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Richard O’Halloran was warned against ‘seeking publicity’ while detained in China

Irish businessman Richard O’Halloran, who was detained in China for three years, has spoken of his difficulties in achieving assistance from the Department of Foreign Affairs, and what he described as an apparent initial hesitance of Minister Simon Coveney to become involved.

Mr O’Halloran and his wife, Tara, said on Saturday morning that most of the “heavy lifting” in terms of securing his release was done by themselves through Mr O’Halloran’s working with the courts in China and Ms O’Halloran’s speaking out to media in Ireland.

The businessman was caught up in a dispute between the Chinese authority and Min Jiedong, the chairman and main shareholder of the Dublin firm China International Aviation Leasing Service, where Mr O’Halloran is a director.

The dispute centred on Min’s raising of funds from Chinese investors in a crowdfunding scheme to buy an Airbus aircraft. This predated Mr O’Halloran’s employment with the company.

Mr O’Halloran said when he was initially prevented from leaving China after a three-day business trip in February 2019, he was told by the Irish Consulate in Shanghai they could not help him because it was a commercial matter.

“I obviously went to the Irish Consulate in Shanghai,” he said. “I was told it was a commercial matter and they couldn’t engage. So at this point I thought the Irish Government, the consulate, the embassy network was supposed to help Irish citizens abroad, and I was being told it was a commercial matter, we cannot engage. And I was saying, what part of the police being involved is a commercial matter?”

Mr O’Halloran said that this stance continued for the first year of his detention and it was his view that Mr Coveney had been advised against getting involved.

It was an extraordinary low point . . . I did not feel the Irish Government were doing anything to help

Both Mr O’Halloran and his wife said the advice from diplomatic channels had been to not seek publicity about his detention, for fear of making things worse.

Mr O’Halloran said some of his own legal advice had been not to speak out and if he did so his “safety cannot be guaranteed”.

Ms O’Halloran said during the first year of his detention, they had not even told friends and said that, as a result, some assumed the couple had separated.

After the first year Ms O’Halloran went public and organised a campaign to draw up support for her husband’s plight.

Health

Mr O’Halloran outlined to Brendan O’Connor on RTÉ Radio One how his health declined as he confronted the prospect that he might not see his wife and family again until a lease deal with an aircraft had resulted in sufficient earnings to settle matters in China.

Richard O’Halloran. Photograph: RTÉ Prime Time
Richard O’Halloran. Photograph: RTÉ Prime Time

Mr O’Halloran said he began drinking too much in his hotel – where he stayed during his three year detention – and that he lost 20kg in weight, ending up in a hospital where his heart stopped and he had to be resuscitated.

If I am going to get out of here, I am going to have to do it myself

“I turned in on myself” he said. “It was an extraordinary low point . . . I turned completely in on myself . . . I did not feel the Irish Government were doing anything to help at the time, even though they said they were.”

He said he owed it to his “beautiful wife, my kids” to recover and he decided that “if I am going to get out of here, I am going to have to do it myself”. He decided to work with the court in China to find a solution.

“All the heavy lifting had been done by me right up to let’s call it the end of November, December,” he said.

Mr O’Halloran also paid tribute to the businessman Ulick McEvaddy who agreed to become a director of Mr O’Halloran’s company, a factor he said provided comfort for Mr Coveney’s participation in subsequent efforts to secure his release.

“There was obviously dialogue between Simon Coveney and his counterpart in China. Simon did read me a letter that his counterpart wrote to him and it was made clear their court had to go through a process, it had to and that was fair enough and I had to deliver what I was being asked, which I did and more.”

Passport control

He said there was a moment of anxiety when he was leaving China as passport control officials asked him to wait while they made checks. Mr O’Halloran said he was talking on the phone to his wife at the time and it was a very difficult moment as he had over the years been turned away twice.

While the couple welcomed the diplomatic pressure applied by Mr Coveney and the Irish Government, they said they did not feel it had been appropriate to pay tribute to the Chinese government for being helpful in trying to bring the issue to an end after Mr O’Halloran was released.

Ms O’Halloran said “thanking the Chinese was in kind of poor taste given what Richard had to go through and the ordeal that we had all faced for three years and I just certainly did not think it was necessary for our family. That is my personal opinion.”

