares.
Belinda Stewart-Cox, Elephant Family's director of conservation, told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday that from the time the group started monitoring in 2014, there has been "a major ramping up of the advertising, the promotional pitches and the apparent sales."
She said it seems as if "there are marketers and profiteers behind this looking to ratchet up what has, I think, long been a very, very minor incidental or local market trade of no great scale, or no scale that was threatening, anyways."
Researchers identified 50 individual Chinese traders selling through social media forums. They said labels are printed in Chinese, prices are quoted in Chinese currency and sales online are conducted in Mandarin.
The report -- "Skinned: the Growing Appetite for Asian Elephants" -- also said that China's State Forestry Administration has apparently licensed some products that contain elephant skin.
"At a time when China has shown commitment to ending its domestic trade in elephant ivory, it would be troubling and perverse to find that, at the same time, it is creating a new, legal demand for elephant skin products," it said.
Stewart-Cox said her organization has reached out to Chinese officials and has worked closely with Myanmar officials to address the issue.
"It is our intention to facilitate collaboration if possible," she said. "I think we should pull together on this, there is no time, Myanmar is losing too many elephants, too fast."
Elephant Family puts the current size of Myanmar's wild population at approximately 2,000. Quoting figures from Myanmar's Forest Department, the group says that wild elephant deaths there have risen significantly in recent years, from 26 in 2013 to at least 61 in 2016, most of them due to poaching. Many were found with the skin stripped from the carcasses. The timescale fits in with the appearance of elephant skin products online.
"You can get quite a lot of skin off a single elephant," said Stewart-Cox. "And if you get a single killing of 25 elephants, which is what happened one time in Myanmar, that's a lot of skin."
"The ivory trade doesn't threaten the Asian elephant as severely as it threatens the African elephant because only male Asian elephants have tusks and quite a lot of those do not have tusks anyway, or little tusks; we don't get the really big tusks as much anymore," she said.
"This trade is targeting males, females, juveniles and are indiscriminate, and that means that no elephant is safe."

Thursday, June 14, 2018

'High roller' suspected of laundering $855M arrested in B.C., ordered deported

'High roller' suspected of laundering $855M arrested in B.C., ordered deported

Dan Bui Shun Jin had been living at the River Rock Casino in Richmond, RCMP say

Dan Bui Shun Jin had been living at the River Rock Casino in Richmond before he was arrested May 25. He's under investigation for money laundering in four different countries around the world. (CBC)
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A man under investigation for alleged money laundering in four different countries has been arrested in B.C.Dan Bui Shun Jin had been living temporarily at the River Rock Casino in Richmond before he was arrested May 25.
He's suspected of laundering $855 million through Australian casinos alone, as well as more money in Singapore, Macau and the United States.
The U.S. had also issued a warrant for his arrest for fraud over $1.4 million in the state of Nevada.

Alleged scheme at YVR

RCMP said Jin's arrest came just days after he arrived in B.C. A police statement said he'd been living at the River Rock Casino.
It also said officers found documents appearing to point to a recent scheme to move large amounts of money through Vancouver International Airport when they searched Jin's hotel room.
The statement said the alleged operation involved a woman who was told to pick up $25,000 cash at a parking lot in Las Vegas and deliver it to Jin at the River Rock Casino.
The statement said the CBSA intercepted the woman at the airport.
Jin, who RCMP called a "high roller," had $75,000 on him when he was arrested, according to RCMP.
He was ordered deported on Tuesday, although the statement did not say where he was sent.
Last year, B.C. launched an independent investigation into the widespread money laundering problem in Lower Mainland casinos.
The move came a week after a report found authorities had flagged numerous suspicious transactions, including $13.5 million in $20 bills at the River Rock Casino in 2015.

B.C. to investigate how Chinese fentanyl dealers' money is allegedly laundered through real estate

David Eby said allegations of drug money cleaned via real estate 'very serious and deeply troubling'

