Gu Ting and Hwang Chun-mei / Radio Free Asia – Jan 11, 2023 / 3:09 pm | Story: 405770
Photo: AP file photo
Li Hejun, founder CEO of Hanergy Group, was taken away by police in Liaoning’s Jinzhou city, the financial magazine Caixin reported Wednesday.
Li Hejun, who was once listed by Forbes as the richest man in China, was detained by police in the northeastern Chinese province of Liaoning on Dec. 17, Chinese media reported on Wednesday.
The billionaire founder of troubled solar energy giant Hanergy Thin Film Power Group was taken away by police in Liaoning’s Jinzhou city, financial magazine Caixin reported on Wednesday, citing former Hanergy employees.
He had yet to be released as of Tuesday, and the reason for his detention was unclear, it said.
Meanwhile, China’s Jiemian News cited an unnamed source as saying that his detention could be linked to the troubled Bank of Jinzhou, which funded its 2015 initial public offering in Hong Kong to the tune of nearly 10 billion yuan (U.S. $1.5 billion).
Li, 55, was ranked that year in the Hurun Report as the wealthiest man in China, with a personal net worth of U.S. $26 billion after shares in Hanergy rose sevenfold in the space of just 12 months.
Li was to lose a huge chunk of that wealth in May 2015, when Hanergy shares plummeted by 47% in just 20 minutes, and later delisted the company after being investigated and banned from operating in Hong Kong by its securities regulator in 2019.
Most of Li’s fortune was forged on the back of massive government infrastructure spending – particularly in hydropower – during the 1990s. He owned dozens of power stations including a mega hydropower project in Yunnan, before moving into solar power.
The Bank of Jinzhou was bailed out by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, a pillar of the state-owned banking system, after it announced losses amounting to more than 5 billion yuan (U.S. $740 million) in 2018 and 2019.
Current affairs commentator Zong Tao said Li couldn’t have gotten as rich as he did without being very well connected, and without massive government subsidies flowing to the sustainable energy sector.
“A lot of people have gotten rich and powerful in today’s China thanks to key state policies, with the help of various personal connections,” Zong said. “This kind of company is very common. They typically have no core technology and rely entirely on trading off government policies [and subsidies].”
Funding, wages arrears
A commentator who follows Hanergy, who gave only the surname Bi for fear of reprisals, said Hanergy has been in trouble for a long time now.
“The Hanergy parent group and Hanergy Thin Film Power have photovoltaic technology companies in Guiyang, Datong and Yancheng and other places,” Bi said. “They are now in four or five months’ worth of wage arrears, while the employee provident fund is three months in arrears and social security has been cut off for two months.”
“Li Hejun … is in arrears with a lot of project funding and with employee wages,” he said.
According to Caixin, Li typically built production facilities by investing one-third of the necessary capital, while sourcing another third from bank loans and another third from government subsidies.
However, many of the facilities remain unfinished, prompting financial disputes with local governments and banks, it said.
Li’s detention was reported by China’s tightly controlled media just days after e-commerce billionaire Jack Ma gave up control of Ant Group, the leading Chinese financial technology provider he founded, amid an ongoing clampdown on the activities of tech sector billionaires.
Ma, once a prominent figure among China’s wealthiest people, has kept a low profile since the government pulled the plug on Ant Group’s highly anticipated initial public offering in November 2020 and hauled him into a meeting after he criticized government financial policy.
While Ma was initially lionized by state media as a loyal entrepreneur and billionaire, his huge wealth and power were increasingly seen as a threat to the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s authority, analysts said at the time.
The Canadian Press – Jan 11, 2023 / 12:23 pm | Story: 405717
Photo: The Canadian Press
Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., are sworn in by Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy of Calif., as members of the 118th Congress in Washington, early Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Local Republican leaders in New York on Wednesday called for the immediate resignation of their new GOP congressman George Santos, who is facing multiple investigations by prosecutors over his personal and campaign finances and lies about his resume and family heritage.
