Third Culture Queen vol. 13
Superpower Struggle | America, China, and global hegemony
|Kyle Borland||Sep 19, 2019|
We held fruitful and productive negotiations with the U.S. negotiation team, and an agreement was finalized. The U.S. negotiating team was satisfied about the progress made so far until yesterday, and we ended the talks in a good atmosphere. Both sides were prepared for announcing the agreement and for signing it.
An intra-Afghan meeting and dialogue would have been scheduled for Sept. 23 after the announcement of the signing of the deal.
Regional and international countries and organizations had also shown their support for this process.
Now that U.S. President Trump has announced the suspension of negotiations with the Islamic Emirate, this would not harm anyone else but the Americans themselves. This will further affect their credibility and expose their anti-peace stance to the world in a more clear way. Losses to lives and assets will increase, and America’s activities when it comes to political interactions will be compromised [by this decision].
By continuing the dialogue, the Islamic Emirate has proved to the world that war has been imposed on us by others, and if the path of dialogue and understanding is to be given precedence over war, we are ultimately committed.
Such a reaction toward a single attack just before the signing of an agreement displays lack of patience and experience. This happens while attacks by the United States and its Afghan allies have martyred hundreds of Afghans and destroyed their assets.
Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad extended an invitation to us to visit the United States and President Trump at the end of August, and we had to put it off until signing of the agreement in Doha.
The Islamic Emirate has a solid and unwavering policy. We called for dialogue 20 years ago and maintain the same stance today, and we believe the United States shall return to this position as well.
Our previous 18-year resistance should have proved to the United States that we would accept nothing but a complete end to the foreign occupation of our country and that Afghans are given a chance to live by their own choice. We will continue our jihad for this great cause and maintain our strong belief in ultimate victory, God willing.
UPDATE 1: Rocket blast at U.S. Embassy in Kabul on 9/11 anniversary (NBC News)
UPDATE 2: House subpoenas Trump's Afghan envoy Zalmay Khalilzad (AJ)
UPDATE 3: U.S. military likely to ramp up ops against Taliban (Military Times)
UPDATE 4: China signals veto w/ US over Afghan UN mission (Reuters)
UPDATE 5: U.N. Security Council overcomes Chinese veto threat to renew Afghanistan mission (Reuters)
Mohib Iqbal, a research fellow at the institute, told RFE/RL that Afghanistan "is now the world's most violent conflict with the highest number of deaths from war and terrorism."
It's estimated the Taliban now controls or contests roughly 61% of the country's districts as it continues to carry out deadly attacks— including recent incidents that have claimed the lives of US soldiers.
Meanwhile, a US intelligence official in Afghanistan recently told The Associated Press that ISIS is using the country as a launching pad for attacks on the US and others. (Related: Hoover Institute, Ozy, Reuters and Signal,)
Debate: Should Democrats rejoin Iran Deal or broker new one? (Foreign Policy)
Upon taking office on January 20, 2021, the new president should immediately issue an executive order stating that, subject to Iran’s renewed compliance, the United States will remove all sanctions imposed on Tehran since May 8, 2018—the date the United States withdrew from the deal.
The executive order should provide a deadline, ideally no more than one or two months away, by which Washington must lift sanctions. This deadline should allow Iran enough time to walk back the violations it has committed since July 2019, reducing its nuclear stockpiles, enrichment levels, and research and development activity. It should also allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to verify its compliance. Once verified, the new U.S. administration should hold up its end of the bargain.
This approach has two key features: using May 8, 2018 as a cutoff and speedy implementation.
Abandoning the Trump administration’s maximum-pressure campaign and the supposed leverage over Tehran that it has created does not mean sacrificing tools to pursue a follow-on deal. In fact, rolling back Trump’s policies would benefit the new administration. Conversely, keeping the sanctions in place in the hope of achieving a better deal could derail its plans.
If a Democratic president succeeds Trump, he or she should not accept such arguments. A new administration will be dealing with U.S. allies who, on the one hand, believe that Washington is less reliable than it once was, and, on the other, blame the U.S. government for the escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf and across the region. A new national-security team will want to end the United States’ isolation from its allies and restore an image of reliability. This will pose a delicate challenge, as the new administration must show that Washington is not the source of crisis in the Gulf even as it seeks to persuade allies to join it in pushing back on Iran’s role as a regional destabilizer.
