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Celerity's Journal
Celerity's Journal
March 31, 2023

Is Xi Jinping preparing for war over Taiwan? Sure looks like it


What happened? John Pomfret and Matt Pottinger—a former Washington Post Beijing bureau chief and former Trump administration official who resigned in protest over January 6 and then testified before the January 6th Committee, respectively—argue that recent statements and policy moves by the Chinese government show a distinct willingness on the part of dictator Xi Jinping and his ruling Chinese Communist Party to go to war in an attempt to conquer Taiwan. Xi’s aggressive statements in recent annual party gatherings and legal changes intended to grease the wheels of military mobilization all suggest that Beijing appears to be preparing for war—possibly with the United States.

Why does it matter? It’s important to take what Xi says seriously, Pomfret and Pottinger contend, because his earlier rhetoric about economic and technological decoupling, campaigns against domestic economic institutions, and zero-COVID policy have all been followed up with action. Though Xi “is clearly willing to use force to take” Taiwan, they note that it “remains unclear is whether he thinks he can do so without risking uncontrolled escalation with the United States.”

TLP’s take: War with China over Taiwan remains a frightening but all-too-real possibility given Xi’s rhetoric and moves—one that the United States should work diligently to prevent. But maintaining Taiwan’s status quo also remains a vital American national interest, both in terms of protecting a vibrant democracy from the depredations of its autocratic neighbor and in safeguarding a critical node of the global semiconductor manufacturing industry.


Xi Jinping Says He Is Preparing China for War

The World Should Take Him Seriously


Chinese leader Xi Jinping says he is preparing for war. At the annual meeting of China’s parliament and its top political advisory body in March, Xi wove the theme of war readiness through four separate speeches, in one instance telling his generals to “dare to fight.” His government also announced a 7.2 percent increase in China’s defense budget, which has doubled over the last decade, as well as plans to make the country less dependent on foreign grain imports. And in recent months, Beijing has unveiled new military readiness laws, new air-raid shelters in cities across the strait from Taiwan, and new “National Defense Mobilization” offices countrywide. It is too early to say for certain what these developments mean. Conflict is not certain or imminent. But something has changed in Beijing that policymakers and business leaders worldwide cannot afford to ignore. If Xi says he is readying for war, it would be foolish not to take him at his word.


The first sign that this year’s meetings of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference—known as the “two-sessions” because both bodies meet simultaneously—might not be business as usual came on March 1, when the top theoretical journal of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) published an essay titled “Under the Guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Army, We Will Advance Victoriously.” The essay appeared under the name “Jun Zheng”—a homonym for “military government” that possibly refers to China’s top military body, the Central Military Commission—and argued that “the modernization of national defense and the military must be accelerated.” It also called for an intensification of Military-Civil Fusion, Xi’s policy requiring private companies and civilian institutions to serve China’s military modernization effort. And riffing off a speech that Xi made to Chinse military leaders in October 2022, it made lightly veiled jabs at the United States:

In the face of wars that may be imposed on us, we must speak to enemies in a language they understand and use victory to win peace and respect. In the new era, the People’s Army insists on using force to stop fighting. . . . Our army is famous for being good at fighting and having a strong fighting spirit. With millet and rifles, it defeated the Kuomintang army equipped with American equipment. It defeated the world’s number one enemy armed to the teeth on the Korean battlefield, and performed mighty and majestic battle dramas that shocked the world and caused ghosts and gods to weep.

Even before the essay’s publication, there were indications that Chinese leaders could be planning for a possible conflict. In December, Beijing promulgated a new law that would enable the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to more easily activate its reserve forces and institutionalize a system for replenishing combat troops in the event of war. Such measures, as the analysts Lyle Goldstein and Nathan Waechter have noted, suggest that Xi may have drawn lessons about military mobilization from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s failures in Ukraine.

March 30, 2023

📖 Spring issue of the Progressive Post is out: When Foreign Policy Meets Feminism (Free Download)


Discover the Spring issue of The Progressive Post

Download the PDF of the magazine https://progressivepost.eu/wp-content/uploads/PP21_WEB_PP.pdf

The debate around 'feminist foreign policy' is gaining traction. After Sweden set the example in 2014 (only to abandon it again, when the new right-wing government took over), the number of countries adopting 'feminist foreign policy' is slowly increasing. The concept's contours', however, are still blurred, and there is no real consensus on its scope, goals or means. That's why the Progressive Post has set out to try to understand what happens When foreign policy meets feminism in this issue's Special Coverage. We gauge the potential of FFP, but also don't shy away from discussing the risk that it could be perceived as another attempt by the West to impose its vision on the Global South.

