Xi comes to America: This week, at an estate outside of San Francisco, President Joe Biden met with Chinese President Xi Jinping as part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. They talked about stemming fentanyl production, keeping lines of communication open between the two countries’ militaries, and Taiwan’s future, among other things. But little was agreed to.
“There was a time when summits with Chinese leaders resulted in agreements on containing North Korea and keeping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, on climate goals and economic coordination to avoid financial crises and joint efforts in counterterrorism. Those days are over,” wrote Katie Rogers and David E. Sanger for The New York Times. Now, “there is little to no prospect of changed behavior.”
Afterward, Biden called Xi a dictator again, a move that has earned the Chinese Communist Party leader’s chagrin in the past. “He’s a dictator in the sense that he’s a guy who runs a country that is a communist country,” said Biden.
The whole thing seemed pretty photo-oppy and of limited use, though the two leaders “agreed to steps that could help curb the flow of Chinese chemicals used in the U.S. production of fentanyl,” per Politico.
China-watchers criticized the talks for ignoring the giant nuclear elephant in the room. “When it comes to the U.S. nuclear posture in East Asia—deploying and expanding America’s nuclear arsenal as a deterrent to Chinese hostilities—Biden is not only following Trump’s lead but in some ways taking an even more aggressive stance than his predecessor did,” wrote Michael Hirsh for Politico. “Many experts fear Washington and Beijing are headed into a tit-for-tat spiral of nuclear confrontation that could come to resemble the brinkmanship of the Cold War.”
And yet, the San Francisco talks had pretty much nothing on that, as far as we know. There was some talk of reining in the use of artificial intelligence in nuke deployment, but little beyond that; it was essentially one big “we’ll circle back on that later” meeting.
Potemkin San Francisco: Meanwhile, the long-failing city of San Francisco was seemingly cleaned up overnight—or at least parts of it were—seemingly to prepare for Xi’s arrival.
This became heavily memed:
San Francisco if Xi stayed longer than three days. pic.twitter.com/a3VAj5R6Y5
— Autism Capital ???? (@AutismCapital) November 13, 2023
Dad just said Uncle Xi is coming over. pic.twitter.com/VOnC0jVx9h
— Autism Capital ???? (@AutismCapital) November 14, 2023
California Gov. Gavin Newsom claimed that, well actually, this cleanup process had long been underway, but also that of course the city would clean up in advance of world leaders coming over for dinner. “Obviously, any time you put on an event, by definition…you know, you have people over to your house, you’re going to clean up the house,” said Newsom. “You’re going to make sure the kids make their beds, you know. Take the socks, you know, put them in the drawer, in the hamper.”
What Newsom misses is that taxpayers deserve for their dollars to be put to good use all the time, not just when foreign leaders visit.
Besides, it’s also worth noting that “the city hardly ‘fixed’ its second homelessness problem. It just shifted encampments and vagrant behavior away from the downtown,” wrote Reason‘s Christian Britschgi. There’s a difference between legitimately solving a problem and simply hiding it out of sight; Newsom seems to have mostly chosen the latter.
Don’t all MRI rooms house AK-47s? Few details have been released about the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) raid of Al Shifa hospital in Gaza, which is believed to be above a Hamas command center. “In a video taken at the hospital, a military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, displayed caches of guns, ammunition, protective vests and Hamas military uniforms, some of which, he said, had been hidden behind M.R.I. machines and others in nearby storage units,” reported The New York Times.
Indeed, IDF video provided to the press shows grab bags with AK-47s, ammo, and grenades hidden behind an MRI machine at Al Shifa, per Conricus. But many observers have said that Israeli claims that Al Shifa was housing large Hamas operations have not materialized. “Really what we haven’t seen at this point is anything like the claims from the Israeli military that this is used as a sort of sophisticated command and control center by Hamas,” reported BBC correspondent Yolande Knell.
It’s a little too early to tell. More will likely emerge in the coming days.
Scenes from New York: Earlier this week, hundreds of kids and their parents marched to Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer’s house demanding that he take action to prevent Israel from continuing to attack Gaza. I am not a huge fan of kid political activism, generally speaking, especially varieties that seem to emanate from parental preference and not the interest of the child, though this is perhaps something even worse: Ever-younger kids becoming obnoxious, shouty activists. (They are all well within their rights to do so, of course.)
- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is allowing SpaceX to proceed with its second test launch for the Starship rocket after the first exploded. (More on the FAA’s role in space exploration here.)
- Come for the Mike Johnson/monkeypox headline, stay for the absolutely bonkers nugget that the World Health Organization changed the virus’s name to “mpox” since “the term monkeypox could be seen as stigmatizing and racist,” reported Politico.
- I too want to blame my pesky marijuana habit on long COVID.
- Not sure Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore knows very much about Argentine politics:
Sonic Youth will always be Youth Against Fascism. This Goo/Pettibon mashup is a joke about right wing Milei’s hair. Essentially its about voting for Massa to remain & stopping the pro-police state Milei from taking power. Vote for humanitarianism ✌️❤️All love to Argentina pic.twitter.com/YgADfcYPdo
— Thurston Moore (@nowjazznow) November 16, 2023
- Please someone help Jacobin recognize basic facts:
— Chris Freiman (@cafreiman) November 15, 2023
- Watch this cool new documentary from Reason‘s Zach Weissmueller on how bitcoin mining powers a bathhouse in Brooklyn.
- This thread, from Russ Roberts, makes a lot of sense:
I don’t like filming people tearing down posters of the abducted, ID’ing them and then getting them fired. Or killing their job prospects. I find the act of destroying the posters offensive and often despicable especially when done with delight. But there may be non-despicable 1/
— Russ Roberts (@EconTalker) November 15, 2023