Chinese student kicks off petition for mandatory masks in schools
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Chinese students in Australia targeted in virtual kidnapping scam
Chinese students in Sydney are being targeted in a kidnapping scam forcing them to pay massive ransoms to fraudsters, Australian police say.
In many cases, blackmailed students were forced to stage their own kidnapping and send video proof to relatives in China to obtain funds.
Eight "virtual kidnappings" have been reported this year, including one where a A$2m (£1.1m;$1.43m) ransom was paid.
Victims had believed they or their loved ones were in danger, police said.
New South Wales (NSW) Police said the scheme had "really increased in frequency throughout 2020" and was operating on an "industrial scale".
They have urged students to immediately report any threatening calls they receive.
How does the scam work?
Authorities said the "call centre-type" scam was being operated offshore, which made it difficult to track.
It typically involves a fraudster pretending to be from the Chinese embassy or another authority, ringing victims and informing them that they have been implicated in a crime in China or are facing some other threat.
The scammers, who usually speak Mandarin, then demand the student pay ongoing fees in order to avoid arrest or deportation.
In some cases, the students are also convinced to cease contact with their family and friends, rent a hotel room and fake a hostage situation to obtain funds from their relatives overseas.
In one case, a father had already paid more than A$2m (£1.1m; $1.43m) in ransom payments, before receiving a video of his daughter gagged and bound in an unknown location.
He then contacted police in Sydney who, after an hour's search, found the woman safe and well at a hotel room in the city.
In other cases reported to police this year, payments ranged from A$20,000 to A$300,000.
"On some occasions, [families] have basically paid every cent they've got," said Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Bennett.
In many of the cases, when police were contacted they typically found the victim safe the next day. Often the victims felt too embarrassed or ashamed to report the crime.
"The victims of virtual kidnappings we have engaged are traumatised by what has occurred, believing they have placed themselves, and their loved ones, in real danger," said NSW Police.
Why are people falling for it?
Police said the scam was operating on a mass scale, and appeared to involve a blitz of automated phone calls sent to anyone with a Chinese surname in the phone book.
"They cast their net very widely and they're getting a few people who fall for it, which is very lucrative for them," said Mr Bennett.
He noted that there had been a sharp increase in the past few months, where "pretty much every weekend we've had a victim fall for one of these scams."
Advocates for international students in Australia say they have been more vulnerable amid the pandemic due to their reliance on casual work, and their exclusion from government welfare.
Police said "cultural factors", as well as the isolation of some international students, made them a vulnerable target.
Victims could then be manipulated into extremes such as faking a kidnap because they had fallen under the scammer's "psychological control", Mr Bennett said.
"Students can do two important things to protect themselves against these types of crimes - firstly, be aware they exist and secondly, ask for help early if they think it might be happening to them or someone they know," said NSW Police.
There have also been reports of such frauds occurring in New Zealand and the United States.
Monday, August 10, 2020
Black Death: China Seals off Village After Woman Dies From Bubonic Plague
Friday, August 7, 2020
Deadly seeds arriving from China unsolicited...Bio-Terrorism Warning!!!
Don't Plant Mystery Seeds From China, Agriculture Authorities Warn
Agriculture officials also told anyone who received one of the packages to alert authorities. They are worried the seeds could harm the environment by introducing invasive species, insect pests or diseases.
"Invasive species wreak havoc on the environment, displace or destroy native plants and insects and severely damage crops," the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said in a news release Friday, as CNN reported.
"Taking steps to prevent their introduction is the most effective method of reducing both the risk of invasive species infestations and the cost to control and mitigate those infestations."
The seed packages have been mailed to people in several states. Photos shared online by agricultural departments show they come in white or yellow packaging and have Chinese characters and the words "China Post" on the outside, according to The New York Times. Several packages falsely claimed to contain jewelry. Some reported in Louisiana claimed to contain ear buds or toys, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry said.
It is not yet clear why the seeds were sent.
"At this point in time, we don't have enough information to know if this is a hoax, a prank, an internet scam or an act of agricultural bio-terrorism," Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said, as CBS News reported. "Unsolicited seeds could be invasive and introduce unknown diseases to local plants, harm livestock or threaten our environment."
The police department in Whitehouse, Ohio said the seeds appeared to be linked to an internet scam called "brushing," in which online vendors send cheap, unsolicited items and then write positive reviews on the part of the receiver in order to boost their business.
"Although not directly dangerous, we would still prefer that people contact us to properly dispose of the seeds," the police wrote on Facebook.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investigating the situation and also said there was no evidence the seeds were sent for any purpose besides a brushing scam.
"USDA is currently collecting seed packages from recipients and will test their contents and determine if they contain anything that could be of concern to U.S. agriculture or the environment," the department said in a statement.