“His lies were not mere fibs. He disgraced the House of Representatives,” Joseph Cairo Jr., chair of the Nassau County Republican Committee, said at a news conference. “He’s not welcome here at Republican headquarters.”
Santos, swarmed by reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday, flatly rejected the call to resign, saying, “I will not.”
The call was an extraordinary rebuke of the freshman congressman whose election months ago flipped a Democratic House seat and was initially one of the GOP’s highlights of the November election. The denunciation by local Republicans also amps up the pressure on Republicans in Congress to rebuke or sideline Santos.
Cairo and other Republicans said Santos deceived voters and the Nassau County GOP and they were particularly incensed by his lies about having Jewish ancestry.
Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, another Republican newly elected to represent Long Island, spoke at the news conference via video from Washington and joined Cairo’s call for his colleague’s resignation.
“George Santos does not have the ability to serve here in the House of Representatives and should resign,” D’Esposito said.
The local party has no mechanism to remove Santos from office. He was sworn in to the U.S. House last week.
The move comes a day after two Democrats from New York asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate Santos. Reps. Ritchie Torres and Dan Goldman, in a letter to the committee, said Santos also failed to file “timely, accurate and complete” financial disclosure reports and the reports he did file are “sparse and perplexing.”
Earlier this week, the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center lodged a complaint with the Federal Election Commission and urged regulators to investigate Santos. The “mountain of lies” Santos propagated during the campaign about his life story and qualifications, the center said, should prompt the commission to “thoroughly investigate what appear to be equally brazen lies about how his campaign raised and spent money.”
Initially, the victory by Santos, an openly gay Republican, was seen as one of his party’s bright spots in an otherwise underwhelming midterm election. But as reports began to emerge that Santos had lied about having Jewish ancestry, a career at top Wall Street firms and a college degree, he turned into a distraction and an embarrassment to the party as it took control of the House.
During his campaign, he referred to himself as “a proud American Jew.” But he later backtracked on that claim, saying his mother’s family had “a Jewish background,” and he told the New York Post in an interview, “I said I was ‘Jew-ish.’”
Bruce Blakeman, a Jewish Republican and the elected Nassau County Executive, said he and other members of the sizeable Jewish population in the area take their religion and heritage seriously. He said it was “ridiculous” for Santos to call himself a Jew, but said it was “beyond the pale” and “outrageous” for Santos to have said in an interview that his grandparents survived the Holocaust.
“He cannot serve anymore. He does not deserve that right,” Blakeman said. “He is a stain on the House of Representatives.”
Blakeman said his office would have no interaction with Santos or his staff until he resigns and that the county would redirect any of Santos’ constituents seeking help to the office of D’Esposito in the neighboring congressional district.
“We do not consider him one of our congress people,” Cairo said.
Santos first ran for Congress in 2020, losing to Tom Suozzi, a Democrat. He ran again in 2022, facing Democrat Robert Zimmerman in a district that includes some Long Island suburbs and a small slice of Queens.
Frank Jordans, The Associated Press – Jan 11, 2023 / 12:21 pm | Story: 405715
Photo: The Canadian Press
A protester is carried by police officers next to the Garzweiler lignite opencast mine at the village Luetzerath near Erkelenz, Germany, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. Environmental activists were locked in a standoff with police this week around the hamlet of Luetzerath that’s due to be bulldozed for the expansion of a nearby lignite mine. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
The fate of a tiny village has sparked heated debate in Germany over the country’s continued use of coal and whether tackling climate change justifies breaking the law.
Environmental activists have been locked in a standoff with police who started eviction operations on Wednesday in the hamlet of Luetzerath, west of Cologne, that’s due to be bulldozed for the expansion of a nearby lignite mine. Some stones and fireworks were thrown at officers in riot gear as they moved into the village, clearing roadblocks and removing protesters.
Activists had refused to heed a court ruling Monday effectively banning them from the area. Some dug trenches, built barricades and perched atop giant tripods in an effort to stop heavy machines from reaching the village, before police pushed them back by force.