In the Focus, Unbroken Ukraine: one year of war, we look mostly at the human cost of this war – and also invite the reader to think out of the box when it comes to devising the path to peace, and to look beyond the war when it comes to devising the country's future reconstruction.

In the first Dossier, Is the centre-right still 'centre'?, we analyse what has traditionally been progressives' main competitor, but which seems to increasingly pander to the far right, by accepting it into government coalitions, relying on its political support and by taking over many of its speaking points. And in the Dossier Can work be compatible with well-being?, we explore the difficulties, particularly for women, of finding a good work-life balance and running good working lives.

March 30, 2023

Sweden summons Russian ambassador after threats over Nato bid

Sweden said on Wednesday it was summoning the Russian ambassador after he said the country and neighbouring Finland would become a "legitimate target" of retaliatory measures" - including military ones - if they join Nato.


The Nordic neighbours ended decades of military non-alignment last May when they decided to join the Atlantic alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Finland and Sweden will become “legitimate targets” of Russian “retaliatory measures” once they join Nato, Russian ambassador Viktor Tatarintsev warned on Tuesday.

But Sweden’s Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said “the Ministry for Foreign Affairs would summon the Russian ambassador to make a clear statement against this blatant attempt at influence. “Sweden’s security policy is determined by Sweden — no one else,” Billström added.

The Russian diplomat upped the ante in the standoff with Stockholm in a statement posted on his embassy’s website. “If anyone still believes that this (Nato membership) in any way will somehow improve Europe’s security, you can be sure that the new members of the hostile bloc will become a legitimate target for Russian retaliatory measures, including military ones,” he warned. He said that rather than becoming safer Sweden was “taking a step towards the abyss” by joining Nato. “After the accession of Finland and Sweden, the total length of the border between Russia and Nato will almost double,” he added.

Nato membership requires ratification by all 30 members of the bloc. After having its bid ratified by Hungary this week, Finland is only waiting on Turkey, which has signalled it will approve it shortly. Sweden’s bid has meanwhile run into opposition from Hungary and especially Turkey after a litany of diplomatic spats. Stockholm still hopes to join before the next Nato summit in Vilnius in July.

March 30, 2023

How To Gaslight Responsible Journalists

Matt Taibbi and Douglas Murray provide a masterclass on bullshit.


Matt Taibbi and Douglas Murray are sophisticated operators who have amassed serious power in the Alt media world. They are regular guests on the top Alt shows including The Joe Rogan Experience, Russell Brand’s podcast, Jordan Peterson’s podcast, etc etc. While skillful journalists and orators (Murray in particular), they trot out tired Alt conspiracies, most of which center around the “mainstream media” and the powerful liberals controlling it. I hope this piece helps lay bare some of the tactics they use to distort debate and gaslight flawed, but ultimately responsible journalists like Malcolm Gladwell, and Michelle Goldberg.

I finally got around to watching the highly publicized Munk debate between Douglas Murray, Matt Taibbi, Malcolm Gladwell, and Michelle Goldberg that was filmed in November of last year. The debate was an important one because it perfectly encapsulated the raging war between establishment media and the new, increasingly powerful coalition of independent “Alt” journalists. More than that though, it revealed the uphill battle responsible media outlets have combatting disinformation and rapidly declining public media literacy.

The premise

The Munk Debates feature discussions on major policy issues and are held semi-annually in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This particular event saw the four prominent media voices debating whether the “mainstream media” can continue to be trusted. Murray and Taibbi took the position that the mainstream media has changed in recent years and follows a pre-ordained narrative it won’t deviate from. From the “freedom convoy” of truckers in Canada to Russiagate, Ivermectin and Hunter Biden’s laptop, Taibbi and Murray claimed the media failed to do its job and report certain facts because they were inconvenient to a “narrative” they wanted to sell. They argued that the mainstream media cannot be trusted because it fails to report on both sides of prominent stories and has drowned out conservative and dissenting voices.

Gladwell and Goldberg took the untrendy position that contrary to widespread belief, the mainstream media has in fact held up rather well during the major scandals and crises of the past few years. “In terms of the big stories if you paid attention to the mainstream media you were likely to be much safer and much closer to the truth than…. if you followed the people who were saying ‘don't trust the mainstream media trust these alternative sources of information’” said Goldberg. Citing rigorous journalistic process and fact checking, Goldberg and Gladwell took umbrage at their opponents’ characterization of the industry and argued that misinformation was predominantly coming from these alternative sources.

March 30, 2023

The Infinite Gay Joy of Boygenius

As the pressures of fame pile up ahead of their debut album, Boygenius remains committed to their values — and their friendship is stronger than ever before.