In addition to Virginia, Louisiana, Kentucky and Ohio, agricultural departments have issued warnings about the packages in Washington State, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Florida, Kansas and Alabama, according to The New York Times. People also received the seeds in Utah and Arizona, according to local news reports. Officials in Arkansas, Michigan, New Jersey and Oregon also put out warnings about the packages but did not say if any of their residents had received them.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the country's postal service had asked for the packages to be sent back to China for further investigation, but that their records appeared to have been falsified, Reuters reported. Wenbin said the Chinese postal service worked to follow the rules for sending seeds.
Seeds imported into the U.S. for the first time usually follow a strict procedure overseen by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Penn State University plant pathology expert professor Carolee Bull told The New York Times.
"Say that when I import seed into the country that has not been here before — wheat seed, for example — I know they'll bring it in and they'll actually grow it out at the A.P.H.I.S. facility to check it for disease," she said.
But, in the case of the mysterious seeds, that hasn't happened.
"The reason that people are concerned is — especially if the seed is the seed of a similar crop that is grown for income and food, or food for animals — that there may be plant pathogens or insects that are harbored in the seed," Bull said.
Thursday, August 6, 2020
“We will grant BNOs five years’ limited leave to remain (in the United Kingdom), with the right to work or study,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the U.K. parliament on July 1.
“After five years, they will be able to apply for settled status. After a further 12 months with settled status, they will be able to apply for citizenship.”
The stunning thing about this promise is that it applies to all three million people in Hong Kong – almost half the population – who have British National Overseas status by virtue of having been born there before the former British colony was handed back to the People’s Republic of China in 1997.
They don’t even need to have an actual BNO passport (although 300,000 of them do).
All three million of them qualify: “all those with BNO status will be eligible, as will their family dependants who are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong. The Home Office will put in place a simple, streamlined application process. There will be no quota on numbers.”
This is an unprecedented commitment, and it’s not even a legal requirement. Britain voluntarily gave asylum to 30,000 Ugandan Asians in 1972 when the bloody dictator Idi Amin confiscated their property and expelled them from the country, but we’re talking about potentially a hundred times as many people in Hong Kong.
It is a debt of honour, however, as Britain negotiated an agreement with China that Hong Kong would keep the rule of law, free speech and freedom of the press for 50 years after the handover.
China has broken that “one country, two systems” deal, and Hong Kongers can only expect a thinly disguised Communist dictatorship from now on.
It’s right there in the new security laws imposed illegally last month by the regime’s rubber-stamp National People’s Congress in Beijing.
New crimes include separatism, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, the same vague catch-all charges that the Communist regime uses to suppress dissent in the People’s Republic.
(Terrorism includes damaging public transport.) The maximum sentence is life in prison.
These laws will be enforced by China’s security (i.e., political) police, who will now operate in Hong Kong.
The charges they bring may be tried in Hong Kong’s courts, but if there are certain circumstances, or special situations, the accused can be extradited to mainland courts, entirely under the regime’s thumb, where the conviction rate is well above 99 per cent.
In other words, it’s over.
It’s not just freedom that’s over. As Chris Patten, Hong Kong’s last British governor, wrote recently: “If China destroys the rule of law in Hong Kong, it will ruin the city’s chances of continuing to be a great international financial hub that mediates about two-thirds of the direct investment in and out of China.”
The decision has been taken, and Hong Kong’s residents have two good reasons to leave: their freedoms are gone, and the economic future is grim. Many will decide to leave, but where can they go?
For the 300,000 Canadian citizens in Hong Kong, the 100,000 Australian citizens, the 100,000 British citizens and the 85,000 Americans, it’s easy.
Most are ethnic Chinese from Hong Kong who knew that you could never trust the Communists, and took out an insurance policy long ago by emigrating to another country and acquiring citizenship.
Most of them even bought houses, but then they moved back to Hong Kong to be with their wider family and make better money. Many will go soon, because the Communist regime may start forbidding people to leave (it doesn’t recognize dual citizenship).
Others will gamble on staying for the time being, in the hope that if it gets very bad, they will still be able to get out later.
For the three million more who have BNO status, it’s a harder choice. They have much less money, and no houses, no contacts, no jobs waiting for them in Britain.
But they’re ambitious, they’re well educated, and a lot of them are young. It would be surprising if at least half a million of them didn’t take up the British offer.
Just one little problem: the children of people with BNO status who were born after 1997, but are too old to qualify as dependants – the 18 to 23-year-olds – are not currently eligible for BNO status.
That includes a majority of the young adults who were active in the protests and have most to fear. But the British government says it is considering their case.
And one little doubt. It is still hard to believe that an ultra-nationalist British government that won the Brexit referendum on a wave of anti-foreign rhetoric, and a Home Office that still stubbornly maintains a hostile environment for immigrants, will really keep these promises.