A Leviathan Sets Sail to Keep Turkey Warm

Turkey is getting a giant helper to avoid last December’s gas shortages.

The world’s biggest specialized vessel to import liquefied natural gas, a cheaper and quicker solution than a land-based facility, is on its way to help with imports of the fuel mainly used for heating and power generation. The MOL FSRU Challenger, as long as the Eiffel Tower, is expected to arrive from South Korea this month and start by year-end.

Last winter, a cold snap gripped the whole region, including Iran, where Turkey gets some of its gas from. That meant the nation couldn’t get hold of enough fuel to meet its booming gas demand and the grid asked private power plants to reduce fuel demand by as much as 90 percent.

A first floating storage and regasification unit, the Neptune, arrived in December to complement two onshore terminals at Aliaga and Marmara Ereglisi.

“We expect Turkey to import more than last winter, and last winter they increased demand,” said Gyorgy Vargha, chief executive officer of MET International AG, a Zug, Switzerland-based energy trader that trades LNG mainly in southern Europe. “It is a growing market.”

Turkey was the fastest-growing market for LNG imports after China, South Korea and Japan in the first half of the year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which forecasts uneven demand in the nation through 2030.

The 345-meter (1,132 feet) tanker can store 263,000 cubic meters of LNG, enough to cover more than a day’s gas demand in Turkey. It was sailing westward, just south of India as of Tuesday.

The ship can also export the fuel for use in neighboring regions, according to Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd., the owner and operator of the vessel.

State gas grid operator Botas Boru Hatlari Ile Petrol Tasima AS signed the lease agreement for the vessel, which will be located at Dortyol near the Syrian border.

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-24/a-leviathan-sets-sail-to-keep-turkey-warm

Apple removes VPN apps from the App Store in China

The Chinese governments crackdown on the internet continues with the news that Apple has removed all major VPN apps, which help internet users overcome the countrys censorship system, from the App Store in China.

The move was first noted by ExpressVPN, a provider based outside of China,which said in a blog post all major VPN apps including its own had been purged from Apples China-based store. The company shared a note from Apple (below) explaining that its app was removed because it includes content that is illegal in China.

The app continues to be available for users across the world outside of China, the company said.However, the process to create an App Store account in a different country is unknown to many users, so it is unlikely to fill the void of the missing Chinese app.

Another provide, Star VPN, tweeted that its app had also been removed.

Apple had not replied for comment at the time of writing.

ExpressVPN shared a note from Apple notifying it of the removal of its app in China

The App Store purge is hugely impactful because VPNs represent the only way that a China-based individual can bypass state censorship controls to access the internet without restrictions. The Chinese government effectively illegalized VPNs when new rules issued in January required them to receive government approvalin order to operate. That appears to be why Apple was forced to remove ExpressVPN and others like it.

Apple may believe it is best for its business to co-operate with requests from Beijing, but this App Store purge just created one of the biggest setbacks for the free internet in Chinas history.

Were disappointed in this development, as it represents the most drastic measure the Chinese government has taken to block the use of VPNs to date, and we are troubled to see Apple aiding Chinas censorship efforts. ExpressVPN strongly condemns these measures, which threaten free speech and civil liberties, ExpressVPN wrote on its blog.

Todays news is the latest in a series of developments against the free internet from China.

Two popular VPN services were forced offline in China earlier this monthleaving their users, which included professionals who require access to the global internet for work, without an alternative. Government officials denied a story from Bloomberg that the countrys mobile operators had been told to ban VPN apps by early 2018, but other steps have clearly been taken.Reuters reported earlier this month that the Great Firewall, the term for Chinas internet censorship apparatus, had been upgraded with new capabilities.VPN services subsequently found that they had been hit by the most sophisticated attacks from China to date. High-end hotels have even ceased offer VPNs to guests.

Those new capability apparently also made it possible for the government to interfere with messaging apps. While now blocked entirely, WhatsApp users found that they were unable to send videos and photos through the chat app and issues seemed to extend to WeChat, Chinas most popular messaging service. The censorship seemed to be linked tothe response to the death of dissidentLiu Xiaobo, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, who lost a battle to liver cancer earlier this month having been denied permission to leave custody to seek medical treatment overseas.