The Trump administration has shown it can impose a price on Iran. It has not shown it can change the regime’s behavior, either with respect to the nuclear program or its regional proxies. Over time, this pressure might succeed in getting Iran back to the negotiating table—but it will always be an uphill climb if the U.S. government is isolated in applying pressure and demanding behavioral change. Should Trump lose in 2020, his successor will need allies but also an awareness that simply going back into the Iran deal cannot be the means and the end of a new U.S. policy on Iran.
It may be too much for a successor agreement to extend limits on Iranian enrichment and also unwind Iranian support for terrorism. While both sets of issues need not be addressed comprehensively in the same agreement, it is critical that Iran and the international community understand that the next U.S. administration will be committed to addressing both. (This is especially true at a time when Iran’s efforts to increase the quantitative and qualitative rocket threat to Israel in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon are risking a regional Iran-Israel war.)
Update, but already old news: Trump Flirts With $15 Billion Bailout for Iran, Sources Say (Daily Beast)
The decision to carry out the extraction occurred soon after a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. The intelligence, concerning ISIS in Syria, had been provided by Israel.
The disclosure to the Russians by the President, though not about the Russian spy specifically, prompted intelligence officials to renew earlier discussions about the potential risk of exposure, according to the source directly involved in the matter.
At the time, then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo told other senior Trump administration officials that too much information was coming out regarding the covert source, known as an asset. An extraction, or "exfiltration" as such an operation is referred to by intelligence officials, is an extraordinary remedy when US intelligence believes an asset is in immediate danger.
The source was considered the highest level source for the US inside the Kremlin, high up in the national security infrastructure, according to the source familiar with the matter and a former senior intelligence official.
In the Pacific Islands, the Trump Admin Sees Empire (The Progressive)
The United States has long maintained a “sphere of influence” in the Pacific Islands. That sphere includes the island colonies of Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The U.S. military owns one-third of Guam and maintains major military bases on all three colonies.
The U.S. also wields significant control over the Freely Associated States, three island nations that are nominally independent but largely under U.S. control. These include Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands. From a major military site on the Kwajalein Atoll, a part of the Marshall Islands, the U.S. military regularly conducts tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
More generally, the U.S. government views the islands as keys to controlling the Pacific and constraining the rise of China. They believe that U.S. control better enables them to constrain the rise of China while keeping the United States positioned as the most dominant power in the Pacific.
According to Schriver, the islands form a critical component of a logistics “super-highway” that facilitates the movement of U.S. military forces and materials throughout the Pacific. In addition, the islands function as a “second island chain” reinforcing powerful U.S. partners and allies including Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines.
“The United States views the Pacific Islands as critical to U.S. strategy.”
RELATED: China extends influence in Pacific as Solomon Islands break with Taiwan (The Guardian)
The devices were likely intended to spy on President Donald Trump, one of the former officials said, as well as his top aides and closest associates — though it’s not clear whether the Israeli efforts were successful.
After this story was published, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied that Israel was behind the devices. "We have a directive, I have a directive: No intelligence work in the United States, no spies," he said in a gaggle with reporters. "And it's vigorously implemented, without any exception. It [the report] is a complete fabrication, a complete fabrication."
But former officials with deep experience dealing with intelligence matters scoff at the Israeli claim — a pro forma denial Israeli officials are also known to make in private to skeptical U.S. counterparts.
One former senior intelligence official noted that after the FBI and other agencies concluded that the Israelis were most likely responsible for the devices, the Trump administration took no action to punish or even privately scold the Israeli government.
Context: There's A Growing Sore Spot In Israeli-U.S. Relations: China (NPR)
Update: Israel denies spying on White House (Axios)
Libra is imperialism by stealth (Financial Times)
If Libra follows the route of many stablecoins -- including the dominant market player, Tether -- and backs itself with dollar assets (and, it is difficult to see what else it can do but go down that route), then it is nothing but dollarisation by proxy.