Mr O’Halloran said “obviously the Irish Government did do stuff behind the scenes. I certainly thank Simon Coveney for what he did. In the end, I mean, I am here.

“There is evidence of some heavy lifting, I don’t know what. Obviously he was liaising with his counterpart but I don’t know what was done.” Mr O’Halloran also said he wanted to make it clear there was no payment or guarantee made by the Irish Government.


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When the Navajos fooled John Ford | Culture

At the end of his career, John Ford wanted to use Cheyenne Autumn to apologize to Native Americans for the way he had treated them in his films. Shot in 1964, it was his last western. “There are two sides to every story, but for once I wanted to show their point of view. I’ve killed more Indians than Custer, Beecher and Chivington put together,” the master explained to Peter Bogdanovich in the interview book John Ford. “Let’s face it, we’ve treated them very badly — it’s a blot on our shield. We’ve cheated and robbed, killed, murdered, massacred and everything else, but they kill one white man and, God, out come the troops.”

Cheyenne Autumn recounts a historical episode in which a group of Cheyennes flee to their ancestral lands from the squalid reservation where they are confined and end up being massacred, after being tricked time and again by U.S. authorities. The problem is that Ford shot in Monument Valley, the setting for his great Westerns, which belongs to a Navajo reservation. Members of this tribe acted massively in the film, in which Mexican actors also play Native Americans. It is something that would be impossible to explain to the public today, but Ford had no choice if he wanted to shoot the film.

Of course, the Navajos who were playing Cheyennes took their revenge on the white men. Since no one but them understood Navajo on the set — a language so difficult that it was used as a secret code during World War II — instead of reading the script they decided to say whatever they wanted. They made all sorts of comments about the small size of the white officers’ penises and other nonsense during the film’s most tragic scenes. At least, that’s what an old Hollywood legend says, but John Ford made the doctrine clear at the end of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: “This is the West: when the legend becomes a fact, print the legend.”

Osage Indians
A historical photograph of a group of Osage natives.ilbusca (Getty Images)

Author Tony Hillerman wrote a series of noir novels set on the same Navajo reservation where Ford filmed Cheyenne Autumn, and his books serve as the basis for the terrific series Dark Winds (the two seasons can currently be seen on AMC+). In one of them, Sacred Clowns, he describes a drive-in movie theater in Gallup where Navajos used to see the film again and again. Jim Chee, one of the policemen who stars in the show, recounts that at the screening “they would honk their car horns and laugh their heads off” at what were, in theory, the most dramatic moments. And he recalls what he felt when he attended a session with a Cheyenne who didn’t understand Navajo: “In the exact same scene, he was watching the destruction of his culture. We were watching as our people laughed at the whites.”

None of this could have happened to Martin Scorsese, another director at the height of his creative powers, who tried his hand at westerns at age 81 with Killers of the Flower Moon (available on Apple TV). The Osage tribe plays an essential role in the film, which has garnered 10 Oscar nominations. Set in the 1920s, the film tells the story of how dozens of Osage were murdered with impunity to steal the property rights to their oil wells. Scorsese not only relied on numerous Native advisors to lend credibility to the film, but he also worked directly with tribal representatives. Of the 63 Native American actors in the film, 49 are Osage.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone in 'Killers of the Flower Moon.'
Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone in ‘Killers of the Flower Moon.’ Melinda Sue Gordon

Both Ford and Scorsese wanted to remember a forgotten history, buried by a vision of the past in which the roles are totally reversed — the invaders became the invaded, and vice versa. In fact, David Grann, the New Yorker journalist on whose book, Killers of the Flower Moon, Scorsese’s film is based, notes that it was precisely the will to remember something that should never have been forgotten that led him to investigate the crimes against the Osage for years. “One day in the summer of 2012, fresh from New York, where I live and work as a journalist, I visited Pawhuska for the first time hoping to find information about the murders that had occurred almost a century ago. Like most Americans, when I was in school I never read any books about these crimes; it was as if they had been erased from history. So, I started researching when I stumbled upon a reference to those events. From then on, I was consumed with the urge to solve the unanswered questions, to tie up the loose ends that the FBI investigation didn’t.”

