Manchin to get rich(er) from bipartisan infrastructure bill – National & International News – MON 11Oct2021

From the deck of his yacht, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) tells protesters why he won't support his party's plan to expand Medicare, fight climate change and lower prescription drug prices.


Manchin to get rich(er) from bipartisan infrastructure bill. Ex-Pentagon official: U.S. cybersecurity no match for China. Former North Korean spy breaks silence.



Manchin to become rich(er) from bipartisan infrastructure bill

Even as Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (WV) seeks to thwart his own party’s Build Back Better Act, he continues to push for passage of the smaller bipartisan hard infrastructure bill. As chair of the Senate Energy Committee, Manchin was instrumental in the crafting of the bipartisan bill. The bill contains several provisions that would increase the value of the Manchin family’s holdings in West Virginia’s waste coal industry.

Four separate provisions of the bill direct billions in federal dollars towards projects that will directly or indirectly benefit the waste coal company Enersystems. Enersystems supplies waste coal to the only power plant in West Virginia that uses it to generate power. The company is currently run by Manchin’s son, Joseph Manchin IV. Meanwhile, Sen. Manchin himself earns about $500,000 annually from dividends on his Enersystems shares, currently valued at about $5 million. 

Read more about those provisions here (opens in new tab).


Pentagon official resigns because U.S. cybersecurity is no match for China

Former U.S. Air Force software chief Nicolas Chaillan tells the Financial Times that he quit the post after 3 years because, in his view, U.S. cybersecurity cannot compete with China. Chaillan shared his grim assessment that the Pentagon was not willing to prioritize improvements to its cybersecurity and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities and that China was quickly taking the lead in these fields. He described the U.S. government’s capacities in these fields as being at “kindergarten level”.

The U.S. spends 3 times more on defense than China. But Chaillan says it doesn’t matter because the money isn’t going to the right places. Chaillan says U.S. cyber capabilities have “no competing fighting chance against China in fifteen to twenty years. Right now, it’s already a done deal; it is already over in my opinion”.

Chaillan also blames resistance in the private sector for hampering U.S. efforts to catch up to China on AI. In 2018, Google pulled out of a joint-AI project with the Pentagon to improve the accuracy of drone strikes. The decision came after 12 Google employees resigned in protest. The picture is very different in China where Beijing holds much greater sway over the private sector.

Chaillan plans to testify before Congress about his concerns.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).



Former North Korean spymaster breaks silence on arms and drugs trafficking

If Kim Kuk-Song is to be believed, his exploits as a high-ranking North Korean spymaster read like a John Le Carre novel. Kim claims to have served as a top spy in North Korea (DPRK) for 30 years before defecting in 2014. Kim fled the country with his family when Kim Jong-Un ordered the execution of his own uncle shortly after taking power.

In interviews, Kim Kuk-Song offers insights on how the DPRK’s government serves the interests, greed, and vanity of the political elite. For example, Kim says DPRK officials produced and trafficked crystal meth in the 1990s. At the time, North Korea was enduring the Arduous March, a famine in which perhaps 1 million North Koreans died. The drug sales helped to finance a lavish lifestyle for the country’s leading politicians, including then-leader Kim Jong-Il. Other fundraising ventures included illicit weapons sales to Iran and other oppressive regimes.

“To help you understand,” Kim says, “all the money in North Korea belongs to the North Korean leader. With that money, he’d build villas, buy cars, buy food, get clothes and enjoy luxuries”.

In another instance, DPRK operatives set up a terrorism task force as a vanity project for soon-to-be-leader Kim Jong-Un. This “gift” provided Kim Jong-Un with an opportunity to impress his ailing father, Kim Jong-Il. 

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).

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