New Year New Rules

Grind for January 17th, 2019
“My ideal role would be a baddie in a James Bond film. I think the wheelchair and the computer voice would fit the part.”

– Stephen Hawking


The Headline

Beijing’s war on the Uighur faith continues with shocking new policy

The Grind

The Chinese government recently released a five-year plan that demands Muslim communities become more Chinese.

“[The policy] is not about changing the beliefs, habits, or ideology of Islam but to make them compatible with socialist society,” argues Gao Zhanfu of the China Islamic Institute.

The policy is in line with other attacks on religions in China – most notably the widespread detainment of Uighur Muslims in facilities described by Amnesty International as “wartime concentration camps.”

Critics have compared the crackdown on the Uighurs to the human rights abuses suffered during the era of Chairman Mao.

The Details

Last September, the UN accused China of detaining and torturing up to one million Muslims (according to other sources, the figure is as high as three million).

Beijing denied the existence of the camps before passing a law to legitimize them.

According to the Chinese government, the camps are “vocational education” facilities designed to wipe out extremism and help minor criminals get back into the workforce. Former inmates have described the camps as mind transformation centers where detainees are tortured until they agree to abandon their faith.

Last week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry invited UN officials to visit the camps, as long as they obey certain rules

Beijing has long sought to curtail the influence of religion, but the persecution has intensified under the leadership of President Xi Jinping. In 2017, Xi said all religions must be ‘Chinese-oriented’ as part of a broader effort to ‘Sinicize religion’ (make it more Chinese) by incorporating socialist values.

In 2018, Beijing released a five-year plan for Christianity which urged churches to promote socialism, teach Xi’s “Four Confidences,” and incorporate Chinese architectural styles.

This year, the government is expected to work on a sinicization plan for Buddhism.

Heating Up

The Headline

Federal judge proposes new rules for California utility company

The Grind

A federal judge last Wednesday said utility company PG&E should be banned from using unsafe power lines this year.

The ruling follows claims that unsafe power lines owned by PG&E sparked four wildfires in California last October.

The fires killed 86 people and destroyed 18,500 buildings.

In June, state officials said PG&E power lines likely caused a handful of wildfires in northern California in 2017.

The Details

PG&E should be required to “remove or trim all trees that could fall onto its power lines” and conduct a thorough inspection of its grid, said Judge William Alsup.

PG&E has until January 30th to respond.

In the meantime, the utility company is starting to sell parts of itself in preparation for staggering liability costs. Under a plan dubbed “Project Falcon,” PG&E would sell off its natural gas division in an effort to avoid bankruptcy.

“All net proceeds…would be used to set up a fund to pay billions of dollars in potential claims from wildfires,” said a senior company official.

“The company is also exploring selling key real estate assets, including its San Francisco headquarters, and moving its operations elsewhere in the Bay Area.”

Shares of PG&E hit “junk status” on Tuesday.

Did you know… Medical research has found substances in mistletoe that can slow down tumor growth.