The star of the film, Lily Gladstone, has a good chance of becoming the first Native American actress to win an Oscar. For the movie, she took lessons in Osage culture, which included the stories that ground the group’s traditions as well as the language. “There are elements in this film that just scream Osage,” Jim Gray, one of the tribal members who helped make the film, told The Harvard Gazette. “Even though 99 percent of the audience will be non-Osage and are not going to know as much about this story as we do, Osage people sitting in the audience are going to get a lot of the observances that Scorsese incorporated into the film that could only have come from collaboration with the tribe.”

Decolonizing — museums, mentalities, the vision of the past — also represents the different way in which two masters of cinema, Ford and Scorsese, faced the same problem 60 years apart: telling the story of the United States from the perspective of those who were exterminated.

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Conflicted History: ‘Oppenheimer’ And Its Impact On Los Alamos And New Mexico Downwinders

‘Oppenheimer’ And Its Impact On Los Alamos And New Mexico Downwinders

The Voice Of EU | In the highly anticipated blockbuster movie, “Oppenheimer,” the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man behind the first atomic bomb, is portrayed as a riveting tale of triumph and tragedy.

As the film takes center stage, it also brings to light the often-overlooked impacts on a community living downwind from the top-secret Manhattan Project testing site in southern New Mexico.

A Forgotten Legacy

While the film industry and critics praise “Oppenheimer,” a sense of frustration prevails among the residents of New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin, who continue to grapple with the consequences of the Manhattan Project. Tina Cordova, a cancer survivor and founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, expresses their feelings, stating, “They invaded our lives and our lands and then they left,” referring to the scientists and military personnel who conducted secret experiments over 200 miles away from their community.

The Consortium, alongside organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists, has been striving to raise awareness about the impact of the Manhattan Project on New Mexico’s population. Advocates emphasize the necessity of acknowledging the human cost of the Trinity Test, the first atomic blast, and other nuclear weapons activities that have affected countless lives in the state.

The Ongoing Struggle for Recognition

As film enthusiasts celebrate the drama and brilliance of “Oppenheimer,” New Mexico downwinders feel overlooked by both the U.S. government and movie producers. The federal government’s compensation program for radiation exposure still does not include these affected individuals. The government’s selection of the remote and flat Trinity Test Site, without warning residents in the surrounding areas, further added to the controversy.

Living off the land, the rural population in the Tularosa Basin had no idea that the fine ash settling on their homes and fields was a result of the world’s first atomic explosion.

The government initially attempted to cover up the incident, attributing the bright light and rumble to an explosion at a munitions dump. It was only after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan weeks later that New Mexico residents realized the magnitude of what they had witnessed.

Tracing the Fallout

According to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, large amounts of radiation were released into the atmosphere during the Trinity Test, with fallout descending over a vast area. Some of the fallout reached as far as the Atlantic Ocean, but the greatest concentration settled approximately 30 miles from the test site.

Now I Am Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.

J. Robert Oppenheimer

The consequences of this catastrophic event have affected generations of New Mexicans, who still await recognition and justice for the harm caused by nuclear weapons.

A Tale of Contrasts: Los Alamos and the Legacy of Oppenheimer

As the film’s spotlight shines on the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, a contrasting narrative unfolds in Los Alamos, more than 200 miles north of the Tularosa Basin. Los Alamos stands as a symbol of Oppenheimer’s legacy, housing one of the nation’s premier national laboratories and boasting the highest percentage of people with doctorate degrees in the U.S.

Oppenheimer’s influence is evident throughout Los Alamos, with a street bearing his name and an IPA named in his honor at a local brewery. The city embraces its scientific legacy, showcasing his handwritten notes and ID card in a museum exhibit. Los Alamos National Laboratory employees played a significant role in the film, contributing as extras and engaging in enlightening discussions during breaks.

The “Oppenheimer” Movie

Director Christopher Nolan’s perspective on the Trinity Test and its profound impact is evident in his approach to “Oppenheimer.” He has described the event as an extraordinary moment in human history and expressed his desire to immerse the audience in the pivotal moment when the button was pushed. Nolan’s dedication to bringing historical accuracy and emotional depth to the screen is evident as he draws inspiration from Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

For Nolan, Oppenheimer’s story is a potent blend of dreams and nightmares, capturing the complexity and consequences of the Manhattan Project. As the film reaches global audiences, it also offers a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the downwinders in New Mexico, whose lives were forever altered by the legacy of nuclear weapons testing.