The problem of dollarisation is that, while you hold your wealth in a currency that will hold its value, you have no capacity to ensure monetary policy is suitable for the local economy and are reliant on a central bank with absolutely no mandate to set policy outside their own jurisdiction. (For more on monetary policymakers’ views on digital currencies, stable and otherwise, these recordings of panels from the OECD’s blockchain forum this week, one of which was moderated by Izabella, are worth a watch.)
A common criticism against dollarisation (and currency blocs) is that they are a form of neocolonialism, handing global powers -- whether they are states or tech behemoths -- another means of exercising control over more vulnerable players. (Related: Engadget)
“If you came forward and said you were raped, people would have thought you were a queer or a child molester — you were treated like it was your fault.”
The anger still trembles in his voice decades later when he describes the Air Force’s response.
“No investigator ever called me,” he said. “Nothing was ever done.”
“I felt like I couldn’t say anything,” he said. “I would look like a total failure — to my family, to my platoon, to myself.”
Real men don’t get raped, he told himself, they fight back. He found he was unable to concentrate on his work, and started to do poorly in radar school. He was desperate to get out of the Air Force.
Once he was out, he spent most of his adult life in what he calls “a black box,” shut off from the world by anger and shame. He burned through jobs and two marriages, drinking to numb his own loathing.
“That filled a big void for me,” he said. “I had military service taken away from me. For years, when I heard the anthem or saw the parades, I would cry. I can feel like a veteran now.”
But he did not mention the vials of lorazepam and ketamine that he said Jeffrey Dahmer often used to sedate him. Or the metal bar he said Mr. Dahmer used to beat him, or the motor-pool rope to tie him down, or the scars, still visible on Mr. Capshaw’s cheeks after nearly 40 years, from Mr. Dahmer trying to muffle his screams with a clenched hand.
In May, NATO commanders signed up to the alliance's new military strategy. British Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach said the blueprint would enable the bloc "to deliver our core mission—defending almost 1 billion people."
Dunford told reporters Tuesday, "Russia is a competitor and the NATO advantage over a resurgent Russia has eroded."
The general said that NATO defense chiefs "recognize this" new balance, and suggested it was one of the driving forces behind May's strategic plan. "We are bringing a coherence to the planning that is going on inside NATO," Dunford explained, "and the collective efforts to develop capability."
Last month, Dunford explained that the U.S. and its NATO allies are facing a multitude of threats from malign powers.
Dunford said Tuesday that the Slovenia meeting represented "a continuation of efforts to operationalize the alliance's military strategy." This meant making progress on the NATO concept of "360-degree security" to protect against threats from all over the world.
"Much like in the United States, we didn't have much competition in the 1990s, the need to be much more deliberate in the process of capability development, making assessments, developing concepts and strategy is what the focus is," Dunford explained.
The justices’ order late Wednesday temporarily undoes a lower court ruling that had blocked the new asylum policy in some states along the southern border. The policy is meant to deny asylum to anyone who passes through another country on the way to the U.S. without seeking protection there.
Most people crossing the southern border are Central Americans fleeing violence and poverty. They are largely ineligible under the new rule, as are asylum seekers from Africa, Asia and South America who arrive regularly at the southern border.
The shift reverses decades of U.S. policy. The administration has said that it wants to close the gap between an initial asylum screening that most people pass and a final decision on asylum that most people do not win.
Asylum seekers must pass an initial screening called a “credible fear” interview, a hurdle that a vast majority clear. Under the new policy, they would fail the test unless they sought asylum in at least one country they traveled through and were denied. They would be placed in fast-track deportation proceedings and flown to their home countries at U.S. expense.
Comment: Never ceases to amaze me what our little “Christian” nation is capable of doing in the name of fear and hegemony.
Every state with a sizable Hispanic population, for example, will see a small but significant growth in the percentage of eligible voters in that demographic. In Texas, which will host the third Democratic debate this week, we estimate that about 5,800,000 Hispanics will be eligible to vote in 2020 compared to 5,200,000 in 2016. That’s a nearly 2 percentage point increase when accounting for overall population growth. (The 2016 figure closely matches the Census’ flat tables if one is willing to do a small amount of addition.) This may not seem like a tremendous figure, but given that the Texas Democratic Party just released an ambitious plan to turn the state blue next year, 600,000 new voters in a left-leaning demographic is far from negligible.