Going direct to Apple is becoming an effective way to enforce censorship since the U.S. firmcontrols what apps are available in China.The tactic proved successful for China earlier this year whenApple removed the New York Times app from the local Chinese App Store. The Times and Wall Street Journal are among a number of international news sites blocked in China,according to censorship monitoring service Great Fire.

Its unclear whether similar action has been taken with Android stores in China. The Google Play Store is not present in China, where a handful of third-party app stores are the most influential distributors of Android apps.

Not-for-profit group GreatFire offers censorship-proof alternatives like its Android VPNFreeBrowserand other services that includea collaboration with The New York Times, but Apples iOS doesnt permit similar options.

Apple justannounced Isabel Ge Mahe as the first managing director for its Chinese businessand, beyond battling a sales slump in China, the long-time Apple executive is tasked with the difficult job of managing a relationship with Beijing.The U.S. firm recentlyannounced plansto develop its first China-based data center, a move that is thought to be related tothe countrys new cybersecurity laws which went into effect June 1.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/07/29/apple-removes-vpn-apps-from-the-app-store-in-china/

Apple’s China App Store just disappeared all VPN apps, report says

Image: Sipa Asia/REX/Shutterstock

In a move sure to put Apple’s ongoing activities in China under a more intense international microscope, a number of foreign-made VPN software apps have been removed from China’s app store, according to a report from The New York Times.

The report cites several VPN makers, including ExpressVPN and Star VPN, after the two companies posted public messages revealing that Apple sent them letters notifying them of their removal from the China app store.

“We received notification from Apple today, July 29, 2017, at roughly 04:00 GMT, that the ExpressVPN iOS app was removed from the China App Store,” stated ExpressVPN on its website. “Our preliminary research indicates that all major VPN apps for iOS have been removed.”

Part of the notification message from Apple, captured and posted in screenshots from the company, stated: “We are writing to notify you that your application will be removed from the China App Store because it includes content that is illegal in China, which is not in compliance with the Apple Store Review Guidelines.”

However, that message noted that the ExpresVPN’s app is still available in other Apple App Store territories.

“Were disappointed in this development, as it represents the most drastic measure the Chinese government has taken to block the use of VPNs to date, and we are troubled to see Apple aiding Chinas censorship efforts,” the message from ExpressVPN continued. “ExpressVPN strongly condemns these measures, which threaten free speech and civil liberties.”

When contacted by The New York Times, the paper reports, “An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment about the removals.”

But in a statement later provided to Mashable, an Apple spokesperson offered further clarification. “Earlier this year China’s MIIT [Ministry of Industry and Information Technology] announced that all developers offering VPNs must obtain a license from the government,” said the spokesperson. “We have been required to remove some VPN apps in China that do not meet the new regulations. These apps remain available in all other markets where they do business.”

The policy mentioned by Apple appears to refer to the crackdown by Chinese authorities in January that required VPN’s to obtain “prior government approval,” according to the South China Morning Post. As that report noted, the policy would make most VPNs in use in the country unauthorized. The move to actively enforce the policy is slated to continue until March 2018, according to the report.

The frequent practice of controlling the flow of internet information in China by the government has led to the nickname of the Great Firewall regarding the Chinese government’s censorship policies. Apple’s move to adhere to the government’s VPN policy may seem unusual, but it’s appears to be the cost of doing business in China, and it’s just another in a long trail of internet censorship efforts regularly enforced by the Chinese government.

Nevertheless, this particular crackdown represents a major shift that will impact the biggest iOS app market on the planet, not just in terms of sales, but for privacy as well.

*This story has been updated to include the comments from Apple and the policy referenced in those comments.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/07/29/apple-pulls-vpn-apps-china-app-store/

Global arms trade reaches highest point since cold war era

Middle East almost doubles weapons imports, as US and Europe remain the main suppliers and China joins top-tier exporters

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/20/global-arms-weapons-trade-highest-point-since-cold-war-era

Picture of the Day: The Mountain Whale

Original Photograph by Joshua Sortino on reddit

In this surreal digital artwork by redditor Atribecalledmeuw, we see a whale seemingly suspended in a ‘block’ of water. The striking visual used a source image taken by another redditor, Joshua Sortino, who said he had to embark on a fairly technical hike to reach this vantage point. [source]

The original photograph was taken in China’s Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. You can see the original photograph here.