If you didn’t know who Boygenius was — didn’t see them on the Coachella lineup this spring just below Bad Bunny, Frank Ocean, and BLACKPINK; didn’t hear the 2018 self-titled EP that made them critical darlings; hadn’t glimpsed the magazine covers, hype-up Tweets, or listening parties and posters in record stores across the country — you’d be forgiven for thinking they were just another group of sapphic besties.

When they meet me in a bland Manhattan conference room earlier this March, our respective pairs of Doc Martens, the band’s all-black fits, and the overall jittery, wisecracking vibe makes it seem like we could be meeting to compare carabiners, astrological charts, and favorite coffee shops. (The latter two subjects do come up, partially because of one member’s affinity for proletariat coffee). A post of the three of them holding each other in the crowd through SZA’s “Nobody Gets Me” could’ve been skimmed past by a less terminally online eye. But the bleach blonde in the L7 graphic tee and jeans would be on stage at Madison Square Garden in the same fit, singing her verse from the artist’s record-breaking 2022 album SOS with her bandmates in the audience. Just six weeks before we speak, the trio broke the internet with a Rolling Stone cover that declared they were “the supergroup we need.”

Like I would with any group of gays my age, I ask the three members of Boygenius if they’re aware they’re all entering their Saturn return as they release their debut album. Timed roughly to your 27th year, in astrological terms it marks the end of your twenties, when you’re forced to stop engaging with yourself as a reaction to others and to decide who it is you are and what you care about. The three are of varying levels of astrological conversance; Phoebe Bridgers, 28, and Julien Baker, 27 turn to Lucy Dacus, 27, for explanation.

“You need to — basically — know that the stakes will be high, and that you just have to navigate them instinctually and learn, and you'll make mistakes and you'll learn from those, and you'll have exceptional experiences,” Dacus, the resident astrological expert of the three, clarifies. “It's just an intense time.” “Wow, higher stakes?” Bridgers slyly replies. Baker loses it.


Boygenius - Live From Brooklyn Steel

March 30, 2023

Anyone 'aiding and abetting' trans youth could be brought to trial in new South Carolina bill

From hair stylists to vocal coaches, anyone ‘aiding and abetting’ trans youth could be brought to trial in new South Carolina bill


South Carolina proposed bill SB627 that could ban not only medical care, but any services that “aids or abets” trans minors in their transition, introducing a new level of violation for those providing gender-affirming care. Introduced on Mar. 14 by Republican Sen. Danny Verdin, who is the Chairman of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee in South Carolina, this bill could prohibit services such as mental health care, voice therapy, hair reconstruction, or “other various aesthetic procedures.”

The new addition of “aid and abet” in bills seeking to ban gender-affirming care can also be seen in recent bills in Mississippi’s HB1125, Indiana’s SB480 and Iowa’s SF538. In law, to “aid and abet” means to assist in committing a crime, which in this case means that not only is gender-affirming care for trans youth a crime in itself, but that any means of assistance classifies as one, too.

As of now, in Mississippi and Iowa alone, their “aid and abet” bills have already passed into law. Under South Carolina’s SB627, those who provide gender-affirming services to those under eighteen would be subject to “unprofessional conduct” with the possibility of a medical license revocation. The bill also notes that a case could be brought to trial no later than two years after the occurrence.

“Gender-affirming care is the standard of care and is suicide prevention care,” said Elizabeth Mack, who is a pediatric critical care physician and President of the South Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, an organization that advocates for the medical needs of children. “Threatening children, their parents and their health care teams is not safe for children,” Mack said. “If SB627 becomes law, we will see more preventable deaths.” According to the ACLU map tracking anti-LGBTQ bills in the country, South Carolina is amongst 13 other states with more than ten anti-LGBTQ bills—with Texas still at the lead at 49 bills.


Erin Reed

There is a new and vile twist on anti-trans gender affirming care bans spreading.

South Carolina SB627 would ban gender affirming care for trans youth, bit it would go a step further.

It bans "aiding and abetting" gender affirming care for psychologists and therapists.


March 29, 2023

The Swedish right-wing government's new climate policies 'will lead to rising emissions'

The body set up to judge Sweden's climate policies has condemned the "striking and serious" changes to climate policy brought in by Sweden's new right-wing government, warning that they will lead to emissions of greenhouse gases rising for the first time in 20 years.


Cecilia Hermansson, the chair of Sweden's Climate Policy Council, presents the 2023 assessment of Sweden's progress towards its climate goals. (the words on the screen mean 'Sweden has lost control')

The Swedish Climate Policy Council said in a press release that Sweden’s efforts to reduce emissions had already “lost tempo” under the former Social Democrat government in 2022, but that the changes announced by the three-party alliance which replaced them in November would actually lead to increased emissions. “We have lost momentum and are going to be steering in the wrong direction if policies are not changed,” Cecilia Hermansson, the council’s chair, said announcing the report. “The policies which have been presented so far are not enough to reach the 2030 goal. The changes to policies which have been announced are projected to even increase greenhouse gas emissions in the short term.”