But there is a second factor, one that’s more difficult to cast forward to 2020 but introduces even more uncertainty: our calculations show that in 2017 alone, 2.4 percent of eligible voters moved to a different state, which is close to national figures for all residents.
The incoming population is significantly more educated — 32% have at least a Bachelor’s degree — compared to the state’s overall education levels (again, just when considering the 2020 voting-eligible population.) This is good news for Democrats, given that a variety of surveys and polls indicate that voters with a college education break in their favor by a 21-point spread, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center study.
By the end of June, the flooding was so intense and widespread that at least 11 states had sought federal disaster funds for more than 400 counties. Forty-nine United States Geological Survey gauges measured more water this year than at any time in at least 20 years.
Bryan Tuma, assistant director of Nebraska’s Emergency Management Agency, said, simply, “I would describe it as biblical.”
The year through May 2019 was the wettest 12-month period on record in the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Nearly 38in of water fell, almost eight inches above average.
A Mississippi River mayors council estimated that the cost of infrastructure damage and emergency response was at least $2 billion. David Alexander, a professor of risk and disaster reduction at University College London, said typical recovery times from major disasters are “in the range of 10-25 years.”
Sixty-three percent of comparable United States Geological Survey gauges in the region recorded higher peaks this year than in the same period of 1993.
“This is a year that will remain in our cultural memory, in our history,” he said.
(Related: The Mississippi, Pushed to the brink – PRI)
Foreign policy’s tendency to follow elites’ thinking, or groupthink, has long infuriated critics on both the left and the right. The Obama adviser Ben Rhodes famously labeled that world “the Blob,” a single misshapen entity whose conventional wisdom seems to keep coming back to life no matter how many times it is discredited. President Trump, too, loves to rail against the know-nothing experts and overcredentialed busybodies of the foreign-policy establishment.
The Koch foreign-policy initiative is unapologetically un-Trumpian in its ivory-tower orientation — “I still believe in universities,” Ruger says — but it does come with its own touch of righteous populism. Unlike tax or environmental policy, where Charles Koch’s views are out of step with public-opinion polls, a sizable number of Americans appear to agree that the war in Iraq was a costly mistake and that the United States relies too heavily on its military power. This line of criticism is at least as old as Dwight Eisenhower’s 1961 warning about the “military-industrial complex.” But foreign policy has largely run in the other direction in recent decades, asserting the might and right of the United States to intervene militarily as desired.
For Trita Parsi of the newly-formed Quincy Institute, that means working toward a coherent set of policy ideas that can be embraced by progressives, who “do not yet have a foreign-policy doctrine.” It also means creating a new cohort of trained policy professionals ready to step into positions of influence if and when the opportunity arises. Quincy aims to “make sure that perhaps five, 10 years from now, when a new administration comes in and they need to staff up on foreign policy, they don’t just have think tanks that produce experts that are good at operating within primacy,” Parsi says, referring to the idea that the United States, as the dominant global superpower, should set and police the rules of the international order. “There will also be experts available that can go into the administration with a completely different perspective on what U.S. foreign policy should be.” (Related: Truthout)
The Only Way to End ‘Endless War’ (New York Times)
What would it mean to actually bring endless war to a close?
Like the demand to tame the 1 percent, or the insistence that black lives matter, ending endless war sounds commonsensical but its implications are transformational. It requires more than bringing ground troops home from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. American war-making will persist so long as the United States continues to seek military dominance across the globe. Dominance, assumed to ensure peace, in fact guarantees war. To get serious about stopping endless war, American leaders must do what they most resist: end America’s commitment to armed supremacy and embrace a world of pluralism and peace.
On its own initiative, the United States can proudly bring home many of its soldiers currently serving in 800 bases ringing the globe, leaving small forces to protect commercial sea lanes. It can reorient its military, prioritizing deterrence and defense over power projection. It can stop the obscenity that America sends more weapons into the world than does any other country. It can reserve armed intervention, and warlike sanctions, for purposes that are essential, legal and rare.