 

 

Read more: http://twistedsifter.com/2017/02/mountain-whale-digital-art-by-atribecalledmeuw/

Picture of the Day: The Mountain Whale

Original Photograph by Joshua Sortino on reddit

In this surreal digital artwork by redditor Atribecalledmeuw, we see a whale seemingly suspended in a ‘block’ of water. The striking visual used a source image taken by another redditor, Joshua Sortino, who said he had to embark on a fairly technical hike to reach this vantage point. [source]

The original photograph was taken in China’s Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. You can see the original photograph here.

 

 

Read more: http://twistedsifter.com/2017/02/mountain-whale-digital-art-by-atribecalledmeuw/

Chinese billionaire Xiao Jianhua ‘abducted’ from Hong Kong hotel

The reported disappearance of the financier, who has ties to Xi Jinpings family, will ring alarm bells in the former British colony

A billionaire with links to the family of Xi Jinping was reportedly taken from his apartment in the Four Seasons in Hong Kong by Chinese police and taken to the mainland.

Xiao Jianhua, one of Chinas richest men, is currently in police custody on the mainland, the Financial Times and New York Times reported. He may be assisting with a graft investigation, part of the Chinese presidents sweeping campaign that critics say is more about consolidating power than tackling corruption.

If Chinese police were involved in Xiaos abduction from Hong Kong, it would appear to violate the former British colonys mini-constitution, which only permits the Hong Kong police to operate in the territory.

Xiao was born in China, is a Canadian citizen and holds a diplomatic passport from Antigua and Barbuda, reports said. He was living in a luxury apartment at the Four Seasons but a group of plain clothes Chinese security agents allegedly escorted him from the hotel across the border to the mainland, reports said. There was so sign of a struggle on CCTV footage taken at the hotel.

Xiao denied he had been abducted in two posts on his companys social media account, but by Wednesday both had been deleted.

Regarding the reports on me in recent days, I have to say that I, Xiao Jianhua, have been recovering from an illness outside the country, he said in one of the posts. He said he had not been abducted, according to the statement that was quoted in Chinese state media.

But Hong Kong police said Xiao crossed into China through one of the citys land border crossings on 27 January, contradicting Xiaos claim he was receiving medical treatment abroad.

An unknown person took out a full-page advert on the front of a Hong Kong newspaper to reprint the now-deleted statements claiming to be from Xiao and signed by him.

Benjamin Haas (@haasbenjamin)

Advert on front page of Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao prints statement claiming to be from Xiao Jianhua, was deleted from company’s WeChat pic.twitter.com/zMfe0yQGBi

February 1, 2017

In another statement, he denied doing anything to harm Chinas ruling Communist party or working with any opposing forces or organisations.

Hong Kong police received a request for assistance on 28 January, but Xiaos relatives attempted to withdraw the case a day later, the police said in a statement.

The police investigation continues and we have asked relevant mainland departments to assist with following up on the situation of the victim in the mainland, the statement said, without directly naming Xiao.

The case comes about a year after five Hong Kong-based booksellers that published salacious tales of Chinas leadership were detained by Chinese security forces.

Two of the men were spirited across borders without any formal extradition, one from his vacation home in Thailand and another off the streets of Hong Kong is a fashion similar to Xiao.

The booksellers case unsettled many in the city, which has a separate legal system and greater freedom compared to China under an agreement known as one country, two systems, while Xiaos disappearance is sure to stoke fears Hong kong is losing its autonomy.

Xiao controls Tomorrow Group, a holding company with stakes in real-estate, insurance, coal and cement firms and his wealth is estimated to be about 40 billion yuan (4.6 billion), according to wealth tracker Hurun Report.

In 2014 he admitted to the New York Times he helped the family of president Xi dispose of assets but they didnt make any extra profits through their family clout.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/01/chinese-billionaire-xiao-jianhua-abducted-from-hong-kong-hotel-reports