The struggles of reporting on China’s secret Uighur ‘re-education camps

It is probably the most difficult place to report from in China. In the far-western province of Xinjiang, the Chinese campaign to smash Islamic extremism and independence sentiments has been taken to new extreme level.

The Chinese deny it’s going on, and don’t like foreign reporters going there to investigate.

I travelled to the Uighur heartland, the city of Kashgar, for the Foreign Correspondent program. To give you an idea of the geography, Kashgar is much closer to Tehran or Baghdad than to Beijing.

Xinjiang is home to about 11 million Uighurs — a Turkic ethnic minority who practise the Islamic faith. The United States and now the United Nations say what’s happening there is the biggest crackdown on any ethnic group happening in the world today.

Human rights activists say widescale abuses and mass detentions are taking place, with a million Uighurs being held in “re-education camps”.

After travelling all day to get there, I fell into a deep sleep at about midnight in my hotel room. Soon after the phone rang, and suddenly I jolted upright.

My Chinese colleague was at the other end of the line, saying “they’re here, they want to see us downstairs now”.

We had expected the call, as that’s how security officers deal with Western reporters in the province of Xinjiang. We had managed to evade them for two hours by pretending to be tourists as we filmed the Id Kah Mosque, and that felt like a war zone rather than a place of worship. Riot troops patrolled the area and a Chinese flag claimed the dome of the mosque.

Now, five security personnel were waiting downstairs in the hotel lounge for us.

Two of them — Max and Mike, as they called themselves — said in perfect English: “Welcome to Kashgar”.

I did point out to them it was midnight and it wasn’t a very nice welcome. Max replied: “We’re just doing our job, we want to show how peaceful and harmonious Kashgar really is”.

And that was quickly followed up with a threat: “If you film any police or security presence, any surveillance technology, then your journalist visas might be cancelled”.

We had come to film how the Chinese were using technology as their new tool of repression. Needless to say, it was going to be a difficult assignment.

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The curious case of the burgled professor

Pete's Kiwi Korner

(Chinese spies out in the cold?)

University of Canterbury professor Anne-Marie Brady has gained the repeated attentions of burglars since publishing a report detailing China's influence campaign in New Zealand. Photo / Kaveh Sardari
University of Canterbury professor Anne-Marie Brady has gained the repeated attentions of burglars since publishing a report detailing China’s influence campaign in New Zealand. Photo / Kaveh Sardari


  • Unusual burglaries of Professor prompts “extraordinary” Police investigation
  • Interpol and NZSIS involved in probe
  • Professor gained international profile detailing China’s influence campaign
  • Prospect of diplomatic clash if China’s involvement proven

An investigation into the burglary of a professor whose work exposed China’s influence in New Zealand has led detectives offshore with inquiries raising questions over a possible intelligence operation.

Five police staff have worked over the past seven months investigating the February burglary of the home of University of Canterbury Professor Anne-Marie Brady, as well as other break-ins at her office on campus.

After months of silence this week police revealed progress had been…

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YESTERDAY  I  had a birthday, many thanks to those kind friends who wished me well.  There are some words which can be used to describe me at this time in my life; mature is one of them. I am without a doubt MATURE , WHETHER I am wise and sensible is another matter entirely. I woke up one morning and looked in the mirror, a courageous act in its way, and  three letters  came to mind,   O.L. D.  I am at a loss to understand how this happened!!!  The years have passed amazingly quickly, yet my body tells me with aches and pains and a certain forgetfulness that it is true. I have a number of aids which help me get through the day, (perhaps you have your own list!)  My eyes require prescription aids, (they have done since I was a teenager), my ears also need additional help…

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New Zealand is a beautiful country with dark spots that make us human…

Pete's Kiwi Korner

New Zealand is a beautiful country made up of lots of honest, genuine, down to earth people that punch above their weight on the world stage, but like every country, it has its dark sides.

Akaroa, Banks Peninsula, South Island, New Zealand

Perhaps precisely because it’s a highly developed country that’s also an island paradise – a unique combination – life can be relatively boring and ‘low stakes.’ (The TV news is frequently hilariously trivial and parochial.) This is probably a significant factor behind New Zealand’s high rates of youth suicide, teen pregnancy, and alcoholism. I will not presume to speculate as to what fuels New Zealand’s rates of domestic violence.

There’s a raging methamphetamine epidemic, fuelled by the Asian gangs who import it, the local gangs who distribute it, and the economic hopelessness of increasing numbers of people who have been left behind thanks to the neoliberal reforms of…

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The Incredible Life Of Alexander Selkirk, The Real Robinson Crusoe


Alexander Selkirk was a Scottish sailor and Royal Navy officer who many people believe to be the real-life inspiration for the novel by Daniel Defoe.

Alexander Selkirk Statue

A tale of a castaway, shipwrecked and marooned on an island, facing natives, cannibals, and pirates to survive. Literary fans might recognize the story as the plot of the famous English novel Robinson Crusoe, written by Daniel Defoe in 1719.

But this may be an instance of art imitating life, as that tale could also be a loose description of the life of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailor and Royal Navy officer who many people believe to be the real-life inspiration for the book.

Born Alexander Selcraig in a small fishing village in Scotland in 1676, he was known as a misbehaving hothead. After an incident that resulted in a physical altercation between him, his brothers, and his father, Selcraig changed his last name to Selkirk and left Scotland on a privateering expedition to South America.