The Oppenheimer Festival and Beyond

Los Alamos is determined to use the Oppenheimer Festival as an opportunity to educate visitors about the true stories behind the film’s events. The county’s “Project Oppenheimer” initiative, launched in early 2023, encompasses forums, documentaries, art installations, and exhibits that delve into the scientific contributions of the laboratory and the social implications of the Manhattan Project.

A special area during the festival will facilitate discussions about the movie, fostering a deeper understanding of the community’s history. The county aims to continue revisiting and discussing the legacy of the Manhattan Project, ensuring that the impact of this pivotal moment in history is never forgotten.

As “Oppenheimer” takes audiences on an emotional journey, it serves as a reminder that every historical event carries with it complex and multifaceted implications. The movie may celebrate the scientific achievements of the past, but it also illuminates the urgent need to recognize and address the human cost that persists to this day.


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The Complex World of Cyber Warfare & Digital Battlefield

The Cyber Warfare And Digital Era

By Raza Qadri

In digital age, the world has witnessed an unprecedented rise in cyber warfare – a new frontier where nations and threat actors engage in battles beyond traditional borders. The evolution of technology has brought with it the emergence of cyber weapons and tactics, leading to a complex web of cyber espionage, attacks on critical infrastructure, and nation-state cyber operations.

As technologists, it is imperative to comprehend this rapidly evolving landscape and the challenges it poses to our global security. Here, we will explore Cyber Warfare in detail.

. Understanding Cyber Warfare

. Cyber Weapons and Tactics

. Nation-State Cyber Operations

. Spying in the Digital Age with Cyber Espionage

. Cyber Attacks on Critical Infrastructure Including Power Grids, Water Systems, and More

. Cybersecurity Measures: Safeguarding Nations against Digital Threats

. Attribution Challenges: Unmasking the Culprits Behind Cyber Offensives

. Offensive Vs. Defensive Cyber Capabilities

. The Evolution of Cyber Warfare with Past, Present, and Future Trends

. The Global Impact of Cyber Warfare — Diplomatic, Economic, and Societal Ramifications


Understanding Cyber Warfare

Cyber warfare encompasses the use of digital tools and technologies to conduct offensive and defensive operations in the virtual realm. It involves exploiting vulnerabilities in computer systems, networks, and data to achieve military or strategic objectives.

Key components of cyber warfare include hacking, malware deployment, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, and cyber espionage. The cyber battlefield extends beyond government agencies to encompass private corporations, institutions, and individuals.

Cyber Weapons and Tactics

In the arsenal of cyber warfare, sophisticated tools are employed to infiltrate and compromise target systems. Malware, such as viruses, worms, and ransomware, is utilized to disrupt operations and steal sensitive information. Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are employed for long-term espionage, allowing attackers to remain undetected within a system for extended periods.

Additionally, social engineering techniques, such as phishing and spear-phishing, are commonly used to deceive users and gain unauthorized access.

Nation-State Cyber Operations

Nation-states have recognized the potential of cyber warfare to advance their strategic interests, leading to the proliferation of state-sponsored cyber operations. Countries invest heavily in developing cyber capabilities and often maintain specialized cyber units responsible for executing offensive operations.

Such operations can range from stealing intellectual property and sensitive information to launching disruptive attacks against adversary nations. However, attributing cyber attacks to specific countries remains a complex challenge.

Spying in the Digital Age with Cyber Espionage

One of the primary objectives of cyber warfare is espionage, where state and non-state actors seek to gather classified information and gain a competitive edge. Advanced cyber tools and techniques enable clandestine access to government, military, and corporate networks. Cyber spies operate stealthily, exfiltrating valuable data without leaving a trace. This form of espionage poses significant threats to national security and can lead to severe economic consequences.

Cyber Attacks on Critical Infrastructure Including Power Grids, Water Systems, and More

Critical infrastructure, including power grids, transportation systems, and healthcare facilities, has become prime targets for cyber attacks. Disrupting these systems can cause chaos and destabilize a nation.