UPDATE: US biggest base in Middle East is getting bigger (Stars and Stripes)
Trump’s trade war has killed 300,000 jobs (Yahoo Finance)
Forecasting firm Moody’s Analytics estimates that Trump’s trade war with China has already reduced U.S. employment by 300,000 jobs, compared with likely employment levels absent the trade war. That’s a combination of jobs eliminated by firms struggling with tariffs and other elements of the trade war, and jobs that would have been created but haven’t because of reduced economic activity.
The firm’s chief economist, Mark Zandi, told Yahoo Finance that the job toll from the trade war will hit about 450,000 by the end of the year, if there’s no change in policy. By the end of 2020, the trade war will have killed 900,000 jobs, on its current course. The hardest-hit sectors are manufacturing, warehousing, distribution and retail.
Other data back up the Moody’s Analytics numbers. Employers have created 1.3 million jobs so far this year, down from 1.9 million during the same period in 2018. The manufacturing sector has actually contracted, with many producers struggling with higher prices caused by Trump’s tariffs. Business investment is growing by the smallest amount since late 2016.
The US Navy sailed a warship near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea Friday as part of an operation aimed at challenging Chinese claims to the area, a move that drew an immediate protest from Beijing which accused the US of practicing "navigational hegemony."
The guided-missile destroyer "USS Wayne E. Meyer challenged the restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, and also contested China's claim to straight baselines enclosing the Paracel Islands," Cdr. Reann Mommsen, a spokesperson for the US Navy's 7th fleet said in a statement.
Nearly every state attorney general in the country has signed onto an antitrust investigation of Google that's set to be unveiled Monday afternoon on the steps of the Supreme Court, according to a person familiar with the probe.
They're investigating Google’s power in the online advertising market, and they'll make a plea at Monday's press conference for Google employees to come forward with any evidence that the company has abused its position.
The states’ probe into Google is considered a parallel but separate effort from the Justice Department’s inquiry into the search giant, but they could ultimately intersect, said the person familiar with the probe. Facebook has attracted the attention of another grouping of states, led by New York AG.
"This adds a whole different level of complexity for both Facebook and Google to deal with because they're dealing with potentially many different investigations, not all of which may be coordinated," said Robert Litan, who was principal deputy assistant attorney general in the DOJ's antitrust division during the Clinton administration. "All I know is I'm sure this is a major headache for the general counsels of both of these companies."
China’s Belt and Road (listen to the song above)
AfCFTA an opportunity to expand China-Africa ties (Global Times)
May 30, 2019, marked the official commencement of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The agreement has been signed by 52 members of the African Union (AU), with three countries yet to sign. Observers are hoping that the three absentee members will sign the agreement in the near future to help bring together the over-1.2-billion people on the continent.
It is expected that the world would witness an increase in intra-African trade, and the agreement plans to cut tariffs by as high as 90 percent and harmonize trading rules. If everything goes as planned, AfCFTA is expected to increase intra-continental trade by 52.3 percent by 2022.
At the moment, it could be said that the majority of the members of AfCFTA are largely underdeveloped. The GDP of all AU members is $3 trillion, which makes it an important trade bloc in the world - but one that is still lacking in many areas.
China was able to use its clout in Africa to hasten the signing of the trade agreement, because the country sees huge potential in a united Africa where trade policies are harmonized. Low-cost manufacturing in a few years will shift to Africa, and for China that is a good thing as it constantly needs to buy cheap and quality finished goods.
The scrabble for Africa since the end of the Cold War has made it the hub for investment. Superpowers like the US, the EU, China, Russia, and even India have pushed billions of dollars into Africa. AfCFTA and the Belt and Road Initiative will not only consolidate the already-flourishing relationship between Africa and China, but will also help push for more investments in infrastructure connectivity, trade facilities, and industrial promotion.
“China will never trust the United States again, and it will achieve its technology independence within seven years,” David Roche, Independent Strategy’s president and global strategist, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
China has traditionally been reliant on U.S. suppliers for key tech components such as chips and software, as well as modems and jet engines, but recent developments in the two countries’ protracted trade war have strained those ties and affected businesses from both sides.