However, life on board a privateering ship may have been more than Selkirk bargained for. The men were forced to endure poor provisions, pest infestations, mildew, scurvy, dysentery, and any number of illnesses, leading to anger and dissent among the crew. Matters were made worse when the original caption of the ship, Charles Pickering, succumbed to fever and his lieutenant, Thomas Stradling, took over command of the ship.

Stradling was an unpopular captain, and fights and threats of mutiny became common. Selkirk and Stradling, both young, proud, and with volatile tempers, were particularly hostile towards each other. These hostilities came to a head when the ship pulled into safety for a short time off the coast of an unknown and uninhabited island in the South Pacific Ocean.

Alexander Selkirk Reading

When it came time for the ship to resume its travels, Selkirk refused to leave, claiming that the ship would not survive the perils of the ocean. He demanded to be left on shore, under the assumption that the other men would follow his suit and rebel with him against Stradling.

This assumption, however, proved false, and Stradling called his bluff. Selkirk had a change of heart then, but, despite his pleading to be let back on the ship, Stradling would not allow him back on board. Instead, he left him abandoned on the island with only a scarce amount of provisions.

Selkirk was left to fend for himself until his eventual rescue, which wouldn’t come for over four years. During that time, he survived by hunting lobster and crawfish, foraging for food, building fires and huts to provide shelter, and fashioning weapons and clothes.

Even more difficult was dealing with the loneliness. To pass the time, Selkirk supposedly read the Bible, sang, and prayed the days away until he was finally rescued by an English privateer named Woodes Rogers, to whom he told the story of his abandonment and survival.

Rogers account of his expedition, A Cruising Voyage Round the World, provided the earliest written accounts of Selkirk’s adventure and served as the basis for many other literary works inspired by Selkirk, including the most famous of them all: Robinson Crusoe.

Not only did he get a book based on his life, but in the end, it seems Selkirk got the final I-told-you-so. The ship that he deemed not seaworthy and refused to board did end up sinking, killing almost everyone on board except Stradling, who ended up in prison.

Selkirk, after his rescue, lived for another eight years and garnered a fair amount of literary fame before finally becoming ill and dying in 1721.

Enjoy this article on Alexander Selkirk and how his adventures inspired Robinson Crusoe? Next, read about Henry Hill and the true story ofGoodfellas. Then read about the the dark side of beloved children’s books and their authors.

FBI and Blackhawk choppers: National Solar Observatory shuts over mysterious ‘security issue’

 FBI and Blackhawk choppers: National Solar Observatory shuts over mysterious ‘security issue’
The mysterious and sudden closure of the National Solar Observatory in New Mexico is sending alien hunters into a frenzy as the facility remains shut without explanation.

The research institute in Sunspot was evacuated last Thursday along with a nearby United States Postal Service office for unexplained ‘security reasons.’

A spokesperson for the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) which manages the observatory said the evacuation was a precautionary measure due to a security issue. “It was our decision to evacuate the facility,”spokeswoman Shari Lifson added.

What are the Trump comments?  Just fake news you know!

A statement made by the Otero County Sheriff, Benny House, to Alamogordo Daily News in the aftermath of the announcement has contributed to intense speculation around the incident, however. House said that they were asked to standby but given no further information.

“The FBI is refusing to tell us what’s going on. We’ve got people up there (at Sunspot) that requested us to standby while they evacuate it. Nobody would really elaborate on any of the circumstances as to why. The FBI were up there. What their purpose was nobody will say.”

The sheriff also claimed there was a Blackhawk helicopter at the site and work crews on towers and around antennas.

The mysterious circumstances of the building’s closure has fueled a frenzy of speculation online as social media users wonder if aliens could be behind the ‘cloak-and-dagger’ operation.


If you guys are looking for a conspiracy theory check out what is happening at the Sunspot Observatory in New Mexico right now!! 👽

Rodney Ramsey@RodneyRamsey

I’m not saying it’s aliens, but… 

Sunspot Observatory closed due to security issue

The Sunspot Observatory is temporarily closed due to a security issue at the facility that’s located south of Cloudcroft in the Sacramento Mountains.

W҉∀𝖋𝖋𝖑𝖊𝖘 𓂀ॐ☾@Wafflesv

Something is happening with the sun. Not only did NASA recently send that probe to the sun, but also a few days ago the FBI shut down the Sunspot Observatory in New Mexico and no one knows why.

Daily Mail Online


NASA spacecraft captures moment the moon eclipses the sun twice in a matter of hours 

Dean Hanson@abqDean

Sunspot Observatory closed due to security issue. Odd news Nobody knows about. What gives? 

Sunspot Observatory closed due to security issue

The Sunspot Observatory is temporarily closed due to a security issue at the facility that’s located south of Cloudcroft in the Sacramento Mountains.

It’s unclear when the observatory and the post office will reopen. Postal workers have been temporarily transferred to the post office in Cloudcroft, a USPS official told ABC7.

The FBI has not responded to requests for comment on the matter, according to local media. However according to ABC7, the federal agency told Sheriff House that the evacuation order could remain in place for several days.

Sunspot is located in the Sacramento Mountains in Otero County about 15 miles south of the village Cloudcroft. There is currently a working telescope at the observatory, where New Mexico State University also conducts research.

READ MORE: Alien, military experiment, or simple reflection? Strange object spotted over NC