Attackers exploit vulnerabilities in Industrial Control Systems (ICS) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems to gain control over infrastructure components. Securing critical infrastructure against cyber threats is crucial to safeguarding society’s basic functioning.

Cybersecurity Measures Safeguarding Nations against Digital Threats

As the cyber threat landscape intensifies, nations must strengthen their cybersecurity measures. Robust defense mechanisms, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and encryption, are employed to protect networks and data from unauthorized access.

Additionally, regular security assessments, incident response plans, and cybersecurity awareness training play pivotal roles in mitigating cyber risks.

Unmasking the Culprits Behind Cyber Offensives

Identifying the perpetrators behind cyber attacks is fraught with challenges. Attackers often use sophisticated techniques to conceal their origins, employing proxy servers and compromised infrastructure. The absence of clear attribution can lead to misjudgment and further escalation of conflicts. Overcoming these challenges requires international cooperation, technical expertise, and intelligence sharing.

Offensive Vs. Defensive Cyber Capabilities

Nations must strike a delicate balance between developing offensive and defensive cyber capabilities. While offensive operations offer advantages in intelligence gathering and deterring adversaries, they can lead to retaliation and escalate tensions.

“Defensive capabilities are vital to protect national assets, infrastructure, and citizens from cyber threats. The reach of these threats is evolving at the same rate as the capabilities of not just computing, but science and even art.”

— John Elf

Striving for equilibrium is essential to avoid the perilous repercussions of unchecked cyber warfare.

The Evolution of Cyber Warfare with Past, Present, and Future Trends

Cyber warfare evolution, a critical facet of modern conflict, has seen profound evolution shaped by technological advancements and geopolitical shifts. Its origins trace back to the late 20th century with events like the Morris Worm incident in 1988, marking one of the first large-scale cyber attacks. As the internet gained prominence, cyber espionage and criminal activities burgeoned. By the late 1990s, nation-states recognized the strategic potential of cyber operations, exemplified by the Stuxnet worm in 2010, targeting Iran’s nuclear program. Presently, state-sponsored cyber operations are ubiquitous, with the SolarWinds hack of 2020 highlighting their sophistication. Ransomware attacks, typified by the Colonial Pipeline incident in 2021, pose substantial economic threats. The proliferation of advanced persistent threats (APTs) further complicates the cyber landscape, with groups like APT29 and APT28 linked to high-profile breaches.

Looking forward, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to revolutionize cyber warfare. AI-powered attacks can adapt swiftly, evade detection, and exploit vulnerabilities with unprecedented precision. The rise of AI-driven defense mechanisms will be crucial in countering cyber threats. Quantum computing presents both promise and peril, with its computational power potentially revolutionizing cryptography, while simultaneously posing a threat to current encryption methods. Preparing for a quantum-secure cyber environment will be imperative. The evolution of cyber warfare reflects a trajectory of increasing complexity and sophistication. With geopolitical tensions and technological advancements driving this evolution, governments, organizations, and cybersecurity experts must remain vigilant. Understanding the past, present, and future trends of cyber warfare equips us to adapt to this ever-changing landscape. Embracing robust cybersecurity measures, fostering international cooperation, and investing in cutting-edge technologies will be paramount in securing our digital future.

The Global Impact of Cyber Warfare — Diplomatic, Economic, and Societal Ramifications

The ramifications of cyber warfare extend beyond the digital realm, influencing diplomatic relations, economies, and societal well-being. Nation-states engage in cyber espionage to gain geopolitical advantages, resulting in strained international relations.

Economies face significant losses due to cyber attacks on businesses and critical infrastructure. Furthermore, cyber warfare poses risks to individuals’ privacy, freedom of speech, and online safety.

Finally, we can conclude that cyber warfare has emerged as a powerful tool in the hands of state and non-state actors, with the potential to reshape global dynamics. As technologists, understanding the intricacies of cyber warfare is crucial to developing effective defenses and advocating responsible use of technology.

By collaboratively addressing the challenges posed by cyber warfare, we can safeguard the digital future and foster a secure and resilient world.


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By Raza Qadri | Business, science & technology contributor ‘THE VOICE OF EU’

— For more information: Info@VoiceOfEU.com

— Anonymous news submissions: Press@VoiceOfEU.com


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