Amid those tensions, China is reportedly surveying its tech companies to gauge their exposure to American suppliers, and also ramping up development in its own tech industry.
For instance, it is developing its own chip industry. Under the government-led Made in China 2025 initiative, the country aims to produce 40% of its semiconductors by 2020, and 70% by 2025.
The pact will be signed by Argentine and Chinese officials in Buenos Aires on Wednesday, Argentina’s agriculture ministry said in a statement. Last month Chinese officials inspected Argentine soymeal factories in the run-up to signing the pact.
Argentina had tried for years to break into the Chinese market, the biggest consumer of the meal it uses to feed its massive hog herd. China, with its own crushing industry to protect, had steadfastly resisted.
The U.S.-China trade war, however, strengthened Argentina’s hand, prompting China to expand its soymeal import options, market sources say.
Bytedance believes that its algorithmic approach to content could work around the world, and it has developed Toutiao-like apps for other markets.
Of course, TikTok’s devoted and rapidly growing audience wouldn’t say that the appeal of the app has anything to do with AI. But the app’s success does follow a familiar pattern for Bytedance, which has demonstrated a startling ability to launch, grow, and sustain services that have users hooked.
Bytedance is, in fact, locked in a fierce rivalry with Tencent, in particular. Zhang and Tencent founder Pony Ma have jabbed at each other in public, and the companies have filed multiple lawsuits against one another. In the most recent clash this summer, Bytedance accused Tencent of blocking TikTok videos from its platforms, including dominant messaging app WeChat; Tencent retorted by suing Bytedance for libel and anti-competitive practices.
Tencent is the most valuable company of any sort in Asia, but Bytedance has beaten it to the punch with TikTok, allowing it to claim a degree of greater influence on the wider social networks of the world.
Huawei wants to sell 5G patents to a Western buyer (Business Insider)
Huawei's CEO, Ren Zhengfei, told The Economist's Hal Hodson that the company was offering to bundle up its 5G patents, licenses, code, and technical blueprints in a one-off transaction.
The idea would be to create a rival for the Chinese tech giant. "A balanced distribution of interests is conducive to Huawei's survival," Ren told Hodson.
Ren said he had "no idea" who might be interested in buying, and he did not put a figure on how much Huawei's 5G "stack" might be worth. Hodson said it could run to tens of billions of dollars given the amount of money Huawei has poured into research.
The move is designed to placate concerns in the West about Huawei's 5G dominance, coupled with the national security concerns from the Trump administration, which argues that Huawei could act as a proxy for the Chinese government to spy. Huawei denies this. (Recent: RT)
[This is a transcript of a talk given in late August by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to a group of businesspeople in the city.]
I don’t want to spend your time, or waste your time, for you to ask me what went wrong, and why it went wrong. But for a chief executive to have caused this huge havoc to Hong Kong is unforgivable. It’s just unforgivable. If I have a choice, the first thing is to quit, having made a deep apology, is to step down. So I make a plea to you for your forgiveness.
When the time comes, now Hong Kong has survived the death pronounced by some people before 1997. At this point in time, although I’m actually pessimistic, but Hong Kong is not dead yet. Maybe she is very, very sick but she is not dead yet. We still have fundamentals here, we still have the nation behind us. So Hong Kong will have to go through several stages. The first is stamping out the violence, maybe doing other things in time to come which at the moment are not very available
Nonetheless, the behavior of many of the wealthiest PRC citizens suggests an underlying lack of confidence in their own country. China’s wealthiest are an important indicator of China’s future because becoming a millionaire or a billionaire within a system established and run by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) almost certainly means you are either a CCP member or have strong CCP connections.
Wealth is a sensitive matter for the CCP leadership as evidenced most recently by the expulsion on August 30 of the Wall Street Journal journalist who had reported allegations that a cousin of Xi Jinping has been involved in high-stakes gambling and possible money laundering in Australia. Similarly, in 2012 following a New York Times report on the hidden wealth of then-Premier Wen Jiabao’s family businesses and a Bloomberg investigation of Xi Jinping’s family’s hidden wealth, the PRC government refused to accredit journalists working for the Times and delayed approving new visas for Bloomberg.