“People are putting all of their effort, all of their lives into this struggle to keep the coal in the ground,” said Dina Hamid, a spokesperson for the activist group Luetzerath Lives.
“If this coal is burned, we’re actually going to take down our climate goals,” she said. “So we’re trying to, with our bodies, protect the climate goals.”
The debate flared up hours later at a townhall meeting in nearby Erkelenz, when one regional official accused activists of being willing to “spill human blood” to defend the now-abandoned village.
Stephan Pusch, who heads the district administration, said that while he sympathized with the protesters’ aims, the time had come to give up Luetzerath. The village’s last resident left in 2022 after being forced to sell to utility company RWE.
“You’ve achieved your goal. Now clear the pitch,” he said to jeers from the room.
Many disagreed, arguing that the village is more than just a potent symbol for the need to stop global warming.
Studies indicate that about 110 million metric tons of coal could be extracted from beneath Luetzerath. The government and RWE say this coal is needed to ensure Germany’s energy security — squeezed by the cut in supply of Russian gas due to the war in Ukraine.
Critics counter that burning so much coal would make it much harder for Germany, and the world, to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) as agreed in the 2015 Paris climate accord.
“Nobody wants to be out there in the cold right now, defending a forest or a village,” said Maya Rollberg, a 26-year-old student who had traveled from southern Germany. “But I think that people have realized that they have to do that in order to (protect) future generations.”
Dietmar Jung, a retired priest attending the meeting, said he was tired of hearing officials say the law was on the side of RWE.
“They keep going back to the legal situation,” he said. “But the right to live doesn’t play a role here (for them).”
Pusch, the regional administration chief, warned protesters that intentionally breaking the law wouldn’t help their cause in a country where the violent seizure of power and the horrors of dictatorship are still within living memory.
“I’ll tell you honestly that I’m scared my children will grow up in a world that isn’t worth living in anymore,” he said. “But I’m at least as scared of my children growing up in a country where everyone takes the law into their own hands.”
“You won’t save the world’s climate on your own,” said Pusch. “(We’ll) only do so if we manage to take the majority of the population with us.”
Similar debates over how far civil disobedience can go have taken place in Germany and elsewhere in recent months amid a wave of road blockades and other dramatic actions by protesters demanding tougher measures to combat climate change.
Some climate activists say the law is ultimately on their side, citing a 2021 ruling by the country’s supreme court that forced the government to step up its effort to cut emissions. They also note the legally binding nature of Germany’s commitments under the Paris accord.
Speaking after the townhall meeting, student Jannis Niethammer acknowledged that the dispute over Luetzerath touches on fundamental issues. “It’s a question of democracy and how do we actually get a democracy to move toward climate protection, toward climate justice,” he said.
Janine Wissler, a federal lawmaker and co-leader of the opposition Left party, suggested the way out would be for the government to reverse its decision allowing the village to be razed.
“If we want to achieve our climate targets and take the Paris climate agreement seriously, then the coal beneath Luetzerath needs to stay in the ground,” she told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the protest.
Wissler criticized an agreement struck last year between the government and utility company RWE to permit mining beneath the village in return for an earlier end to coal use in Germany. Some experts say that, in sum, the deal will lead to higher emissions.
“We’re already experiencing droughts, famines and floods. Climate change is happening already,” she said. “And therefore wrong decisions need to be corrected.”
The Associated Press – Jan 11, 2023 / 9:55 am | Story: 405681
Photo: The Canadian Press
Britain’s postal service said it was hit Wednesday by a “cyber incident” that is temporarily preventing it from sending letters or parcels to other countries.
Royal Mail reported on its website that international export services were “experiencing severe service disruption” without providing further details.
“We are temporarily unable to dispatch items to overseas destinations,” the service said, adding that it recommended customers hold on to mail destined for outside the country while it works on fixing the problem.
“Some customers may experience delay or disruption to items already shipped for export,” Royal Mail said.
