Six In The Morning Monday 13 May 2019

Can the PLA get across the Taiwan Strait?

While the Pentagon appears to be skeptical, the facts and the numbers tell a different story


The Pentagon’s recently released 2019 China Military Power Report says PLA forces cannot conduct a full-scale amphibious assault on Taiwan – and are “less likely” planning for one.

The report claims the PLA does not have enough amphibious ships – and isn’t building enough of them either.  In military jargon, the PLA lacks “lift.”

In terms of the newest modern amphibious ships, it’s true China has only five large Type 071 amphibious transport docks. However, three more are in the works or outfitting, and the bigger Type 075 helicopter carrier is reportedly now in production.

Unfinished business: Philippines widows stand in elections for murdered politicians

At least six widows are taking up the political fight in this year’s midterm elections

At least six widows of slain male politicians are standing in the Philippines’ midterm elections, extending a decades-long tradition of women in the country refusing to let their murdered spouses’ agendas die with them.

“I have a lot of things to do for Rodel, for the people of Daraga,” said Gertrudes Batocabe, who took over her late husband Rodel’s mayor candidacy in the central Philippines city of Daraga when he was shot dead in December. “It’s not really automatic that the wife takes over, but in this case I cannot see my opponents sitting down,” she told AFP.

Saudi Arabia: Oil tankers damaged in ‘sabotage attack’

Two oil tankers sustained “significant damage” in an incident off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, according to the Saudi energy minister. Officials did not say who was behind the alleged sabotage.

Saudi Arabia said on Monday that two of its oil tankers were targeted in a “sabotage attack” off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The announcement comes amid increased tensions in the region between the United States and Iran, although no details have been released on the nature of the sabotage or who may have been responsible.

What happened?

  • Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said two of its oil tankers were the target of a “sabotage attack” off the coast of Fujairah.
  • He said that one tanker was on its way to the kingdom to be loaded with crude oil to be sent to the US.
  • There were no casualties and no oil was spilled, but the incident caused “significant damage” to the two ships.

5G Apocalypse: Russia wants you to believe next-gen wireless can kill you

By William J. Broad

The mobile phones known as 5G, or fifth generation, represent the vanguard of a wireless era rich in interconnected cars, factories and cities.

Yet even as RT America, the cat’s-paw of Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, has been doing its best to stoke the fears of American viewers, Putin, on February 20, ordered the launch of Russian 5G networks in a tone evoking optimism rather than doom.

“We need to look forward,” he said, according to Tass, the Russian news agency. “The challenge for the upcoming years is to organise universal access to high-speed internet, to start operation of the fifth-generation communication systems.”

S Korea’s latest big export: Jobless college graduates

By Heekyong Yang and Cynthia Kim

Cho Min-kyong boasts an engineering degree from one of South Korea’s top universities, a school design award and a near-perfect score in her English proficiency test.

But she had all but given up hope of finding a job when all her 10 applications, including one to Hyundai Motor Co, were rejected in 2016.

Help came unexpectedly from neighboring Japan six months later: Cho got job offers from Nissan Motor Co and two other Japanese companies after a job fair hosted by the South Korean government to match the country’s skilled labor with overseas employers.


IMAGINE YOU’RE HIKING through the woods near a border. Suddenly, you hear a mechanical buzzing, like a gigantic bee. Two quadcopters have spotted you and swoop in for a closer look. Antennae on both drones and on a nearby autonomous ground vehicle pick up the radio frequencies coming from the cell phone in your pocket. They send the signals to a central server, which triangulates your exact location and feeds it back to the drones. The robots close in.

Cameras and other sensors on the machines recognize you as human and try to ascertain your intentions. Are you a threat? Are you illegally crossing a border? Do you have a gun? Are you engaging in acts of terrorism or organized crime? The machines send video feeds to their human operator, a border guard in an office miles away, who checks the videos and decides that you are not a risk. The border guard pushes a button, and the robots disengage and continue on their patrol.