Attorney General David Eby says casino investigator Peter German will look at money laundering in other sectors of B.C.'s economy in the wake of a Globe and Mail investigation. (Mike McArthur/CBC)
B.C.'s attorney general says the province will look into how fentanyl, real estate and money laundering fit together in British Columbia.
In a statement released Friday evening, David Eby said that Peter German, who is already looking into the prevalence of money laundering in B.C. casinos, will also look into the role money laundering plays in other areas of the province's economy.
"The nature of these allegations, that this money-laundering activity is actively influencing our real estate market and is connected to the sale of life-destroying fentanyl, underline the critical importance of addressing money laundering urgently and not ignoring it," Eby said in the statement.
"Our government will work to determine the scope of this issue, and what must be done to appropriately address it. We will ensure our investigation into money laundering in B.C. casinos is informed by these disturbing revelations."
The statement referenced an investigation published Friday by The Globe and Mail.
That investigation alleges that Chinese fentanyl dealers in B.C. are laundering the proceeds of drug sales by loaning it, at exorbitant interest rates, to wealthy Chinese tourists and newcomers to Canada who put up a Canadian property as collateral.
When the borrowers repay the loan, or when the property is sold for whatever reason, the alleged drug dealers get their money back, clean.
The Globe says the practice may be widespread. Eby on Friday called the allegations "very serious and deeply troubling."
In his statement, he said real estate and tax policy is now within the scope of German's review.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Security Summit Success amid G7 Trudeau flop

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) - State-run Chinese newspapers on Monday crowed about a weekend meeting of a regional security bloc hosted by China, painting it as a harmonious, anti-protectionist counterpoint to the G7 summit in Canada that was marred by acrimony.

Security Summit Success amid G7 Trudeau  flop

Image result for Security Summit Success

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen during a photo session of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) Heads of State ahead of a meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State in Qingdao, China June 10, 2018. (L-R): Prime Minister of the Republic of India Narendra Modi, President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sooronbay Jeenbekov, President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, Russian President Vladimir Putin, President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev and President of Republic of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain. Sputnik/Dmitry Azarov/Kremlin via REUTERS

Image result for G7 fail trudeau

The Global Times, a nationalistic tabloid run by the ruling Communist Party’s official newspaper, the People’s Daily, asked why the G7 had “ended in disarray” while the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in the port city of Qingdao was “full of enthusiasm and ambition”.
“The key lies in that the Shanghai Spirit, featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development, echoes the theme of the era, in which unilateralism can hardly prevail,” it said.
It said criticism of the G7 meeting and praise for the SCO summit marked “an important change”.
In the Canadian province of Quebec at the weekend, U.S. President Donald Trump threw the G7’s efforts to show a united front into disorder by leaving early, backing out of a joint communique and taking aim at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The SCO meeting in China at the same time, meanwhile, set what the China Daily newspaper said was a good example for multilateral cooperation, offering a “new vision” for a more just and equitable world.
“Against the backdrop of rising unilateralism and anti-globalisation, the SCO’s opposition to trade protectionism in any form is especially encouraging,” the English-language daily in an editorial.
In a separate piece, the newspaper made the case for a united front against Trump after the G7 debacle.
“The G7 summit has served as another reminder that it is the Trump administration that is challenging the international rules-based order,” it said.
“Considering that the Trump administration has also instigated trade disputes with other countries such as China, the global backlash against Trump’s unilateralist tendencies is gaining momentum. The international community should rally and reject the self-oriented closed-door policies of the U.S.”
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kyrgyzstan's President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, China's President Xi Jinping, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Uzbekistan's President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Pakistan's President Mamnoon Hussain attend a signing ceremony during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Qingdao, China, June 10, 2018. India's Press Information Bureau/Handout via REUTERS
The People’s Daily WeChat account showed two pictures side by side, one of Chinese President Xi Jinping walking with other SCO leaders, and the other of G7 leaders standing looking at a seated Trump with his arms folded.
“Look at the photos! Two summits on the same day - and the pictures are totally different from each other,” it wrote.
Speaking at a daily news briefing in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said they hoped that the G7 countries, being important developed nations, can shoulder their responsibility for promoting peace and development.
China hopes the G7 countries can “play a constructive role”, he added.
The SCO was launched in 2001 to combat radical Islam and other security concerns in China, Russia and four ex-Soviet Central Asian republics. It added two new members, India and Pakistan, last year and Iran has been seeking entry.

Trump nailed Trudeau perfectly in G7 talks then and out came the whiners from all oppositions spectrum, what a dog and pony show

Why Trudeau doesn’t have the high ground on trade

A brief history of Trump’s relationship with Trudeau
President Trump withdrew from the G-7 statement June 9, blaming Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Here’s how the two have interacted in the past. 