The British government’s National Cyber Security Center said it’s aware of the incident and is working with Royal Mail and the National Crime Agency “to fully understand the impact.”
Services for mail coming into the country are operating with minor delays, Royal Mail said.
The Associated Press – Jan 11, 2023 / 9:53 am | Story: 405680
Photo: The Canadian Press
In public, they present a united front — always. But Prince Harry has a very different story to tell about the British royals and the way they operate.
Harry’s explosive memoir, with its damning allegations of a toxic relationship between the monarchy and the press, could accelerate the pace of change already under way within the House of Windsor following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Harry’s description of royals leaking unflattering information about other members of the family in exchange for positive coverage of themselves is but one of the more tawdry allegations in his book, “ Spare,” published this week. The prince singled out King Charles III’s wife, Camilla, accusing her of feeding private conversations to the media as she sought to rehabilitate her image after her longtime affair with Charles when he was heir to the throne.
Far from the unity that is presented in public, the royal family and their staffs are depicted as scheming rivals, ready to stab each other in the back to make themselves or their bosses look better in the public eye. The palace that Harry describes resembles a modern version of the court of King Henry VIII, where courtiers jockeyed for the monarch’s favor and some lost their heads.
The book leaves the impression of a deeply dysfunctional British royal family whose members are so concerned about the tabloid press that they are forced to make deals with journalists, says Ed Owens, author of “ The Family Firm: Monarchy, Mass Media and the British Public, 1932-53.” And the public, when faced with this proposition, may think twice.
“I think there needs to be some kind of reset, and we need to think carefully about what the monarchy is, what role it plays in society,’’ says Owens, a historian. “Because this idea of `we, the British taxpayers, pay and in return they perform’ — it’s really a broken and corrupting kind of equation.”
Largely funded by taxpayers, the monarchy plays a mostly ceremonial role in British society these days — masters of soft power. But supporters argue that the institution still serves a vital role, uniting the country behind shared history and traditions embodied in both the grandeur of royal ceremonies and the day-to-day work of royals as they open schools and hospitals and hand out honors to those who serve the nation.
News coverage of the royal family generally falls into one of two categories: carefully orchestrated public appearances or sometimes chaotic stories about the private lives of royals based on unidentified sources.
But change may be at hand.
The history of colonialism — so deeply intertwined with the crown — is being re-examined around the world. Protesters have torn down or defaced statues in British cities, and internationally respected universities such as Oxford and Cambridge are changing their course offerings. It all adds up to one thing: An institution that was once the symbol of the British Empire is facing scrutiny as never before.
Charles, who became king after the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September, faces the challenge of modernizing Britain’s 1,000-year-old monarchy to guarantee its survival. He has already said he plans to reduce the number of working royals and reduce the cost of the monarchy.
This has been a long time coming, perhaps, but was delayed by one key factor: Elizabeth herself.
Personal affection for the queen meant that the monarchy’s role in British society was rarely debated during her seven decades on the throne. Now that she’s gone, the royal family is confronting questions about its relevance in a modern, multicultural nation that looks very different than when Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1952.
In Elizabeth’s world — governed by the mantra “never complain, never explain” — the sort of personal revelations in Harry’s book would have been unthinkable. He describes his mental health struggles following the 1997 car accident that killed his mother, Princess Diana, He recounts a physical altercation with his older brother, Prince William, reveals how he lost his virginity and describes using cocaine and cannabis.
“Spare” is the latest effort by Harry and his wife, Meghan, to tell their own story after they quit royal life and moved to California in 2020, citing what they saw as the media’s racist treatment of Meghan and a lack of support from the palace.
In the ghostwritten memoir, Harry, 38, alleges that Camilla forged connections with the British press and traded information on her way to becoming queen consort, essentially feeding unflattering stories on Harry and Meghan to the press in exchange for better coverage of herself.
The allegations are particularly sensitive because of Camilla’s role in the acrimonious breakdown of Charles’ marriage to Diana. While many…
Read More:Energy mogul Li Hejun, once China’s richest man, is detained by police – World News