If the policies are enacted and emissions increase as a result, it will mark the first time in at least two decades that emissions of greenhouse gases have increased in Sweden, the council said, excluding short periods when the economy was rebounding from the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2008 financial crisis. The Council, set up under the 2017 Climate Law, is tasked with producing a report every year which assesses whether the policies of the government then in power are enough to put the country on track to reach its overarching goal of net zero climate emissions by 2045. It also assesses progress towards Sweden’s goal of reducing emissions to 63 percent lower than 1990 levels by 2030. Currently, Sweden’s emissions are around 33 percent lower than 1990 levels.

Sweden’s climate minister, Romina Pourmokhtari, shrugged off the criticism, welcoming the report and saying that she “looked forward to getting her teeth stuck into it”. “The government entirely shares the overall picture that time is short and that things are going too slowly,” she said. “but also that the transition brings a lot of opportunities for us, both here in Sweden and in other countries that are affected by the exports from our companies.” “We must export fossil-free goods, technologies, and possibly also policies in the best possible way to succeed in the climate transition.”

Märta Stenevi, co-leader of Sweden’s Green Party, said the council’s scathing judgement was expected. “I’m not surprised, but I have to say that it’s a bit shocking to see in black and white precisely how destructive this government’s climate policies are,” she said. “The government needs to escape the claws of the climate sceptics who are driving climate policy right now.” In this year’s report, the council sharply criticises that the government’s decision to scale back on the biofuels obligation, which requires an ever larger share of the petrol and diesel sold at Swedish petrol stations to be biofuel.



Sweden Democrats threaten government crisis over biofuels obligation

The far-right Sweden Democrats are threatening to push Sweden's three-party ruling coalition into a political crisis as they fail to reach agreement over how drastically to cut the country's biofuels obligation, a key part in its plan to reduce emissions.


The party is claiming that a pledge in the Tidö Agreement calling for the biofuels obligation, or reduktionsplikt, to be cut to the “lowest EU level”, should mean that the amount of biofuels that must be blended into petrol and diesel and Sweden should be cut to close to zero, rather than to about half the current share, as suggested by ongoing EU negotiations.

“We are being tough in the negotiations because of the power we have as the biggest party in this bloc,” Oscar Sjöstedt, the party’s finance spokesperson told TV4. “There is going to be a change at the end of the year that is going to be pretty significant and substantial, that I’m 99.9 percent certain about, otherwise we will have a government crisis.”

The Liberal Party is pushing for a much less severe reduction, perhaps to a little more than half the current level, where 30.5 percent of all petrol and diesel must be biofuel. “We have signed up to a temporary reduction in the biofuels obligation, and it’s clear that that is what we are going to do, but zero is not an alternative for us,” the Liberal Party’s leader Johan Pehrson told TV4.

The decision to reduce the amount of biofuel in the mix at Swedish pumps has made it much more difficult for Sweden to meet its targets for emissions reductions, putting pressure on Pehrson’s colleague, Environment Minister Romina Pourmokhtari. Next Wednesday, Pourmokhtari will have to defend the extent to which her government’s policies have pushed Sweden away from being able to meet its 2045 target of net zero emissions when the The Swedish Climate Policy Council reports on the country’s progress towards its target.

March 29, 2023

If the shooter identified as a trans male, why do so many on DU keep misgendering him as she/her?

Am I missing something? It seems like we are playing into his fundie Christian parents, who refused to accept his transition and keep calling him their 'daughter'.



March 29, 2023

Activists worry Covenant School shooting could inspire violence against trans community


Republicans are using the identity of the Covenant School shooter to spout transphobic rhetoric in the wake of the tragedy that killed seven people, including the suspect. Nashville Police Chief John Drake told reporters that the person responsible for the mass shooting identified as transgender.

Lawmakers like Marjorie Taylor Greene falsely connected the shooter’s gender identity with a motive for the shooting. Police say they do not have a definitive motive, however. “Everyone can stop blaming guns now,” wrote the Georgia Republican on Twitter. “How much hormones like testosterone and medications for mental illness was the transgender Nashville school shooter taking?”

Twitter subsequently restricted Greene’s account over her remarks. She was temporarily suspended from the platform for seven days. Transgender activists are concerned that such remarks from GOP lawmakers could instigate further attacks against their community, despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of mass shootings are executed by cisgender white males.

“Unfortunately, I think that we are living in a time where trans people are constantly under attack,” said Raquel Willis, a transgender activist. “So that information being lifted from the story is being used for this sprawling agenda to curtail and restrict the rights of people in the margins, particularly transgender people.”


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