China has spent billions of dollars to project soft power in Asia but it has struggled to win the hearts and minds of ordinary citizens in parts of the region, a study said Tuesday. President Xi Jinping doubled China's foreign affairs budget in six years from 30 billion to 60 billion yuan ($8.5 billion) to bolster its global diplomacy, according to the AidData research lab at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. "Public diplomacy is a critical ingredient in Beijing's toolkit to neutralise potential threats, overcome internal disadvantages, and outmanoeuvre regional competitors," said the report, carried out with the Asia Society Policy Institute and the China Power Project of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Hong Kong's leader on Tuesday again ruled out further concessions to protesters who marched peacefully in their hundreds of thousands this past weekend. The six-month protest movement has five demands, including that Hong Kong's leader and lawmakers all be directly elected and that police actions against protesters be independently investigated. “As for other demands, we really have to stick by certain important principles," she said.
(Bloomberg) - Former Trump campaign official Rick Gates asked a judge to spare him from prison, put him on probation and order him to do community service for his crimes of conspiracy and lying to federal investigators.In a court filing Monday, Gates said he has accepted responsibility “in every way possible.” He’s scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington on Dec. 17.Gates was a critical witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. He was the star prosecution witness in the trial of his former boss Paul Manafort, who was convicted of bank and tax fraud in August.Gates was Manafort’s right-hand man in his political consulting firm and worked with him for a decade, lobbying on behalf of Ukraine before joining him on Trump’s presidential campaign. Gates remained on the Trump campaign after Manafort resigned in August 2016.He also testified in the trials of one-time White House counsel to Barack Obama, Gregory Craig, and Republican operative Roger Stone.Gates said his “cooperation likely represents the most extensive undertaking by any cooperating defendant in the work of the OSC or any matters arising out of, or related, to the activity of that office.”Additional and specific details of Gates’s cooperation are under seal, according to the filing.Nine letters of support from family and friends, urging Berman to show leniency, were included with the filing. Many described him as a religious man, committed to his family. One letter was filed under seal.Gates also asked that the judge doesn’t impose a fine.“Mr. Gates has remained unemployed since his indictment, and in lieu of any income with which to support his family and maintain their home, he has had to deplete savings and investment accounts, including college savings plans for his children,” according to the filing.The case is U.S. v. Richard W. Gates III, 17-cr-201, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).(Updates with letters of support)To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Schneider in Los Angeles at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at email@example.com, Joe Schneider, Peter BlumbergFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Harvard biologist George Church already had to apologize for palling around with Jeffrey Epstein even after the financier pleaded to guilty to preying on minors a decade ago. Now he’s raising eyebrows again—with plans for a genetics-based dating app.In an interview with 60 Minutes, Church said his technology would pair people based on the propensity of their genes, when combined in children, to eliminate hereditary diseases. “That sounds like eugenics,” Fordham adjunct ethics professor and science journalist Elizabeth Yuko, who studies bioethics, told The Daily Beast on Monday. (The tech and science news site Gizmodo called Church’s idea “an app only a eugenicist could love.”)Yuko compared the app, as described, to the Nazi goal of cultivating a master race: “I thought we realized after World War II that we weren’t going to be doing that,” she said.Church was part of the coterie of scientists with whom Epstein ingratiated himself via large donations, and Epstein helped bankroll his lab from 2005 to 2007. Church has admitted he repeatedly met and spoke with Epstein for years after the 2008 plea deal that landed him on the sex-offender registry.Epstein had a twisted take on genetics, hosting scientific conferences at which he expressed his desire to propagate his own genome by impregnating up to 20 women at a time at his New Mexico ranch, like cattle stock. In the 60 Minutes interview, Church called his ties to Epstein “unfortunate” and added: “You don't always know your donors as well as you would like.”He Took Money From Jeffrey Epstein. Now These Tech Stars Are Defending Him.But much of the segment was devoted to Church’s genetic-engineering work at Harvard Medical School, including the app that would theoretically screen out potential mates with the “wrong” DNA.