One of President Trump’s darkest talents is his ability to identify an opponent’s delicate spot and stab it remorselessly. From his knack for condescending nicknames (Low Energy Jeb, Little Rocket Man) to inviting Bill Clinton’s various accusers to the second presidential debate, there’s no denying the man has a skill for knifing sensitive areas.
And now he has found Canada’s vulnerable flank: dairy tariffs.
Though Canada enjoys broadly free trade with the United States through the North American Free Trade Agreement, it has never been absolute, and the deal makes several concessions to Canadian protectionism and politics. Chief among them are Canada’s extraordinarily high tariffs on American dairy products, which at last week’s Group of Seven summit in Quebec, Trump correctly identified as a “270% tariff.” As the CBC reminded, “Canada levies a tariff of 270 percent on milk, 245 percent on cheese and 298 percent on butter in an effort to keep U.S. and other foreign dairy imports out.” These tariffs exist almost exclusively for the benefit of the agriculture sector of Quebec, a province with a unique stranglehold on Canadian politics.
Trump has cited these “unfair” dairy tariffs again and again in rationalizing his desire to retaliate economically against Canada, and though one can easily question the common sense of starting a mutually destructive trade war with one of the United States’ closest allies over this, it’s equally wrong to dismiss the subject of Trump’s annoyance as frivolous. The Canadians certainly don’t consider it so.
Trudeau announces retaliatory tariffs against U.S.
When asked about retaliatory tariffs at a news conference on June 9, Prime Minister Trudeau expressed concern for harming American workers, but that his job was 
The wisdom of the dairy tariffs is a source of debate and second-guessing in Canada, and we can’t take for granted that voters will stand foursquare behind Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he insists that dairy protectionism is something he’s “100 percent” ready to defend.
Trudeau has, in fact, all but bragged about instigating the latest conflict, stating prior to the Quebec summit that the “reason why Donald Trump continues to write tweets on dairy products and Canada — it’s because I’ve told him many times: ‘No, he won’t touch, we won’t touch our supply management system.” This is a curious calculation, both as foreign policy and domestic politics.
Here in Vancouver, most of the dairy in my local supermarket is produced by dairy companies based in Quebec, some 2,100 miles east. I can buy a half gallon of milk from the Agropur dairy cooperative of Longueuil for $2.85, or get a 16-ounce bottle of “Milk-to-Go” from Saputo Inc. (Saint-Laurent, Quebec) for $2.31. Buying a pound of Agropur butter costs $4.87, while 1.5 pounds of Saputo cheddar will set me back $9.74.
These prices are, as the U.S. president might say, terrible deals. Less than an hour’s drive south, comparable products sell for half as much in the United States, which has led to the preposterous spectacle of cheap Canadians crossing the border on milk and cheese runs, propping up the economies of border towns such as Point Roberts, Wash.
To call this a minor triviality of Canadian life is to ignore one of the country’s highest-profile policy debates of the past half-decade. In 2012, centrist Liberal politician Martha Hall Findlay provoked the conversation by running for her party’s leadership on what was a mostly one-issue campaign to abolish dairy tariffs. Though ultimately unsuccessful, her taboo-breaking crusade inspired a deluge of favorable editorials that helped make “supply management” — the Canadian jargon for dairy protectionism — a household phrase.
On the conservative side, libertarian former cabinet minister Maxime Bernier faced cries of hypocrisy when, as minister of industry, and later foreign affairs, he was forced to endorse the tariffs. In his subsequent run for Tory leader, he atoned for past misdeeds by campaigning hard against supply management, calling it the work of a “cartel” forcing high prices on Canadian families “to protect 10 percent of farmers” in the country. The fact that Bernier, a Quebecer himself, narrowly lost several Quebec ridings to rival Andrew Scheer was widely interpreted as evidence that the dairy vote played a significant role in the outcome.
“I certainly do not owe my leadership victory to anybody,” Scheer joked at a press gallery dinner, taking a showy gulp from a Saputo milk carton.
Support for supply management is a difficult issue to poll, largely because the Canadian public has only the dimmest awareness of the status quo. Yet judged by their actions, culture and temperament, it does strain credibility to believe that there exists a broad-based constituency in favor of paying more for a basic staple in order to further benefit a province already widely resented for its coddling by Ottawa.
Yet this is the trade-war hill that Trudeau has chosen to die on. He has alienated the entire western half of his country through bungled oil and pipeline policies, and now his path to a second term in next year’s election seems increasingly tied to maintaining the goodwill of Quebec.
Americans do not have spotless hands when it comes to using unfair measures to protect their own sacred industries, yet it’s a myth to believe Canada has ever had much interest in running hard in the opposite direction, and embracing the sort of unqualified economic integration with the United States equivalent to that enjoyed among member nations of the European Union, or one American state to another.
The consequences of this long-standing approach, which has always been grounded in economically regressive nationalism and politics, will now be felt. For centuries, much of Canadian policymaking has been justified on the grounds that maintaining sovereignty from the United States is the highest good. It works fine — so long as the United States never feels the need to indulge in a bit of pompous sovereignty of its own.