“You wouldn’t find out who you’re not compatible with. You’ll just find out who you are compatible with,” Church said.“You’re suggesting that if everyone has their genome sequenced and the correct matches are made, that all of these diseases could be eliminated?” 60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley asked.“Right. It’s 7,000 diseases. It’s about 5% of the population. It’s about a trillion dollars a year, worldwide,” Church said. The geneticist didn’t drop the app’s name (“Punnett Square,” anyone?) or how far along it is in development. He also didn’t respond to a request for comment.In the interview, Church acknowledged the drawbacks of genetic sorting. He suffers from dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, and narcolepsy—disorders that might render him an incompatible match to many.“If somebody had sequenced your genome some years ago, you might not have made the grade in some way,” Pelley said.“I mean, that’s true,” Church replied. “I would hope that society sees the benefit of diversity, not just ancestral diversity, but in our abilities. There’s no perfect person.”Famed MIT Computer Scientist Who Defended Epstein ResignsYuko said the selection criteria would be a sticking point for Church’s app idea. “It’s not clear what conditions or diseases will be screened for. Who makes that list? What’s undesirable?” she said. “That’s classifying people into acceptable humans and others.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
A Baltimore County cop has been charged with sexually assaulting at least three women, including one he allegedly tricked into going to his house after claiming he was ordering her a car to her friend’s home, court documents state. Baltimore County Police Officer Michael Westerman, 25, was charged Sunday with two counts of second-degree rape and three counts of second-degree assault. He is currently being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center after he was denied bail on Monday.According to charging documents obtained by The Daily Beast, Westerman is accused of sexually assaulted three women using a series of predatory tactics to isolate them. One woman said she was scared to report the alleged serial rapist because he was a police officer. Dallas Police Up Charges Against White Bartender Who Brutally Beat Black Woman“The allegations made in this case are reprehensible and are not representative of the values and ethics of the Baltimore County Police Department," Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt said in a Sunday statement, adding Westerman “has been suspended without pay.”Authorities said an investigation into Westerman, who joined the force in 2013, began on Oct. 16 after the special victims unit received “information concerning the allegations.” One 22-year-old woman, according to the charging documents, said she met Westerman on Oct. 4, 2017, outside a bar called White Marsh, according to the charging documents.The woman, who was not identified, said she left the bar to pass out in her car after Westerman bought shots for a crowd. She told police that she planned to stay in her car until she was sober enough to drive home. Instead, the woman said she woke up to the police officer and one of her female friends knocking on her car window.Westerman allegedly stated he was going to order her an Uber to take her to her friend’s house, the women said.“You are going to Uber us back to my house, right?” the woman asked Westerman, who allegedly responded, “Yes.” Illinois Police Chief Shared Photos From Secret Recordings of Sexual Encounters: ProsecutorsInstead, Westerman drove the trio back to his house, where he allegedly raped one of the women, the charging documents state. The woman stated she tried to stop Westerman when he got on top of her, but he “told her that he liked it when she pushed at him and when she told him to stop.”After the assault, the 22-year-old said she woke up to find “her pants were on the floor,” according to the document. She then told her friend what had happened and the two left immediately, according to police. Another 20-year-old woman told authorities she was drinking at the officer’s home on June 8, 2019 when she fell asleep in his guest bedroom. She alleged the cop woke her up and forced her to have sex with him—but she didn’t initially report the incident because “she knew Defendent Westerman was a Baltimore County Police Officer.”Two weeks later, authorities allege Westerman sexually assaulted another 22-year-old woman at a birthday party. That woman, who described herself as the officer’s friend, said he took her to a “secluded area” in Middle River, where “he wanted to show or tell her something.” Instead, the cop allegedly grabbed and tried to kiss her twice before she left with a relative, charging documents state.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
More than 200 gun rights activists wearing “Guns SAVE Lives” stickers rallied Monday in Virginia, vowing to fight any attempt by the new Democratic majority in the state legislature to pass new restrictions on gun ownership. "Hands off our guns, hands off our rights, and hands off our guns," said Bob Good, a member of the Campbell County Board of Supervisors.